On June 28, 2011, almost seven months ago, Google came up with an all new social networking site called Google+. It is sometimes pronounced and written as Google Plus and abbreviated as G+. G+ was launched to compete the two most widely used social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
Google is effectively supporting it’s new product Google+ to grow at a very high speed. They are utilizing their users base to efficiently promote their social networking site Google+. Latest private estimation shows that, there are more than 90 million Google+ users today with strong and steady growth continuing in January.
The Google+ team constantly emphasizes that they are just getting started. Since mid-December, Google+ has been growing by more than 600,000 users daily. By looking at this growth many tech analysts predicted that Google+ will reach 400 million user base by end of 2012! That’s very huge when compared to growth of other social networking sites!
But here’s why Google will surpass that number by a long shot.
#1. Android and its growth!
Many observers are mistakenly assuming that most of the new Android users are being registered to Google+ as they activate their Android devices, perhaps with no intention of even using it. The problem with this assumption is that it is not true.
Only a small fraction of the 600,000+ new daily users of Google+ are coming from Android. Remember, Android comes in many different flavors. The latest addition to this is Android version 4.0 (called as Ice Cream Sandwich – ICS).
Assuming Android ends the year on 550m devices (smartphones with tablets), and assuming that Ice Cream Sandwich by then is on about 40% of all Android devices (less than Gingerbread today but greater than Froyo), that means as many as 220m mobile users will have registered for Google+ while activating a phone or upgrading a phone to Android ICS. Most of these users will be in addition to the 273m from the online daily sign-ups.
#2. Chrome and Google+ Integration!
As you all know Google is very good at integrating their products together. Chrome browser has also got many plugins by Google which integrates Google+ notifications on Chrome’s extension area.
Google’s Chrome browser share has increased dramatically during the past 2 years and will likely continue. StatCounter browser share shows that it grew from 16% to 27% in 2011, while both IE and Firefox browser share declined. Chrome may end 2012 with as much as 40% of browser market share.
It is not clear how Google+ will be integrated into Chrome, if at all, but there are already dozens of popular Chrome extensions that enhance the usage of Google+. And it is very clear by following Google employees and by participating in hangouts with them, that Google employees are responding constantly to customer requests.
Google+ could become conscious of Chrome and vice versa. And certainly, Chrome could work very nicely with Google+ sharing. A Chrome user could potentially share any web content they discover anywhere (in a Posterous kind of way) with their Google+ circles.
#3. Youtube and Google+ Integration
Last year more than 1 trillion videos were played on YouTube. The potential for this to be leveraged in Google+ sharing can hardly be overstated. If you track fast growing Facebook apps, you’ll know that every few months a Turkish video sharing app experiences hyper growth.
YouTube has a share button underneath each video; but it’s too hidden to make YouTube videos go massively viral through Google+. Suppose that at the end of each video, instead of (or in addition to) the ad that overlays the video, the Google+ share feature were overlaid on top of the video.
Using algorithms matching the content with people’s interests, Google could suggest which circles you ought to share the video with. If only 1% of the 1 trillion YouTube videos were shared with circles, averaging 100 people, that would be 1 trillion invitations sent to friends/family/others to watch videos.
#4. Google+ APIs and Developers
Google IO has been scheduled for June and has been extended to 3 days this year. There are hundreds of thousands of Android developers, many of whom are anxious to build apps for Google+. Unleashing the creativity of these developers will provide Google+ users all kinds of apps.
Facebook’s Platform has created a very successful social gaming ecosystem. Zynga is worth $6 billion. More recently, Facebook has branched into online music sharing with partners like Spotify and iheartradio. There is talk that social TV is next. Google has 84 APIs including some of the world’s most popular APIs (maps, etc.). As these APIs intersect with Google+ social APIs, Google may have a far greater ability to achieve Zuckerberg’s vision of helping developers reinvent every industry with social than Facebook does.
#5. Google Search Plus and Image Sharing
Last week’s launch of Search Plus Your World ought to show these critics to see that Google has at least a billion opportunities every day (that’s the number of daily queries they process) to get people re-engaged with Google+. Re-engagement will not be a problem, long term.
And in addition to search, you have photos to engage people, where Google will soon be the world leader. Estimates show that more than 100,000,000 photos are uploaded to Google+ every day, and with more Android activations, and more Instant Uploads, and more users sharing more content, I forecast that Google+ will pass Facebook in daily photo uploads by the middle of 2012. That means that as its user base grows, more than 250 million photos will be uploaded to Google+ every day. By the end of 2012 it could be as high as 500 million photos uploaded daily.
And then there is video. This week Google+ made it possible to record a video and share it with your circles. You can also play YouTube videos directly from a little tab on the far right of Google+. Video watching and recording and sharing will be another powerful draw which will help make Google+ irresistible over time.
What we don’t know is how far past 40 million Google+ users was on Oct. 13th, 2011. We also don’t have a sophisticated enough model to account for the probability that Google is growing much faster in some countries (including some with non-Latin alphabets) than in others. And now analysis shows it might reach 400 millions of users.
According to above 5 points, we can guess it would reach more than half a billion users by end of 2012. Let’s see how it grows. We will update you as and when we get some update.
Special thanks to our unofficial Google+ statistician Mr. Paul Allen. Surely he would have spent lot of time in putting up these stats. Share you thoughts on this via comments. Let’s discuss!