Google+, minus Google Reader

Google Reader is being shut down because people are not sharing enough content on Google+, says a former Google Reader product manager. The Reader was being kept alive to drive content to Google+, but it did not do so, says Brian Shih, speaking from his own experience.

Google’s big hit in social media has been YouTube rather than Google+. In a blog post last week, YouTube announced: “YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”

Powering this growth, it said, is Gen C (C stands for content) – youngsters born between 1988 and 1993 — who, according to the Google Agency Blog, watch YouTube “on all screens, all the time”.

That brings YouTube neck and neck with Facebook which reports “more than a billion active users as of December 2012.”

Google+’s numbers are much smaller – naturally, one may add, since it’s a latecomer to the field, launched less than two years ago, in June 2011.

Google Official Blog boasted in December 2012:

Today Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever. More than 500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1’ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends in Search…), and 135 million are active in just the stream.

But it is less specific than, say, Facebook or Twitter. It does not say how many people visit Google+ each day or how much content they share.

Twitter, which celebrated its seventh birthday, on March 21, announced: “We have well over 200 million active users creating over 400 million tweets each day.”

Facebook’s Key Facts page shows “more than 618 million daily active users on average in December 2012”.

Compared with that, the Official Google Blog is vaguer.

I have refrained from comparisons with LinkedIn because I could not find similar figures.

The LinkedIn Blog in January this year said:

We recently crossed an important and exciting milestone for the company. LinkedIn now counts over 200 million members as part of our network, with representation in more than 200 countries and territories. We serve our members in 19 languages around the world.

But it did not mention how many are active LinkedIn members or how many visit each day.

We know LinkedIn serves a definite purpose, though. It is a professional network.

I love Twitter because it gives me almost all the news of the day.

You have to go to YouTube to watch videos.

Facebook is for families and friends to share.

So where does that leave Google+? It does not fill a particular niche like LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube and has a long way to go to catch up with Facebook.

Google+ has grown to 343 million active users, according to the Global Web Index compiled by the UK market research firm Trendstream, it was reported in January, but that is not mentioned on the Official Google Blog.

Google Reader got the chop because it did not drive enough content to Google+, according to former Google Reader product manager Brian Shih. He wrote on Quora:

Reader has been fighting for approval/survival at Google since long before I was a PM for the product. I’m pretty sure Reader was threatened with de-staffing at least three times before it actually happened. It was often for some reason related to social:

  • 2008 – let’s pull the team off to build OpenSocial
  • 2009 – let’s pull the team off to build Buzz
  • 2010 – let’s pull the team off to build Google+

I suspect that it survived for some time after being put into maintenance because they believed it could still be a useful source of content into G+. Reader users were always voracious consumers of content, and many of them filtered and shared a great deal of it….

But after switching the sharing features over to G+ (the so called “share-pocalypse”) along with the redesigned UI, my guess is that usage just started to fall – particularly around sharing. I know that my sharing basically stopped completely once the redesign happened.