I've never really understood the vitriol toward G+.
That's because you've drunk deeply of the kool-aid.
The press doing what they do (and no doubt strongly encouraged by Facebook, Microsoft, Apple) created a narrative of Google taking aim at Facebook and how they will most certainly fail. Google has repeated many times what the G+ initiative was about, but the press either ignored the facts or said Google was lying. How dare Google try to disrupt their narrative with something as inconsequential as facts. G+ is a framework to unify Google services. Before, it was a complete mess. You had different userids and passwords
If all they wanted to do was to create a unified login, all they had to do was the same thing Yahoo and many other services have done... Simply announce the availability of (or requirement for) a unified account and provided a link to a page with relevant information and tools.
But that's not what they did.
The created a "Facebook [like|light] streaming update system. ("Light" because it was very feature incomplete.) They emasculated Picasa (and their last best hope for competing with the likes of Flickr and Photobucket) in order to encourage people to use the Photos application which was integrated into that system. Pre-launch they very carefully recruited celebrities, tastemakers, and influential internet personalities across a wide range of activities to be early adopters and to provide users with a ready made suite of people to "follow" and "like". (Seriously, you don't go to the effort of recruiting the like of Thomas Hawk (photography) or Marc Spagnuolo (woodworking)* unless you intend to attract photographers and woodworkers to your service - something an integrated login doesn't need.) And then they marketed it extensively (one of the very few times Google has actively marketed anything) as a social service.
In short, they pretty much did everything possible to make G+ look like a social media system (and a successor to their previous, failed, attempts) and a competitor to Facebook. It's not all surprising in light of this that media (and the public) failed to buy their belated claim that the whole thing was nothing but a way to introduce a unified login and account system.
* Both are internet personalities with a significant following in their fields.