Some time ago I wondered What is the future of Picasa?, I’m still genuinely concerned that this popular photo manager might be abandon. What I have seen is Google+ Photo take over some of the roles and all the development effort. With the departure from Google of Vic Gundotra, the force behind all things Google+, some commentators are starting to suggest Google+ is about to be walking dead. There have also been persistent rumours that google+ is a ghost town, and this was one of the main reasons I decided to participate in The Patch, a Google+ community based around a themed photography challenge. I have to admit I am still a bit lost at times in the Google+ world which seems to swirl past without adding a lot, but at the more personal level within a community I see many worthwhile things.
So in the short term I don’t think Google will turn off Google+, they haven’t killed Picasa, or Orkut, but they have bought things like Picnik and abandoned them and they have shut their own Google Reader, Google Knol, Google Buzz and Google Wave, while they still showed promised, all that was missing was a really large take up by users. I see the suggestion that Google+ will become a platform, rather than a social network, as an important hint. This suggests to me that the individual pieces might become stronger as independent single purpose applications (particularly on mobile systems, like smartphones and tablets) while using a specific set of standard architecture for sharing over the internet (cloud) and with other applications. I really doubt things like Google Hangouts and Google+ Photo will be jettisoned, but I do think they might be set free to fly on their own. I would also be surprised if Google didn’t leverage the authentication issue within the shared web-based world using its google account connection and tools. It might just be the name google+ that disappears, while the most useful software tools within it are likely to remain, and it is likely to be your google account that links them.