A recently disclosed data breach for some 500,000 Google+ users seems to have been the last straw for Google’s faltering social network. I wrote about Google Plus’s launch back in 2011 under the title ’Google takes aim at Facebook again - 3rd time lucky?’. And it’s incredible to see how much the interface has changed in the intervening years.
Truth is that much like Apple, Google has always been off the pace when it comes to social networks, and both of these companies have made several attempts at trying to make this a success. Apple was never really in the running though - their closed-off approach just isn’t conducive to social networking at all, while I feel Google were always trying too hard to be sufficiently different.
When Google+ / Plus launched - it was all about ’Circles’, ’Sparks’, ’Hangouts’ and ’Huddles’ - but this in effect turned out to be a somewhat fragmented approach versus the single-stream approach of the already successful networks. For my needs - only Facebook gets close enough to the kind of experience that works for me, but even that is flawed in its principal obsession with monetisation modelling.
I made a real concerted effort to try to get into Google+ at the time, but it never quite worked seamlessly enough for me - things just weren’t as intuitive or within obvious easy reach - and comparatively it has always under-performed as such.
So the Google bigwigs have decided to throw in the towel, the consumer part will be mothballed within months - some say by next August, while some ’Corporate’ portion of the functionality will be retained somehow - details are very sparse at the moment. It used to be that Google+ was an essential vehicle for securing decent SEO as it was so tightly integrated with the Google Search Engine. Those individuals who still use Google+ regularly will have to find an alternative. As for us less frequent users, I personally am not so bothered at all - it somehow failed to properly connect with me, my friends and family. We all made a concerted effort for the first few months, but it just wasn’t sufficiently rewarding - nowadays pretty much the whole digital world is on Facebook, and their first mover advantage is so significant that it’s really not feasible to offer up any sort of reasonable competition.
So 3rd time here is alas not the charm - I guess Google are back to the drawing board on this one once more! It will be interesting to see how it all pans out, and when/if Google decide to have another 4th attempt at getting this right!