As Google+ turns three, is it time to wave the white flag?
June 28 2014 marks three years since Google+ was launched. It represents an interesting tipping point in the history of the social network, for whom mass adoption has often been difficult to come by.
Despite having only a quarter of the userbase of Facebook, 359 million active users compared to 1.28 billion is still a hefty number. But there’s another issue at stake.
At Google I/O earlier this week, during the two and a half hour keynote conference there was mention of various new announcements and updates – but nothing on Google Plus.
For those who are avid users, the argument here is that it’s so ingrained in Google’s portfolio, such as Maps or Gmail – two other products which weren’t mentioned in the keynote – that it doesn’t need a mention.
However the critical perception is fairly clear, if these analysts were anything to go by:
I deleted my Google+ account two weeks ago. No one noticed. Not a single soul. Happy to see Google use it less and less in search results.— Stefan Constantine (@WhatTheBit) June 26, 2014
The only pause-for-applause at IO so far that didn't get applause was the 'And now you can integrate Google Plus!'— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) June 25, 2014
It felt like half of IO last year was about Plus. Barely mentioned this year, and Glass was invisible.— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) June 25, 2014
These two opinions can’t just be a coincidence. Look up Google+ in news searches and the vast majority of stories which come up focus on its glaring omission at I/O. But the truth remains: it’s Google’s ball, and if they decide to keep faith with Plus, then you’re going to have to like it or lump it if you want the rest of the ecosystem.
Nowhere was this more acutely felt than on YouTube, where Google+ identities interlock with YouTube accounts.
Google is starting to claw this unpopular disparity back, however. On Wednesday webmaster trends analyst John Mueller announced a simpler design for authorship on Plus, which includes losing profile photos.
This wasn’t taken very well in the comments underneath the post. “Google either plans on letting G+ die on its own, or phasing it out” wrote one, while another added: “This is a step backwards.” Many noted how big a change this was.
Regardless though, there are some impressive figures out there for usage, both for publishers and consumers. The Google +1 button is used five billion times a day, while websites which have the button generate three times more visits than sites without it.
Take a look at this infographic from DPFOC featuring the biggest numbers, the history and the future of the network. What’s your view of Google Plus?
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