Alternate Headline: Users unbellyfeel Google prolefeed, becomes unservice.
It is probably just me that saw the Newspeak potential in the demise of Google Plus.
That attempt at humor aside, the word has gone out from the Googleplex in Mountain View that Google Plus will be no more. Or that the consumer version of the product will be no more following a 10 month wind down, meaning that it will be gone at some point in August of 2019. Google says that the enterprise version of Google Plus will continue. Color me surprised that there was such a thing or that any enterprise outside of Google actually uses it, but they say “many” do. I guess it is likely better than whatever Microsoft is pushing lately. It is certainly better than anything Cisco has on offer.
The reason given for the closure in the news headlines involves a security flaw that could have potentially exposed the data for over half a million accounts. The data exposed was limited to optional items entered in your Google profile (which is semi-public to start with unless you lock it down) and Google says it has no evidence that the flaw had been exploited. But data breaches make for more views, so you may find your local news source pitching this as a stolen data panic.
The real reason for the closure is a little less dramatic.
Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.
Basically, so few people use Google Plus that it isn’t worth the effort needed to keep it secure. They didn’t just say “low” usage but “very low” usage. You’ll probably get no greater admission of failure than that. If it has been popular they would have kept it open. But now they have an excuse to shut it down.
Of course, part of me cheered at the news. I am old, have a long memory, and have been prone at times to carry resentments long past their expiration dates, so I continue to see Google Plus as the reason that Google killed off the much loved and still missed (by me at least) Google Reader. It has been more than five years since that happened and I am still annoyed by it and I still haven’t found a replacement that did all Google Reader did at its peak. Some twisted logic in the back of my brain sees this as justice for the late idolized RSS reader.
But a bit of me is bemused by the change. As it turns out, I actually check Google Plus pretty much daily. There are a few people I follow there, including Richard Bartle, that make it worth the effort. The updates aren’t rapid, so it is something I check once or twice a day at most, but I do check it.
I also syndicate my blog feed there as well and get the occasional response, so there is life out there still. But the activity isn’t anywhere close to what it was during the early days of the service, which in itself wasn’t that much compared to the competition, which is and always was Facebook. Nobody is saying Google Plus influenced the last election or anything else.
So I suppose I will miss it. And I know that it going away won’t magically bring back Google Reader, so my missing it will be genuine. You can’t blame a company for shutting down a service that few use and which brings in no revenue. The same goes for Google Reader as well. And iGoogle. And Google Insights. And Orkut. Man, what is it with me and dead Google products?
And so it goes. We’ll see how it winds down between now and August.