Google+ may have shut down its consumer side earlier this month, but the code base still lives on at Google. After diving into the social media wars and getting routed, Google+ will live out its retirement as “Google Currents“—it’s the Google+ code base, but with an enterprise focus. The reborn Google+/Currents will now do battle with Facebook this time with the enterprise version of Facebook, called “Workplace,” and also Microsoft’s Yammer.
Surely things will go differently this time.
Google Currents is uh, launching as a beta service that G Suite admins can request access to. The enterprise focus means it’s for paying G Suite customers only. Google’s blog post says Currents “enables people to have meaningful discussions and interactions across your organization, helping keep everyone in the know and giving leaders the opportunity to connect with their employees.” Currents looks exactly like Google+, but with a new logo and maybe a slightly whiter color scheme.
Currents is now the second big enterprise communication tool from Google. The other is Google Hangouts Chat, which is a Google’s version of a Slack clone. Just like Currents, Hangouts Chat is closely associated with a dying consumer Google product, Google Hangouts. (Why does it seem like G Suite is getting all the consumer leftovers?) Both products will greatly benefit from their association with G Suite, which pulls in enterprise customers with killer apps like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive. The sales pitch is basically “Since you’re already paying for that sweet Gmail account with a custom domain, why not try out these social apps, too?”
Currents marks the end of the tragic story of Google+. One day, Google imagined a future where everything was social and began viewing Facebook as an existential threat. Google+ was cooked up as the answer in 2011, and then-CEO Larry Page tied every Google employee’s yearly bonus to the company’s success in social, basically mandating Google+ integration for every made product.
G+ wormed its way into YouTube, Gmail, Search, Android, and pretty much every other service. Users hated it. After the head of Google+ left Google, the service’s tentacles were slowly withdrawn from other Google products. The service finally died in dramatic fashion when a data leak affecting 500,000 users was exposed, and Google shut down Google+ as a response. It only shut down the consumer side of Google+ though—Google decided to go with the strange half-measure of kicking out the consumer user base while still maintaining the code base for enterprise users.
After eight years of mostly negative press, it’s no wonder Google decided to change the name of Google+. This is actually the second Google app named “Google Currents.” The first Google Currents was introduced in 2011 as a news magazine app, along the lines of Apple News. The first Currents was killed off in favor of Google Play Newsstand in 2014, which itself was killed off and merged with Google News in 2018. Let’s see how long this version of “Google Currents” will last.