Google has conceded defeat when it comes to its social network Google+ — well, sort of.
The company has announced it will no longer require Google users to have a Google+ account to access, make comments or interact with others on Google services such as YouTube.
Google vice-president of streams, photos and sharingBradley Horowitz said it’s time for a “pivot” when it comes to the company’s social network.
“We’re going to continue focusing Google+ on helping users connect around the interest they love, and retire it as the mechanism by which people share and engage within other Google products,” he said.
“Four years ago when we conceived of the ‘Google+ Project,’ we made it clear that our goals were always two-fold: Google+ aspired to be both a “platform layer that unified Google’s sharing models”, and a product / stream / app in its own right. This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing.”
He used the September 2013 update to the comments section of YouTube, when it was switched over to be powered by Google+, as an example of something users did not like.
It may have seemed a clever way for Google to gain users, but it forced anyone who wanted to comment on a YouTube clip to do so via Google’s social network.
The change gave users the option of joining YouTube conversations publicly or privately. Users’ conversations could be seen by everyone on YouTube and Google+ or could be set so only people in their Circles could see them. But users were irate at losing their ability to be anonymous.
Horowtiz said Google is now fixing this problem not only across YouTube, but across a user’s entire experience at Google.
“We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google… other than using Google+ itself,” he said.
“Some of the consequences of this shift in thinking have already been deployed. Others we’re rolling out as fast as possible. And many more will roll out over the rest of the year.”
Horowtiz said Google + can now “focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love.”