Back in 2011, at the launch of Google+, Gundotra said: “The subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools. In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.“
While Google reported in October 2013 that Plus users had grown to 300 million, they failed to specify that many of these “users” consisted of people simply logging into their Gmail account, or using other Google services.
TechCrunch recently reported that Google would stop pushing Plus as a social network and instead focus on utilizing it as a platform to access other Google products.
So what went wrong? Ever since its inception in 2011 those within and around Google questioned its legitimacy. One Google engineer even called the social network a “pathetic afterthought” when it was launched. Then, in 2013 when Google+ integrated itself into the comments section of YouTube, former YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim responded with a very straightforward, explicit comment.
Several former Google+ employees have expressed their frustration with the social network, saying it lacked any identity or direction from the beginning. From a user perspective, people are (and have been) overwhelmed with social networking. There’s just no more room at the table when you’ve already got Facebook and Twitter.
So is Google+ useless now? Absolutely not. The one thing Google+ still has going for it is its ability to influence search engine results. Having Google Authorship set up requires a completed Google+ profile. In theory, connecting with people and utilizing the social network gives your Google+ profile more credibility, influencing search results even more.
Despite the incredible success Google has had since its inception, this is one of several letdowns along the way. While Google+ won’t go the way of Google Reader or Google Buzz (and completely disappear), the hype has come and gone, and we’re left with what was once a novel idea.