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How Google+ Will Reach 400 Million Users In 2012

(Latest private estimate shows -76.6- 77.2 million Google+ users today with strong and steady growth continuing in January)

This afternoon on Google's quarterly earnings call, Larry Page will hopefully provide some new public statistics about the surprisingly strong growth and usage of Google+.

Update (4 pm ET): here is the official data from the press release:

"Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year. Full year revenue was up 29%, and our quarterly revenue blew past the $10 billion mark for the first time,” said Larry Page, CEO of Google. “I am super excited about the growth of Android, Gmail, and Google+, which now has 90 million users globally – well over double what I announced just three months ago. By building a meaningful relationship with our users through Google+ we will create amazing experiences across our services. I’m very excited about what we can do in 2012 – there are tremendous opportunities to help users and grow our business.”

Wow!

Last year, many pundits wrote off Google+ after just a few weeks, describing it as a ghost town or worse. They couldn’t have been more wrong. As the Chrome TV ads say, the web is what you make of it. So is Google+.

Every day, more people than live in Denver, CO or Washington DC discover Google+. Many soon learn that can turn it into an incredibly informative and enjoyable social experience. And the best is yet to come. The Google+ team constantly emphasizes that they are just getting started.

Since mid-December, Google+ has been growing by more than 600,000 users daily. So it wasn’t just a “holiday bump” after all. Based on growth since Jan. 1st, my updated linear projection shows Google+ ending 2012 with -273- 297 million users. But here’s why Google will surpass that number by a long shot.

1) Android. Many observers are mistakenly assuming that most of the new Google+ users are being registered to Google+ as they activate their Android devices, perhaps with no intention of even using it.

The problem with this assumption is that it is not true. Only a small fraction of the 600,000+ new daily users of Google+ are coming from Android. Remember, Android comes in many different flavors. (Differentiation. Not fragmentation). As of Jan. 2nd, a report on Wikipedia shows that only .6% of all Android device usage is from 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices.

Only a handful of handsets currently ship with Android 4. But many of the most popular handsets from Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola will enable upgrades to Android 4 “early in 2012” (18 handsets), "in Q1” (12 handsets), “in Q2” (18 handsets), and “in Q3” (5 handsets). Another 18 handsets will support it sometime this year.

(For specific details on how Android 4.0 upgrades will be rolling out to more than 60 popular handsets and tablets this year, visit AndroidIceCreamSandwich.me. This site tracks announcements--and hints/leaks--from all major Android device manufacturers.)

Current Distribution of Android by usage (Jan. 2, 2012)
4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich ----- 0.6%
3.x.x Honeycomb ------------------ 3.3%
2.3.x Gingerbread ----------------- 55.5%
2.2 Froyo ----------------------------- 30.4%
2.0, 2.1 Eclair ----------------------- 8.5%
1.6 Donut ----------------------------- 1.1%
1.5 Cupcake ------------------------- 0.6%

Assuming Android ends the year on 550m devices (phones plus tablets), and assuming that Ice Cream Sandwich by then is on about 40% of all Android devices (less than Gingerbread today but greater than Froyo), that means as many as 220m mobile users will have registered for Google+ while activating a phone or upgrading a phone to Android 4. Most of these users will be in addition to the 273m from the online daily signups.

2) Chrome. Google's Chrome browser share has increased dramatically during the past 2 years and will likely continue. One report shows that it grew from 16% to 27% last while, while both IE and Firefox browser share declined. Chrome may end 2012 with as much as 40% market share.

It is not clear how Google+ will be integrated into Chrome, if at all, but there are already dozens of popular Chrome extensions that enhance the usage of Google+. And it is very clear by following Google employees and by participating in hangouts with them, that Google employees are responding constantly to customer requests. They are also watching the adoption of these plug-ins, and trying to determine how Chrome and Google+ can work together. One example is that many Google+ users use a Chrome extension so they can see their Google+ notifications counter no matter where they are on the web. When they return to Google+, they now have duplicate counters. That could be fixed -- Google+ could become conscious of Chrome and vice versa. And certainly, Chrome could work very nicely with Google+ sharing. A Chrome user could potentially share any web content they discover anywhere (in a Posterous kind of way) with their Google+ circles. This kind of sharing would be careful, conscious, and curated -- not frictionless and automatic and overdone, a la Facebook.

