Rise and falls of Google+
Google+ is something of a black sheep in the world of social media. It builds off of your Google Account. If you have a Google Account, you can activate your Google+ account as easily as you would activate Google. Google+ helps you connect to others with your passion with Communities, and helps you keep those interests separate with Circles.
The service, Google's fourth foray into social networking, experienced strong growth in its initial years, although usage statistics have varied, depending on how the service is defined.
Google+ launched in June 2011. Features included the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest-based communities, group different types of relationships into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.
Google first defined the service as a social network, then later as "a social layer across all of Google's services", allowing them to share a user's identity and interests. According to Ars Technica, Google+ sign-ups were "often just an incidental byproduct of signing up for other Google services." Consequently, the reported number of active users on Google+ grew significantly.
In 2011 Google+ reached 10 million users just two weeks after the launch. In a month, it reached 25 million.
In October 2011, the service reached 40 million users, according to Larry Page. Based on ComScore, the biggest market was the United States followed by India. By the end of the year, Google+ had 90 million users.
In October 2013, approximately 540 million monthly active users made use of the social layer by interacting with Google+'s enhanced properties, like Gmail, +1 button, and YouTube comments.
Some 300 million monthly active users participated in the social network by interacting with the Google+ social networking stream.
In March 2013, average time spent on the site remained low: roughly 7 minutes, according to Nielsen, not including traffic via apps.
In February 2014, The New York Times likened Google+ to a ghost town, citing Google stats of 540 million "monthly active users", but noting that almost half don't visit the site. The company replied that the significance of Google+ was less as a Facebook competitor than as a means of gathering and connecting user information from Google's various services.
Three Google executives have overseen the service, which has undergone substantial changes leading to a redesign in November 2015.
By March 2015, Google executive Bradley Horowitz, who had co-founded Google+ with Gundotra, had replaced Besbris, becoming vice president of streams, photos, and sharing. By that time, two core Google+ functions, communications, and photos, had become standalone services. Later on, the company also eliminated the Google+ social layer; users no longer needed a Google+ profile to share content and communicate with contacts.
On November 18, 2015, Google+ underwent a redesign with the stated intent of making the site simpler and faster, making the new features of Communities and Collections more prominent, and removing features such as Hangouts integration, Events, and Custom URLs, through Events and Custom URLs were eventually added back.
Most recently, the search giant discloses that the company plans to stop offering the consumer version of Google+ in April 2019. The company cited low user engagement and disclosed software design flaws that potentially allowed outside developers access to personal information of millions of users.
The company first announced on October 8, 2018, that it would do so by the end of August 2019, citing low user engagement and difficulties in "creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations." The company noted that 90% of user sessions on the service have lasted under five seconds. It also acknowledged a design flaw in an API that potentially exposed private user data. Google said it found no evidence that "any developer was aware of this bug or abusing the API" nor that "any Profile data was misused."
On December 10, 2018, Google reported that a subsequent Google+ API update exposed customer data for six days before being discovered, again saying there was no evidence of any breach. The bug allowed outside developers accesses to personal information of users. Over 52.5 million users were affected. The company moved the service's shutdown date to April 2019 and said it would "sunset all Google+ APIs in the next 90 days."
Google+ had not been a complete failure too despite its seeming downfall. The social network had been able to nurture many dedicated Android societies and was overall quite a nice place to check out every now and then. Despite all these negative news, we’re hoping that lately Google would be able to bring their social network to greener pastures in the coming years.