Last Thursday Google released their financial results for the previous quarter, and from any rational perspective, they did pretty damn well. Profits in excess of $2 billion, taking their overall profit for the year nicely above the $10 billion mark. That’s not bad in the middle of the worst recession since the 1920s, however because the numbers fell below the expectations of “expert” market analysts, these figures were treated as a disaster. I’m guessing that those “experts” are the same analysts who thought that structuring an entire global economy on the resale of packaged debt was a stroke of genius.
Anyway. After alluding to the growth of various Google services like Android and GMail, Larry Page revealed that Google+ now had around 90 million users. He went on to say:
By building a meaningful relationship with our users through Google+ we will create amazing experiences across our services.
The reaction to the 90 million number was a big meh, with lots of “experts” sniffing and saying that most of those 90 million users had probably logged in once and then ignored the service. This kind of jibed with Page’s statement:
Over 60 percent of Google+ users use Google products on a daily basis. Over 80 percent of Google+ users use Google products every week
Even these numbers were dismissed, and the same idiotic nonsense about Google+ being a disaster and a service that people neither wanted nor used was trotted out by people who clearly don’t understand what Google+ is actually about.
Let me spell this out:
In the same way as Facebook is not just the website Facebook.com, Google+ is not just the stream of status updates and animated GIFs at plus.google.com.
Your Facebook account follows you around the web, it allows you to comment on blogs, bypass the log in forms on thousands of websites, and get insight into whether a piece of content is likely to be of interest to you based on how many of your friends also liked it.
Google+ is the same, think of Google+ as a prism through which to view the web rather than being a single website, and you get closer to what it’s purpose is. Google+ unifies YouTube, GMail, Picassa, Adwords, Blogger, and most importantly Google Search to give you a personalised curation of the web. It is baked into the latest version of Android too, and at some point in the future, it will be part of Chrome and the Google Toolbar too.
Google+ is about personalisation of the web.
When Larry Page talks about the 60% of G+ members who use the service on a daily basis, he’s talking about a global engagement across Google’s social enabled platform. Search Plus Your World is Google+ in action, recommended videos on YouTube is Google+ in action.
Used properly, to connect your online experience with people who actually matter to you, Google+ will make the web more relevant to you. Used badly, as it is by many of the “experts” who dismiss it as a zombie network and who add thousands of arbitrary friends in order to make themselves look more influential, it won’t work.
Google+ is about identifying the social trends and community memberships that define us and using them to re-define our search experience. The people who are still treating it as a Facebook like social network and polluting their experience with irrelevance will find that in the long run, all they will do is destroy any semblance of value that Google+ has to them.