Google+, the social network by Google Inc., launched on June 28th, 2011 and already has 50 million user accounts. When it was opened to the public and started promoting on the Google homepage, the traffic rapidly increased with 1269%, according to data from the market researchers Expertise Hitwise. Until that moment registration could only be done with an invitation. It is estimated that from 43.4 million on September 22nd Google+ accounts jumped to over 50 million on September 25th.
Google made about 100 improvements since launching the new social network for a trial. Their innovations concentrate on connecting people and creating relationships close to those in real life. The Circle feature in Google+ is pretty impressive and yet simple (compared to the Facebook updates). The Circles are small groups of people that can be interacted with and even shared with friends or with other circles. These groups are intended to allow people share information on different subjects through contacting their friends` professional and thematic circles. At least, it’s a very convenient way to share information with colleagues, classmates or any small groups of your contacts. The user can select exactly what information to share with each of the circles. Though Google+ is very personal and has profiles similar to those in Facebook, it offers the option to follow public figures and celebrities. So, catching up with the news, it is also a little bit like Twitter.
Another update that everybody talks about is “Hangouts,” which is the new group video chat. It is very different from other chat services because of its spontaneous nature and unobtrusiveness: you don’t directly ask somebody to join the conversation, but show them that you’re “hanging out”. When you do that a message instantly goes to your circles, letting them know. So everyone can join whenever they are willing to.
There`s a simple photo and multimedia editor and a section for all the photos, both uploaded and tagged. Privacy and sharing options are also featured. Protecting users` information is priority and hopefully Google+ won`t have the security issues that Facebook had. Google is also considering to give out verification badges to public figures, in order to prevent users from taking false identities.
Switching to all Google services at any time from the toolbar is big plus. As well as following your profile updates and messages while you`re using the search engine. A Hitwise speaker said that the popularity of Gmail, YouTube and Google search would lead to more and more people visiting and signing up in for the social platform.
Finally, the buzz is all about the possibility of Google+ being the first (and only) serious rival to Facebook with its 800 million users. In contrast with Facebook, MySpace and the other big social sites, Google+ reached its 50th million only on the 88th day since launching (it took Facebook about 1300 days). Google+ is much simpler than Facebook and probably more effective. Only time will show. But if the current speed of expanding remains Google+ user accounts will surpass Facebook’s 800 million in 4 years or less.