Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Google Plus Has Only 10 Million Users; Privacy Issues Surface

A few updates on Google Plus.  It's growing...and fast.  I had a feeling given the number of people already on Plus and the interests (folks begging for invitations), this is the fastest growing social experience ever.

According to Minyanville, we'll have ten million on Plus by tomorrow.  With a confident 99% accuracy rate, Ancestry.com's Paul Allen did some estimates with people's names and the US Census data.  But wait, what about the tons of people that I invited from overseas.  EU, the Middle East, India, and Asia

Which has led me to believe that Plus may be bigger than just the 10 million figure.  And yes, my fellow mobile friends, size does matter (just in this case...just in this case).  I don't think Google will be issue any press releases for a while.  After all, given Google's past "beta" experiences for their webapps, it'll be like this for a couple of years.

Privacy However, not all is rosy.  Aside from the on and off invitation issues, running out of space, and occasional slowdowns, I still am watching the privacy issue very close.  The biggest deal for me is that Google is forcing everyone to use their names.  According to CNet, Google is "trying to build a service without pseudonyms, anonymous cowards, or impersonation".  

Hey, I am all for that but there are instances that can be worrisome.  First, you can bet that all our Plus profiles are searchable online regardless how well you try to limit your exposure.  You can hide your e-mail from the public but there is much we are still learning about Plus.  Furthermore, with each new feature Google implements on Plus, we have to watch carefully the implication it has our on privacy issue.  

Nevertheless, the ease of use compared to Facebook has very reassuring at the moment.  

I like to see Google address the profile issue more. I understand Google's reasoning behind there (through there is a potential sinister tone to it if Google decides it wants to do away with "do no evil").  In CNet's post, it brought up a very good point.  Facebook and Twitter was important helping foster changes in a couple of Middle Eastern nations.  By Google's Plus rules, that would have been impossible.

And on a level closer to home, what about harassment?  Cyber-bullying?

Digging deeper into the CNet post, the issue of avatars came up.  It is not fraudulent, and simply a digital/cyber representation of the real person.  And much of the time, creating avatar instead of using one's real name goes back to the issue of protecting one's privacy.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Here's where things stand at the moment.  Plus is still in beta and we'll need Google to acclimate the service to reality and the needs of its users.  

Here's a quick Google search on "Plus privacy issues" that I encourage all who plan on using this social network going forward.  Personally, that Plus is a strong competitor to Facebook is good enough at this stage.  And yes, this is a multi-year beta.  I'll give it a year before I make a call on it.  

So far, I'm loving.  

Just ten million?!  As far as how many people are using this?  I think it's upwards of twenty million.  Seriously, the Internet is more global and spread out than ever before.  While totally unrelated, consider today's box office receipts.  I like numbers and in the last decade, Hollywood movies with big budgets rely more on global market to make money while relying the domestic market to recoup the cost of production and marketing.  

Consistently, I'm seeing a 1:3 spread for receipts.  Now, I doubt at the moment that Google Plus is seeing this kind of a ratio.  But having one US Plus user for every user outside of the US isn't impossible.  Facebook today has a 4.5:1 ratio, global to North American user (750 million global; approx 165 million in the US and Canada).  

So I peg my figure close to twenty million.  And even if I'm wrong, 10 million users just after a couple of weeks ain't bad at all.  As defections continues, new ways to use Plus find its way into the network, and, if positive word of mouth continues, we could find ourselves closer to 100 million users by the end of the year.

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