When Google+ reared its neonatal head from the nether regions of mother Google, everyone danced around like a new dad on 18 cups of coffee. There was excitement, wonder, curiosity and just a little bit of fear for what was to come. And, just as every new father predicts their child will be a physicist or world-class athlete, the opinions on the future of Google+ began to fly all over the web. Anyone with a respected author profile (or not) gave their predictions for the future, and was promptly smacked down by scores of commenters. For every post outlining the reasons Google+ was a Twitter killer, there were three more predicting the demise of Facebook. In hindsight, it all seems rather amusing.
It has been just three months since the plus was added on to the Google, and yet only recently have we begun to figure out the purpose behind it. In the October 2011 issue of Wired magazine, Google VP of Product Bradley Horowitz shines a 1000 watt floodlight on the grand purpose of Google+. He says “…every single Google property acted like a separate company. Due to the way we grew, through various acquisitions and the fierce independence of each division within Google, each product sort of veered off in its own direction. But Google+ is Google itself.” The devil himself probably heard every reader exclaim ‘oooohh NOW I get it…’. Google+ IS Google, not the other way around.
The plus really does mean ‘in addition to’. Google+ is intended as the new umbrella brand to all the other Google properties, and it wasn’t until someone actually put that into words that we all got it. Which begs the question: why didn’t we see that before? Whose fault is it that web users and experts didn’t understand the gravity of the plus?
In the humble opinion of this wide-eyed writer, Google screwed up. They supposedly have some of the brightest minds in the world running the treadmill for them, yet the marketing plan for the plus was vastly understated and misunderstood. Now to be fair, maybe they didn’t know this was the plan and through the evolution of usage the plus evolved into something bigger with more potential than originally planned. Or maybe they screwed up.
Of course the other side of the coin is that we, the users, saw the plus with blinders on. Were we so used to pegging our social, professional and personal online activities into separate holes that we didn’t consider everything could be under one brand? Maybe that notion was a little too scary to consider. Or Google screwed up.
Why does it matter? Because if Google+ is their brand, then they have a mountain of work to do in the area of marketing and re-organization. As Horowitz said in his Wired interview, all the Google properties acted separately past a certain point. It doesn’t take an MBA to figure out that is probably the reason most products failed. Now they will bring everything together under the plus and fortify the artillery. Stay tuned, the next year is going to be exceedingly interesting when it comes to the plus. If they don’t screw up again.