Sunday, March 01, 2015

Future of Google+

I read the Forbes and business insider articles:

This seems to be a major announcement from Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Apps, mentioning Google+ could be broken down into different components.  Primarily, he meant that Google Photos and Hangouts would be separated from Google+.  At the same time, he also assured that none of the Google products are disappearing or closing down. This is especially interesting since from a social media perspective, Google+ could not make any significant impact as Facebook made. In fact, currently Google+ is not even in the top 5 in the list of leading social networks based on the number of active users. While Facebook currently leads with about 1.366 billion active users, Google+ is far behind at number 7 with 343 million active users. Please refer to the following link:

To understand the future of Google+, it is necessary to briefly discuss the history. I think most would have already forgotten Orkut by now. Orkut was a social networking website owned and operated by Google. The service was designed to help users meet new and old friends and maintain existing relationships, a social media platform. It started in 2004 and soon had many users world-wide especially in Brazil and India until 2008. Facebook also launched later in 2004 and ensured it was the most popular in the US and most of the Europe. Soon, Orkut could not match the advanced features and the tremendous growth of Facebook. At the end of April 2010, Orkut had 19.7 million unique visitors compared to Facebook, with 18 million visitors worldwide. Facebook grabbed the number one position for the first time in July 2010 with 20.9 million visitors, up 179%, a year ago. Since then, Orkut could never catch-up and had to be closed for ever last year in September 2014.

In addition to Facebook’s growth and its ease of use especially with mobile devices, I think another major reason for Orkut’s demise was Google was focusing on Google+ instead of enhancing and saving Orkut. Google+ was born in 2011. Google+ seemed to integrate in a better way as compared to Orkut on mobile devices but still has not caught up with Facebook yet. I think the key advantage is that Google+ provides a way to ensure users signed in to different Google services could have a common identity across all products. For example, if one is logged into his or her Google+ account in Chrome browser, he or she will be automatically logged into Gmail, Google Drive, and the Google's other services. This integrated user experience is critical for Google to ensure it has the accurate customer behavior. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Google+ is still very useful for Google even though it is not having a deep market penetration with active users as compared to the leaders such as Facebook. With that in mind, I think Google+ would soon be re-branded as an integrated platform for Google as compared to a Social Media network.



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