Google+ is not dead, this much is obvious, and in fact it’s my social media network of choice. As big as Facebook is, I have a serious issue with it, perhaps it’s all a little too “local” for my taste. No matter how invested you’ve become in Google+ though, Google don’t seem willing to keep things growing like they were some time ago. In fact, you could make the case that Google is actively killing Google+, slowly cutting it up into smaller pieces until it goes quietly off into the night. While that’s probably a massive overreaction, their latest changes do have to make you wonder.
‘Unbundling’ might be the new thing these days when it comes to social networks, and while Google Photos was less of a cutting a piece of Google+ and more creating a new product offering for everyone, this latest round of changes seem like cuts. In a nutshell, Google will be separating Google+ and YouTube, and will also be making it easier for users to use Google products, without a Google+ profile. While the YouTube marriage was never my favorite feature (I prefer my YouTube activity and Google+ activity to stay separate) splitting the two altogether doesn’t seem a smart idea. I watch a lot of YouTube and respect many of the content creators on there and the one thing I hear about Google+ is that it’s helpful when people are notified of a new video having been uploaded. I’ve seen this firsthand, and it’s not amazing, but a neat addition. Besides, while people rebelled against the need for a Google+ account to comment, we’re sure Google saw an uptick in Google+ members.
YouTube is one thing, and will always be its own thing, but Google stopped asking new Android users to sign up to Google+ a long, long time ago and now that Google is moving away from asking for a Google+ profile to experience Google, I don’t know when the next wave of users is going to come from. You could say that because these users are already experiencing Google services, they’ll automatically turn to Google+, but that seems unlikely. In a world of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp people are far too busy to spend time on a network that is likely to give them few returns. Google needed to bring more people to Google+, not fewer, and making it easier for people to use Google services without a Google+ profile doesn’t seem like the way to bring in new users.
Google seem to be taking an absolute approach to these changes, rather than subtle adjustments. Personally, I had no qualms with YouTube and Google+ becoming closer, but the fact that YouTube activity bled back into Google+ activity didn’t make sense to me, and probably annoyed a lot of others as well. This is probably the main thing that Google should have changed when talking about YouTube. Google should focus on subtle changes to make Google+ sec more desirable, rather than continue to annex it to an island on its own, with little to attract new users. Google+ Collections is neat and all, but I’ve not used it once, and if Google can’t find a way to bring more people to the network – and keep them there – then they may as well pull the trigger themselves.