Google+ Is No Longer A Requirement For Creating A Google Account
After 2 1/2 years of mandatory social account creation, new users are now given a "No thanks" choice when signing up for Gmail and other Google products.
Google’s hard sell of Google+ continues to get softer.
Earlier this month, Google quietly dropped the requirement that new users create a Google+ profile when they sign up for a Google account. A Google+ profile has been mandatory since January 2012, a requirement that some saw as a strong-arm tactic.
With the change, brought to our attention today by Larry Kim of the WordStream Blog and confirmed by Google, new users are given a choice:
Of course, as the screen grab above shows, if a user wants to participate in any of the many Google products with a social layer, she will have to enable her Google+ profile.
But eliminating the forcible aspect of the process is a smart move for Google. It should help the company further distance itself from missteps such as the extremely unpopular integration of YouTube comments and Google+. That controversy — of less than a year ago — has mostly died out (although this recent Google+ by Mike Elgan about inane YouTube comments invading his Google+ posts gives pause).
Some will see this change as more evidence that Google is de-emphasizing (or even preparing to kill) its three-year-old social network. That was popular speculation in April after Vic Gundotra, Google’s godfather of Google+, stepped down in April. More heads were nodding when Google removed the display of Google+ authorship information from search results last month.
But more likely, in my opinion, is that Google will continue making subtle changes to the service, making improvements to popular Google+ products like Hangouts and Hangouts on Air or even spinning off its excellent photo product so people without Google+ accounts can use it.
It seems clear that the company is no longer concerned with pumping up its Google+ user numbers, if it ever was. It will never be more popular than Facebook, but it doesn’t need to be, to be the Google “social layer” that the company claimed it was aiming for at launch in 2011.