It’s a shame Google+ is shutting down, said barely anyone, which is in itself a shame.
After a few years of throwing money into the social ring, Google has pulled the plug on its beleaguered social network, and is preparing to strip it for parts.
With around 2.2 billion profiles -derived almost exclusively from Gmail and YouTube accounts- Google+ certainly had the scale, but none of the engagement, with little more than 4-6 million active users per month. Even then the term active was pushed to its limits, with most engagements consisting of users commenting on YouTube videos, or changing their YouTube profile pictures, an onerous task involving one to leave YouTube, change it in Google+ then return to YouTube.
Although it’s not as if Google made a sub-par social network with a design better than Facebook and photo-sharing ability that put other networks to shame, its biggest error was launching Google+ when it did. (Oh and also, its name. What’s a Google+?)
Being rolled out at a time when Facebook was still growing, and more single purposed sites like Instagram and Twitter were coming up fast, the world wasn’t looking for yet another site that could do it all. Especially one by such an established player who looked like they just wanted a finger in the pie.
People’s lack of understanding of Google+’s unique features never reached critical mass. (I only, just moments ago, figured out what a circle is) And, it’s not a surprise considering the search giant’s vast grave of misunderstood products.
The Mountain View, California based company continues to have a problem adding focus to its products, and while perhaps they knew what made Google+ special, their inability to explain this to the public was detrimental to the social network’s success.
With users already oversubscribed to multiple social platforms, it was always going to be tough getting people to build profiles on yet another social network whose benefits were unclear, and now with Facebook having practically reached saturation, (you’re probably Facebook friends with grandmother now), most people no longer see the appeal of social networks that do everything, and instead are preferring to compartmentalise different tasks onto specific platforms.
Instagram and Pinterest have shown staggering growth, messenger service WhatsApp -which Google lost out on to Facebook- has grown to a user base of 700 million, and with services like Snapchat redefining the need to share content publically, and instead have it exist solely within one world, there’s simply no more room for a network like Google+.
While it showed us how pretty a social network could be, how seamless photo back-ups should be, and how much better it is to have contacts arranged into categories of relevance such as best friends, work friends, or family (so, that’s what circles are!), it was just too late to the scene to make an impact.
Therefore, Google+ I bid you adieu. We hardly knew ye, other than when changing our YouTube display pictures.
Goodnight and good Googles.