Mashable has a fantastic long-read about the failure of Google+, a costly attempt to unseat Facebook.
It was 2010 and Google didn’t exactly look like a company at risk of being overtaken by anyone or anything. It had long since dominated online search and was quickly becoming a major player in the smartphone era thanks to Android. Google had mapped much of the world, indexed millions of books and was just getting started on building self-driving cars.
For all that success, the Internet giant just couldn’t seem to figure out social. A simple Google search reveals the long list of failures and false starts: Orkut, launched days before Facebook in 2004 and quickly overtaken; Reader, a cult favorite RSS feed launched in 2005 and killed in 2013; Wave, its head-scratching communication platform; and, of course, Buzz, that ill-fated social network built on the back of Gmail which imploded fast in early 2010 after a catastrophic privacy issue.
What went wrong?
Putting my MBA to work and looking at Google’s position through a Porter’s Five Forces lens, they saw Facebook as a substitute threat. In the article, insiders speaking on the condition of anonymity believe that the Google of 2010-2011 was increasingly fearful of Facebook snatching away users, employees, and advertisers and that Google+ was their answer to stem the bleeding.
The slow demise of Google+ sheds light on how a large technology company tries and often fails to innovate when it feels threatened. The Google+ project did lead to inventive new services and created a more cohesive user identity that continues to benefit Google, but the social network itself never truly beat back existing rivals.
It is believed that Google+ will be officially sunset soon.
Will anybody miss it?