Friday, March 06, 2015

Saving Google+ one feature at a time

Google+ was first launched in June 2011 as a response to Facebook’s growing members.  On the surface, it seems exactly like Facebook: you can share updates with friends, receive and follow your friends’ activity feeds, chat and even group your friends based on your relationships with them.

After almost 4 years, Google+ has not been as successful as they had hoped.  Although Google claims that they have 300 million active users, most people I know don’t use the service and maybe even some who work at Google will confirm it is a “failed” product.  Is Google being truthful about their statistics or are they being sneaky about their criteria for a Google Plus user?

In a recent CNN article, Google’s product chief Sundar Pichai stated that Google+ will be re-branded.  Although the number of users is billions less than Facebook, the investment was too big for Google to dump (it's a sunk cost!) so they are going to leverage the successful features.

Google+ has had success with the “Hangout” and “Photo” features.  I have used Google Hangout and found it to be very useful for video conferencing for group projects and you can also have a lot of fun with the photo taking feature in Hangout.  These features will continue to exist as products,  just re-organized differently.  The social feed aspect will move into a new service called “streams” and allow users to post to Google+.

In addition to these changes, a recent Mashable article shares information about a new version of Google Contacts that aims to combine users' Gmail and Google+ connections in one place to create a more streamlined experience.  "The new Google Contacts comes with a fresh look and feel, and conveniently pools together all your contacts, circles, and the people you talk to most in Gmail," Google writes in a blog post.  "The new Contacts ensures that the info you see is still accurate and ready to use by blending your contact’s Google profile information with the stuff you already have."

Contacts will be rolling out to Gmail users "over the next few weeks."

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