Google really, really wants us to like Google+. Google is embedding Google+ into each of its products, making it increasingly difficult to use its services without embracing the Google+ borg, whether you want to or not.
Judging by Google+’s still stagnant market share, you generally do not want to use the social service, or whatever it is.
When prodded by complaints that Google is forcing Google+ into its disparate products, despite not necesssarily fitting very well, Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president over Google+, rejected the criticism at Google I/O:
I’m not sure that [the integration is] forced. I think there are some people who may have a misunderstanding of what we’re trying to accomplish… One of the core insights we had when we started Google+ was that Google itself was deeply fragmented.
So what did Google do? It invented Google+ as “a way for Google to get to know [its] users,” according to David Glazer, director of engineering for the Google+ platform. This is fine, so far as it goes, but this speaks to Google+’s value for Google, not its users.
For example, I use Zagat, a restaurant rating service that Google acquired in 2011, all the time. And each time that I use it now, I get this obnoxious prompt:
This wouldn’t be a huge problem except that it pops up every single time I visit Zagat.com. Including when I’m on my mobile device. See that little X in the top right? That’s much harder to see/find on an iPhone.
Even worse, if I click on “Start now” Google takes me away from Zagat entirely and into Google Local, orienting me into whichever city I’m currently sitting in, rather than letting me get back to the location I was actually interested in (often New York, as I experiment with new restaurants).
Google, in short, is foisting Google+ on me for its good. Not mine.
As Forbes‘ Robert Hof highlights, Google can’t seem to articulate why users should want to use Google+. They seem to have the party line down as to why it’s good for Google (see above), but for users? Google draws a blank.
Which is surprising, given how good Google is at convincing us to use its different products. Maps? It’s amazing, and much better than Apple’s Maps application. Search? Been the gold standard for years. Now? Revolutionary, and is sorely tempting me to dump my iPhone. Even Google+ features like Hangouts are increasingly services that I turn to for quick collaboration with colleagues.
But Google+ as a forced integration between Google’s products? It just gets in my way and slows me down. Until Google figures out why I should want to use it, rather than have to use it, Google+ will remain a social also-ran, however much Google tries to force it.