There are many rumours circulating after a wee few small leaks…
“Google+ is being broken up into hangouts, photos and streams”
My reaction= Great! then people will understand how to use it!
“Google+ is nothing like Facebook”
Excellent- aren’t we all getting tired of drunk students with their tongues out?
“There is no-one on Google+”
Any shrewd person would relish the fact that there is no competition!
Let’s read some hard facts from the experts.
When Vic Gundotra left the Google+ team on April 24, 2014, TechCrunch published an article that very same day with the headline: Google+ Is Walking Dead.
Here is an excerpt from the TechCrunch article:
“According to two sources, Google has apparently been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, a group numbering between 1,000 and 1,200 employees. We hear that there is a new building on campus, so many of those people are getting moved physically, as well — not necessarily due to Gundotra’s departure.
As part of these staff changes, the Google Hangouts team will be moving to the Android team, and it is likely that the photos team will follow, these people said. Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform, we’re hearing.”
As it later turned out, these stories were not true; the Google+ team was simply moved to another building to get more space.
I can also add that it is true that somewhere around 1,200 Google+ employees moved to another building. That would in fact be the entire Google+ team, as we outgrew our old building and were packed in like sardines. The new building is great.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the situation more than the October 7, 2014 interview that Google+ head Dave Besbris gave to recode.net: We’re Here for the Long Haul.
Besbris made many comments indicating that Google+ is not going anywhere, including:
We’re actually very happy with the progress of Google+. [CEO Larry Page] said this at the time that Vic transitioned that he is going to continue working on building this stuff, that he is very happy with it. The company is behind it. I have no idea where these rumors come from, to be honest with you.
Frankly, though, I think we can’t place too much stock in these numbers, from any of the social networks. In many ways, these are apples-and-oranges comparisons.
However, I think we can safely say that Google wishes that Google+ was much bigger than it is now, because that would provide them with a lot more data to leverage. They pushed this network aggressively, and they would like to have gotten a lot more from it.
3. Author photos and Authorship are gone
It would have been nice if the publishing world had adopted Authorship tagging en masse, but the reality is that they didn’t. This is indeed a disappointment for Google, but I doubt that it’s a fundamental issue for Google+.
4. Hangouts are now unbundled
While there is now a separate Google Hangouts app, you can’t start a Hangout on Air without a Google+ account, nor can you use any of the social features without one.
So, is this a defeat for Google+? Not at all.
The separate app makes it easier for people to engage with Google Hangouts. Score this as a win for Google’s overall social media effort. And Google+ helped foster and launch this new development.
5. Will photo capabilities become unbundled, too?
Not so fast, that’s still a rumor, not yet confirmed by anyone at Google. Even if it does happen, as with Hangouts, don’t be surprised if this is done in a way that helps drive more interest to Google+.
In addition, look what Facebook did with Instagram — it kept it as a separate network. Why did they do that? Because users like their social media apps unbundled and don’t want a monolithic platform. Pretty smart, I’d say.
And let us not forget the reasons for- massively overwhelming reasons..
Arguments people make for Google+
6. Google+ is Google
This is something that those who are passionate about Google+ like to say, but I think they would be better off if they stopped saying it.
The basis of the argument is that Google+ was the driver for creating unified logins and social profiles across all Google products, as well as the +1 button.
However, they can eliminate Google+, the social platform, at this point and keep the login requirement, user profiles, and +1 buttons.
7. New features keep on coming
The Google+ team has released new features in the past year, such as Google+ polls, Google My Business, view counts, page insights, major Android and iPhone app upgrades, and more.
Clearly, they are still investing in it. On the other hand, none of these are revolutionary features. Google+ feels much like a “me too” type of network, and this is one of its great weak points.
8. The Google+ team is growing
While Besbris also did not reveal the number of employees working on Google+, he did say this about the size of the team: “We’re the largest we’ve ever been.”
However, it’s not entirely clear what they’re doing. It seems like a small number of features have been released in the last year, compared to the supposed size of the Google+ team.
Could they be working on the next generation of G+? A real possibility, in my mind.
In fact, on January 10, Medium released this interview with Demis Hassabis on some of the investments that Google is making in Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Hassabis co-founded DeepMind, a company that was bought by Google for $400 million. Here is what he had to say:
In six months to a year’s time we’ll start seeing some aspects of what we’re doing embedded in Google Plus, natural language and maybe some recommendation systems.
9. Having hundreds of millions of active user profiles is gold
This is one of the huge payoffs of Google+. Even if people only periodically +1 a piece of content, that’s huge for Google because it’s data.
People who diss Google+ for its lack of monetization are not getting the significance of this single aspect of the network (see the next point).
The number of users they have is the reason why I think Google will choose to build on their current base, instead of starting something new from scratch.
To summarise the facts and round up Googles future intent..
The bottom line for Google
So what about all the media people questioning Google+?
They have every right to do so, and I do think many of their criticisms are on point. Google+ is not a true success as is.
It’s a network that most people don’t know exists, that many other people choose to avoid, and that even has ex-employees who write scathing commentaries about how they messed it up (warning: lots of four-letter words in this article).
I don’t think Google’s social network is where they want it be. However, I don’t think stating “Google+ is dead” forms the right conclusion either.
Here are the four main points that statement overlooks:
1. Surrender is not an option
Google is hungry for as many sources of data about people as they can get, and social media activity is one great way to do that.
2. Google+ is a component of a larger social media strategy
There are many out there who consider Google a failure in social media.
While Google certainly failed to properly pursue Buzz, Orkut, and Wave, they own YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing platform — so that puts that assertion to rest right there.
And, Google+ does have a major audience that it can build on.
The Hangout and photo-sharing capabilities really rock. Even if they are partially unbundled, these may potentially do quite well on their own. That’s not a failure; it’s a starting point.
3. Google+ creates some revenue for Google right now
I made this point above, but it bears repeating. Personalized search is not just for organic search — it results in better ad targeting, too.
Google’s ads have high click-through rates, which drive incremental revenue.
4. What are Google’s options if Google+ is a failure?
If we assume, for the sake of argument, that the social network is a failure, Google has three main options:
Start over. That’s a problematic strategy, because they will be even further behind where they are now.
Buy a major competitor. Unfortunately, there is no viable competitor for them to buy. I do believe that they will buy other social media sites, but the purpose of the purchases will be to fill holes in a broader social media strategy.
Build on what they have. As Besbris noted in his recent interview, they have hundreds of millions of users, and that makes a great starting place for any long-term strategy in social.
They’re in it for the long haul
So here is where I am at with this: Google is not going to let go for a better grip. They are likely contemplating major changes to Google+.
For further proof, see the Medium article I reference above. They are certainly working on features they think can end up having many hundreds of millions of users.
They clearly recognize that G+ is not a success in its current form. They need to offer large-scale differentiation, and they have not done so yet.
However, I believe that they will use the current Google+ as the platform on which they build these features, in one manner or another.
When Dave Besbris says, “We’re here for the long haul,” you can put that in the bank.