Google+ opens to all

It's two days before Facebook's developer conference and one before Google Chairman Eric Schmidt gives his testimony on Capitol Hill. So it's good timing for a big Google+ announcement before there's competing big news. Yes, there's the new Hangout features that my colleague Tim Conneally wrote about earlier today. But this is better: Now most anyone can join Google+. Well, damn, there goes the neighborhood. :)

Google+ has moved from field trial to public beta, whatever the hell that means. It's a big change for a social network just three months old and already 20-million-plus subscribers strong. The real test of Google's infrastructure comes now -- then there's the question about how the service will demographically change. Looking at my Circles, they're all geek to me. I don't know if there's a normal person on the service. Here they come!

Earlier today, Vic Gundotra, Google senior veep of Engineering, blogged about the now 100 enhancements made since field trials began in late June.

"For the past 12 weeks we’ve been in field trial, and during that time we’ve listened and learned a great deal", he writes. "We’re nowhere near done, but with the improvements we’ve made so far we’re ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce our 100th feature: open signups. This way anyone can visit, join the project and connect with the people they care about".

Shameless Misinformation

Public beta comes just as negative Google+ buzz intensifies. Five days ago, TechCrunch stirred up a hornet's nest in a stinging story about how no one is really using Google+ anymore. The stingers are still striking, as other blogs spread the buzz. Yesterday, the pests buzzed that Google's very own CEO doesn't use Google+. Bwahahaha. What idjuts.

TechCrunch reported stats collected by 89n, using its ManageFlitter service. Analytics derived from one vendor's product shouldn't be measure of anything, but it's common for TechCrunch (and other blogs) to report them anyway. Based on a measurement of an average .40 public posts a day (between August 19-September 19), down from .68 posts a day (between July 19-August 19), 89n concluded that Google+ public posts declined 41 percent during the measurement period. Oh, the problems this simple analysis presents. Let me count the ways:

  • It's too small a measurement to draw real-world conclusions. Less than one-half posts a day!
  • The data only reflects the small number (compared to larger number of Google+) subscribers using ManageFlitter. How many: 7,280.
  • The data looks at public posts, which should decline over time. The whole point of Google+ is filtering -- using Circles to communicate with select groups of people.

Cloud enabler 89n draws some big conclusions from a sample of 7,280 people using its service to connect Google+ and Twitter. Robin Wauters bought into it in TechCrunch post: "Raise your hand if you're still using Google+". I just put mine down so I could continue typing. "It’s now been a while since I’ve last visited or posted anything on Google+, but I figured that was just me. Turns out I might not be the only one after all", writes Wauters, who updated acknowledging -- er, defending -- the post. "Relax a little".

Considering how widely the story was re-reported and peoples' ability to remember headlines -- or nuggets like Google+ posts are down by 41 percent -- "relax a little" should be a corrected, more accurate story. Next up came reports that Google CEO Larry Page hasn't posted publicly on G+ for a month. Which means what? There's very good chance he uses Google+ everyday, but to post privately to select Circles. That's the big benefit of Google+, compared to Facebook.

So, welcome you newcomers to Google+. Ignore all the InterWeb's misinformation about this service. If it was doing so badly, why would Google invest so much in it -- the 100 enhancements in 90 days? I wouldn't be shocked to eventually learn when sound numbers are crunched that public posts declined 60 percent or more since the social network launched -- while private posts increased by a corresponding amount.


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