By now half the world knows that Google+ project head is leaving Google after eight years working at the company. A post from TechCrunch indicates that Google is also moving a large part of the Google+ team to other products. The site says citing its internal sources that Google will no longer treat Google+ as a product; but as a platform for other products. All that has led to various other media outlets to write that Google+ is dead. Or at least it’s going to be.
The question is, how much is the possibility that Google+ will share the same fate as Google Wave and Google Reader?
The short answer is, no. Google has put rather large amount of work into Google+. Not just building the network, but more integrating with almost every Google product there is to date, including custom Google accounts (Google Apps) that don’t really have an @gmail.com address. Google I/O 2013 showed Google’s promise of unifying its products. And Google said Google+ would be the social layer on top of Google services.
Over the time, Google+ did pick up a lot of negativity thanks to its choice of forcing users into using it. But all that was not for spending time on Google+, but being able to do everything under one identity. The largest backlash came after Google required users a Google+ account to comment on YouTube, but still people managed to get over it.
Google+ and Facebook has never been the same. One is for meeting new people, the other is for reconnecting with who you already know.
Although Google+ is not as active as Google was hoping it would be (it’s quite active among technical people and geeks, though), a lot of people are actually using their Google+ for various tasks such as commenting on YouTube, reviewing apps and games on Google Play, creating and managing Google+ apps for businesses/websites and so on. So why again Google is moving its core team to other areas?
The answer is not clear at this point. But what I can guess is, Google wants to minimize its efforts on Google+. Most likely the company simply “gets it” that people won’t simply switch over to Google+. That’s the most possible reason Google will no longer treat Google+ as a standalone product. Google has managed to get Google+ almost everywhere. And just like Google said what Google+ would be, it’ll remain a platform, a social layer on top of everything Google.
That’s not to say Google will not put an end to Google+. Google+ is anything but ghost town. Some journalists just don’t get it. There are a huge amount of active people on Google+ who constantly share content, follow people and Pages and do a lot more (such as Hangout, working on Google Drive in collaboration etc). Google wanted to build a social network. But what I think is Google+ ended up being a network for professionals and more serious-minded people. Cat videos do exist on Google+, but the discussions that I see on trending topics are mostly a little more serious type.
That’s not all. A lot of people still compare Google+ with Facebook. I’ve never done that. I simply think Google+ is for discovering and meeting new people where Facebook is to meet who you know in real life. Facebook in plain words discourages you to send friend request to people you don’t know. It can also block you for sending friend requests at random. On the other hand, Google+ encourages you to find people with similar interest. It’s sort of Twitter, with added functionality of course. And this has attracted millions of people to the network.
Then again, Google Reader was a popular product and it made no sense why Google would choose to lose such an enormous number of users at that time. Now if you think of it, what’s your most likely source to get to read an article or news? Many of you will answer Twitter and Facebook. Some might also include Pinterest and Google+ as well. And that’s about it. RSS isn’t dead, but the news discovery has largely moved to social networking websites. That is why Google chose to shut down Reader. It values its users, it just saw ahead that RSS isn’t the main source people find new content these days.
So, if I were to make a hard guess, I’d end up saying Google+ is nowhere near dead. Imagine how easy it is to take a photo with your Android phone and automatically back them up on your Google+ private album. You can come back later at it, edit, share on Google+ or download to share on other profiles. Not to mention Google Glass, which also somewhat relies on Google+ network. With all that’s coming, Google won’t put an end to Google+ anytime soon. That’s because whether you log in to Google+ or no doesn’t really matter. Every time you’re in Gmail, you’re partly in Google+ as well.
What do you think? Will Google go to such extreme length to shut down Google+ just because it can’t compete with Facebook?
Image credit and news source: TechCrunch