In the ‘I told you so’ file: Google Plus could be stripped for parts, says Quartz

Quartz reckons Google Plus is going to be stripped for parts: it’s going the way of Google Wave and Google Buzz.
   I was consistent from the start about Google Plus, unlike a good part of the tech press, which drank the Google Kool-Aid and talked about how it would be a Facebook-killer.
   The logic was never there to begin with. If Google organized the internet, and Facebook organized your friends, then what on earth was Google Plus for?
   I have an account and I even like the user interface, despite my misgivings about Google.
   But I never saw a real purpose for it. Mine tends to be used to post warnings about Google, because I enjoy irony. On occasion it didn’t even work.
   I have friends who are Plus fans, because they have built up decent followings and have, I presume, more intimate discussions on there than one would have on Facebook, which, if you are like me, has friends from all walks of life. Personally, I prefer seeing different viewpoints so I can learn about how others think—I’m seldom dismissive of thoughts that disagree with my own unless that person has proved to waste my time with content-less drivel on too many occasions—so I never really had a need to build up a new bunch of folks who might share a narrower range of interests with me.
   However, for me, my Google Plus activity never even exceeded my Myspace activity. And these days, Myspace is in the crapper again, introducing a YouTube player that plays songs that have no relationship to the ones you choose. It has ceased to be a viable platform despite a very good interface and music library at the time of its second coming. After epic fails on the part of Myspace to play the correct music, I gave up on it, and I haven’t been back for a long time.
   Google Plus never did a thing for me, and now I see from the Quartz article that Google is changing its narrative again.
   ‘For us, Google Plus was always two things, a stream and a social layer. The stream has a passionate community of users, but the second goal was larger for us. We’re at a point where things like photos and communications are very important, we’re reorganizing around that. Hangouts will still exist,’ said Android boss Sundar Pichai.
   Apparently it was meant to be a “social layer” from the start. You could argue that this isn’t entirely inaccurate, if you read Google’s launch blog post about Plus. However, there’s every sign it was meant to be a Facebook rival, and that’s what the tech press took from Google at the time. It was even called ‘Googbook’ internally. It was just like Microsoft Internet Explorer, trying to take on Netscape. Except Internet Explorer actually did much better in getting market share.
   The failure of Plus—sure, I could be premature, because Quartz‘s article is careful not to make this a dead cert—cements Gordon Kelly’s view that Google and Microsoft have swapped places to some extent. Microsoft is acting like an upstart, while Google is defending old businesses, resting on its laurels. Kelly also says:

   Google’s pillars of ads and search have become its Windows and Office. Both are being chipped away by more targeted advertising within social media and the compartmentalisation of an apps-based world. Your details and desires are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram more than in your Google search requests and we increasingly go to specific apps (eg weather) rather than web searching for it.
   The knock-on effect: Adsense is declining and Google’s search market share is currently at its lowest point in seven years. Like Microsoft had done with Windows and Office, Google understandably still tightly holds onto the duo as its primary revenue pillars but the future implies only further slow decline with no obvious escape route.
   Furthermore Google appears to be making another old Microsoft error: deprioritizing mobile.

The rest of the article makes a good read.
   If Facebook is becoming a thing of the past, and Google is rethinking Plus, then the latter half of the decade could be very interesting in terms of what new websites might take up our time.

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3 thoughts on “In the ‘I told you so’ file: Google Plus could be stripped for parts, says Quartz

  1. It’s a real pity that Myspace didn’t do better; I remember our discussion about it. I thought J. Timberlake had made a good try of it, as the site HAD been known for promoting music. My time at We Heart Music suggested at least that much, but, I sense that musicians moved elsewhere because opportunities were missed, probably the least of which you’ve mentioned.

    I’ve said before that I am avoiding Facebook like the plague– all that was there for me in the past was politically malcontent schoolmates and toxic relatives. Ironically, what would call me back is a few private support groups for trauma/abuse survivorship; I’d have to use a pseudonym to avoid reprisal from family (due to the issue being tangled in family ties). And as I said on Twitter, well, it was only Hangouts that pulled me back in to G+. The only family members that are even using G+ are more tech-savvy AND they willingly keep in touch, without the ugly drama. In short: no, I don’t need G+ in particular; but I am using other Google services.

    No Kool-aid drunk here. Just convenience, for now. No sense moving to another platform if people aren’t using it– if they don’t use Google, they use Facebook– and we loop back on the argument on why I don’t use Facebook.

  2. J., Facebook has relaxed its requirement to use real names—I know this as a drag queen friend who lost her profile has recently got it back—so I think you could go on there with a pseudonym. I’m not a big fan of Facebook, either—the only reason it doesn’t figure more in my long-form blog posts is that it tells you that it is a privacy invader (not in so many words). If it doesn’t lie, I’m not going to call them out. It is a very arrogant company though.
       I long believe that one should use whatever platform suits them—it is the same argument I pose in the whole Mac v. PC debate. These are tools, and we should choose what is right. However, we should also choose them being fully aware of their down sides, and my problem with Google—a military contractor pursuing more and more military business—is that its reality does not measure up to its “nice guy” claims.

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