Google+ Second Thoughts


Indigo Mertel has supplied me with links that are a counterpoint to the Tech Crunch article on Google+ Walking Dead. So, I was asking myself if Tech Crunch had blown it or not and I by piling on. So, this morning I started looking at various articles written about Google+ (G+) in recent days.

Forbes has an article out on both the Tech Crunch claims and what Google is saying. See: Is Google+ Really Walking Dead? The article dose not really answer the question its title asks. But, they too point out that G+ is failing to compete with Facebook, which seems to be general knowledge uncontested by Google.

The article does point out the value G+ has for those doing SEO work (Search Engine Optimization). Everyone wants placement in the research results. Of course Google’s challenge is in keeping people interested in buying their advertising. To do that they must keep people searching via Google. That means providing good results for your searches. G+ has significant advantages for those wanting search placement and for those trying to find things. 

According to Jayson DeMers in writing for Forbes Google’s direction for G+ is unclear. But, their direction for search is to use information from G+ for marketing and search improvement. So, the chance of it disappearing is small. It provides Google some much desired marketing data.

Huffington Post has another article that is somewhat based on the Tech Crunch article many believe is inaccurate and just hyped-click-bait. Quoting Dino Grandoni writing Google+ Isn’t Dead. It’s Just In A Coma And On Life Support.

Second, everyone’s least favorite part of Google+ — the requirement that your Google+ profile be integrated into all other things Google — will reportedly be scaled back. The policy was a necessary evil of making Google+ work, quietly nudging people to “join” the social network all while annoying the hell out of them, most notably by requiring a Google+ account to comment on YouTube. It allowed Google+ to juice its user numbers and announce a bewildering 58 percent jump in active users over five months. But forcing people to join is no way to build a social network that people will voluntarily use.

In another Huffington article Google Has Killed Some Of Its Best Ideas.. Because Of Google+ there is some more interesting information.  I think this makes it obvious G+ is not something Google is likely to dump. Their history shows they have no problem dropping services that fail to perform, like Google Reader. Quoting a comment about a Google feature that was to allow you to control how much information Google gathers about you:

…there was one other self-imposed obstacle: “Allowing people to select the maximum-protection setting, known as the ‘tin-foil-hat option,’ went against Google’s newer efforts to get more people to share information about themselves on the Google+ social-networking service,” sources told the paper’s Amir Efrati. Google didn’t answer a HuffPost inquiry about the Journal article.

That feature was killed off. It was apparently built, but shut down and discarded. I think that re-enforces the idea of Google’s goal with G+.

Danny Crichton a Google employee that started working for Google on the G+ project just before it launched writes for Tech Crunch: A Personal Reflection On Google+. This article explains the internal battle going on within Google over how the G+ product should work and what it was to accomplish for the company leading by far the debate over what it was to do for users. It is basic. Geeks don’t understand social. It was like those implementing mesh for Second Life couldn’t foresee how it would be used more for clothing than anything else.

The article explains much of the culture within Google. It is neither harmonious nor necessarily civil. The politics of any large group of humans tends toward the devious and political intrigue as people try to get THEIR way.

Where is the TRUTH?

We hear a lot about lazy journalism in regard to G+ dying. I am a great believer in transference and projection, so I look hard at those pointing to lazy journalism.  I am finding both sides of the argument providing little factual data.

We know Vic Gundotra has departed Google+, he says so and his G+ post is there for all to see and reports and Google management say it is so. Tech Crunch claims 1,000 to 1,200 employees have been reassigned, but points to two unnamed sources for the verification, not confidence inspiring. Google and Google employees say they are keeping the core team… sounds like people got moved to me.

Now Google appears to be mounting its PR campaign to counter the Tech Crunch article. A leading article is: Yonatan Zunger puts Google+ “Walking Dead” rumors to rest. If you are familiar with political and corporate spin you’ll find some familiar phrases in the copy. Yonatan is shown in G+ as the Chief Architect Google+.

What I gather from all the writing is the Tech Crunch article is exaggerated. But, the basic facts they put forward have yet to be put in dispute. The claim is made the article is all BS. But, what politician doesn’t say that when busted by the FBI? It isn’t ALL fake or made up.

Yonatan points out that the author of the TC article owns shares in Facebook. Well, many Google employees own shares in Google and they are getting a paycheck from Google. May be we can devise a scoring system so we can figure out who has the most incentive to spin what. I doubt FB is threatened enough by G+ to mount a counter offensive and damage G+. But, this is the world of corporate competition.

We also know that G+ was initially advertised as competition for Facebook, Google’s answer to social networking. That is no longer the case as top Google management peeps now describe it as a social layer to Google. Others are now calling it an Identity Service. It should be obvious that G+’s 350+ million users are a small subset of Facebook’s billion users.  This battle for users may be a long way from over, but it is obvious Facebook is winning, at least for now. Google has engaged and will continue to do so, but for now G+ as it is today isn’t the winning strategy.

The point of the Tech Crunch article seems to have been made and in such a way as to piss off a number people and Google. But, Google is obviously changing its plans for G+ and doing its best to keep a flow of people coming into G+ in the face of an obvious truth; G+ is not meeting its intended goals.

Things will change in the coming months. But, G+’s life as Google’s Facebook killer is over. In that respect it is dead. It will continue to walk. I think the zombie comparison by Tech Crunch is over the top but it well illustrates what has happened and got TC headlines.

G+ provides too valuable an information source for Google to drop it, so it is not going to stop living in some way. See: It’s the End of Google+, The Reports of its Death Are Exaggerated. But, G+ is not going to be what we thought it would be or what Google management wanted it to be. I suspect they will change it into something else.

As Dino pointed out before, the insistence on Google’s part that everything Google has to be tied to a RL name and login to be used is causing blow back. The FB leaks are causing people to leave FB. Privacy concerns are showing up everywhere. California to proposing a states right enabled law that prohibits companies and government agencies from giving the Feds people’s information without a court order. Other states are considering similar laws. For liberal, pro big government California that is a significant step to push back.

People are concerned about privacy and I think this concern has hurt Google in their single minded pursuit of people’s personal data. The result of the concern seems to show up most in the use of G+. So, I see G+ has having taken a serious wound. Whether it proves fatal, we can’t yet know. But, G+ won’t be the same, whether it grows to something more robust or fades to a weak shadow only time will tell, but it it is going to change.

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