Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why did Google+ have to shrink in order to grow?” you ask? Good question. (Well, at least it helps put off some of the questions that oddly Google would aid and abet us in answering but would then turn around and not only punish us for sharing the answer but would not take responsibility for their part in the “crime”, mmmkay?)
Yours truly makes no bones about his concerns with Google. Still, it seemed wise to find another source to aid in answering this question. Our guest speaker Casey Newton, contributor to The Verge, fits that bill nicely.
Newton notes: “Consider how successful social networks began: Facebook was a way to check out people at your college. Twitter was a way to share your status with friends via SMS.” In business this use is called “the wedge” because “it’s the pointy bit that inserts itself into your everyday behavior, and . . . can be leveraged to push more features at you down the road.”
Google+’s wedge “was privacy — (only) sharing to small circles of friends would make you feel comfortable sharing more.” Unfortunately, that just complicated things and the “network sputtered.”
Newton actually has a laundry list of Google’s recent issues with “what once was to be Google’s mighty social pillar”. Due to space restrictions, we cannot include them here. He reports that more recently, however, Google+ “has retrenched into what Google now somewhat elliptically calls ‘Streams, Photos, and Sharing’.”
He smiles: “Google’s approach to its underperforming social network lately looks like Grover Norquist’s vision for the federal government — shrink it small enough that it can be drowned in a bathtub.”
(OK, dude, that’s clever but why did Google+ have to shrink in order to grow?)
Newton responds that “from a sheer product standpoint, shrinking Google+ is the best thing that could happen to it — and might even give it a chance to matter. (Now) the Google+ stream has become a lot like a message board: a place where people share things and discuss them.”
He adds now “Google+ represents a radically scaled-down vision of a service” for which Google had such grandiose plans. Still, it’s “better to start there than keep bolting on new services in hopes a coherent story will emerge. Google Photos improved radically once it was freed from the social network” and “there’s . . . hope the social network will be better off without Photos.”
He concludes that the shrinking of Google+ has given them the chance to be “more focused” and maybe now they can create “a next-generation message board. Google+ is now finally small enough to build on. It’s focused, self-contained, and at least by Google terms, not overly ambitious. In other words, it’s what Google+ should have been from the beginning.”
Why did Google+ have to shrink in order to grow? Now you know.
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