It sounds like your argument is that Google shouldn't chase Facebook, but you also state in the article that they have no choice but to compete with them.
You lament the "magic" that created your favorite products, but I would say that Google's "magic" had already dissipated before Google+. They brought the products you mention to market with a whole lot of time and money wasted on failed products.
Seems to me that +Larry Page
has simply attempted to focus the company as a whole. Less all over the place. There has to be a balance of freedom to create and an overall vision.
I do agree with you that none of my "real life" friends are on Google+. It is so tough to get them away from Facebook. It's hard to even get my family to view picture albums of my daughter on Picasa ("Can't you just post it on Facebook?"). Having said that, I much, much
prefer the community on Google+ than on Facebook. I have much more interesting friends here, and want to read what they post much more than anything I see on Facebook.
I also think the overall product is just better.