The End of Google Plus?

Category: Social-Networking

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.”
Google Minus

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!

Social networks have come and gone before. Remember Myspace? Friendster? Windows Live Spaces? And whatever happened to Ello, the Facebook competitor whose biggest draw was being ad-free? I expressed my doubts back in October, in my article Will Ello Be a Facebook Killer? Bottom line, Ello is spartan (some say ugly, and I won't argue); they charge money for access to certain features; and they picked a really bad domain name (ello.CO).

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...

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Most recent comments on "The End of Google Plus?"

(See all 26 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

The one google idea/tool that I have Never liked and find to be a nuisance is Google+. I wish it would just go away and take all it's data with it.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

Any word on how these changes will affect Google+ pages for business? For example:

Posted by:

Jim Guld
19 Mar 2015

I don't have any problem with the social piece going away.
Hangouts, and Hangouts On Air are great tools.
Naming conventions on the Web are always changing. I don't think Google is going away. I wonder what is going to happen to Picasa? It is still the best free tool for working with pictures on a computer.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

The only thing Google+ did for me was make Picasa harder to use.

Posted by:

Ghenghis McCann
19 Mar 2015

"Google started out by forcing Gmail users to create a Google+ profile". That explains why they had 500 million alleged users. How many people actually signed up of their own free will and used Google+? How many said "What the [expletive deleted] do I have to do this for?" but had to sign up anyway, and never used it?

If I was cynical, I might assume that the high number of alleged users was a ploy to charge higher rates to advertisers. But we all know Google wouldn't do that, don't we?

EDITOR'S NOTE: It's a good thing you're not cynical. :-) Because that's one thing we DO know about Google. Their advertising programs only generate revenue when a user clicks an ad. So inflating user numbers wouldn't make them more money.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

Never used it, probably never will. But then I am not much on social media either, so I probably don't count.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

I am like most of the Google+ users ... I simply, did not use it.

I agree, that it really did not make any sense. However, I did setup a Google+ account.

I am now, fed up with Facebook!!! Why can't there be a simple social media site, where we can communicate with just our family and friends???!!! I personally, think that is what most of us want.

I do not have a Twitter account and do not plan on getting one, either.

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

Never wanted it as I don't do social media but have a gmail account. It seems to sign me in without asking, has almost put me off using youtube and is way too complicated to anyway. A simple search on the FAQs brings up endless more pages and links, often going in a loop, it feels as if the software is controlling me rather than the other way around.
As a product it has little appeal to me.

Posted by:

Grada Schadee
19 Mar 2015

Since I never even understood how Google+ worked nor what it was exactly (an email server? photo's program? social media?, nor could easily find an explanation) I never bothered to find out what it was. I for one would be totally OK if Google+ just faded away!
Grada Schadee

Posted by:

19 Mar 2015

Any chance Youtube will revert back to normal?

Posted by:

Mariam Blinkenger
19 Mar 2015

Hangouts are great, and its option to make free calls by simply typing in a telephone number is out of this world! Because Facebook has been around longer, most of my friends didn't care to switch over to Google Plus. Besides that, G+ is confusing to use. To me, Facebook seems more homey and personal while G+ seems like a rat race to read everything that's posted (flipping your eyes back and forth to read two columns at once is insane). I'm hoping Picasa stays forever, but it doesn't matter to me if Picasa uses Picasa Web Albums or Google+ Photos. Who uses MySpace anymore. LOL!

Posted by:

20 Mar 2015

Well, I hated Google + after, Google deleted All my personal messages stored on YouTube, without a Shred of warning. They could have at Least moved them to the Google + (Somewhere) - (wherever your private messages would go, if there Is a place for them) - That's one thing Facebook Does offer, and one of the Many reasons why Google + could never even Begin to make a dent on Facebook, even with all Facebook's problems...

Posted by:

20 Mar 2015

I use Google+ some (for a dormant, long-forgotten anime fan group that I still desperately cling to) and I will miss it when it is gone.

Posted by:

Pierre Laberge
20 Mar 2015

Still cannot make posts to youtube since they did this G+ thing.

I have been told that "something is wrong" with my G+ account but nobody knows what or how to fix it. "It's a set-up issue". That helps!

But if I make a comment on my G+ page, it goes right to the correct youtube place, if one is involved. Go figure.

And I have sent unanswered "user experience" messages to Google. Apparently, I am not famous or rich enough for them to care.

So I wonder if this might fix things for me? I nevver figured out how to use half the features of G+, and never tried hangouts or such.

If these companies made these things easy to use, and user friendly....

They seem to be too concerned with mining our data. And making a buck off off of it. Sometimes value and ease of use must come before money and exploitation.....

Posted by:

B Miller
20 Mar 2015

One main feature I like is the Google Photos or Picsa 3 which gathers all of my photos and videos automatically and uploads tthem to my Web Album. In the past my computers have crashed and I had to do a new install. I had everything backup on discs and Flash Drives but with the Picasa 3/Google Photos, once I downloaded the Google Chrome and Picasa programs, all of my photos and videos were still stored in the online Web albums. I did like having the Google programs separate. Signing in to all of my Google accounts with one user name and password is not something I agree with. Thr bonus to having to remember all those user names and varioius passwords is that it keeps my mind active and hopfully hold Alzheimers and Dementia off.

Posted by:

20 Mar 2015

Google Plus is not going away. Other statistics unmentioned here, support the fact that more people are moving away from Facebook and toward G. Plus. Anyone who is an artist or poet knows that G.Plus is a superior platform than Facebook for creatives. I have used both platforms for a long time, and I spend less and less time on Facebook because the presentation is weaker. Just my opinion. Thanks for the article.

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Other statistics...?" Reference please?

Posted by:

Anne Hassell
20 Mar 2015

I really wanted to use G+, especially because it allows you to control your audience, but I found it too confusing to use regularly. I never could figure out how to post on G+ and have the post also appear on Facebook, although I do know a few people who do that regularly. I prefer what seems to be the basic ethics of G+ over Facebook, but the confusion factor overwhelms me.

Posted by:

20 Mar 2015

I never liked Google+, I never used Google+, and I'm happy to see it disappear. Good riddance.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

I was a Google Buzz user (remember that?) and was converted to G+ automagically when Buzz was taken offline. Buzz was OK and I've gotten used to G+ and use it daily. There are bits that are confusing, but if it goes away I won't be setting up a Facebook account. That beast just seems clunky to me. I've been testing Diaspora but it's still rather young and has some growing pains. I guess there is always email, eh?

Posted by:

Gianfranco Fronzi
31 Mar 2015

I found +Google worked flawlessly .
And I found it to be a very usable social outlet .
I'm surprised to see this .

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