Google’s broken social strategy with Google+ and Gmail

Only a week ago I wrote about Eric Schmidt’s confession about the biggest mistake he made at Google:

Eric Schmidt says his worst mistake was ‘missing social’:

Eric Schmidt’s 2014 Predictions via Bloomberg

The biggest mistake that I made was not anticipating the rise of the social networking phenomenon. Not a mistake we’re going to make again. I guess in our defense we were busy working on many other things, but we should have been in that area and I take responsibility for that.

Here’s my prediction, but it might not be for 2014. At some point, someone inside of Google will think about tapping into the hundreds of millions of users of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs, and they will come up with something incrementally social for that mix. And it won’t be Wave, Orkut, or Google+, which are all dogs.

So that mistake that Schmidt was talking about? It’s not in the past: they are still making it, over and over again, every day.

But, instead of heading in that direction, building up some new approach to sociality that works inside the world of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs, Google has decided to double down on Google+, and to continue the sort of mistake they made when they required Google+ identities to comment on YouTube as an ‘improvement’ of the service.

Today’s Humpty Dumpty is a new integration between Google+ and Gmail that will allow people who do not know your email address to send an email through your Google+ handle. While this will be an opt-out setting it is a major potential headache. And while it presents what may be considered a positive feature to the Google+ sender of emails it is a spammish nightmare for the Gmail recipient.

John Gruber sums up his shock:

This has to be a mistake. Surely Google will change this from opt-out to opt-in.

But I don’t think it is a mistake, even if they claim it was, tomorrow or later on. This is another premeditated effort to force Google+ down our throats.

I am starting to think it may be time to get off of Google’s stack — Gmail, Calendar, etc. — and move somewhere else.

Relevant Analyst
Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd

Lead analyst, future of work Gigaom Research and stoweboyd.com

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