Google+ is walking dead
· 3 minute read
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.
Lots of chatter about whether Google+ is really “walking dead” in the wake of news that Vic Gundotra will be leaving the company. I understand that Google+ is less of a singular product and more of a collection of tools, but disagree with The Next Web when the say the following:
[It’s] not a social network, [it’s] a social layer. It’s nothing more than the NYT adding new buttons, commenting systems, and other social tools to its site. Would you call the NYT a “social network”? No, of course not. The Next Web has social features all over the place, but would you call it a “social network”? No, of course not.
When viewing a site with social sharing buttons like the NYT, I’m not forced to have an account page that shows up if somebody Googles for my name, where people can add me to “circles” and try to interact with me in ways that I want nothing to do with. Yes, I know it’s possible to hide your page, but it’s far from obvious how to do so, and really isn’t something I should be forced to figure out in the first place.
YouTube comments were forced to go through Google+. Before it was shut down, Google Reader’s sharing options were replaced with Google+. I once tried to change my YouTube password and was unable to do so without first enabling my Google+ account. This happened again when I first tried to use the (iOS) Hangouts app, where all I wanted to do was continue existing Google Talk conversations that had already been ongoing for years.
Despite what it may have since grown into or even what internal intentions originally were, Google+ was, on the surface, a Facebook clone that was thrust in all of our faces after Google admitted that they missed the boat on social. If the name now also encompasses some really good services (e.g. Google+ Cloud Backup), that’s a marketing problem that Google can only blame themselves for. iCloud is another umbrella term with similar issues. Some parts (backups, Safari tabs and bookmark sync, for example) work great, but as long as others don’t, “iCloud sucks.”
One big change for Google+ is that there will no longer be a policy of “required” Google+ integrations for Google products, something that has become de rigueur for most product updates.
This sounds like a welcome change. I’ve no doubt that the more service-y components of Google+ will be top notch, if they aren’t already, and backing away from a singular social product in order to let them shine sounds like the right move.
But in the meantime, I’m won’t be jumping to embrace Google+ anytime soon. Good engineering and product work will likely be ignored by many potential users as a direct result of how aggressively disrespectful Google was with their initial pass at flooding all of their users’ Internet experiences with, let’s be honest, spam.
Whether or not Google+ actually a massive success internally (I have to assume that it is), the public perception of its failure feels like karma to me.