> instead of recognizing a subset of users who enjoy social media and offering a better product, Plus focused on offering the same product.
FWIW, that misses the obvious reason for Google having a social media platform in the first place. What would be the point - in Google's view - of G+ obtaining a "subset" of users, say 10% to 20%, when FB has the other 80%-90%? Would that make *advertisers*, Google's main revenue stream, sit up and take notice? Doubtful - it may even have the *opposite* effect, where advertisers *lose* confidence in Google's ability to attract eyes. Advertising revenue is the #1 goal; users enjoying a Google or FB product for its own sake, or finding it useful, is just the means to that end, simple as that.
The problem with a business model where you give products away for free in return for advertising revenue is a big one. Look at newspapers. If you don't get **enough eyes**, it makes the product unviable. But this is the kicker: It's not whether it's enough eyes for you, the company making the product; it's whether it's enough eyes to give advertisers the *impression* that your space is a good return on investment. When it comes to investment in advertising space, it's all about *perception* of value. To give customers (ie. the advertisers) a perception of value in advertising on G+, it needs a definite minimum market share. Otherwise it's not perceived as worthwhile, when FB is the market leader for advertising to certain demographics.
Google used to be the king of advertising on the Internet, before FB came along. It's much harder to sell your product when clients realise you're no longer the "go-to guy" in your field any more. Particularly - and this is key - since FB can give advertisers very *focussed* advertising space, knowing so much detail about its users - age, sex, what they like, etc. Google sort of has that too - by analysing searches - but it's not as definite, as easily provable, as knowing who actually likes certain thing, not just searches on them for whatever unknown reason.
Also I think Google is (rightly) worried about the future of Facebook technology in general. Why else is Google investing heavily in other products, like self-driving cars, watches, Android, etc? Believe me, under all this fancy product hooplah, there is a fierce battle going on between Apple, MS, Google and FB for the possession of user data for advertisers.
What Google has lost to Facebook, they're trying to make up by saying to advertisers, "look, now we know everyone's movements and usage data in Android phones!" - they won that battle with Apple at least - Android market share is at least 50%.
So it's easy to see why the plan was to attract a *significant* % of FB users to G+. A small subset is *useless* to Google, as it does not improve their standing with advertisers - it has to be a significant slice, or there's no point. The pressure on execs to achieve that must have been enormous.
Google is being "attacked" from all sides in the data-gathering game, from MS, Apple, FB, etc. How all that affects Google's standing with advertisers is what guides Google's choices about what products they focus on.
Anyway, I think they've learned some valuable (though bleedingly obvious to many) lessons about user adoption. A major one is don't shove a product down people's throats - that only pisses off your users, even the loyal ones, undermining efforts to make it "popular". Google, of all companies, should know the value of "natural results".