Death Watch for Google Plus

Google Plus

Google’s grand plan to compete in every aspect of the social, search and you-name-it world does not seem to be working. Yes, people talked about the mysterious barge, and spun tales about Google Glass, but Google Plus (Google+) and its social circles are not exactly becoming the place to be. Based on their latest staffing reshuffles, it is also not the place to be employed. Is this the start of the Google+ death watch?

Last week, Vic Gundotra announced that his imminent departure after eight years. Google Plus was Gundotra’s baby and primary project for the many years. Google claimed that the departure news has no impact on its strategy for Google+ strategy and told sources that “they still have a talented team working to build great user experiences on Google+.” However, the tech world is abuzz with reports of changes being made.

Stories are circulating that the company is repositioning Google Plus as a platform not a product. If true, it essentially signifies the company is waving a white flag in front of other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Other reports say that Google has been reshuffling the staff of somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 employees that used to form the core of Google Plus’ workforce. Yes, the moves might just be logistical given the new building on campus – and not an omen – if not coincidental, the timing seems suspicious timed with Gundotra’s departure. Tech Crunch reported that the company’s Hangouts team is moving to the Android team, with the photos team likely to follow.

It certainly looks like talent will be shifting away from Google+, like rats jumping off a sinking ship. It is not clear where the rest of the Google+ gang is headed, besides keeping the patient on life support.

What is obvious is that Google+ and its circles are not growing. The public has clearly figured that it does not need all things Google. Besides, Facebook – the purported Google+ competitor – is rumored to be falling out of favor with trendy types, teens and collegiates. So, Google+ was coming to the party as all the cool kids were leaving.

Some say the company’s problem is the egoistic belief that all things should be Google. Other companies realize that marketing works better if the children create their own identity outside the mother ship. Or, in the case of marriages between older people who have their own reputation, it works better to not change one’s name. The only tool in their arsenal that did not become a Google brand was YouTube, and who knows what the plan is for that.

This is a marketing strategy many companies have managed. Disney puts its name and the mouse on some things, but left ESPN, ABC and others alone. Facebook seems to have grasped the concept and left Instagram and WhatsApp alone. Even Apple did not capitalize on the Mac or MacBook and introduce a MacPod.

Google News, Google Chrome, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs. A lot of people tap into Google’s world daily.  Okay, Google+ did not set the world afire. Maybe the Google+ death watch is the time for them to step back and consider how they want to brand themselves in the future, because all things Google is not working.

Opinion by Dyanne Weiss

New York Times
Tech Crunch

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