3) YouTube: and Turkish-video-sharing virality. Last year more than 1 trillion videos were played on YouTube. The potential for this to be leveraged in Google+ sharing can hardly be overstated. If you track fast growing Facebook apps, you'll know that every few months a Turkish video sharing app experiences hypergrowth. All it takes for an app like that to gain millions of users quickly is for it to a) provider FB users with a robust video library b) let them browse by category and watch any video while still on FB and c) at the end of the video prompt them to share it with their FB friends.

YouTube has a share button underneath each video; but it's too hidden to make YouTube videos go massively viral through Google+. Suppose that at the end of each video, instead of (or in addition to) the ad that overlays the video, the Google+ share feature were overlaid on top of the video. Using algorithms matching the content with people's interests, Google could suggest which circles you ought to share the video with. If only 1% of the 1 trillion YouTube videos were shared with circles, averaging 100 people, that would be 1 trillion invitations sent to friends/family/others to watch videos. And those who responded would likely be viewing the videos at plus.google.com, where the viral loop could be repeated.

4) Google+ APIs and Developers. Google IO has been scheduled for June and has been extended to 3 days this year. There are hundreds of thousands of Android developers, many of whom are anxious to build apps for Google+. Unleashing the creativity of these developers will provide Google+ users all kinds of apps. Facebook leveraged its platform to energize developers and provide thousands of apps for users; that's when Facebook experienced hypergrowth. But Facebook lost face with most of its developers when the platform shifted so dramatically in 2009-2010 and most of the viral channels and communications touch points were eliminated. A few companies continue to thrive on Facebook Platform, but they almost feel hand-picked. "Let's do music now." "Now let's do social TV." You don't see thousands of entrepreneurs and developers flocking to Facebook, excited about building their company on Facebook Platform like you did in 2007-2008.

Google is likely to learn from the mistakes of others and to build a healthy ecosystem that doesn't constantly shift. With all its productivity tools (email, docs, etc) used by corporations and other institutions worldwide, and with Google+ being the social layer for all the other Google properties, the potential for developers to build valuable apps (for both consumers and businesses) and to get distribution online and via mobile is probably bigger than for any previous platform.

Facebook's Platform has created a very successful social gaming ecosystem. Zynga is worth $6 billion. More recently, Facebook has branched into online music sharing with partners like Spotify and iheartradio. There is talk that social TV is next. Google has 84 APIs including some of the world's most popular APIs (maps, etc.). As these APIs intersect with Google+ social APIs, Google may have a far greater ability to achieve Zuckerberg's vision of helping developers reinvent every industry with social than Facebook does.

But Will All These Hundreds of Millions of People Actually Use Google+?

While most of my Google+ estimates have been welcomed by members of the media and tech communities (we all like social proof, don't we?), a minority have criticized the very notion of talking about "total users." That doesn't matter, they say. What matters is engagement, time spent on site, and whether anyone is leaving Facebook for this new service.

Last week's launch of Search Plus Your World ought to show these critics to see that Google has at least a billion opportunities every day (that's the number of daily queries they process) to get people re-engaged with Google+. Re-engagement will not be a problem, long term.

And in addition to search, you have photos to engage people, where Google will soon be the world leader. My estimates show that more than 100,000,000 photos are uploaded to Google+ every day, and with more Android activations, and more Instant Uploads, and more users sharing more content, I forecast that Google+ will pass Facebook in daily photo uploads by the middle of 2012. That means that as its user base grows, more than 250 million photos will be uploaded to Google+ every day. By the end of 2012 it could be as high as 500 million photos uploaded daily.

