Friday, January 20, 2012

Google+ Users Reach 90 Million

If Google CEO Larry Page is to be believed, Google+ users now exceed 90 million. Page made the announcement during their earnings presentation on Thursday.

To call this growth astounding is an understatement. It represents a more than 100 percent increase since October when they said they had about 40 million users.

My question is, if there are 100 million users on Google+, where are they?

Google+ is a great tool for all things Google, but they still haven't worked out exactly how to make themselves a part of the larger social web. Sure, your Google+ network is now a part of your Google search results, but that doesn't help if you only have a few dozen people in your Circles (which is what I have.)

Granted, I don't use my Google+ account as much as I do my other social networks, but there's a good reason for that: I just don't like it.

It works Ok; lots of Circles, and posts and brik-a-brac; but there are lots of things I don't like. Like the primary colors they use as the basis of their site. Simple colors and graphics were great for their search engine page, but this isn't a search engine page. It's a social media network. I expect something a little bit more creative and stylistic.

And I don't like the limitations of how I can personalize (or not) my page. Again, simplicity rules, which is good in some ways and far too restricting in others.

And I don't like the fact that almost no one I know is using it. Period. They might have an account--everyone who uses any sort of Google product, like YouTube or Blogger or GMail, already has a G+ account there are plenty of "users" but in my experience few of these accounts are being updated with any regularity.

Which brings me back to the announcement of Google+ having 90 million users. It's beginning to look like a numbers game again. What we need is a true useability index. A metric which tells us not how many users a particular site has, but how much interaction those users are having. I want to know how many posts are made, based on an average of all users so a few very active users can't skew the results too much. I think if we had access to information like that the "90 million" number would take on a totally different meaning.

Now, before you think I am bashing Google+ simply because I don't like it, let me offer this caveat: I believe Google+ still has a lot more growing to do, and that over the course of the next few months they will add more features and give users more things to do. I also firmly believe no matter what the numbers say, Google+ is not going away. Ever. As long as it functions as an umbrella for all things Google it will exist. And if exists, it will grow.

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