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Is Google+ as popular as it would like to suggest?

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Google has yet to crack the social media code to success, even if it claims to have 400 million Google+ users.

September 18, 2012 5:25 by

If ever there was a social-media poster child of the motto: ‘if first you don’t succeed, push yourself up and try, try, try again’—then Google would be it. The tech giant has been ridiculously successful in its various ventures outside its impressive search engine. From g-mail, g-chat, picasa, google maps, google documents and even its Android technology for smart phones, Google has managed to effortlessly win its way into the hearts and minds of every tech-fiend. And yet in spite of this, social media remains the one platform the company has not enjoyed similar success with. Whether it is Orkut, Google Wave or even the recently launched (and in Kipp’s opinion flopped) Google+, the tech giant has yet to truly go ‘social.’

Despite launching with much fanfare, Google+ has failed to match the exclusive pizzazz it promised. The simple fact is a social media platform is only as popular as it is social; no matter just how special the features are, failure to secure a decent enough active following is a very serious limitation. I am reminded all too well of an anecdote related by Stephen Fry over how lonely and pointless it was to be one of the first people in London to own a pager-who would he page?

That Google+ issues are of a similar sort, doesn’t seem to faze Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra who posted the following on his Google+ profile: “hit an important milestone–over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months. While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+.”

Granted the system of measuring an ‘active user’ is a rather subjective process—it also as important to recognise the advantage Google has vis-a-vis its omnipresence in the tech scene. If you aren’t bullied into ‘upgrading’ to Google+ when you attempt to upload photos from Picasa you will very likely get a similar invitation using G-Chat or another Google platform. All of which helps explain why Google has been able to secure 400 million users in just 12 months, when Facebook had to spend more than 10 years to gather 995 million users. Securing users is all very well, but sustaining engagement and activity is a code the tech giant still needs to figure out if they want to stay relevant.

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