In 2011, Google set out to compete with the rapidly growing social network, Facebook. At the time, Google saw creating a hot new social network as just what they needed to reestablish their status in the tech world. They set out to make a more cohesive user identity but used brute force rather than consumer-driven incentive. It seems like executives at Google had a sort of “If they [Mark Zuckerberg] can do it, we can do it better” mentality. As we’ve seen over the past few years, that has not been the case…
When Google+ launched, Google was dominating online search, growing in the smartphone world (thanks to Android) and was even getting started on self-driving cars. Why then, were they trying to venture into social networking, something clearly out of their wheelhouse? Now we know, this was an ideal case study on how an established technology company tried to impulsively compete with startups when it felt threatened.
Ironically, as Google+ failed, Facebook continued to gain steam and grow increasingly more influential. Four years later, Google+ is slowly but surely fading away.
Google recently announced that it would eliminate a highly-criticized requirement to use a Google+ account when signing on to other services like YouTube.
An earlier sign of the slow, sad demise of Google+ was the spin-off of Photos and Hangouts. These moves away from total world domination is a clear indication that Google is rethinking its playbook of trying to create the next bigger and better Facebook. Facebook 1 – Google 0
Ultimately, Google+ launched reactively rather than proactively. After breaking ground in so many other areas of the tech world, Google launched this social network with big aspirations and limited thought into legitimate application. Facebook’s mission statement has always been clear: to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them. It’s nearly impossible to find one for Google+.
An article from Mashable explains, “[Google] bet on a charismatic leader with a flawed vision, ignored troubling indications about the social network’s tractions (or lack thereof) with users and continued throwing features at the wall long after many had written Google+ off for dead.” With hindsight being 20/20, Google is now trying to rebrand and find some actual purpose for their social network.
Google+ is now focused on Streams, Photos and Sharing. So…Pinterest?
As much as I love Google for a multitude of other reasons, I (like many others) will not be sad to see Google+ fade into darkness. Google should learn from this experience and remember that they have a secure spot in the tech world, even if they do not have a social network. Keep working on those self-driving cars.