And then there is video. This week Google+ made it possible to record a video and share it with your circles. You can also play YouTube videos directly from a little tab on the far right of Google+. Video watching and recording and sharing will be another powerful draw which will help make Google+ irresistable over time.

And most important of all, I think this is the year when Google+ will expand from being a better-than-Twitter microblogging platform, where you can follow and be followed by anyone; it will also become (I predict) better-than-Facebook for interactions with family and friends.

When Google+ is really able to bring families together via hangouts, including parents and kids, and grandparents with grandkids, from the web and from mobile devices; and when Google improves its algorithms to make it really easy for you to find old classmates (like Facebook did) and former co-workers and put them into the proper circles (like Facebook did not) - millions of people will experience the satisfaction of reconnecting with old friends without the gnawing regret that they're now going to be expected to stay current with each other after years or decades of separation. Most Facebook users I know have gone through emotional phases, where they are so happy to reconnect with all the people they have known in their lives, and then they wonder what to do with them, and then finally, they regret having a stream that is so filled with updates that don't feel relevant to them.

Even though Facebook reintroduced lists after Google Circles debuted, if only 5% of Facebook users actually use lists (which is why they were deprecated in the first place), then most Facebook users are still experiencing having one giant mashed together (although admittedly addictive) stream. People spend hours each week on Facebook because they don't want to miss anything. What if you can have all the benefits, without the downside? That seems to be what Google+ can offer this year.

What Would Surprise Me

When I estimate Google+ user growth, I am not just making wild guesses. I have a counting system and a statistical model which tracks adoption rates by people with hundreds of surnames that are uncommon in the U.S. but common elsewhere. My model is not perfect, because I don't have population data by surname from many countries (yet). But if you analyze the number of users with my handpicked 336 surnames on Oct. 13th, when Larry Page announced "more than 40 million users" and compare it to the number of users today, it has grown by nearly 91.9%. We counted just over 16,000 on Oct. 13th and -about 30,700- 30,899 now. (Note: a new count from my elance team arrived after I made this post. The past 2 days Google+ growth has increased yet again.) That's how we get the -76.6- 77.2 million user estimate. It would really surprise me if Google+ hasn't reached at least 75 million users.

What we don't know is how far past 40 million Google+ was on Oct. 13th. We also don't have a sophisticated enough model to account for the probability that Google is growing much faster in some countries (including some with non-Latin alphabets) than in others. I have recently experimented with tracking Google+ adoption in Japan, using 500 surnames and Kanji characters; and my earliest estimates are that there are already between 2-3 million Google+ users in Japan.

What Won't Surprise Me

It won't surprise me too much if Google announces 80 million Google+ users or "we have more than doubled our users since Oct. 13th." However, I will be surprised if the numbers are significantly higher than that. Vic recently commented on +Max Huijgen recent guess of 140 million and said that was off, and it seems the even more recent 100 million guess (based on comparisons with LinkedIn) also has no real basis.

In a few hours we'll see once again how accurate my model is. I really can't wait. Once again I hope to be able to re-calibrate my model based on actual official numbers so that it will be even better next time.

Future Tracking

I may continue to track Google+ this year, but as I mentioned, I'm already gathering surname data from other countries in order to refine my model. If there is general interest, I may expand my tracking beyond Google+ growth to include usage statistics (I've tracked usage for several months already, but with a very small data set). I may also expand the effort by tracking other fast-growing social sites like Pinterest and Foursquare. The same methodology may also help me track the growth and usage of some publicly traded companies. I continue to explore the possibilities.

Ping me if you are interested in this kind of data. I've considered kind of open-sourcing this tracking effort so that thousands of people could each do a little bit of tracking, and it would roll up into one super-accurate estimate. Perhaps a distributed tracking/counting system could be applied in many fields--not just counting social network users--and might become a valuable resource. If you have any specific ideas, let me know.
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71 comments
 
Go for it and let us have some cool and practical features...
 
