Google+ is proving so popular that at least one financial analyst is calling for the fledgling social network to tack on 20 million users in the fourth quarter, boosting membership to more than 60 million users.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) CEO Larry Page said Oct. 13 that Google+, which offers a Circles sharing construct that lets users follow anyone that they choose on the network, has grabbed more than 40 million users since launching to limited field testing June 28.
The search engine provider opened to public beta testing in September and just launched Google+ Pages to allow brands and celebrities to promote themselves.
While those features certainly helped the network gain some traction, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry believes the presence of the +You button, which beckons non-members to join from a toolbar that sits above Google.com, and celebrity Google+Hangouts video chat sessions have helped bolster the platform's profile.
Google wisely scheduled Google+ Hangouts with pop music star Will.i.am, Indian actors Sharukh Kahn and Kareena Kapur, the Dalai Lama and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Such a multi-national approach to Hangouts is one of the reasons Google+ membership mirrors Web citizenship worldwide, Chowdry argued.
"Google's strategy is same as what they did with Android and became very successful...." wrote Chowdry in a Nov. 7 research note. "Namely, capture the rest-of-the-world and then come to USA. This blindsided Microsoft, Nokia and RIM to Android market adoption, and before they realized, it was too late for corrective action. Google is doing the same with Google+. Capture the rest-of-the-world and then come to USA."
Facebook is certainly aware of this, going into lockdown mode in the summer of 2010 to push out new products. All it's done since that time is grow its user base to 800 million users and unveil the Timeline user interface, and new, more connective tissue in the form of Social Apps. Even CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Charlie Rose Google was trying to "build its own little Facebook."
Of course, any position on Google.com is considered prime real estate, considering that Google logs around 2 million searches per minute and attracts 300 million unique visitors each day. To wit, Chowdry also expects Google will add the +You button to its YouTube property before the end of the year to entice more users to sign up.
This will have a significant impact on Google+ membership thanks to YouTube's significant traffic and global reach, which the analyst noted includes:
- 35 hours of video footage is uploaded to the site every minute
- More video is uploaded every 60 days than the three major U.S. television networks produced in 60 years
- 70 percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the United States
- More than 2 billion videos are viewed every day
- More than 5 million people have found and subscribed to a friend's channel using YouTube's friend-finding tools
Putting all of the eye-popping stats aside, Chowdry's point is that YouTube is already a highly social network that Google can make even more social with some of the Google+ pixie dust. This synergy is likely already being realized thanks to existing integrations between the two networks.
At launch Google+ Hangouts allowed users to watch YouTube videos together. In August, Google added the ability for YouTube users with Google+ accounts to start Hangouts right from YouTube with the click of a button. Moreover, users can now click a YouTube "slider" in their Google+ stream to jump right into YouTube from the social network and begin watching music videos and other clips.
Chowdry fashioned his report before the launch of Google+ Pages, which could theoretically provide a significant boost to Google+ membership for those who like to follow their favorite brands. However, the company will need to add more "Justin Bieber"-type brands to leverage that approach.