Keep an Eye on Google Plus

 | Feb 19, 2013 | 11:25 AM EST
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I'm in San Francisco this week for a bunch of tech-related meetings. On Monday, I spent part of my day with someone from Google (GOOG). I came away really impressed, and I want to share some of the reasons why.

When Google Plus was introduced in June 2011, many people expected it to be the equivalent of Facebook (FB) right from day one. That's about as silly as expecting Facebook's Graph Search to be as good as Google's from day one. That wasn't ever going to happen.

When Google Plus didn't live up to being Facebook, many concluded that it was a failure. They pointed to past Google failures such as Wave and Buzz as part of a narrative that Google just didn't get social networking.

However, if nothing else, the day Google introduced Plus, its search results got smarter and more valuable for paid ads. That in itself was valuable and made the entire Plus project worth doing.

Now that Plus hasn't been in the news for a few months and Larry Page hasn't mentioned it on the last Google earnings call, there's a tendency to dismiss it as a failure.

However, my big takeaway from my conversation yesterday is that Google never stops. The company is a beast at just sticking with it. Even though you can point to several Google failures, you also have to remember Gmail, Google Maps and Google Earth. All of those services were ridiculed at first as being derivative or a waste of cash. And yet Google kept investing and iterating.

Today, we can't imagine living without them, and we're quick to criticize others such as Apple (AAPL) when they don't live up to the eight years of blood, sweat and tears that Google poured into Maps.

I believe that Plus is another sleeper Google service that you need to watch that will deliver a lot of value for the company over time.

It's never going to out-Facebook Facebook, even though I believe its mobile app is actually better than Facebook's or Twitter's. However, Google Plus can certainly go beyond smarter search. There are lots of ways that Google can better integrate Plus  into other Google services such as Communications, YouTube and Android.

And it is doing just that today behind the scenes, and it's talking to lots of media partners that can make a difference.

Google Plus is smart, and it's good for investors.

Keep an eye on announcements coming out of Google's I/O conference in May.

This is a long-term investment for Google, and the company is not going to back down from it.

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