At first glance, you'd be absolutely blind to not notice the similarities between Google's new social networking service, Google+ and Facebook.
Take a look at any profile from Google+ and compare it to the familiar Facebook style.
There's your profile picture in the upper left hand corner, next to your name in bold face on the right with details of your occupation right below that. Your posts are the first thing that come up, but tabs can take you to a photos section, an about me, the +1 section (which is a dead ringer for a Facebook Like) and finally Buzz, which is a slight difference as it incorporates the old, failed Facebook social network. On the stream page, there is a feed of everyone in your circle, which looks very similar to Facebook's news feed.
There are of course differences between the two services.Group video chats, group messaging services and instant upload for mobile.
The biggest one, however, is a feature called Circles and its idea revolves around the word, friend. Most people have countless friends on Facebook they have never met. There was a series of commercials from Microsoft, promoting the KIN, surrounding this very premise. Facebook, despite various efforts has not made it easy to share and interact with an exclusive circle of friends.
Google has taken on this niche and looks to capitalize off it with Google+ Circles, which lets users share and communicate strictly with a specific group of friends or family. Taking a jab at Facebook and other social networking services, Google said today's networks create self-censorship because we have to share with everyone.
Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of Engineering at Google, said social networks like Facebook turn friendship into fast food, wrapping everyone in 'friend' paper.
One tech analyst, Charles King, from Pund-IT, says Google may have tapped into human nature with the exclusivity function.
Circles is an interesting feature. While Facebook does support the group function, Google Circles is a more intuitive approach and seems to mimic the way people work in their lives. Most tend to associate themselves with a group of people and certain environments, King said.
As a result of this approach, users of Google+ may find it more secure and safe to share on it than Facebook. After all, when a user shares something with a specific group it is nowhere to be found on a public site. If a user wants to share photos of his crazy weekend in Vegas and not have his mom or wife look at them? It can be easily done with Google+.
It allows people to be more selective in the way they share information and share the details of their lives, King said. There's a generation of people that have gotten used to the way Facebook sees it, it will be interesting to see if they prefer having a greater degree of choice.
Integration is another difference between Google+ and Facebook and it's a built in advantage the former has over the latter. Already, Google has built in many of its services such as Picassa, Gmail and Google Apps into Google+. Undoubtedly, the company will continue to expand on this.
Google has a much richer ecosystem than Facebook or any other social networking company, King said.
In addition, as Jesse Stay, social networking guru from SocialToo.com pointed out in this blog post, Google can integrate search into the social network. Search is arguably Google's most powerful weapon. According to ComScore, the company has roughly two-thirds of the search market down pat. It also has the world's biggest smartphone OS, Android, making it better for mobile experiences.
Google has the potential to deeply integrate Google+ throughout the entire mobile experience and platform, bringing your friends on Google+ to everything you touch, with privacy controls the entire way (through Circles), Stay said.
On the surface, Google+ looks like a Facebook clone. However, look further and it may become much more than that.
Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna