R.I.P. Google+?

Google’s Google+ social network, touted by some as a potential “Facebook killer” upon its 2011 release, could end up split into multiple parts.

“Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true—I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products!” Google Vice President Bradley Horowitz wrote on his Google+ page. “It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.”

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While there’s no official word from Google on whether Google+ is headed for the digital chopping block, Horowitz’s posting suggests the service could undergo a significant rebranding in coming months. If so, “Photos” is a logical candidate for a standalone service. Over the past few years, Google+ has developed a reputation as a place where digital shutterbugs congregate to share images, so it seems logical that Google would double down on that aspect of things.

The second allusion in Horowitz’s posting, “Streams,” is much more ambiguous. It presumably refers to the activity/news streams that dominate the profiles of Google+ users, but it remains unclear how exactly Google will shift things around to emphasize this functionality.

At this month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai also told the audience that Hangouts, the popular communications platform that currently exists as part of Google+, might end up as a standalone product of some sort. “And we’re going to put more energy into it,” he said, according to The Verge. “We’re seeing good traction there and so we’ll work hard to get to the next stage.”

At least one thing is clear: Google+ will likely end up looking very different in the months and years ahead—if it even continues to exist under that name.

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Image: Google

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