Four Reasons Google+ Might Still Be Alive After All

Between Google shutting down its authorship program and Senior Vice President of Engineering and head of Google+ Vic Gundotra leaving the company, many believe the future of Google+ is in question.

Instead, here are four recent events that hint at a bright future for the controversial social network.

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1) Google’s Acquisition of Polar

On September 11, ReCode broke the news that Polar was acquired by Google.

Polar is a mobile app that lets people share their opinions by voting on a Polar poll. The app is known for its clean, easy-to-use mobile interface and the team behind Polar was acquired to help lead Google+’s mobile effort.

While user polling could be a nice feature within Google+, the acquisition was more likely an “acqui-hire,” meaning Google purchased the company primarily for the talent behind the product.

It’s an expensive way to hire people, but you get an entire team of people who already work well together. Besides, Google has money to burn and you can never have enough mobile designers.

2) New Product Integrations

One of the things users have hated most about Google+ was the forced product integrations Google rolled out, especially YouTube.

Thankfully, Google has taken a step back to rethink its integration strategy. Instead of forcing users of their standalone products, such as YouTube, to create Google+ accounts, Google has opted for a more subtle approach: importing/exporting content between Google+ and its other products.

For example, in August, Google released a feature that allowed YouTube users to import their Google+ videos into their YouTube accounts. A week earlier, Google+ teamed up with Chromecast to allow users to display their full Google+ feed on their TVs with Chromecast via the Google+ mobile app.

These types of integrations make sense, as these new features portray Google+ as a benefit as opposed to a heavy-handed push for Google+ signups.

3) Google Glass Available to Public

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Image credit: Google.com/glass

Google has released its Explore Edition of Glass to the public through the company’s Google Play marketplace.

If you’ve ever used Google Glass for any length of time, you know how heavily integrated Google+ is with Glass. Any sort of content sharing or video messaging is dependent on your Google+ contact lists. Yes, you can still use Twitter and Facebook to an extent, but you’ll need to jump through hoops to do it.

If Google can get Glass to go mainstream without the public getting hung up over the aesthetics or privacy concerns, Glass will continue to feed the Google+ platform with new users, new content and heavy engagement.

4) Removal of Name Restrictions

When Google+ first rolled out three years ago, it had pretty tight restrictions over what name you could use on your account. Basically, you were required to use your real name. Google went with this direction, because they wanted Google+ to be the Internet’s ID system.

Unfortunately for Google, many on the Internet do not want to use Google as an ID system. Angry users demanded a level of anonymity, and this summer Google finally relented, announcing an end to its aming restrictions.

It’s a carefully calculated move that sacrifices the idea of having a network with everyone’s true identity in favor of attracting more user activity.

What do you think?

It seems clear to me that Google hasn’t given up on Google+ just yet, but will these moves be enough to boost user numbers and activity? Has sentiment for the platform sunk to the point where it can never reach its full potential, or can acquisitions and product integrations breathe new life into the platform?

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