Google+ founder Vic Gundotra has left Google, and with his departure comes what many have suspected for the last few weeks – the possibility that Google+ is soon to become an even bigger ghost town than ever before. According to reliable sources, the Google+ social network team, in lieu of Gundotra’s departure (due to Google’s decision to slash work on Google+), has been moved to other projects.
Is Google having a change of heart?
We’ve heard nothing from our sources about a possible change in Google’s program (or whether or not Google has had a change of heart), but the company just joined Instagram (now belonging to Google’s long-standing social rival, Facebook). Google posted only one message on its Instagram page yesterday: “Today on our homepage we’re celebrating the Rubik’s Cube, which got us thinking – maybe we could do more squares? Hello Instagram!”
The message itself seems to imply that Google’s having a change of perspective (in the same way that the Rubix Cube is all about perspective). Maybe it’s the case that Google’s spent so much time boosting its image at Google + that, with the social network becoming a has-been, the company realizes that other social networks can serve the same purpose as Google + did once. Perhaps Google just thinks that it could do more to expand its image in light of the recent public responses to Google Glass (the San Francisco attack on a tech writer at a bar who filmed a fight with Google Glass and was told to turn the gadget off). It’s also possible that Google wants to advertise Google Glass more to the average consumer than tech enthusiasts and developers, and feel as if it’s gotta beef up its social media presence to accomplish this.
Google is one to change its mind quickly about things. For example, the company bought Motorola Mobility but then decided to sell Motorola to Lenovo Group, Inc., after obtaining the patents it wanted. Some say the patents were the focus of Google’s Motorola acquisition all along, but it seems that Google had some interest in manufacturing smartphones – if the company didn’t, why would it has purchased the company in the first place? The official report received suggests that Google had given up on selling Motorola for some time to Lenovo, but decided (after low Moto X sales) to contact Lenovo again about the possibility of a Motorola sale. Google’s Nexus line, with only five generations of Nexus smartphones (the Galaxy Nexus, for example), is now being replaced with Google’s new Android Silver program in 2015. When looking back through some Android 4.4 KitKat code, it seems that Google had a Nexus 6 smartphone and an HTC Nexus 8 tablet in the works for Android users – but quickly abandoned this, in light of the company’s sudden decision to terminate the Nexus and Google Play Edition (or GPE) programs.
As for the Google Play Edition smartphones that run only the latest Android update (no carrier-specific apps and few manufacturer apps), Google looks to popularize its GPE concept in the Android Silver program that is due to arrive in February 2015. If carriers will sell smartphones with few or no apps pre-installed for $199.99 on a two-year contract, for example, why would they pay $600-$650 (or more) for the same smartphone at Google’s Play Store? Android Silver will provide the affordability of the Nexus line as well as the timely Android updates some tech enthusiasts crave.
It’s likely that Google’s new perspective with Instagram has to do with more than just its decision to cease its own social network promotion; there are a number of other interests Google has, with regard to Google Glass, its recent purchase of company Twitch for YouTube gaming, the driverless car project, not to mention Google’s Project Loon initiative (balloon Internet service to non-connected world users) as well as its purchase of drone company Titan Aerospace and the development of its own robotics OS.
At the same time, however, Google’s decision to “change perspective” could indicate that Google + is coming to an end sooner than we hoped. In that case, as one forum commenter put it best, Google + unlimited photo storage fans should prepare themselves and find somewhere else to store their lifetime photos.