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Despite Google Photos' arrival, Google+ still lives

Sharon Gaudin | June 2, 2015
The fact that Google launched a new photo sharing and storage service this week isn't ringing the death knell of Google+.

SAN FRANCISCO — The fact that Google launched a new photo sharing and storage service this week isn't ringing the death knell of Google+.

At least that's what Google executives are saying.

"I can commit to ... Google+," said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of photos and streams, during a press briefing at Google I/O on Thursday. "It has an excellent team behind it. Some new blood has been brought in. There's been a renaissance in thinking of Google+. It's working really well in connecting people with shared interests."

There was a lot of talk at Google I/O, the company's major annual developer conference in San Francisco, about what the launch of Google Photos means to Google+. The talk didn't hold out much hope for the social network , which has failed to make a big footprint in a market so dominated by Twitter and Facebook.

Google Photos has been a service inside Google+, allowing users to store and share their images and videos.

On Thursday, Google announced that Google Photos will be a free, stand-alone service for storing unlimited photos and video. It's available now on Android, iOS and the web.

What some suspected was that Google is getting ready to scrap Google+, peeling off its best features like taking the good tires and parts off a dying car.

Google execs said that's not true. They didn't peel Photos off Google+. The new service was built from the ground up, according to Horowitz.

He added that Google Photos is meant for organizing, editing and storing your photos, whereas Google+ is all about sharing. The two services weren't syncing, so it was decided to separate them.

"It's not clear that personal photo management is aligned with the mission we share for Google+," Horowitz said. "The concept of managing all my photos is really different than photo sharing. We understood that space required a cognitive distance from a sharing product. Google Photos is that private, sacred, secure, safe space where all of my memories can live without a compromised agenda. We wanted it to have its own separate brand and app."

That makes sense, according to Brian Blau, an analyst with market research firm Gartner.

"I don't doubt that they wanted to build a new experience for photos and make a clean break from Google+ as they really want Photos to be a new platform for engagement," Blau said. "Photos has been a favorite part of Google+, and users have gravitated to that as one of their most popular features. It'll be interesting now."

Both Blau and Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, were a skeptical about Google+ going into what Horowitz called a renaissance.


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