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Google+ falls short of expectations

30 April 2014 / 15:04:23  GRReporter
3401 reads

Ivan Petkov

Last week leader and chief developer of Google+ social network Vic Gundotra announced that he would leave the company. Many of the global technology media were quick to define this development as stunning and TechCrunch even compared the condition of the social network to a "walking dead man". After almost eight years at Google and indicated as the father of Google+ Gundotra left the company due to a family tragedy.

"We put our hearts and souls into our work and it becomes something that we love and care for. However, even today's challenges turn one day into "What comes next?" states Gundotra. Along with this, the developer notes that the aim of the internet giant to create a social network has been faced with criticism and scepticism.

TechCrunch shared a rumour according to which Google+ would be perceived as a platform rather than as a product. In practice, this would mean surrendering to Facebook. Google however refuted this information, saying that Vic Gundotra’s leaving would not affect the strategy of the social network, "We have a team of incredibly talented developers who continue working on Google+, Hangouts and Photos". According to an inside source again, the most talented teams working on Hangouts and Photos will move to the division developing Android, the popular mobile operating system. It is not yet clear what will happen to the over 1,000 developers of the social network.

According to We Are Social data for February 2014, the total number of Google+ users was 1.15 billion but only 35% of them were active. By comparison, the active monthly users of Facebook to date number 1.28 billion.

Over the past years, from the beginning of the social boom, all experts have advised companies to actively participate in social networks. There have even been businesses the main activity of which is to present corporations in these popular virtual communities, manage their business pages or hold all kinds of activities associated with them. During this time, social networks have developed and matured, they have been able to collect multimillion capitals for their development, to be listed on the stock exchange as well as to become responsible to their shareholders.

In the early years of Facebook development, the advertising revenue was not enough to cover even the cost of its server maintenance. Now we are waiting for the network to present its new advertising platform. In the early stages of its development, the social network was actively attracting business users. Now, as we informed you in one of the previous articles, the network is creating more conditions that will drive companies to advertise.

A disturbing trend for social networking showed in 2013 a significant decline in the proportion of regular teenage users of social platforms. To put it bluntly, social networks were battling with chat applications, which was why Facebook paid the unprecedented amount of $19 billion for WhatsApp.

A piece of research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that the proportion of regular teenage Facebook users declined by 9% in 2013. YouTube video platform lost 7% of its active young users whereas the decline reported for Twitter and Google+ was 3% and 4% respectively.

Unlike the situation in social networks, the market share of mobile chat programs among teenagers rapidly increased in 2013. The interest in Snapchat increased by 60% and in Kik Messenger by 59% whereas WhatsApp and WeChat were used by 20% of teenagers around the world.

All this makes us wonder what comes next and if social networks are becoming advertising platforms, a fact that can repel some of their users. Young people are the most active and committed users of social networks but they are very sensitive to the way in which they communicate. On the other hand, an increasing number of companies have found social networks inappropriate for their advertising campaigns.

It is inevitable for social networks to focus on their revenue but on the other hand, it depends on the interest they create among their users. This fragile balance drives them to expand their portfolio and seek new business models and new channels to generate profits but this expansion and inclusion of more activities turns them into multinational companies with operations that are starting to move away from the original intent.

Change is something that happens all the time and the development of social networks is inevitable. We see that the question of “what comes next” is constantly on the agenda. This and next year we will see the development in the way we use social media and in the way we perceive them. I think they will become something different from what they are now in order to meet the expectations and desires of both their users and shareholders.

It remains to be seen whether, after one year, social networks will still be a place to share thoughts, photos, recipes, and to communicate with friends and acquaintances, or if they will be something completely different.

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