Last month, Google dropped Google+ links and reviews from its search results, a move which has left many search marketers and social media experts questioning the future of the platform.
The move should not come as a surprise, since Google has been working on phasing out the platform for several months. In June, the requirement to have a Google+ account in order to use YouTube and other services was dropped, and Bradley Horowitz, the VP of streams, photos and sharing noted that while people find life easier when they have just one account to access all of their Google services, they had received feedback which said that it doesn’t make sense for a person’s Google+ profile to be their identity for all Google products.
This latest step further increases the dissociation with their media platform. Links to the Google+ service are gone from a number of searches, and this is a big step for the search giant. Until recently, Google was investing a huge amount of resources into the platform, but now they are working to distance themselves from it, as if they are gradually trying to make the platform fade into obscurity.
Google has a history of doing this – testing products, releasing them, then killing them off if they do not do well. In this respect they are still acting as if they were a start-up. There have been some anti-trust concerns with the platform, and these may have contributed to its phasing out. Given that the platform is not performing as well as they might have hoped (they most likely wanted it to be a Facebook or Twitter killer), it makes sense to roll over and accept defeat, temporarily.
Interestingly enough, they are still working on the platform in some ways, and recently introduced Google+ collections. So perhaps for now they are not trying to kill the platform, but just quietly repackage and rebrand it, for a relaunch when the antitrust concerns are gone, and the competition has relaxed. Google Plus probably isn’t going to go the way of Buzz or Wave just yet – it still has a chance to develop an active audience, and there are some people who do use the service. Google won’t get rid of it as long as it is useful to them, or if they think that they can find a way to make it take off.