The rumors did prove to be true. Google had revealed in early March 2015 that it is dividing its social media platform Google+ into separate services, primarily Google Streams and Google Photos. The reason isn’t hard to see.
Google+ Reacts to Lack of Success
It is a known fact that Google+ has not witnessed much success as an active social network since its launch in 2011. The 500 million users which Google claims are actively involved in Google+ actually only use the services related to identity, photo and video sharing, and video chat. These are individual functions, which users like to carry out with Google+’s respective features rather than actually get immersed in the social network like they would on Facebook and LinkedIn. And that’s a big difference. In most cases people are on Google+ since Google requires their YouTube, Gmail and search activity to be synced with Google+.
Google Streams will be the social networking element while Photos and Hangouts will be the photo sharing and communication services respectively. Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz had expressed his delight at running the separate services. Now it would be interesting to know how the user experience changes and how popular these services get.
Hangouts to Get Broader Appeal
The Hangouts separation is also considered important by Google. Senior Vice President of Products Sundar Pichai has repeatedly stressed the importance of Hangouts while also recently suggesting that he would like to take to it “to the next stage,” seeing a great potential in it. Earlier in December 2014 Horowitz had said that Hangouts is intended to be a multipurpose communication tool integrating audio, video and text messaging. This implies that Google is intending to take this beyond rival services such as Whatâ€™sApp and Snapchat and give it a “broader” appeal â€“ communication through any means the user thinks of.
These changes are probably the precursors to even bigger changes to Googleâ€™s social networking endeavors. Perhaps this could be the turning point to the search engine giant finally figuring out social media.