Google+ to hit 20 Million by weekend

Filed as Editorial on July 13, 2011 12:33 am

Google+ (Plus) may already hit 10 million registered users and is expected to hit 20 million users by this weekend.  But it’s still a long way off from Facebook’s 750 million registered users.

If Google were just counting on its estimated Gmail subscriber base, it won’t catch up with Facebook at all.  But perhaps the bigger source of sign-ups will come from people who use Google search where people all over the world key in more than one billion searches a week.

In a Google+ account purportedly belonging to Paul Allen, the founder of Family Link and Ancestry, an update was posted describing the skyrocketing membership base of the newest social networking site.

Yesterday 2:43 PM (edited Yesterday 3:13 PM) – Public
Google+ To Pass 10,000,000 Users Tomorrow (on 7/12)

My surname-based analysis shows that the number of Google+ users worldwide reached 7.3 million yesterday (July 10) – up from 1.7 million users on July 4th. That is a 350% increase in six days. The userbase is growing so quickly that it is challenging for me to keep up, since the number of users of any given surname (even the rare ones I am tracking) seems to be climbing every day.

More impressive than last week’s growth is the astonishing growth in users from yesterday at mid-day to tonight — a 30% jump. My latest estimate tonight shows approximately 9.5 million users. This suggests that 2.2 million people have joined Google+ in the past 32-34 hours.

I project that Google will easily pass 10 million users tomorrow and could reach 20 million user by this coming weekend if they keep the Invite Button available. As one G+ user put it, it is easy to underestimate the power of exponential growth.

But before Google+ fans start celebrating the imminent death of Facebook in the face of the search giant’s newest attempt at social media, Allen explains that his estimates are not based on data from Google+ and may be wrong.

He bases his estimates on the popularity of US surnames and uses a “formula” to estimate the total percentage of US population that has signed up for Google+.  Then he uses a ratio of US to non-US users to arrive at an estimate of the total number of Google+ users around the world.

I start with US Census Bureau data about surname popularity in the U.S., and compare it to the number of Google+ users with each surname. I split the U.S. users from the non-U.S. users. By using a sample of 100-200 surnames, I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the U.S. population that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio of U.S. to non-U.S. users to generate my worldwide estimates. My ratio is 1 US user for every 2.12 non-U.S. users.

Getting the real score from actual data from Google is hard to come by, as suggested in a recent BBC article “Thousands of Gmail Accounts Accidentally Wiped”, Google doesn’t release official figures on its Gmail user base.  The BBC article then published an estimate that Gmail users may number between 150 million to 200 million users.

Two ideas floating around is that a percentage of Google service users (Gmail, Blogger, buzz) will make the transition to Google+ and that users from either Facebook or Twitter will adopt Google+ as an additional social networking site.

With the former, that could mean 200 million registered users if Gmail accounts are automatically given Google+ account or a much lower figure if they are offered to opt in to the Google+ service.  With the latter, the numbers could come from those experimenting with the new social media and those who are looking for a new primary social media site.

But what is a social networking site worth if you don’t have your social network in it?  The problem that people are trying to solve right now is how to export their entire networks to Google+.  With the slate still basically clean, people deeply involved in social networking could stand a chance in dominating Google+ if only they could bring all their contacts on Facebook to the new social website.  There may be a chance to trump the biggest Facebook Page with the biggest Google+ account/circle/whatever.

But switching over from Facebook to Google+ has been encumbered with difficulties stemming from the inability to cull contacts made through Facebook and exporting those contacts to Google+.

In an article on CNET, Facebook disabled the API (application programming interface) key of Open XChange.  This  rendered users of Open Xchange unable to cull the names of their contacts on Facebook and match them with names in their e-mail accounts.

Without a faster and automated means of building a contacts base on Google+, some users may be hunting and pecking at contacts to send them invites.

Then again, you can only friend 5,000 people with a personal account and the bigger source of contacts come from Facebook Pages or Facebook Groups.

Although most people would think that Google accounts will be the biggest source for Google+ sign-ups, one still has to account for sign-ups that may come from people using Google Search.   The figure is astonishing: One billion searches a week are made through Google Search.

This is where, perhaps, the Google Plus 1 ties in with Google Plus.

Rather than perform searches by typing in keywords, people can look up articles that have been recommended via Plus 1 by people in their network.  This would be great if there is some way to curate and categorize the recommendations of experts on the web by topic, in order to find articles easier.  This could be done in such a way that all one has to do is to look up Seth Godin and see what articles he recommends on the topic of donuts or bagels.

The other tack would be to look at the most recommended articles via Plus One — but this may be susceptible to people who may connive with people to Plus-1 an article.

But then, you could actually end up with both and either way, that’s something Facebook doesn’t have which people may want.

It may even become a feature that appears on the sidebar of your Gmail and it can be more helpful than the ads that you normally see.  Just imagine opening up an e-mail from a friend asking for parenting advice and finding on the side bar a number of recommended articles which you can just recommend to a friend.

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