No matter how well or poorly Google handles the shutdown, I see zero impact to Google’s brand.
Prior to this October, I had no idea that Google + was still a thing. And since then, I have seen zero stories in my news reader about its pending demise. None. A half billion dollar investment is being trashed and what the president served for lunch gets greater coverage.
By the summer, everyone on Google+ will have moved on to somewhere else and will continue to use Google for search and maps.
If there was going to be a coordinated boycott, like with Reddit in 2015, the silencing of the Moderators Community would be a brilliant counter-measure by Google’s management. But as @Factotum suggests, it may just be the result of a crumbling or highly misunderstood infrastructure.
Chris, I have an answer, or at least a theory, as to what Google is and was thinking about Plus in 2009, 2014 and today, but I don’t think you’ll like it.
Google was afraid that Facebook was going to steal their advertisers.
That’s the only logical explanation for why they decided in 2009 to create Google +.
In 2009, Alphabet’s total revenue was $23 billion.
Even a 10% loss of revenue to Facebook would have translated to over $2 billion annually. Add in the drop in valuation on the stock market from such a loss and a half billion dollar spend on Google + seems like a bargain.
Google + was never created to realistically best Facebook.
It was introduced on June 28, 2011 with the goal of putting doubt in the minds of advertisers who were considering switching to Facebook.
And Google kept it up by introducing new technology on Google +.
So Google’s advertisers thought that if Google was putting all this money and enhancements into + then maybe Facebook isn’t where they need to be.
Google+ also created an arms race with Facebook, causing Facebook to invest massively in video in 2014-2015.
And did Google succeed in protecting their ad revenues?
From 2009 when Google + was started to 2014 when management lost interest in Google +, revenues TRIPLED from $23 billion to $66 billion.
Since then, Google has acted like a New York City landlord who tries to drive tenants out of their rent-controlled apartments in order to turn their units into luxury condos: turning off the heat, not making repairs, letting spam flow freely.
But not everyone took the hint. And it would’ve been a PR nightmare with protests if they shut it down while it was still popular.
And forget Google manufacturing a phony reason to shut it down—the truth would’ve come out, causing an even bigger PR nightmare.
Google would’ve kept Google+ going and falling apart for years longer if need be.
A prime example of this wait until it’s safe approach is Google Blogger. It was officially dropped from Google’s strategic focus over five years ago. It should’ve died five years ago. But they still haven’t shut it down. Why? Because there are still bloggers on Google Blogger with 10+ years of blog posts and SEO who would cause a PR nightmare. Or would’ve five years ago: maybe it’s been forgotten so no one hits the kill switch.