In 2011, after watching the steady rise to dominance of Facebook and Twitter, Google launched their very own social media network called Google+.
The launch of the platform marked a new era in the Google world, where all Google products would be inexorably incorporated into the ever expanding social layer that was g+. This would not be their first attempt at social, but it would be the one at which they threw their most concerted effort.
In order to drive adoption, Google decided to make g+ the single profile through which all Google products would now be accessed. This, as many people much smarter than me have pointed out, was a mistake.
It turns out that while the general public likes many of Google’s products, from search to YouTube to Chrome to Drive and so on, they are not too comfortable using Google as their social network platform. They don’t like being told that they have to use “real names.” They don’t like seemingly being forced to tie all their Google activity back to a social profile, especially when much of this activity was privately manageable prior to the change.
Today, Google relented.g+, and it’s public profile, will no longer be the connecting tissue between all the Google products that you use.
While G+ isn’t going away, it is being forced to stand on its own two feet. Will the audience that likes g+ remain? will it grow? will new features be developed and released, making it a must have?
Who knows. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, lets hope that Google recognizes that end users like to have control over their identity, over what information gets shared about themselves publicly, through which persona, and what remains private.
Now, what to do about Chrome’s incessant need to identify and track my web usage without providing any way to opt out of this tracking altogether. I wonder….