Google may be the leader in search but time and again it has failed in creating a social product. Google Plus, Google’s most ambitious product to compete with Facebook was launched with a lot of fanfare but slowly it is dismantling itself, in a way building its own coffin. While this isn’t a good sign for the market but the writing was always on the wall.
In a latest announcement, Google has informed users that Google+ profile will no longer be the identity in all Google products. The change is a big one for Google which earlier wanted Google + to be the single point hub but it is reverting and the first product to enjoy the change will be the one that was most negatively affected by Google’s Google+ obsession: YouTube.
The move means you’ll soon be able to use your standard Google account to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel, and so on. In fact, if you already created a Google+ profile but don’t plan to use Google+, the company says it will “offer better options for managing and removing” your public profile.
The YouTube team has shared that changes will affect comments and channels on the video site. Starting today, the comments you make on YouTube will no longer appear on Google+. The same applies the other way: Nothing you post on Google+ will appear on YouTube.
In the ‘coming weeks’, YouTube will no longer require a Google+ profile when you want to upload, comment, or create a channel. That means if you want to remove your Google+ profile, you’ll be able to do so “in the coming months.” However, be patient and make sure that you don’t delete your YouTube account in the excitement of deleting your Google+ account. The changes are happening so be patient.
Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president of streams, photos, and sharing, says the changes are a response to user feedback: “We’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.” He further says that the changes are meant to strike a balance between the select few who actually like using Google+ and everyone else whom Google forced to sign up for its social network.
It took close to 22 months for Google to understand that its vision of forcing people to join Google+ by different ways isn’t working. In fact, when in 2013, Google announced that YouTube will have a new commenting system that will be powered by Google+, the move was questioned by many influential bloggers and YouTube content creators. Emma Blackery, the Youtube star, had a musical profane message – “You ruined our site and called it integration / I’m writing this song just to vent our frustration / F**k you, Google Plusssssss!” The video since then has got more than 3M views.
Google was only trying to solve its growing spam problem but at the same time it was also forcing users to join Google+ which backfired. The plan never worked for Google, even if users were tied to Google+ the engagement died over the years and it is on the road to becoming the next Orkut.
Google never spoke about active users but here’s a chart made by blogger Kevin Anderson, which is based on data compiled by researcher Edward Morbis. His research estimates active Google+ users, defined as those that have made a post to Google+ in January 2015. Morbis analyzed sitemaps from Google+ and sampled profile pages based on them to arrive at his conclusions.
Dismantling of Google+
The dismantling of Google+ has been a work in progress from the time father of Google+ Vic Gundotra announced that he would be leaving the company after eight years. That left a big question mark on the future of Google+.
While the bosses in Google emphasized that the company would be still investing on the platform, the road map wasn’t clear as a social network.
In the last few years Google+ launched quite a few features, out of which Hangout and Photos stood out. Last year TC reported, “What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.” In fact in this piece, it was also reported that Google+ is reconsidering its policy of “required” Google+ integration for Google products, which has come out true today.
Things started to become clear when earlier this year in March, Sundar Pichai senior vice president for products at Google said the company was splitting the social networking service Google+ into two pieces – a stream of activity and a social layer.
The social layer, for Google, was really about how people shared items across its various services, from YouTube to Google Docs. For the stream, however, Pichai said the real value for people has been photos. And so the company is going to put a renewed focus on photos, also separating that into its own product.
Google Hangouts will also be separated and receive additional investment and resources from the company, Pichai said.
Things started to become clearer with Bradley Horowitz steering the wheel at Google+ and finally in the month of May Google Photos was separated from Google+. Not only do people no longer need Google+ profiles to use the popular photo management application, they don’t need Google accounts to access some features!
Next, Google will be bringing location sharing into Hangouts and other apps, “where it really belongs.”
However, Google still has a strong belief that “Google+ Isn’t Dead.”
Bradley informs, “Today is just another part of the plan. It’s just that Google is finally executing the best part – Streams, Photos, and Sharing.” He further shares his ongoing strategy for Google+ which focuses in emerging as a “Connection” platform.
“Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interests they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired.”
From a social network to a social layer and now to a connection platform, as a user I am confused and have given up on Google+ long back even though I had high hopes for the network. True, Google+ isn’t dead but it is getting rid of all the annoying features leaving it with just bare bones, ready to be pushed into its coffin.