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Google+ Nears the End Making Social a Feature Not a Platform for Google

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Google has announced that the consumer version of Google+ will no longer be available August 2019. The decision follows a security issue related to the Google+ APIs where profile data was available to apps, though the information wasn’t marked as public. Google detected and resolved the issue in March 2018.

While this may have influenced the ultimate decision to end Google+, it seems to have been a long time coming with TechCrunch saying the social platform was “walking dead” four years ago, and a Forbes article from 2015 asked, “Has Google+ Really Died?”. The bigger issue was low consumer usage, with Google saying that 90% of Google+ user sessions were less than five seconds.

While Google+ has roughly 395 million monthly active users, making it #5 on the list in terms of user size, day-to-day usage and engagement is low. Without the usage, maintaining the platform is a costly endeavor. Additionally, after reviewing Google+ and the Google+ APIs, Google said:

Our review showed that our Google+ APIs, and the associated controls for consumers, are challenging to develop and maintain…The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

The 10-month “wind-down” of Google+ will give people a chance to transition. Businesses big and small will want to remove Google+ from the public facing social suite and take down Google+ sharing icons on web pages and blog posts.

However, while Google+ will go away for consumers, a version of it, or at least some features from it, will be available to enterprises. It isn’t clear if the tools will carry the Google+ brand, but the tools will focus on enabling private internal communications. Here’s what Google said about it:

Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses. We will share more information in the coming days.

In a lot of ways, Google My Business (GMB) has already replaced Google+, allowing businesses the ability to post, message, answer questions, and more. GMB is part social network and part SEO tool. From the consumer perspective, Google is integrating social features in other areas, like on Maps. Strategically, it seems that Google now views social as a feature to integrate with existing tools, not a stand-alone platform.

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