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The Google+ reality check: How the social network can hang on without its creator

Caitlin McGarry | April 28, 2014
For better or worse, Google's Vic Gundotra was entirely responsible for Google+, the company's struggling social network. When Gundotra announced Thursday that he is leaving the company, the G+ obituaries began pouring in. After all, how can Google+ make it without Gundotra's constant hype?

Make photos and Hangouts the stars

The wealth of photo features Google+ has baked in for both professionals and Instagram-level amateurs is impressive — this is where the social network shines. People post photos on Facebook, but they're not very high quality. Instagram's editing capabilities are fairly limited compared to what Google+ offers, and Google's privacy settings let you share with specific groups of people. If Google+ can build out a full-fledged social network for real and aspiring photographers, it will have found the niche it needs to succeed.

Last year, Google+ really ramped up its photo efforts, and at the same time launched Hangouts, which combined the messenger and video chats on Google+ with Google Talk. You can access Hangouts from Gmail, from G+, or from the Hangouts apps for iOS and Android, making it a convenient cross-platform way to chat with friends and family. If Google is going to take on Facebook, it might as well do so with messaging, which is a core focus for the big blue app.

Though Gundotra is taking some of the wind from the Google+ sails with his departure, Google's social network doesn't have to collapse. Google just needs to give the people what they want, and what they want is not another Facebook.

 

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