Google+ has been around for over three years, and has pretty much faced a never-ending amount of ridicule and expectations of its demise for the majority of that time, but the product just keeps on going.
In April, Vic Gundotra, who was running Google's social layer, announced he was leaving the company, and then the speculation about Google+'s demise really took off, contrary to what some of its most loyal users believed.
Google insisted at the time that Google+ was not going away, and that it (including the team) would stay as is. Since then, Google has made several tweaks that have only added fuel to the fire. It tested a login button that dropped the "+," for example.
It killed authorship in search results, though it does still show personalized results based on Google+ relationships. Just recently, it stopped requiring people who sign up for Gmail to create a Google+ profile.
But Google is on the defensive yet again, insisting that Google+ is here to stay. Re/code published an interview with Gundotra's replacement, David Besbris. He noted that the Google+ team is the largest its ever been, and dispelled notions that it was booted to another part of the Google campus, saying they chose to move where they're at.
There's not a whole lot of new or otherwise interesting information in the interview, though Besbris had a lot to say, but the main theme is that Google continues to take Google+ seriously. Basically, the company views social as a fundamental part of the web, just as search and email are. That's not going to change, so Google+ will continue to be Google's social layer, just as it has always been described.
"I don’t think of it as an end-game, I think we’re in social — like we’re in everything at Google — for the long haul," he said. "We said this at the beginning of the company, we make long-term bets, we make long-term decisions. Social is a whole aspect of computing much like any other area you would imagine at Google. Behind every one of these screens is a user, it’s an actual person. People are social creatures, they want to share things, they want to learn from each other, they want to ask questions. That’s really important for us as a company how we can deliver on that."
Google recently shut down its first attempt at a social network, Orkut. When the company announced that news, it said that other products like Blogger, YouTube, and Google+ had taken off, and outpaced Orkut's growth, so it's just going to stick with those products as its social efforts.
That doesn't mean Google+ won't continue to change in different ways, and that Google can't peel back some of the features and integrations it has made in the past. I know YouTube users would be happy to see the comments system separate itself from Google+ again.
Image via Google+