+Jaana Nystrom

Welcome to my Circleverse!

Google+ is my passion: I want to help others to get the most out of it.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Relax, Google+ is just evolving!

There is an almighty uproar about Google+ - again. The tech publications are having a field day collecting clicks as Google+ users and the great public try to separate the chaff from the wheat.

This is where it started:  +Sundar Pichai interview in the Forbes:

Google's Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products, confirmed that Hangouts will live on as a standalone product as the company reorganizes around photos and communications.
 "For us Google+ was always two big things: one was building a stream, the second was a social layer, a common layer of identity; how sharing works across our products and services." said Pichai. "The stream has a passionate community of users. But the second goal was in some ways an even more important goal for us.
 We've done both, but I think we're at a stage where use cases like photos and communications are big standalone use cases so we're going to think of this as a stream first, and then photos and communications as big new areas. So internally we're organizing ourselves to support that. You'll see us evolve all these three areas."

- Concentrating on core functionality, and still combining them together.

Then +Bradley Horowitz posted about his new role in Google+.
Like I wrote on my share of his post, I'm satisfied for the way things are going now although I haven't always been happy with the changes, either. I do sometimes rant, you know. And critique. But I also understand that the user complaints cannot always turn the ship. There's the Big Picture, see...

At this point I'd like to make some observations

Splitting up Google+ seems to be the horror scenario.
Google+ as we know it will not be torn apart, just because some parts of it will get more attention at the time being. I don't think for an average user there will be any big difference.
Google Drive was split into Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms which can be used separately but it didn't kill or spoil the product, right? There's still the Google Drive for those who want the whole caboodle.

One can use the Hangouts and Photos as part of the social glue that is what we see now, just like before.
Presumably people who don't wish to use Google+ can use these as stand-alone products but that doesn't take anything away from us already in the Circleverse. Hangouts already has it's own support pages and I'm hoping that Google+ Photos will have them, too.

The Material Design that Google has already started implementing across products may change the Android visual side some more but to my mind only improving it.
EDIT: - It's nice to be corrected by someone who knows what they're talking about! :-)
This post, see comments.

Think about the Photos: Making it also a stand-alone product but still keeping it integrated with Google+ would open up a huge new audience for our publicly shared pics!

I don't believe for a moment that there ever was one huge Google+ team, but several, each team concentrating in one or two parts of Google+.

- What the teams are called internally (StreamTeam, PhotosTeam) has nothing to do with how Google+ works.

Having several teams working around a product is usual for most platforms or corporations as large as this: Facebook surely has many teams also.  They have made many changes to the platform but it's still there.  Samsung doesn't employ the same people for mechanics as they do for design, tablet team is separate from phone team. Why would Google be any different?

Google's Chief Architect Yonatan Zunger, (the man who created the first ever public Google+ post 30 minutes before the launch) really says it well in a comment:

"A lot of misunderstanding and speculation. :) The internal org was renamed "Photos and Streams," because Sundar likes org names that match what the teams do. And since our org includes Photos, Google+, Blogger, and News, there you have photos, plus several streams of content.

No big user-facing changes tied to this at all. "


I've seen Google frequently shuffle the people from one team to another. They did that when Google+ was planned, introducing everyone in new teams.
Some have moved on: Good examples are Natalie Villalobos, Brian Rose, Dori Storbeck etc. All still Googlers, key persons during their time on the Plus but now working on different projects. Did they kill G+ by moving on?
- It's normal that people change jobs within an enterprise or change employment, retire or take some time off from work.

We don't know what's going to happen until it does, so it's no use speculating and creating hysteria among the users.

Some of the tech publications need to make money with clickbait headlines and content - nothing new there. They've been burying Google+ since 2011.  It’s funny when you look at the follower counts for TechHunch on different platforms  (Facebook 1.7 million, Twitter 4.68 million, Google+ 6.9 million) how they still keep on going about the Google+ Ghost Town stuff.  Numbers speak for themselves, those are facts.  They know that by dissing Google+ they will get clicks.

Google+ has many features that are unique in the social media field, especially the idea of a toolbox with G+ being the social glue that ties all the Googletools or products together. Integration, progress, innovation. Focusing on interests instead of friends.
It doesn’t stop here and now.

Comments from Google+

Here’s a snippet from a comment by +Olav Folland  in one of the threads around the topic:

G+ is (IMO, based on everything I've seen) again, isn't going anywhere, but it's steadily becoming the "glue" that ties all your Google stuff together.  You can do things here and there, but G+ is where you can do everything.  If they split off Photos, it's not going to change that.

Another comment from +Jeff Sullivan :

"Tech companies reorg all the time, and new management often renames organizations to help define whatever new direction (which can be subtle) they may want hose projects to take.  It's an opportunity for a fresh start with a renewed focus.

Google+ has always arguably had the best technology in this space (as those of us active here seem to agree), the challenge has been coming up with the right set of unique features and benefits to attract folks to come try it, then reward them to stay.  

Perhaps the separation of Photos and Stream functions will enable more focused development of features and clear positioning of their benefits to the diverse population of G+ users."

As long as we can't see the big picture...  

There could be a reason why the name Google+ was chosen as the + cannot be displayed in the web URL: https://plus.google.com/.  What that reason may be, there's no way of knowing without being "inside".
Google+ = Google?

Change is inevitable. Things evolve, people evolve in the way they think and act. Times change.

Google has stated that it was a surprise to them after the launch to see how the users actually put Google+ to different uses. They listen and I've seen them adjust the big picture, tweaking bits here and there.

Names may come and go but the idea stays.

For anyone who wants to get more out of the Plus:
*Learn more about Google+*

The best way to get your ideas and suggestions across to Google is by sending Feedback.

Just FYI: This text was reviewed by a Googler before publishing.

It just goes to show how deeply Google´s different products are integrated:
Google Contacts update with Your Circles included.

Other interesting discussions around the Circleverse:

Which other social platform does this to your photos? Loving it.

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