The year was 2011. It was peak season for social networks. Facebook was buzzing with new features and tens of millions of new users every passing month. Twitter was being used in ways its founders never imagined – bringing down governments and all. Google wanted in on the fun too. The little it had close to a social network, Buzz, was on its deathbed and desperate for something to coalesce its social efforts around, Google+ was born.
5 years later, Google+ is just a shell. I can’t say a shadow of its former self since it never got to rival Facebook at the scale Google had imagined it would.
The man tasked with steering it back then, Vic Gundotra, is now the head of a health startup 2 years after leaving Google and his pet project, Google+. For Google, the company has since stripped Google+ of all that made it attractive in the last one year and narrowed down the network’s focus to shared interests (collections) and communities. This has resulted in the occasional spark like the new group messaging service, Google Spaces, which I have been trying to make sense of and really like.
Google+ birthdays are becoming more of reminders that the doomed social effort by Google still exists than celebrations of anything worthwhile
While it increasingly seems like Google is no longer trying to build its own Facebook, Google’s mobile messaging efforts are bound to broaden (and become increasingly confused) with the release of Allo and Duo which are meant to take chatting to the next level by integrating artificial intelligence. This is of interest to us because Hangouts was once a core Google+ feature that is being relegated to enterprise use while at the same time coming under threat from the many messaging solutions on offer from Google’s rivals.
What next for Google+?
Honestly, I have no idea and Google isn’t saying much. So it will likely still be around for another birthday next year but as is the case this year, there won’t be much to celebrate then.