I love the way Elisa Gabbert put it over on the WordStream Blog: The Future According to Larry Page: Outlook Lazy. But I really don’t agree with her leap to a conclusion that Page thinks “the future…will not be social, as Page might have had us believe in the past.”
She’s referring to the 2013 1st Quarter earnings call by Google CEO Larry Page. I liked her “lazy” metaphor for the general outlook of what Page highlighted. It ties together their nature: they are all things that will make the Internet more part of the fabric of life for the average user. Set it and forget it.
Innovations like Google Glass, voice commands, Google Fiber, Self-driving cars, phones that charge themselves, automated advertising platforms…all of these are examples of the kinds of products and services that will make the Internet of the future as much a part of the unconscious background of our daily lives as electricity now is for the developed world.
So Where’s Google+?
Elisa makes a big deal in the opening paragraph of her post about the fact that Page “didn’t mention Google” once on the call.” From that she concludes that “the future will not be social,” and I infer that Page has already lost interest in Google+.
That strikes me as simply absurd.
In published accounts of the earnings call, Page doesn’t have a lot to say about Google Search either. Anyone think Google is about to abandon their search engine?
But more importantly, every indication we have from Google’s behavior is that they are “full steam ahead” with the Google+ project.
We continue to see almost daily improvements to the Google+ platform and its mobile apps. Google+ engineers who post and engage on Google+ continue to giggle like school girls who’ve found a friend’s secret diary as they tease us about “you ain’t seen nothing yet” features and upgrades yet to come.
Moreover, Google continues to pursue the mandate that Larry Page gave the company in 2011: to unify all Google services and products under one (social) layer. For example, we see the continued integration of YouTube with Google+. Only last week Google+ finally rolled out a beta version of the ability for Google+ brand pages to sync with their branded YouTube channels.
All this attention hardly smacks of abandonment.
So why didn’t Larry Page bother to mention Google+ in a talk about the future of Google? Because with Google+ the future of Google is already here.
Page’s vison for the future is for a “lazy web,” where you’ll just be able to do the things you want to do, without having to think about how to do them. Last week at the Digital Marketing for Business Conference in downtown Raleigh NC, Google+ Chief Evangelist Gopi Kallayil gave a keynote address on “How Google+ Will Change Everything.” Using Google+ features like Hangouts On Air, Google+ Local, and Instant Upload for photos, he demonstrated how Google+ is fulfilling the mandate that Larry Page gave to its development team to find a way to make all things Google work together seamlessly and without effort on the part of the user.
I firmly believe that Google+ is a long term project for Google. In a Google+ post I called “Why I’m Long Term Invested in Google+,” I said the following:
I’m a believer that Google is committed to G+ and has a brilliant (if sometimes frustrating) “long game” plan for it (see http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/05/why-the-google-long-game-is-brilliant/). This is typical modern-day Google. They have the resources and patience to walk out a long term strategy and to build slowly and carefully (as opposed to Zuckerberg’s “rush it out the door even if it doesn’t quite work yet” mentality). Google takes the luxury of carefully testing new features and rolling them out slowly, letting the users uncover what works and what’s broken, and then adjusting and fixing in response. On Google+ many of us regularly find Google engineers and execs interacting in our threads, getting our feedback and letting us know what they’re working on. That never happens on Facebook or Twitter.
And so bit by bit we see Google regularly rolling out changes and updates, and almost always they are real useful improvements that make it a truly better, more user- or business-friendly place, as opposed to Facebook’s too-often shot-in-the-dark catastrophes, like local check in and other ventures they roll out only to have to pull them a month or two later.
Moreover, Google+ is already contributing to the bottom line of Google without showing a single paid ad. Because of the lack of on-platform monetization pressure, Google+ can be the tortoise in the tortoise vs. hare race. They can patiently out-wait the competition, all the time investing in building the highest quality social platform, instead of tricks to try to get users to have to pony up cash and spam their own followers.