I'm predicting well over 500 Million by end of 2012 and likely closer to a billion, but maybe I'm a little optimistic.
 
+Ben Dantoni 500 million is possible in 2012, if you look at the Android numbers plus the non-Android numbers. If you add up the 273 million from the current daily trajectory plus the 220 million Android 4.0 activiations, that's close to 500 million, but I tried to be conservative and to account for duplicates -- people who get Android 4 who already have Google+ or who would have signed up normally anyway, so are part of the daily signups. But 500 million could be achieved if Google decided to cross promote Google+ prominently in lots of places.
 
+Paul Allen: Very, very impressive stats! Thanks for sharing. Could you send me more data? (I'm pinging you;)
 
+Paul Allen Way to go! I like how you really put some thought into this article. I hate it when people just throw numbers around.
 
+Paul Allen Thanks for the thorough post and the details leading to your assumptions.

Just a few days ago a prominent SV journalist stated: "This looks like a way to drive traffic to G+, which has lost some traction."
He did not say how he came to that conclusion although statements like this seem to be thrown in more for antagonism and encourage commenting than anything else.

My personal experiences are quite the opposite. Engagement levels here are higher than any other platform I participate in.
 
Always great to read your (scientific) analysis of where we are at and where we might go from here. Thank you.
 
great post indeed, it's interesting to see your estimations (and if you're close to reality today you'll gain a lot more credit) :)
 
+Paul Allen I agree, although I think +Larry Page's memo tying 25% of all Google employees bonuses to the success of G+ is a big factor. Now every Google employee has a large monetary incentive to see G+ succeed. That's a lot of smart people engaging on the platform, who may not be already.
 
To me it seems while everyone is signing up for an account, engagement is under-performing. I agree "Search Plus Your World" is going to have a huge positive impact on exposure and overall engagement. Your other drivers are right on as well, esp. Andorid.
 
+Paul Allen I'd be interested in participating in your research. I'm currently most focused on the artists/entrepreneurs on G+ and would love to help collect data on this population to show how creatives are using it as a development, marketing, and distribution platform. +Trey Ratcliff, +Daria Musk, and +Cliff Roth come to mind as trendsetters in this space IMHO.
 
+Rick Bucich I agree completely, in fact my engagement and experience on G+ led me to delete my Facebook account on Jan 1st. I've been more engaged with intelligent conversation and connection on G+ in the last 2 months than 5+ years on FB.
 
Fantastic work, thank you!
This post is the last nail in the "G+ will die" coffin.
 
This is awesome work +Paul Allen !!! I am really impressed. I hope your prediction and the tools you use are true!
 
Awesome study Paul. I would need to know if G+ is avaible for less 18 years. Actually, I think building Google Apps for Education K12 using G+ hangout. Who knows about that?
Thanks!
 
Quality of g+ is definitely going down pretty quick. It becomes less and less usable and more and more noisy. I believe that a main reason of it is that g+ is still standing on just one leg of Circles by failing to build a second leg of Content Channels. See http://goo.gl/DMqOM for explanation and references to numerous related posts by numerous people.
 
Pinging for more data, if it's possible. I see your predictions are underestimated, but i's very clever. If I can help in any possible way I would like.

Google+ is more like "old" Facebook - no timelines etc., just stream and all these thing that people already know. I think it will encourage new users to engagement.
 
The more they connect google+ and google the less people will use it. It's a matter of time when people will recognize that Google is not playing fair enough and uses their information for promotional matter. I really do not like the idea that my posts on Google+ ends up as a search results.

As long as Google products stay as nerdy they are from the experience point of view, they will not hit the casual market.

No doubt you made a great research though. Liked your point of view!!!
 
