Google+, or death of a vision

Google+ will no longer be the integrative bind or the social layer for using Google products and services, or to act as a public identity representing the whole and integral person online within and without Google, which was once the direction of travel. Bradley Horowitz put a vision of Google+ thus in an interview published at Google+ is Google itself. We’re extending it across all that we do—search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube—so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are.

In an honest appraisal of the product published at, Google admits that ‘[it] made a few choices that, in hindsight, [it has] needed to rethink.’ There are changes to come, but it will start most noticeably with YouTube, and namely YouTube comments will be separated from Google+. Soon, YouTube users will not be required to have a Google+ entity, as mentioned in YouTube Official Blog at It is the end of the road for trying to force Google+ into everything and everywhere, and the death of a vision of Google+.

The promised changes are wide-ranging and fundamental. The post on Google Official Blog quoted above continues: ‘in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google.’ One may perhaps wonder why Google+ is needed any longer, if a Google Account is all a user need to share content.

Google+ has been retrenching for quite some time, and this announcement is merely a confirmation of that process that has turned from integration to modularization. For example, its integration with Google search through rel=“author” ended a while back, and Google Photos is a self-standing product which does not require a Google+ entity. This is not a bad decision in my view, since forced integration did not work: Google has wasted valuable time in pursuing that overambitious policy, albeit in an infuriatingly half-hearted, half-baked, and hare-brained manner. Giving each product a focus to grow in its own area is likely to lead to better individual products and overall user experience.

In essence, Google+ is no longer the integrative force, and it is no longer the defining or fundamental building block for users of Google products, but it will simply become a Google product among many. With burdens lifted from its shoulders, Google+ can become a non-abstract product with well-defined functions and uses that people can understand and use more easily: it will need to come up with such clear functions very quickly to reassure the enthusiastic and convince the sceptical. Having been hyped up and forced upon, it may be questioned whether the stigma of failure and the stench of the death of the encompassing vision will haunt Google+ in the future. The true test for Google+ is yet to come.