ADOTAS – Tomorrow Google+ will reportedly hit 10 million users, and apparently that will widen to 20 million users by the weekend. There’s a lot of wide-eyed gee-gollying across the tech media about how the nascent social system has increased its user base 350% over six days.
Which would be impressive if Google wasn’t slowly opening the access spigot. It’s not like signing up for Google+ is a real burden if you already have a Gmail account.
The total number of those accounts isn’t clear — according to Hitwise, Gmail is the 10th most visited site on the web in the U.S. and the third most visited email service; previous estimates have suggested anywhere from 150 million to 175 million accounts. At least 35 million Google Profiles were already public and mined for data for a Ph. D. students’ report last month.
But remember the last time Google rolled out a social feature all at once to all of its Gmail users? Former Googler Sam Johnston (and current director of cloud and IT services at Equinix) does and tweeted this morning, “Within 48 hours of Buzz’s launch Google were claiming ‘tens of millions of people have checked Buzz out.'”
Google+ is not Buzz, which came off as half-assed attempt to mold Gmail into a social network. But Google+ is also not a social network like Facebook. (Confused? This cartoon explains everything.) As I keep saying, Google+ is the socialized version of Google’s core products — Hangouts is a social extension of Google’s video chat capabilities and Circles is a glorified email contacts arranger.
Am I being a hater? No, these are exactly the additions Google needed to make to its products. Rolling it out slowly (during the summer, when minds are half on work) seems to be rallying interest and users uninterested in social features can use the old products. It’s similar to what Yahoo! offered with its upgraded mail service.
Google needs a social win, and it needs it badly, so they’re publicizing every tiny tidbit of good news. I’m not being a hater, just a skeptic — and skepticism should be a journalist’s best friend (whom he never trusts).