Google hasn’t given up the ghost on Google+, acquires photo backup tool Odysee

9 Feb 2015

Proving Google hasn’t abandoned its struggling social media network Google+, the search giant has acquired mobile backup service Odysee for an undisclosed sum to enhance photo backup and sharing on Google+.

The Odysee technology makes it possible for users to create an “endless camera roll” by allowing users to backup photos from any number of devices, sync them across those devices and share with friends.

“Odysee’s vision was to be the easiest way for everyone to capture unlimited memories and access them everywhere,” the company said.

“We are very excited to join Google where we’ll continue to focus on building amazing products that people love.”

The move shows that Google still has plans for Google+, which failed so far to spark anything near the success of Twitter and Facebook.

While Google has counted over 540m active users and claims 300m are active, for many users the platform lacks the engagement experienced on Twitter or Facebook.

Initially introduced in 2011 as a “social layer” that would complement Google’s search infrastructure, the departure of Vic Gundotra in April last year spawned speculation that Google would retire Google+.

Google is notoriously unsentimental about projects and will kill them in order to focus resources on new areas that are likely to flourish. Look at how it has canned the launch of Google Glass, the eyewear that was projected to change computing forever.

However, people who actually use Google+ appreciate it for the quality of its software, its clean interface and its robustness. The only pity is you feel like you are in an echo chamber, it just feels so damned quiet.

Google’s social media odyssey far from finished

But it must also be noted that it has been the Google+ odyssey that has spawned key technological developments for Google in terms of setting the standard for quality mobile versions of social networks as well as Hangouts, its popular group video conferencing tool.

Google+ has also spawned advanced photo-sharing, back-up and enhancement tools that are still streets ahead of anything Twitter or Facebook can provide.

The whole experiment harks back to a time when nearly everything Google did felt like a masterclass in computer science.

It’s just hard to replicate things like search and Gmail when others had already gained first-mover advantage.

There was a time when it looked like Google could easily threaten Twitter or Facebook but that was because it seemed Google could integrate its new social layer more effectively with its searches and advertising. That was a potentially overwhelming advantage, one that doesn’t seemed to have happened, at least not yet.

But acquiring Odysee and creating tools that enhance the digital lifestyle suggest this is a strategy Google has no intention of giving up the ghost on just yet, and that an emphasis on quality over quantity could yet win the day as people will rely on easy to use auto backup tools for sharing and protecting their digital memories.

Google+ image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years