When Google+ lead Vic Gundotra announced he was leaving the company last week, many were left wondering about the future of a social network described by critics as a “ghost town.” While 540 million monthly active users might argue otherwise, reports from Google insiders seemed to suggest that Google+ was being faded from the foreground, and the G+ team would be reshuffled throughout the company.
“We’ve heard Google has not yet decided what to do with the teams not going to Android,” wrote TechCrunch editors Alexia Tsotis and Matthew Panzarino, “and that Google+ is not ‘officially’ dead, more like walking dead.” At the time Google publicly denied these claims.
But now we have more evidence that Google may be looking to move the “G+” branding into the background, as The Verge‘s Casey Newton reports that Google is testing a new “Sign in with Google” button for logins across the web (instead of the G+ login you might have seen):
The option appears to have been enabled for only a small number of developers, and for now is only visible to developers who are logged in through their developer accounts. Other Google users visiting web pages through their own browsers would still see a red button with the Google+ logo.
A Google representative told The Verge that the company is always experimenting with new features, but as Newton writes, it “also suggests that the company no longer wants Google+ to represent it around the web.”
When Google unveiled Plus in 2011, most people viewed the social network as the most dangerous threat to Facebook yet. And while Google’s attempts to scale Plus have been clumsy at times–at one point reportedly landing a man in jail for sending G+ invite to his ex, who had filed a restraining order–it never quite took off, and Facebook ballooned to over a billion users. As Marketing Land‘s Danny Sullivan mentioned last week, “Google may have built a solid second-place rival to Facebook in terms of being a full-featured social network, but that’s like Bing being a solid search challenger to Google.”