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The Rumor Mill Targets Google

With Google’s prestige often comes a lot of criticism — and conjecture. Everyone wants to know what the company’s next move is and what the latest move means. But without confirmation, how much validity is there to reports that YouTube is acquiring Twitch, or that Google is dismantling the Google+ integration?

VentureBeat recently confirmed a $1 billion YouTube acquisition of Twitch. However, the only information VentureBeat was able to provide was that “sources familiar with the matter” could confirm the deal. While we have no doubt VentureBeat has sources close to both companies, this rumor has been floating around since May.

The latest rumor is that G+ is going to spin off its photo service into a standalone product, which is part of a plan to dismantle the flagship social service. It’s not a bad idea, really. Enabling people to use the Google photo app without the requirement of a G+ account could result in reaching a wider audience. But this is yet another story where the sources were cited as “people with knowledge of the matter.”

Google did, however, confirm that certain business users will now be able to use Hangouts for video conferencing without the need for a G+ profile. So it’s not unreasonable for reporters to assume that this is all part of some grand Google plan.

While the initial reports since Vic Gundotra’s departure were that Google would use G+ as a platform, the more dominant narrative has been how the company is pulling apart its social network. This may or may not be the case, but the move to make Hangouts available to business customers sans the G+ requirement looks like Google is interested in making it easier for businesses to use the service for collaboration.

The Twitch acquisition would make sense, as it would allow Twitch to serve better ads, and it could allow Google to monetize a huge bank of content it otherwise wouldn’t have access to. A representative told Bloomberg, “Over here in our darkroom, we’re always developing new ways for people to snap, share and say cheese.”

That hardly seems like confirmation to me.

Google may be floating these ideas through leaks to see how the public — or perhaps the stock prices — react. It’s also conceivable that Google+ has become a stumbling block for the release of new features. But so far these rumors remain unsubstantiated, and unless it’s advantageous, Google won’t confirm anything before it’s ready to.

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