Monday, August 24, 2015

Is Google+ alive or dead?

A chorus of tech journalists are reporting that Google is phasing out its social network, Google+.

Where did they get this juicy nugget of information? Well, they made it up. And I'll tell you why. But first, let's look at what the press is saying and compare that with reality.

Repeated news media claims that Google+ is on the verge of extinction appears to be a delusion caused by a social media paradox called the "majority illusion."

The press has been declaring the imminent death of Google+ since 2011, but this latest fantasy proclamation of Google+ coming to an end was triggered by two events.

The first event is that the official date for phasing out the photo tools that were integrated into Google+ came and went. Google replaced them with the more consumer-friendly and separate Google Photos.

The second is that Google announced a few weeks ago that a Google+ login would no longer be required for using YouTube and other Google services.

When Google launched Google+ four years ago, the strategy was to link or integrate nearly every consumer-facing service to Google+, so Photos and Hangouts were built in from the start. Later, a Google+ account was required to use Google Play, YouTube and other Google services.

It was a radical strategy of universal integration, but non-Google+ users didn't like it. And after the departure last year of Google+ chief Vic Gundotra, Google began the slow and gradual reversal of the integration strategy.

Google+ chief Bradley Horowitz said the decoupling changes are being made mostly to improve Google+. He wrote in a Google+ post this week that "We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+." 

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