So one of my non-edtech tech predictions in January was that the OS-based lifestream would kill the web-based mega-service, discussed most clearly in “Revenge of the OS”, but also in the slightly later article titled “The OS-based Lifestream Will Kill the Web-based Mega-Service”.
Well, the end of the year came early in 2014, because this is already going down. From the TechCrunch article “Google+ is Walking Dead”:
What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
As part of these staff changes, the Google Hangouts team will be moving to the Android team, and it’s likely that the photos team will follow, these people said. Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform, we’re hearing.
Why do this? It’s not because Google lost to Facebook. It’s that Google, via Android, has already won. Facebook is an app for sharing pictures and news stories. For a while it was a contender to own the thing that really mattered — your identity management architecture and your lifestream. But guess where IM and lifestream functions live now:
Your phone OS (and your Windows 8 OS, and your Xbox OS, etc. etc.) serve the platform functions that Facebook reached for and missed. It’s over.
Google understands that, which is why it’s moved so much of its Google+ team into building former mega-site features into the OS. Microsoft understands that, which is why it shipped the half-baked, but theoretically well-founded, Windows 8. Apple has probably known this a while which is why it just waited.
If we want to change the future of technology, that’s where we have to be. I don’t quite know what that means yet. But it’s time to start talking about it, and stop waging the battles that don’t matter anymore.