Google+, which was starting to acquire a reputation as the Clippy of social networks, is apparently getting its wings clipped. Unnamed sources tell TechCrunch that the departure of longtime Google+ boss Vic Gundotra this week signals the start of major changes ahead for Google’s social network.
The biggest news is that Google will apparently no longer require that Google+ be integrated into every one of its products, although unfortunately the social network will still be a required part of creating a Gmail account. TechCrunch’s sources say that Google decided to stop pushing Google+ onto more users after getting some significant blowback when it tried forcing Google+ onto YouTube commenters.
More broadly speaking, it looks as though Google will chop up pieces of Google+ and use it much more as a general platform than as a social network that’s trying to compete with Facebook. This means that a good chunk of the Google+ team will be going to other divisions: The team working on Hangouts, for instance, will be shifted to the Android team, while other divisions will be shifted to Chrome. This has led TechCrunch to describe Google+ as “walking dead,” which means that Google isn’t going to kill it off anytime soon but it’s certainly not going to do much to keep it alive.
All of this should come as welcome news to those Google users who were tired of being hassled to use a social network that they only used because they accidentally clicked on it while trying to access Gmail.