“What’s going on with Google+? Where is it headed? What the fuck is it for, anyway?” Messina writes, decrying Google+ for wasting its potential and becoming little more than a Facebook clone. The post comes in response to a tweet Messina fired out last week, in which he pointed out a Google+ bug that he wrongly interpreted as a sign of Google shuttering its social network.
Messina notes that his tweet was likely a subconscious response to his increasing frustration with the very product that he worked on up until last year. “The future of digital identity should not be determined by one company,” he writes, adding that Google “still remains one of the few companies (besides Apple, perhaps) that stands a chance to take on Facebook in this arena.”
Instead, he says, Google+ has failed to live up to expectations (which should come as no surprise), and lags well behind Facebook and Twitter in terms of both metrics and relevance:
“Why did the world need another Facebook, unless to benefit Google by making their ad targeting more effective? Why wasn’t Google+ one of Google’s famous moonshots, intended to improve personal social networking by 10x? Why did they take a conventional approach to social networking rather than think about about what controls people might need in the next 5–10 years in their digital lives? Moreover, how does Google+ help deliver better, richer, more interesting, and more personalized experiences, to motivate people to store more information with Google? I mean, why did Google hitch their digital identity strategy to 2004-era social networking trends?”
Messina goes on to reference a line in the original launch post for Google+, back when it was known as Google Me: “We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests.”
That post, he says, held the promise of what Google+ could have been—an ideal that was quickly swept away in favor of chasing after Facebook: “By starting off on a defensive footing, Google+ didn’t defiantly stand for something special in the world. Instead it defined itself by what it wasn’t — i.e. Facebook — though it was positioned internally as chasing after their success… By launching a conventional social network, Google missed the pivotal opportunity to establish a data-positive paradigm for sharing, individual control, and personalization that set itself apart from Facebook.”