Could Google+ reach 10M users today, 20M by the weekend?

 You 200 pixNow Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg should worry. Google+ is scarcely two weeks old and invite-only but growing like a weed. Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen (not to be confused with Microsoft's cofounder of the same name) estimates the 10 million-user number based on a cunning surname analysis.

I wouldn't be surprised at the 10 million number. Over the weekend, I saw a sudden and stunning surge in people following me who aren't early-adopter techies. Many are friends who didn't receive invitations from me, by the way. Sorry guys.

Allen is "not claiming perfect accuracy", but his method is intriguing -- ingenious, if it really works. He uses US Census Bureau data for the most popular surnames and compares "it to the number of Google+ users with each surname...I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the US population that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio of U.S. to non-US users to generate my worldwide estimates. My ratio is 1 US user for every 2.12 non-US users. That ratio was calculated on July 4th through a laborious effort, and I haven't updated it since". Since the ratio will change over time, Allen can't assure the accuracy of his estimates without recalculation.

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Based on his guesstimates, Google+ users "worldwide reached 7.3 million" on July 10th, "up from 1.7 million users on July 4th. That is a 350 percent increase in six days". But the clincher is what's happened over the last few days, which syncs with my experience -- I've got so many people putting me in Circles that Google+ is becoming almost unmanageable.

"More impressive than last week's growth is the astonishing growth in users from" July 10 midday to July 11th evening -- "a 30 percent jump", Allen writes. "My latest estimate tonight [July 11th] shows approximately 9.5 million users. This suggests that 2.2 million people have joined Google+ in the past 32-34 hours". During that same time period, Google ran out of disk space on one of the G+ servers. Coincidence or validation of Allen's growth assessment?

Allen projected 10 million users today, based on his methodology, and estimates the service "could reach 20 million user[s] by this coming weekend if they keep the Invite Button available".

For a little comparison, Facebook opened to the public in September 2006 and had 30 million subscribers by March 2007. As I explained on July 3, "Google+ is a marketing sensation". Perhaps it's a whole lot more.

The question: How many of these people are fleeing Facebook. I am. Google+ gives social networkers more control over how they categorize relationships and with whom they share. Facebook defies basic rules of social engagement, by default making all things visible to all people -- or at least every time there are user interface or privacy settings tweaks. Not everyone needs to know your business. Facebook is more a crowded room than intimate gathering of friends eating dinner. That's an attribute not easily changed because for Zuckerberg it's philosophical -- he has repeatedly stated that all things should be public.

It's likely that Google+ already has topped 10 million users, based on Allen's method. But he hasn't posted an update yet today.

Google announced the G+ service exactly two weeks ago.

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