- Google is rolling out a new and improved Google+ with new features and a sharper focus.
- Google+ was initially promoted as an alternative to Facebook but never came close to Facebook’s popularity.
- The new Google+ will be built around specific interests and focused on Communities and Collections.
- By gathering users around specific interests Google can sell more targeted ads, which is the company's core business model.
In August Amigobulls reported that Alphabet Inc-A (NASDAQ:GOOGL) seemed ready to pull the plug on its social network Google+, initially promoted as an alternative to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The most promising Google+ "killer apps" - Hangouts videoconferencing and Photo - had been repackaged as stand-alone products. Now, Google has announced a U-turn. The Internet giant, now re-branded as Alphabet, is rolling out a new and improved Google+ with new features and a sharper focus.
Launched four years ago, Google+ was meant to overtake Facebook as the world’s leading social network and become the start button of the web. But Google+ never came even close to Facebook’s popularity, and remained a desert compared to the crowded Facebook meeting point.
Other popular social web services like Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Reddit, which haven't tried to compete with Facebook all over the field but focused on specific microblogging and aggregation services, have done better.
"We’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say. There were two features they kept coming back to: [Communities and Collections]," said. "Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly - we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one."
Communities are interest groups roughly similar to Facebook groups, and Collections permit users to curate collections of posts grouped by interest, to which other users can subscribe. Google is rolling out the new Google+ gradually to the Web first - not all users have access to the new layout and features at this moment. According to the company, new iOS and Android apps will be launched in the very near future.
"[Now] Google+ is less of the confused Facebook clone it launched as, and a more focused experience based around sharing and connecting over specific interests," notes The Guardian. "It’s similar to sites such as Reddit and Pinterest, giving the company a chance of encouraging more dedicated users by becoming the go-to location for conversation around a particular interest."
Reddit is a very popular website structured around "subreddits" that cater to specific interest groups by combining the functions of news aggregation and discussion boards. The new Google+ "appears to be a more stylized version of say... Reddit or Facebook Groups," notes TechCrunch. "Not a bad thing, but it’s definitely relying on the userbase to fill it up with interesting things based on their interests."
That won't be the easiest task but could have a spectacular payoff. In fact, gathering users around specific interests would offer Google the possibility to sell more targeted ads, which is Google's core business model. Google+ will show users the ads that are most likely to matter to them, based on their social profile and activity analyzed by Google's powerful back-end Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.
"We visited them in their homes, we invited them into early testing communities and we learned more about how and why they use Google+," said Google Product Director Luke Wroblewski. "The predominant answer? Having a great place to keep up with and talk about their interests."
"We ripped [Google+] down and built it back up," Google VP Bradley Horowitz told TechCrunch. The new Google+ won't be an ill-defined product showcase and Facebook clone. On the contrary, it will be a lean and mean social networking product with a clear scope and business model, which is likely to contribute - along with other innovations - to the growth of Alphabet's stock.