The End of Google Plus?
Is Google's once-vaunted alternative to Facebook slowly fading into oblivion? Google Plus seemed to achieve critical mass, with over 500 million users, but it never really gained much traction as social media hangout. So what is Google doing about it? Read on…
Is Google+ Going Away?
Not entirely, it seems. Google is splitting up its Google+ social network, creating products instead of a “place.” The photos posted on your Google+ page will henceforth be known as Google Photos, while all the messages and links to Web pages are your Google Stream. The name “Google+” doesn’t even appear in the low-key announcement of these changes.
“Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true -- I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products! It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users,” said Bradley Horowitz, a veteran Google+ product VP, in a March 1 post on his own page.
That’s it; no press release, no conference call, no explanation of what’s going on or how it’s going to be a “positive improvement.”
For now, at least, nothing seems to have changed on my Google+ page. The posts of two or three professional colleagues still appear regularly as part of their social media branding efforts. A bunch of people I don’t know are still “suggested” as folks I should add to circles. My most recent contribution was quite some time ago.
When Google+ debuted four years ago, it was hailed as a “Facebook killer” that would provide an alternative to the mediocrity and heavy-handed intrusiveness of the dominant social network. The leading geeks of the time tried mightily to make it happen, extolling the elegance and subtlety of Google+’s architecture and nomenclature. But most of the world just shrugged.
I think I know why. Google+ just doesn’t speak to regular people in their language. On Facebook, I have “friends,“ “followers,” or at least “acquaintances.” On Google+ I have infinite “circles” of people. I can “like” something on Facebook; on Google Plus I have to “+1” it and I never know exactly what that means.
Hey, Let's Hang Out!
Then there’s Google Hangouts, the catch-all communications app that occupies a big chunk of my Google+ page. Hangouts, despite the odd name, was originally a web-based text and video chat app, and it seemed to work pretty well. But Google made a mess of it, mashing it together with Google Talk and Google Voice.
Many people, myself included, just can't get it to work, or function reliably. The Hangouts for Chrome app in the Google Web Store has a miserable 2.6/5.0 average rating, and every recent user review amounts to “Bring back Google Talk!” There is no troubleshooting support for Hangouts, just irrelevant explanations of how it’s supposed to work and forums full of unanswered questions. Bring back Google Talk!
I'm glad to see that Google Photos will continue on. It's a really good platform for storing, managing, tagging, sharing and editing photos. Will Google Streams (the conversational component of Google Plus) survive? I wouldn't bet on it. Facebook and Twitter simply do it better. The people I see posting on Google+ are posting the same things on their Facebook pages, in the vain hope that Google will smile on them for doing so.
Google started out by forcing Gmail users to create a Google+ profile, and later integrated G+ into Youtube comments. They also dropped some not-so-subtle hints that bloggers should link their posts to a Google+ profile, and encourage readers to "+1" their posts, or risk incurring SEO penalties. All of those mandates have since been dropped, and now it seems Google's plan is to just stop talking about Google+, and hope nobody notices.
Maybe nobody will. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Mar 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- The End of Google Plus? (Posted: 19 Mar 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved