Keeping Google+ ‘Growth’ in Perspective


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).


  1. can you elaborate on “these are exactly the additions Google needed to make to its products”?

    we’ve all experienced that over the years Google has forced us to integrate services one by one and made it very inconvenient do to otherwise. what do you see as this need for G+?

  2. The media spin surrounding Google + is indeed impressive; however, I suspect it is not overly accurate. There was one report that 35% of some kind of sharing was done through Google + already. (Sorry, I didn’t save that link.) That seems unlikely.

    Google is the chosen platform for funneling everyone into one system. Those who prefer free choice may wish to support alternatives because if we do not they will cease to exist.

  3. I disagree on several points. Having a gmail account did not grant anyone automatic access. I’ve been a gmail user since first implementation and I still had to wait at least 10 days before I could get into G+ and that was days after someone else had invited me. Buzz was not well received by many, including myself, but G+ is definitely a social network. Users perceptions of G+ may be wrongly skewed if they base it on their Buzz experience. Every company makes mistakes — but G+ is not Buzz, not Wave, not Facebook but a damn good replacement for FB. It’s not “just like FB” as the cartoon suggests. There is significantly more a user can gain from G+ over Facebook. I posted my reasons why here:


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