Don't know someone's email address? No need to fret, Google is here.
Confused? Don't be. Let's go back in time to a blog post titled, Is Google+ About To Make Facebook Frown?, from January 2012: "Google has the power (and ability) to make Google+ (and everything being shared within it) the underlying social platform within all of its many applications (Android, Gmail, Google Docs, Picasa, Google Maps, Google News, YouTube, etc...). And - make no mistake about it - both Facebook and Twitter are not fans of having their information indexed on Google." Google just announced that if you would like to email someone and you do not know their email address, you will be able to send them a message through Google+ (if they have an account) and, if they respond to that initial message, you will then have their email address. Along with this, Google recently enabled new functionality on YouTube whereby all of the comments are connected through Google+ (even though this move is upsetting some users).
Everything is social.
So many of the other 800 pound gorillas in social media are doing everything they can to keep a semblance of a walled garden (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc...). Even the ability to embed certain components of these social media channels across other sites still sends any interaction with that content back to the original source. Google+ - as I stated back in 2012 - isn't a real destination, but rather the social layer that will connect anything and everything Google and Android. This is just the beginning, and it could well spell the end of email as we have known it (something many individuals - like myself - might welcome). Imagine the ability to simply communicate in whatever format works? If I wanted to have a Google Hangout with you, shoot you an instant message, email, text, whatever. What if your Google + profile page literally became your unified communications dashboard for everything? Now, combine that thought with the opportunity to ensure that all communications are socially enabled and suddenly, the possibilities become endless. We could see distinct profiles for groups at work, family, friends, people you're interested in... oh, wait, that sounds a lot like Google Circles, doesn't it? One of the main attractions of Google+'s early adopters was the ability to create these circles of relationships.
Suddenly, the picture begins to get a little clearer.
Google can have these many disparate technology platforms (search, videos, word processing, mobile operating system, smartphones, driverless cars, etc...) with different audiences, but so long as Google+ remains the social layer beneath them all, odds are that individuals will - over time - all have some kind of Google+ profile and page. All Google needs to do is keep creating tools, software and utilities that people want to use, and allow them to enable it all through this unified profile that keeps getting smarter and more personal based on what an individual is creating, searching for and connecting to. Currently, you can use your Gmail account to log into your Android device, so it's a small step for Google to change it from your email account to your Google+ profile.
Don't let that creep you out.
Half-joking on that, but we need to face reality. If you have an Android device, use Gmail and search often for whatever, just think about what Google already knows about you. Couple that with a handful of social media-like connections that you make along the way, and suddenly a very robust and powerful picture of who - exactly - you are comes to fruition. Google has also been very aggressive in the enterprise space, so imagine the data and information that is being gathered in that realm as well. How many businesses do you know that would turn away from the opportunity to have the business tools and communications platforms all combined in a fast, cheap and effective manner? Google moves all of the software to the cloud and suddenly small, medium and large businesses are outsourcing more and more of the basic IT solutions to Google to reduce costs, or whatever.
The end of email?
If Google is able to provide a significant value offer in terms of turning your current Google+ profile page into a dashboard for your communications and connectivity, this is a very likely outcome. Most people grapple with their inboxes, so a few tweaks on how we exchange messages, a better way to organize and see who you are connecting with, the ability to easily add others into a conversation thread and some more functionality that has been the limitation of email to date, and this one little tweak gets more and more people simply sending messages through Google+ instead of email.
That may sound radical right now, but it's a logical next step for email's evolution.