Google this week announced the departure of the guy who, in Larry Page's words, " built Google+ from nothing." But Vic Gundotra's departure appears to be part of a larger de-emphasis of Google+ as a social network that unifies everything.
The chatter in Silicon Valley is that Google will keep Google+ going, but invest more heavily in Google+ as a platform, rather than as an all-purpose destination social network.
In other words, with Facebook outgrowing Facebook and Twitter outgrowing Twitter, there's no need for Google to drive so many forced integrations with other Google properties.
Google has realized the same thing Facebook and Twitter have realized: There's no need for unity. Ubiquity and diversity -- what Google has succeeded with all along -- is more powerful.
The new model is to harvest social signals from wherever and sell personalized ads wherever.
Of course, none of the social networks are going anywhere. They're still important both to their companies and to their users, and they still play an essential role in user identity and data harvesting and, for Twitter and Facebook at least, as places to display advertising.
What's important for these companies from a future-facing business perspective is to have multiple mobile apps that harvest multiple dimensions of personal data that can be applied to highly customized and personalized mobile advertising at multiple locations.
The social networks are falling apart -- they're breaking up into multiple sites and apps that do in a scattered way what used to happen centrally.
If you're in the personalized advertising business, why restrict yourself to a single social network? Users don't.
This article, " Why the Social Networks Are Falling Apart," was originally published on Computerworld.com. Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at http://Google.me/+MikeElgan. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com. Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.