The divergent paths of Facebook, Google and Twitter have never been clearer than they were this week. We learned that half of the world\u2019s estimated online population now uses Facebook at least once a month, that Twitter\u2019s growth is at an impasse and that Google is all but throwing in the towel with Google+.\nGoogle kicked off the week by uncoupling itself from Google+ after trying to shoehorn its social platform into every Google product imaginable. Twitter faced the music the following afternoon when co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey conceded during an earnings call with investors to numerous failures. The most glaring problem of all is that Twitter is failing to reach the mass market because it\u2019s too difficult to use and, despite a high brand awareness globally, most people still don\u2019t know how or why they should use the micro-blogging platform.\nGoogle and Twitter present an interesting dichotomy in the social media world, because one of Google\u2019s strengths outside of Google+ \u2013 an active user base that numbers in the billions \u2013 is something that appears permanently out of reach for Twitter. Twitter\u2019s attempts to reverse that trend with product initiatives like instant timelines, a \u201cwhile you were away\u201d feature and even an offline experience \u201chave not yet had meaningful impact on growing our audience or participation,\u201d according to Dorsey. \u201cThis is unacceptable and we\u2019re not happy about it.\u201d\n[Related: 7 things we hate about Twitter]\nTwitter CFO Anthony Noto brought even more urgency to the matter when he told investors the company could eventually run into limited ad inventory for specific formats if it fails to grow its audience, drive greater usage or get more revenue outside of the core app. Twitter\u2019s advertising business jumped 63 percent year-over-year to $452 million, but the company managed to add only 2 million users during the quarter, which brought its monthly active user base up to 304 million.\nThat disparity, paired with Twitter\u2019s ongoing reluctance to share daily usage numbers, highlights the extent to which Twitter is still struggling to evolve into a daily- or hourly-use app for most users. Beyond that though, there\u2019s still a lot Twitter does not know \u2013 what it is, why people use it and how people should use it \u2013 and executives are finally owning up to it.\nTwitter is losing the race for mindshare\nTwitter isn\u2019t competing with Facebook or any other platform so much as it\u2019s competing for users, says Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas. \u201cThey have to prove their value to customers,\u201d she says. \u201cWhy should I take time out of my day to spend more than five minutes on Twitter? What is Twitter going to do to advance what I need to have going on in my life, if anything?\u201d\nHopeful elements for analysts and investors to cling to during Twitter\u2019s earnings call were few. Twitter enjoys a 95 percent brand awareness score across the most important global markets, an achievement that puts Twitter in \u201crarified air,\u201d according to Noto. But the company has reached less than 30 percent of all potential users in those markets, mostly early adopters and technology enthusiasts.\n\u201cThe product remains too difficult to use,\u201d Noto says. \u201cWe have not communicated why people should use Twitter, nor made it easy for them to understand how to use Twitter. This is both a product issue and a marketing issue.\u201d\nTwitter hasn\u2019t clarified its strategy for other products like Vine and Periscope either, which gives the impression that there\u2019s all these siloed efforts that aren\u2019t fully united under the Twitter umbrella, says Liousas. \u201cThey really have to organize what\u2019s going on in their own house and figure out what the value propositions are for each of those products before even thinking about how to stand out within the market,\u201d she points out. \u201cThey have to stand out within their customer set first.\u201d\nHave the stars finally aligned?\nWith so much turmoil at the executive level, however, and continued uncertainty about who\u2019ll be leading the company a few months from now, it\u2019s possible that Twitter may never get the chance to see things through. Unless, that is, Google\u2019s backpedaling on Google+ and Twitter\u2019s uncharacteristically honest self-appraisals have introduced some new math to the equation.\n[Related: Google+ noticeably absent at Google I\/O]\nGoogle has a handful of apps that attract more than 1 billion users each, but it\u2019s never cracked into the social space at that level. Now that the company is slowly disentangling itself from the long and oftentimes awkward reach of Google+, one has to wonder if the company still thinks social media is as critical as it did when it launched Google+ four years ago.\nIn a blog post titled \u201cEverything in its right place,\u201d Bradley Horowitz, Google\u2019s vice president recently put in charge of the platform, sidestepped the question of what will come of Google+. But the writing has been on the wall for about the last half of Google+\u2019s existence. The company is systematically narrowing the focus and capabilities of Google+ by repositioning it as an \u201cinterest-based social experience.\u201d Many of the network\u2019s best features are being pulled out and reintroduced on single-use apps.\nPhotos, for example, are being moved to the new Google Photos app. And location sharing is moving to Hangouts. The biggest change, though, is that Google+ profiles will no longer be required to use all of Google\u2019s other products. YouTube is first in line to rid itself of Google+, but every Google product will follow suit in the coming months, according to Horowitz.\nWhat\u2019s Google\u2019s next move?\nIf Google+ isn\u2019t going to be the next social network with more than a billion users, maybe the company will set it finally sights on Twitter and try to do something bold. Can either company reach a social audience of more than a billion users alone? And how long before Snapchat or others start nipping at their heels?\n[Related: Twitter lost the average Joe and Jane (and they may never return)\nGoogle ended its last quarter with $69.7 billion in cash, enough to match Twitter\u2019s current market cap ($20.46 billion) almost two-and-a-half times over. However, an acquisition of this size would be Google\u2019s largest ever, and CEO Larry Page would probably have to get a little creative if he\u2019s going to convince himself that Twitter passes his \u201ctoothbrush test\u201d for acquisitions. In this case, is Twitter something that people will use once or twice and day (like a toothbrush \u2026 get it?) and will it make their lives better?\nIf the answer is yes or, more importantly, could be with Google\u2019s help, the recent moves and announcements by both companies may have finally created a window for that long-rumored acquisition by Google to finally happen.