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Subtracting Google+

It’s safe to say that Google pretty much runs the Internet, and although they don’t miss on much—Google+ has been a massive failure. Concocted as the tech giant’s first major foray into Social Media Land and designed to directly compete with Facebook, at the end of April Business Insider reported that Google is apparently dismantling and reorganizing the team assigned to the failed social platform. 

From the outset it was apparent that something was amiss with Google+. The initial roll-out, based on an invite-only format, was intended to create a sense of exclusivity and urgency—but apparently it nurtured only antipathy. While preliminary signups and user-growth numbers were on par or even exceeded Facebook’s for the same time period, it appeared that once the excitement of a new social media outlet wore off, so did the active users. 

Google attempted to augment this lack of activity by making Google+ a mandatory component to any Google account, and integrating it into each aspect of their interface—a move that apparently did not sit well with Google+ head Vic Gundotra, and may have been a contributing factor in his departure. Coincidentally, when Google announced that he was leaving, they additionally declared the end of forcing their users into Google+ profiles. 

From my vantage point, Google+ suffered from a lack of engagement functionality and the glacial adoption rate of ‘friends and family,’ a main reason people use social media in the first place. Constructing a complete profile is time-consuming enough just to realize that those you would like to connect with aren’t even there. This created a stigma regarding Google+ as an online ‘ghost town,’ and they were never able to recover from it.

Designers and developers assigned to Google+—over 1,000—have been shifted to other projects, mainly on the Android side of things. The company will not eliminate the social media site, but will abandon efforts to compete with Facebook and focus on incorporating the platform into other Google products. Google is a tech behemoth, but the abject failure of its social media site to thrive is proof that even Babe Ruth swings and misses every once in a while.

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