Do you remember the last big product launch of Google, of which no one is talking anymore, and not even considering it? Well, that's not Google Buzz, whose fate is yet to be decided. It was Google Wave, a much awaited release, which had an equally frustrating failure.
But this will not be the case with Google + (Google Plus) which, for the first time, has strongly established Google in social networking market dominated by Facebook, MySpace (yes, MySpace is still the second largest. I know it's hard to believe), LinkedIn, and Twitter – did you can see, no one counts Orkut, if that even qualifies to be a social networking website.
According to an unofficial statistician of Google + and founder of Ancestry.com, Paul Allen, Google + will reach 20 million users by this weekend provided Google keeps its invites available. In his research, he has found that Google +, in the second week, has reached to 7.3 million (on July 10), which is a 350% increase on the user base on July 4, which was 1.7 million users.
Although, 20 million is nothing when compared to Facebook's user base of 750 million active users, it tells a story of fast acceptance. We need to keep in mind that Google is the newest kid on the block (launched on June 28, and merely 3 weeks old), and Facebook is a bulky grand daddy of the industry. This number also suggests that people are not overlooking Google +, as they did with Google's earlier products like Wave. This is something Google engineers will raise a toast on, and have party all-night.
Why does Google + matter?
Everything is about search, honey!
After the search partnership between Facebook and Microsoft, things appeared as getting skewed towards Bing, as social search is getting stronger, and also because Microsoft has two strong channels to pull in visitors – Bing and Yahoo Search, which is also powered by Bing (look at the footer in Yahoo.com Search).
This must have led to the hasty development (rather speeded up of the development process) of Google + to help Google retain its leadership position in the market. The game is about social search. SEOmoz has conducted a research to draw parallel between Google + adoption and social search (for details read: How Google+ Affected Social Shares and +1 Adoption Rates). It will tell you how Google + has started to influence search results, and how Google has silently pushed twitter result away, which was live search partner of Google before Google + rolled out.
Facebook like or Google +
The answer is both along with twitter tweets. These are the three sharing buttons used prominently by websites. In this segment, Google + button has not replaced Facebook or twitter, it has just stood beside them.
Then who is losing it?
Someone has to lose for a new player to gain, isn't it? This will surprise you. The social media website which happens to be on the losing side is Digg.com/ Google has replaced Digg button on websites as the third most important social sharing button.
What about Facebook, the rival?
If the poll result of Mashable.com (Are You a Facebook Defector for Google+?), which appeared when I submitted my answer, is to be believed, Facebook will suffer.
The Mashable poll is far from completion, so this could not be taken as a final result, but mere as an indication. This is the result I got when I submitted my vote, and the result could look different when you submit yours.
From the initial public response, it looks like the scale has tilted in favor of Google +, but it will be too early to pronounce the judgment. We cannot even take Mashable Poll result, whatever it will be, as a trusted indicator, as most of the people voting here are not "average users" of Facebook or the Internet. The sample is not representative.
Let Google + settle down then the real question of engaging the audience will pop up. That will be the real test, and then we will raise this question for one more time. How Google + handles that (the engagement issue) will decide which place it will get in the clash of social titans.
April 22, 2013, 5:55 am UTC
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