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Hangouts website to hasten the demise of Google+?

Barry Collins
18 Aug 2015
Google Hangouts
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New Hangouts website gives people one fewer reason to bother with the little-used Google+

Google has given the Hangouts service its own website, in a further sign that it might be preparing to close the Google+ social network. Hangouts was previously only available via Google+ and Gmail on the desktop, but the Skype-like video/voice calling service now stands on its own two feet at hangouts.google.com.

Earlier this year, Google splintered off another part of Google+, Photos, into its own service, giving users even fewer reasons to bother with the little loved social network. Research published earlier this year by Stone Temple Consulting claimed that 90% of the people who had created a Google+ profile had never even bothered to make a public post, whilst only 1% of active profiles had made 10 or more posts over the past month.  

Google has made several previous attempts to launch a social network, including Google Buzz (closed after a year in 2011), Google Friend Connect (closed after four years in 2012) and Orkut (which was popular in South America before closing after nine years in 2013). The asset-stripping of Google+ suggests the search company may once again pull the plug on its social-networking venture. 

Closing Google+ could potentially lead the company to renew its interest in Twitter. Twitter's share price rocketed recently on rumours of a Google buyout, and the loss-making social network has recently parted company with its CEO after growth stalled. 

The Hangouts website lets registered Google users make voice and video calls, or send text messages to contacts. As before, video Hangouts can be broadcast online using a public URL, allowing the service to be used to stream events or announcements. Google revamped the Hangouts apps for iOS and Android earlier this year, as it looks to take the game to Microsoft's Skype.

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