Google is one of the largest and most successful technology companies in the world, but not everything it touches turns to gold. It has a few failures on its resume, with Google Glass being one of them and its gaming platform Google Stadia currently in danger of being another, but to most people, the largest and most public failure on its record is the Google Plus social media network. It was supposed to be a competitor to Facebook and Twitter, taking the best aspects of both platforms and mixing them together to create something new that people would engage with. The idea never caught on. Millions of people signed up for Google Plus accounts out of curiosity, but almost nobody actively used it.
Google tried for several years to revive its ailing platform, but it was almost dead on arrival and showed few signs of life after its launch. Eventually, with almost no daily users and no income from marketing (no-one wants to pay for adverts that nobody will see), the company was forced to bow to the inevitable. In mid-2018, Google announced that Google Plus would disappear for good in August 2019. To compound their embarrassment, a security flaw was identified in December 2018 that necessitated it being closed earlier than planned. It was the final embarrassment from a product that had caused a whole series of them for the company that created it.
What killed Google Plus was a failure to engage with customers, and a failure to diversify its offering. Facebook has expanded to the point where it has Facebook Watch, the Facebook Marketplace, and even a Facebook-branded online slots casino. It has multiple streams of income and multiple different facets. Google Plus could have been paired with YouTube to excellent effect, but for some reason, Google never did it. The idea of a Google Plus online slots website probably never crossed the company’s mind. Taking on eBay or Online Slots UK companies shouldn’t be a necessity for a social network, but it demonstrates a scope of ambition that Google Plus sadly lacked.
We’re now a year on from the formal closure of the Google Plus service, and it seems that the company has had the chance to lick its wounds, think about its next move, and try again. Even though the social network was closed to the public, it never completely shut down for the few business customers that it had. The ‘enterprise’ version of Google Plus, known as ‘G Suite,’ has remained available to users who’d paid for it and is still in use today. Within the past few days, users of that service have received an interesting communication from Google. In the very near future, the Google Plus and G Suite branding will disappear from their software to be replaced by the name ‘Google Currents,’ a brand-new Google initiative that amounts to Google Plus re-engineered as a business CRM.
As the announcement is so recent, full details of what the platform will offer are not currently available. Based on what we do know, it sounds like an old-style business-specific intranet. Employees of companies will be allowed to share links, text posts, pictures, graphs, files stored in Google Drive, and other information into a communal area provided by Google Currents. The administrators of the service can police and moderate the account, and can also target specific streams of information at specific users, thereby ensuring that people only see the information that’s relevant to their grade or task.
Unless there’s more to it than what we’ve described above, it doesn’t sound like Currents will provide much functionality above and beyond the level of service provided by much larger business platforms like Microsoft Teams, or Slack. Communal networking programs for businesses have never been so focused on or so necessary as they have been for the past two to three months, but by this point, the companies who have found themselves relying on such programs have settled on one, and are unlikely to be attracted to the idea of changing to a different system now. If Google is looking to take advantage of this recent trend, the moment might already have gone. If they’ve missed the boat, it would be an almost inexplicable error – Currents is understood to have been in beta testing mode for several months and so could have been launched earlier. It’s hard to escape the feeling that the fate of Currents will be little better than the fate of the Google Plus network it’s replacing.
There might be another explanation as to why Google suddenly wants to move into the business enterprise market. Facebook has semi-recently done the same thing with ‘Facebook Workplace,’ which is a business-specific version of the familiar blue social network brand. When Facebook does something, Google is generally quick to respond with a similar move. The same is true in reverse. Google has never been comfortable with the idea of Facebook offering more functions and options to users than Google does, and so the company has never allowed that to happen.
The prospect of Google Currents succeeding as an idea probably depends on how satisfied the business customers of Microsoft Teams currently are. Google knows all about going up against Microsoft and failing; as we alluded to at the start of this article, it’s going through that process with Google Stadia at the moment. The gaming platform was supposed to become a major player in a market dominated by Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. So far, it’s a long way off even taking a five percent share of that market, and there’s little to suggest that it ever will. A second crushing defeat to Microsoft in a head-to-head battle with similar products would be extremely bruising for the company, but that’s the path they appear to have taken.
As with any up-and-coming business platform, there will undoubtedly be commercial possibilities when it comes to Currents, be they advertising possibilities or potential efficiency gains. As more information becomes available, we’ll be sure to give Google Currents a thorough review and report back to you here if we believe that it might have value to a start-up or growing business. In the meantime, all we can do is sit back and watch as Google tries to rebrand a failed idea and pass it off to the public as a new product.