In what must have come as no surprise to most tech analysts, Google announced this week that it would be realigning Google+ to make it more focussed and will also be doing away with an unpopular requirement that linked Google+ to all other Google products.
Bradley Horowitz, VP of Streams, Photos, and Sharing, wrote on the Official Google Blog, “When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes.”
As part of these changes, Horowitz said that certain features will be moved out of Google+. Some of these include location sharing, which will be moved to Hangouts and other apps, while some features of Google+ Photos have been moved to the new Android Photos app.
He also said that as part of the process of divorcing Google+ from its other products a Google Account will be all that’s needed to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel, etc. all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change.
Analysts and digital professionals have long debated on the value that Google+ brings to the table; for both brands and personal users. With social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram dominating the scene, Google+ has found itself shunted to the role of a distant favourite and something that most tolerate since it is enforced upon them. But Google has now realized that forcing a ‘social’ platform on people is an irony that does not make sense.
“Google made a move that most consumers felt was inevitable. Google+ failed to engage due to the varied offerings on its platform and its inability to stand out from the existing players. While Google Hangout was an interesting proposition, social networks such as Meerkat and Periscope came in offering a wider outreach, easier interface and a far more long-term solution to live streaming,” says Zafar Rais, Founder and CEO of Mindshift Interactive.
This is not even the first time that Google has had to rethink its social media forays. From Orkut to Google Wave, there have been a slew of products that are proof that when it comes to social networking, fate hasn’t always sided with the internet giant.
“Google has various services that are leading the way with but social networking sites are an area they've failed at again and should probably steer clear of, focusing on enhancing their existing leadership services,” opined Rais.
However, though most media outlets have already started writing obituaries for Google+, it would be fair to point out that Google is not saying that the service will be shut down. It only says that the product will now be more focused. In fact, if anything, this philosophy might lead to a stronger Google+ in the future.
For example, Gautamm Mehra, Business Head (Social Media) at iProspect Communicate2, says that though Google’s idea with G+ was “wonky” from the start, it did give birth to Hangouts, which has now replaced Google Talk as the default messenger client.
“Forcing a service on a user never works in the long run,” he said, when asked what went wrong with Google+.