Has Google+ Over-Estimated Its Popularity?

Google+ was launched in a blaze of publicity in July this year and claimed to be the legitimate social networking rival to Facebook.

In fact, it went one further and openly suggested that it would outshine the primary social network in the not-too-distant future. With 25 million unique visitors in the first month after its launch, there was a certain degree of credibility to these boasts. If Google + had a problem, it was that it was started on an invitation-only basis, so you had to be invited if you wanted to join in the party. Over the next couple of months, interest in the social networking ingénue continued to grow, at a steady, though not meteoric pace.

To address this apparent lack of enthusiasm Google added new features to the platform and addressed some of the less-than-satisfactory components. It eventually put the icing on the cake with the announcement that from the 20 September, Google + was to become an open network and anyone was allowed to join. Having lit the touch paper, the boffins at Google sat back and waited for the fireworks to start. Numbers increased by over 1200 percent in the first few days of public availability, but then something interesting happened: people seemed to lose interest. Within a few days interest in the social network has plummeted by 60%.

So, what’s happening? Did Google + simply over-estimate its importance, or is it just failing to deliver a better service than rival Facebook?

According to a report from data Analytics Company, Chitika, traffic has shown a marked and dramatic decrease in recent days. It tracked the performance of the social network before and after its public launch, and has confirmed that despite the incredible spike in popularity upon launch, interest has now waned to such an extent that the folks at Google are starting to be concerned. On the day of the public launch, the social network outshone everything else on the internet with stratospheric sign ups. Subsequently traffic has tailed off by over 60%, returning Google + to its normal and underwhelming state, according to Chitika.

That’s a far cry from the initial launch when great things were expected.

ComScore measured the phenomenal rise and noted the 25 million unique visitors in the first month of operation. At the time it was undoubtedly the fastest growing social network of all time. Google was so thrilled with the figures that it even made these figures public, broadcasting them to fans via Google Hangouts. In the middle of July, Google CEO, Larry Page, revealed that the Facebook-challenger boasted 10 million users who shared 1 billion items each day on the network. