No matter how you look at it, no matter how Google wants to spin it, things aren’t looking good for Google+. The tech giant’s attempt to take a bite out of Facebook is slowly but surely getting dismantled, with the Photos part now said to be ready to break out on its own as early as late May, in time for Google’s annual developers conference. Officially, it’s a way for the social platform to slim down and focus on what it does best. Unofficially, it is also a sign of a lack of vision, direction, and confidence.
The split between Google+’s Photos and its main Streams functionality has all but been confirmed by Brad Horowitz, Google+’s new boss. It almost sounds ironic considering Photos was a result of Google merging Picasa, formerly its standalone photo hosting service, into Google+. Now Photos, whose name is not yet final, will become a standalone service again, coming full circle.
According to insiders familiar with the matter, the new photo storage and sharing service will allow users to post their photos on other competing networks, like Facebook or Twitter. This actually makes more business sense if you factor in Android, which caters not just to Google+ users but to other social networks as well. The service will most likely include the photo editing tools that have debuted in Google+. It wouldn’t be surprising to see tools like Auto Awesome making their way there as well.
To some extent, this might be good news for Google+, as now developers are left free to focus on improving the social network’s rather dismal existence. What those developers can do to improve a singular Streams idea, however, is something perhaps best left to the imagination. That said, with Photos gone, Google+ is left simply as a skeleton of its former self, a sort of glue that holds disparate pieces such as Photos, Hangouts, or even Android-related communities, together.
The biggest question, which has never really changed from the beginning, is why would users flock to Google+. Google has been able to rather superficially boost Google+ user numbers and some traffic by tying it up with Google accounts, Android, Play Store, and other bits and pieces of Google’s vast empire. Actual social networking usage, however, might still pale in comparison to the likes of Facebook or Twitter. Only time will be able to tell if this split will actually be able to save Google+.