As Google+ turns three, is it time to wave the white flag?

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

June 28 2014 marks three years since Google+ was launched. It represents an interesting tipping point in the history of the social network, for whom mass adoption has often been difficult to come by.

Despite having only a quarter of the userbase of Facebook, 359 million active users compared to 1.28 billion is still a hefty number. But there’s another issue at stake.

At Google I/O earlier this week, during the two and a half hour keynote conference there was mention of various new announcements and updates – but nothing on Google Plus.

For those who are avid users, the argument here is that it’s so ingrained in Google’s portfolio, such as Maps or Gmail – two other products which weren’t mentioned in the keynote – that it doesn’t need a mention.

However the critical perception is fairly clear, if these analysts were anything to go by:

These two opinions can’t just be a coincidence. Look up Google+ in news searches and the vast majority of stories which come up focus on its glaring omission at I/O. But the truth remains: it’s Google’s ball, and if they decide to keep faith with Plus, then you’re going to have to like it or lump it if you want the rest of the ecosystem.

Nowhere was this more acutely felt than on YouTube, where Google+ identities interlock with YouTube accounts.

Google is starting to claw this unpopular disparity back, however. On Wednesday webmaster trends analyst John Mueller announced a simpler design for authorship on Plus, which includes losing profile photos.

This wasn’t taken very well in the comments underneath the post. “Google either plans on letting G+ die on its own, or phasing it out” wrote one, while another added: “This is a step backwards.” Many noted how big a change this was.

Regardless though, there are some impressive figures out there for usage, both for publishers and consumers. The Google +1 button is used five billion times a day, while websites which have the button generate three times more visits than sites without it.

Take a look at this infographic from DPFOC featuring the biggest numbers, the history and the future of the network. What’s your view of Google Plus?

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