Remember Google+?

By February 2, 2018Business

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.

I remember the Google Graveyard. In fact, I’m still pissed about Google Reader! Sure, I’ve since found a substitute in News Explorer, but I enjoyed having everything in a convenient web interface.

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?

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