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Google Plus is Here to Stay, Company Exec Says

Engineering chief David Besbris denies rumors that Google will shut down the social platform.

David Besbris, a Google engineering vice president, said Monday that Google has no plans to abandon its Google Plus social networking platform, despite rumors to the contrary. 

We are “committed to building a product that people absolutely love. So no, Google isn’t giving up on Google+,” Besbris said in a statement emailed to the San Jose Mercury News. The statement was Besbris’ first public comment to a reporter since senior vice president Vic Gundotra -- head of Google Plus -- left the company two months ago. 

Google Plus may not be living up to the company’s hopes of rivaling Facebook, but experts say the social platform has served a purpose since its launch three years ago as the centerpiece of a broader strategy to create a unified profile for each person who uses any of Google’s online products. Google says this helps the company provide a "more consistent experience" to users -- for example, by anticipating that you want directions on Google Maps for the restaurant you found with Google’s search engine, then letting you review the meal on Google Plus.

Analysts say it also lets the company compile a more complete picture of a user’s habits or interests, by recognizing the user on a variety of services and devices, which in turn helps Google show more relevant advertising. Most of Google’s $60 billion in annual revenue comes from ads tied to Internet searches, but the company increasingly is selling other types of online ads too.

Several government agencies reportedly use Google Plus, including NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Other agencies that have adopted Google Plus include the Army’s Fort Rucker, the Texas Army National Guard, the National Weather Service’s El Paso field office and the National Weather Service’s Warning Decision Training Branch.  

In his statement, Besbris offered few specifics about his goals for the service, but said he wants to “build on our momentum, build a product that people absolutely love, and make Google+ the place for meaningful conversations online.”

Google hasn’t released any user statistics since October, when it said 540 million people worldwide used Google Plus credentials to sign in or post comments on any Google service in the previous month. By comparison, Facebook boasts 1.28 billion monthly active users worldwide.