On Thursday, Jan. 19, Google and CEO Larry Page released a statement addressing Google’s fourth quarter results and 2011 fiscal year recap. At the outset, Page made a seemingly innocuous, but potentially deeply insightful comment: “I am super excited about the growth of Android, Gmail, and Google+, which now has 90 million users globally – well over double what I announced just three months ago.”
Ninety million users?! On Google+?! What?!
Seven months and Google+ already has accrued 1/8 of the number of users on Facebook (which purports 800 million), and Facebook’s been at this game for eight (8) years. Not only that, but according to a recent article in Hubspot, Experian Hitwise predicts that Google+ will “amass 400 million users by the end of 2012.”
Google+ has definitely thrown down the social networking gauntlet.
But… isn’t this just more of the same in the new-turned-old rivalry between Google and Facebook for domination of the social networksphere?
Yes and no. Yes, this is another development in the long-running battle for dominance between the two Web Giants. But, no, this latest development isn’t just a run-of-the-mill storyline. When you look at the way that Google+ is adding new members (by creating Google+ accounts every time a new user signs up for a Gmail account), and the way that Google is leveraging “personalized search” with Google+ accounts, it becomes very clear that the game has changed.
What is not so clear is how active new Google+ users will be. Nor do we know, yet, how Facebook plans to counter. But we do know that Google will mine the data of its users, whether they engage in Google+ or not.
As Hubspot says, “yes, you should care. Especially still if you weigh in the fact that it’s not really about the individual power of Google+ as a social network. It’s about how Google can leverage the social data of Google+.”
As this battle wears on, it’s becoming clear which company has the deeper arsenal…