Why I know Google+ isn’t doing well: It’s not part of Google for Work

Google’s lead for the social mess called Google+ is David Besbris, who took over when Vic Gundotra was pushed out in April (see Surprise resignation of VP Vic Gundotra raises questions about the future of Google+). Since that time, the company has relaxed the systematic effort to require Google+ identities to log into various Google properties, and perhaps a cooling on the company’s plans for Google+ in general.

But in a vacuous interview by Recode’s Kurt Wagner, Besbris seems to be continuing the company’s assertions that the product is beloved, although Besbris won’t quantify anything:

Where are you at right now in terms of users?

I don’t want to talk about numbers.

I bet he doesn’t. In a searing review of the interview, The Verge’s Casey Newman wasn’t having any of it, saying

[…] almost since the day it launched, Google+ has struggled to overcome the perception that it was dead on arrival. Nearly three and a half years after opening its doors the public, you would be hard pressed to name a single person who ever became famous because of a following they built on Google+; to name a news story that broke there first; or to identify a way that it meaningfully differentiated itself from the glut of social products on the market. I think there are lots of people who use Google+, if only in passing; I think there are vanishingly few of them who love it.

I will add one obvious note to Casey’s list: Google+ has not been packaged as a part of Google for Work (the former Google for Enterprise, and earlier called Google Apps for Business).

Screenshot 2014-10-08 09.03.00

Note that Hangouts — originally part of Google+ — has been pried free. And the other workhorses — Gmail, Drive, and Docs — were always independent.

My hope is that Google will steer clear of a Google+ integration in Google for Work, and will instead just beef up the activity stream in Docs, so that it’s something like the new Microsoft Groups (see Microsoft rolling out Groups in Office 365: the end of Yammer?). I wonder if internal competition is the reason that Google hasn’t rolled something like that out already?