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Google listens (finally) but not to us

5 August 2015

Almost two years ago now, Google decided that it would force Google+ on its many millions of hapless users.

All around the world, previously happy YouTube users were outraged and many, including myself, posted videos expressing that outrage in a way that the company could hardly have missed (my vid)

Exercising a degree of arrogance and contempt that is rarely seen outside political circles, Google ignored this torrent of anger and ploughed on with its stated objective of forcing every Google service to be tied in some way to G+.

Until now.

Yes, after nearly two years, Google has finally conceded that their strategy of forcing G+ on users just isn't working.

Having come to this realisation, Google has announced that it will be disentangling most of its services (including YouTube) from a forced involvement with G+

I for one will be cheering loudly when this finally happens.

Even now, two years after its launch, G+ and its integration to many Google services is bug-ridden and confusing.

The integration with YouTube is still messy and continues to create confusion. Why is it, for example, that some comments people leave on videos have a "reply" link -- but others don't?

I often end up with multiple alerts with the same information being delivered to my YouTube, GMail and Google+ accounts and when you get hundreds of unique alerts per day, such duplication can dramatically increase the "noise" involved.

The big question of course is "why did it take Google so long to listen?"

Well the answer is probably that they never did listen. They've chosen to disentangle G+ from the rest of their offerings simply because it was hurting more than it was helping.

The beancounters will have told them that G+ was a bust and was never going to become a viable Facebook rival so best we don't tarnish our "good" products with this lowly also-ran. None of the clearly stated objections of actual users were considered to be worth listening to... the bottom-line is all that matters.

Having said that I don't like G+, I think Google missed a golden opportunity here.

I do know people who love G+ and I have to admit that there are aspects I think are also not too bad. The problem was that it became a use-only product. The "experts" at Google clearly had an idea in mind and there was no way they were going to let pesky users alter their vision.

If Google had rolled out G+ in a way that allowed people to opt-in (rather than be forced-in) then perhaps there would have been less resistance to it. If Google had been more active in soliciting and listening to user feedback then perhaps the product would have been a much better fit with people's wants and needs.

Sadly... that doesn't seem to be the Google way.

I can see why this might happen. It's not at all uncommon for someone to come up with a brilliant idea and then turn that idea into a commercial success. Boosted by the popularity and acceptance of that product, these people believe they have an unchallenged ability to "know what's best". What they fail to appreciate is that regardless of your prior success, the market always knows best what it wants.

Google has repeatedly shown contempt for the users of its services. They repeatedly tinker with products that are working very well -- breaking stuff and forcing unwanted changes on users. At the same time, they seem to have cloth-ears when it comes to the complaints or requests of those users.

It really does seem that Google has been reading too much of its own publicity these days.

I, and many millions of others, are waiting with great trepidation, for the next "improvement" to one or more of its services that Google decides to inflict upon us.

What do readers think? Is the de-integration of G+ a good idea?

Why did G+ fail to pose any real challenge to FaceBook?

Was the fact that they forced it upon users part of the problem?

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