Google Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra explains the real goal behind Google+
All the big Google product announcements tied into the social network in some small way
The social network is Google's attempt to clean up fragmented user accounts
For two years, Google has pushed its Google+ as more than a social network or cool video-chatting tool. This week, it is working to hammer home that point with a spate of new features.
Google+ isn’t an answer to Facebook or Twitter, Google says. It’s the connective tissue that more and more is tying Google’s most popular products together – and it will not be ignored.
Since it debuted in June 2011, Google+ has seeped into all other parts of the Google ecosystem, tying into other Google offerings like search, Gmail and YouTube. Sometimes the product feels like an invasive species, especially when using it is required to benefit from the coolest features in other Google products.
“I’m not sure that it’s forced. I think there are some people who may have a misunderstanding of what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Vic Gundotra, the Google senior vice president who leads Google+.
Creating one unified Google identity for each user is the primary purpose of Google+. When the project was started, the company was trying to solve the problem of disconnected online identities.
“One of the core insights we had when we started Google+ was that Google itself was deeply fragmented,” said Gundotra. “Google treated identity as something that was fragmented and different, when (people) were on YouTube they had one identity, when they were on Android they had a different identity, when they were on Gmail they were someone else, when they used search they weren’t even logged in.”
But the reality is that many people still have multiple online identities and Gmail addresses. There might be one for work, another for personal, and a dedicated e-mail address for signing up for services and e-mail lists to collect all the resulting spam in one convenient bucket. Instead of giving those up and using one Google identity, many people choose to juggle their accounts.
To get people to use Google+ the way Google imagines it, the company is working to make the benefits of using one primary Google identity too good to ignore.
During Wednesday’s Google I/O developer’s conference keynote address, Google+ played a big part in many of the more exciting product announcements, even though it wasn’t always called out. The redesigned version of Google Maps will recommend restaurants based on what your Google+ friends have reviewed and visited. The new Google Music All Access service will also use your social graph to hone in on music you might enjoy.