Some of the Google+ features for photos have been pretty popular for users, but as it is linked to Google+, its growth was much slower in comparison to other standalone photo products, such as Instagram or Flickr.
Google is also missing out on the monetization part of their photo products, something Instagram has been pushing forward with recently and is now having some big ad spends from major brands by doing so. And with Google’s own AdWords program, they have their ad product built in already.
Where this leaves Google+ is unknown. There have been many rumors ever since Vic Gundotra left Google+ that Google was considering shuttering the product, however they always denied this was the case. But with them removing such a popular feature from Google+, it does raise the obvious question of what their plans are for their social media platform – and particularly the Google Hangouts portion of it – going forward. With the two new brands, will Streams just take over the non-photo portions of the platform or could we see features cut?
In an interview with the Verge today, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President of Products and confirms that Hangouts will continue.
During an interview session at MWC today, Google’s Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products, confirmed that Hangouts will live on as part of a renewed emphasis on communications. “For us, Google+ was always two things, a stream and a social layer,” said Pichai. “The stream has a passionate community of users, but the second goal was larger for us. We’re at a point where things like photos and communications are very important, we’re reorganizing around that.”
Pichai first suggested that Google was planning to split Google+ into pieces in an interview given to Forbes last week. “I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area,” Pichai said.
Google also recently closed Google Talk, their standalone instant messaging program and recommended those users begin using Hangouts. So from that perspective it doesn’t make sense for them to close Google Talk, encourage those users to start using Hangouts, and then shutter it.
The announcement came with the news that Bradley Horowitz, Google Vice President of Product, would be the lead for both of the new products. He takes over for David Besbris, although it is not known where Besbris was moved to within Google or if he is leaving the company.
Google+ never quite lived up to the expectations that it could become a rival to Facebook. It was late to the social media game and they runs many hiccups along the way, including the real name policy and complaints that it wasn’t quite as personal as Facebook. It took a long time to introduce standard features on other platforms, such as the mentions tab and it was only recently that Google+ allowed users to join Hangouts without a Google+ account.
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