I think the quality issue is (or can be) a result of how you use Google+. I made Circles and thoughtfully add people to my Circles (if I don't know you, you don't have any posts and/or the posts don't interest me, or we don't share the same interests - you won't be added to my Circles). I can easily read through my Circle's Stream (and determine how much or how little I want to see with the slider). I can also check out specific search terms and follow them. I also can check out what's hot with the 8 top posts - sometimes I fly past a few but there is usually at least one I find interesting.
In essence we can all filter what we are seeing and engaging with on Google+. That said, I have jumped on a photography project+ and this is new to me and I am learning and sharing a great deal. I follow *politics and the 2012 election cycle and include those I agree with as well as those I disagree with because I want to be informed and educated (but not yelled at or fed slanted info). I love the genealogy and family history plusers and this has been the source of some fun hangouts and some links to great new to me blogs. Last but not least the technology folks always have something new to share.
I don't follow celebrities or play games so those groups I avoid like the plague (and unlike Facebook I don't have to see/hear about those games). I am loving Google+ and it can be as good and useful as you choose to make it.
 
+Fatih Özbayram - your posts end up as search results only if you allowed them to do so. Visibility of your posts stay intact. If you posted to a Circle, people outside of that circle won't see it.
 
+Fatih Özbayram everybody knows about Facebook using our info as well, but people still flock to it in great numbers.

PS you can choose if your posts show up in other peoples search results, thats what the circles are for. Edit: Vladimir was just ahead of me there.
 
+Tessa Keough - I would agree with you. But over time it's inevitable to follow more and more people. And those people tend to post not only on themes interesting to you, but on totally unrelated ones. And they tend to post publicly because they often want not only their followers to see those posts, but everybody - through a search or a reference. Without Content Channels (totally improved and subscribable hast tags) it becomes a mess, sooner or later.
I already know people who canceled their g+ accounts and then opened new ones, because their existing streams became unmanageable :(
 
Hi +Paul Allen Well thought through article and I agree with your assumptions underlying the spectacular growth prediction. You mention me in your article (not as in a +Max Huijgen, but I see my name there with regards to my attempts to guestimate numbers. Be aware I never said 145 million G+ users, I was talking about profiles. For G+ users 70 million was my number at that time

edit: I made a better formatted version of the below with some fixes in a post of itself here:
https://plus.google.com/112352920206354603958/posts/fXaPDqsSvhR

Now to clarify I got 145 million profiles around the third week of December. Currently by the same method I´m at 186 million. Staggering indeed. Like you state in your post +Vic Gundotra immediately jumped in on my post commenting it was not correct.
Now there all kind of reasons why he would do and today is one of them. Breaking the news at the scheduled moment for your investors is much better than having rumors with overly high numbers.
However after his comments my search based approach kept repeating these numbers. I noticed growth and plotted it and it seemed a perfect fit for exponential growth. Supportive for the number I found at that time with a spectacular growth of almost 40 million profiles in less than a month.

Now profiles are not active users. They could be setup without ever signing up for G+ so I checked for people making at least one post. At that time it was around 70 million. Subsequently it kept growing at a slightly lower rate than the total number of profiles. In line with what you would expect to happen.
Somewhere around the 10th of January the number for ´active profiles´ (defined as having made one post) went down substantially. It´s currently around 67 million from a high of 85 as measured.
There is no other reason than a different handling by Google search on profiles.

As I used a different method as well based on the frequency of certain letters (where you use family names) my numbers at that time also suggested around 75 million active users as defined before. Again congruent numbers suggesting they were not plucked from the air. I haven´t tracked as many names as your team did, but I got decent figures by using some non Roman alphabets f.i. Arab and a sizable number of common Chinese and Korean names.

To my amazement this last approach failed also after Jan. 10. These search strings don´t return sensible results anymore. To double check I have always used to Persian names which I didn´t publish. The original figures got me 500.000 results and after the 10th it went down to 100.000. Now I´m pretty sure things were bad in Iran and some scientists got killed, but I doubt 4 out of 5 persian profile holders disappeared.

