Even Google Makes Mistakes : Google+

Google+ is sunsetting. Well that was short lived. First launched in summer of 2011, it only took Google’s social networking platform four years to become irrelevant.

(PC Magazine) – Google on Monday took another step to distance itself from its struggling social network.

The Web giant announced that it’s lifting the requirement that you must have a Google+ account to share content, communicate with others, and create a channel on YouTube. Now, all you’ll need is a Google Account.

Over time, the change will take effect for all of Google’s services, but the Web giant is starting with YouTube. Google said the change will roll out in stages over several months.

MySpace, Lesson Not Learned

MySpace lasted ten years (2003-2013) before it completely lost momentum, then Facebook finished it off. Justin Timberlake attempted to revive it, but it didn’t made any difference after they annihilated existing users by discarding user content, like photos and inbox messages, with the site upgrade, turning it into a totally different experience and targeting different kind of audience. It didn’t work. MySpace demonstrated it didn’t care about its users. The lack of change management, the absence of a full data migration plan, or the option for its users to preserve personal data before the upgrade was almost inhumane. People lobbied to get their data restored, even tried suing, but lost. It took MySpace a while to restore user’s photos and friends list. But user messages where completely lost. MySpace came across as incompetent. Its’ users trusted it with their private data, and it failed miserably to preserve that trust. People need to understand that private messages may include intimate conversations among members. Like this mother whose MySpace inbox messages included conversations with her husband, who travelled for work, and their child. When she became a widow, it was her child’s only record of their intimate interactions. And it was all lost after the upgrade. She pleaded MySpace to restore her old messages, like the rest, I don’t believe she succeeded. I too had a similar circumstance, messages between me and close friend, who has passed on, are all lost. People might say, “move on,” but that shows lack of compassion and understanding that people are different. Some people are sentimental, and prefer to retain keepsakes as mementos to keep memories alive, whatever form they may be. Services, like social networking service, that companies put out for people to use become intertwined with people’s day-to-day life. Is it too much to ask for a little sensitivity? Trust, once you lose it it will take a while to regain. It took Facebook a while to provide a download opinion for users to make backups of their content, it’s a good move. Facebook users should use it regularly, if they value their data. But it seems Facebook is on that exit path itself, committing the same mistakes MySpace once did. There will be others ready to take its place, just like what it did to MySpace.

Google+’s Mistakes

With Google+, I didn’t like the fact that Google aggressively shoved it in people’s throats. Google+ account became a requirement to post any reviews in Google Play and YouTube. The endless nagging to sign up was very off-putting. Google forced it in Android phones as well. It’s a very invasive service.  It’s overall design wasn’t great, it’s convoluted. Its’ user experience was something geared towards people who thrive in complexity. “Circle” was sort of a novel idea, but it was cumbersome to manage.  I removed all my photos from Google+ and deleted my account. I opted out for a unified account as well. As for YouTube and Google Play reviews, I wanted to give reviews and ratings, to help out, but since Google+ was in the way I kept my feedback to myself or posted them on here or Twitter.

Another Google Utopian Dream

Product unification is another initiative Google is pursuing. Let’s be real here, it wants to integrate its applications so it’s better to cross-advertise and share user information across services. With a unified product landscape, it’s easier for Google to boost up new products it comes up with in the future. No need to grow membership organically, it’ll just automatically “opt in” its existing users to the new product – and nag nag nag. No need for Google to ask its’ users to agree to new Privacy Terms, because you’re automatically enrolled. Great for Google but not necessarily for its’ users. I for one would prefer applications to be separate. I’ll sign up for apps I need, thank you very much. I also would prefer to have a say on what personal information I am willing to share across applications, including what identity I’m going to use. If I need to transfer data across applications, I’ll deal with it when the time comes. But if Google provides the functionality to import and export data, that would be much appreciated.

Listen To Your Audience

People’s feedback are important, good or bad. It’s a way to determine what works and what doesn’t. These days where people are more comfortable sharing their thoughts, even if at times it can get very harsh, it is still a good thing. People just express themselves differently. Service and content providers no longer have to coax people into sharing their opinions, because they’re willing to give it. The trick is to be objective, and to filter out what is useful and what isn’t. Processing feedback takes a lot of patience, objectivity, and a strong gut. It’s very important for product developers to listen to its’ user base and not wait for an exodus before planning on taking action, by that time it will be too late. Companies whose products become popular tend to think they’re gods, and abuse their users’ trust, well they’re not gods. As quickly as they get to the top, their demise will be just as swift if they ignore user sentiments.

Not Invincible

Yahoo, Excite, MySpace, and now Google+ are reminders that nothing online lasts forever, except maybe data. Technology companies who aren’t mindful of the past are bound to commit the same mistakes. And if users value the data they share with their family and peers in cyberspace, then it’s best to preserve them offline, not cloud (another fad) or any online storage. Store them offline, in an SD Card or disk. Data storage are inexpensive these days.

Any technology that needs resources, money, and time to operate will end at same point.

Technology changes fast, so are people’s tastes.

Source: PC Magazine


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