Monday, April 28, 2014

Google+: From "Product" to "Platform?"


According to TechCrunch's Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino [hat tip to Business Insider's Lisa Eadicicco], the departure of Vic Gundotra from Google basically means the death of Google+:

What we're hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform -- essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

I'm trying, and failing, to understand the distinction. Here's one bread crumb -- much of the Google+ team will be farmed out to other applications (e.g. Android) with a focus on "mobile" stuff:

The teams will apparently be building "widgets," which take advantage of Google+ as a platform, rather than a focus on G+ as its own integral product.

But isn't that kind of a distinction without a difference? If the Google+ infrastructure ("circles" for sharing/commenting/discussing and "hangouts" for direct interaction) is already built, it seems to me that aggressively moving those functions onto Other People's Web Sites is really all that's left to do, other than perhaps incremental improvements and leaping into action if some Big New Social Thing surfaces and needs addressing.

I confess that two areas in which I have not been an early adopter are "mobile" and "social networking."

I've tried to catch up with the phone thing a time or two but I fundamentally just don't like phones. I don't like answering them, I don't like talking on them and I loathe carrying one around.

I was late to Facebook, late to Twitter and late to Google+. I took a long time to warm up to Facebook, never have been able to make myself like Twitter and am just now starting to see the real potential of Google+ (I think I hit sort of a threshold number of "connections" awhile back such that now I see comments on, replies to and further shares of content I share with my "circles").

So, I guess I'm not ideally positioned to predict the future ... but if I had to hazard a guess, that guess would be that only Google can kill Google+ and that if they don't kill it, it will surpass both Facebook and Twitter as a "content sharing and discussion platform" within a few years.
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