To make a long story short: I believe the returned figures are no longer a correct representation
I assume that changes were made to make sure the competition could get a handle on this. I´m small fry so can be dismissed. Your team will be taken serious and no doubt a lot of other analysts are running similar test to guestimate the figures.
Will we get the real numbers today? Or will we get a ballpark ´doubled since October´. Is it in Google´s best interests to reveal high numbers? I don´t think so. Why attract even closer scrutiny from anti-trust organizations in the US and at my side of the poll? The minimum number to satisfy the share holders is the highest you would actually present.
So will we know for sure after today? I don´t think so
 
Interesting +Vladimir Kelman I guess I have been lucky so far because my circled folks have stayed on task! But I do hear what you are saying. I rarely go on Facebook because I don't want to know every little thing you think or do. Not familiar with content channels - will need to check that concept out. Always learn something new every day here at Google+.
bish s
 
I'd love to see some usage stat in terms of how many minutes people spend on G+ per day, viz. 5million never revisit, 10M 0-10minutes, etc.
 
Using averages instead of medians for number of people in users' circles is almost certainly going to be too high. I would be very surprised if that data isn't right-skewed. Other than that, nice report. :)
bish s
 
+Vladimir Kelman I think your content channel idea is very useful - I have been waiting for something like that from the very beginning. Although, since it creates a bit more work for the poster, I wonder if there will be a widespread use for it.
 
I hate to bring back a much-hated old dotcom metric, but the most important metric is niether users nor time-on-site, it's unique users per month. Time-on-site obviously doesn't work bc the main goal of circles is to waste less time than Facebookers are wasting reading dopey posts. Signups doesn't work either, as you mentioned, bc google now gets signups via methods that don't necessarily inspire usage of Google+. So where's the unique user measurements, and I'll believe what you're peddling?
bish s
 
+Jack Pitts I think both metrics have their place. Unique visitors does not take into account the fact that many of them may be first time visitors and may never be returning to the site.
 
+Jack Pitts If you're just selling banner ad space maybe. Nowadays all metrics can be useful.
 
So a lot of these accounts are forced accounts due to buying an android phone? Is signing up for G+ mandatory when you activate one? Or is that optional? (I have an iPhone, so I'm not up on this point)
 
first of all, i don't even know how to respond to your post, and I mean technically. strike one against Google+.

2nd of all, uniques is way more important right now, even with first-time users, at least those numbers get less relevant as time goes on. And no one is responding with any actual numbers of uniques.

3rd of all, Paul Allen is the only person that I find on my main wall, even tho it's set on ALL Google+ users. This is different from when it first came out and there was a bunch of people posting. crickets now except for people associated with Google. So I'm not in the techie san fran googley sphere, so I get nothing.

4th of all, pictures isn't working. Sure, all my pictures are uploaded, but the method of getting them into posts is terribly cumbersome, the technology leaves a lot to be desired. I WANT to do it for family members rather than Facebook, but I'm reluctant cuz everytime I do it I find it to be a miserable experience. So what I'm saying is, Google+ is too overloaded with geeks, and the rest of us don't know how to work it, it's too complicated.

5th of all, my curved screen on my Samsung droid 4G Plexus Nexis or whatever it's called, cracked when I layed flat on the floor, dumb design. It also is terribly frustrating navigationally speaking, and that's coming from a person with an android phoen before that. the iphones are CLEARY WAY easier to use and are gaining back share and this will only intensify when both A) 4g comes to iphone on verizon and B) patents liability has OEMs reverse their current Android support in favor of alternatives (buying RIMM, Microsoft OS, etc...). the new Android OS is not that great, it's really not. If it was, or if pictures management was half as good as youtube, then maybe I'd agree with predications taht Google+ emerges from the typical Wave or Buzz muck.
Google still hasn't solved gmail contacts and youtube sharing problems that could have easily been addressed 4 years ago. Why do I have to still send people emails to tell them about an address change?? Can't I just update my info, and gmail sends the changes to all other gmail accounts without anyone having to do anything other than approve the change (and allow the person to save the old info). Gmail still doesn't understand how to deal with an old email (if you delete it, where do all that persons old posts congregate when you need them??), so either there's a buildup of old email addresse which becomes cumbersome on the phone for instance, or you lose the ability to look up old email exchanges easily for friends that've changed email addresses since you had gmail. So in conclusion, android COULD be a big advantage, but like YouTube for the past 5 years, it's not been a big one. Google is now too slow to take advantage, while Facebook fixes it's problems.
When is android going to finally be not so laggy? Same goes for Google TV (i have the samsung fully integrated tv). Laggy with the remote, VERY frustrating.

anyway, I wish Plus the best, but not seeing much evidence here in the US (outside of techie valley) that it's anything facebook or twitter should worry about. one googley nerdy poster is not enough to make me keep coming back, even tho there are a ton of great features on Plus which don't exists on FB.
 
GDrive already exists, it's GoogleDocs, it has limited storage for free, then you pay.

accounts on Plus aren't "forced", but sorta, they happen when user gets a gmail account by default (unless you do a lot of work to disable it). So yeah, most signups aren't real (yet), until proven otherwise with actual usage (hence unique users is important).
 
You smashed your own phone and you're blaming the design? There's a perfect example of the self esteem school of psychology if I've ever seen one...
 
So here is the official announcement from Google. All I can say is, "Wow!"

"Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year. Full year revenue was up 29%, and our quarterly revenue blew past the $10 billion mark for the first time,” said Larry Page, CEO of Google. “I am super excited about the growth of Android, Gmail, and Google+, which now has 90 million users globally – well over double what I announced just three months ago. By building a meaningful relationship with our users through Google+ we will create amazing experiences across our services. I’m very excited about what we can do in 2012 – there are tremendous opportunities to help users and grow our business.”
bish s
 
a 14% difference in your calc... correctable in the next report!
 
+Paul Allen - So now 500 million looks fairly easy, the only question is will G+ have a billion users by the end of 2012?
 
pretty impressive users count, what about uniques?
 
After Oct 13th where my estimate was high by 15%, I started using a 15% dampening effect. So today when I said 77.2m users, the first column of my model (without the 15% haircut) shows 90,910,417. So if I just take out the 15% dampening effect, the original model is spot on.

(But I think that is partly lucky coincidence. Using Circlecount.com's usage by country, I actually think I can improve my surname set and make the model more accurate for next time.)
 
+Ben Dantoni, so 90 million after 6 months. How does that equal 500 million by December 2012?
bish s
 
+Aaron Wood most likely by looking at the graph, which seems to be slightly accelerating.
 
Hi +Paul Allen Like I said underneath my own post I got 85 million around the 10th of January. But all linguistic and search methods are currently broken as they play hide and peek now. All attempts are broken as they don´t was us to outguess them.
Before +CircleCount I have used the .- at that time much larger _ dataset of the socialstatistics site who claimed to have 30 million users profiled in November. The country numbers however were way off. Enormous amounts (I did a calculation somewhere) don´t use the location field.
 
90 milhões de usuários no Google+
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Fantastic post; I think a lot of the people saying that G+ is dead already forget what a social media platform looks like in the early days. Well researched and written. I'd love to see more!
 
+Aaron Wood It's not a linear curve, it's exponential. There will be a ripple effect as more and more people hear the buzz about what's going on here. That will create a mass movement which will push it well beyond 500 Million.
 
+Ben Dantoni, oh ok. I love your theories. Where can I subscribe to your newsletter?
 
Nice article, also covers why i am on G+ instead of facebook. Those Turkish video apps( which in real are a kind of fb phishing, they share without informing the user) filled my FB news feed, made it impossible to track down genuine( and interesting) posts by my friends.
 
+Vladimir Kelman Thanks for the advice, but I knew this :) Average consumer do not care about social circles. Introducing "social circles" as a kind of "permission" tool to them will not work. My point has been that people were worried about Facebook's privacy control. Let's see how much they will "love" Google's "Search plus your world". I am really looking forward seeing all the upcoming conversations.
 
Para los que creian que no hoy google ya supera los 400 millones!
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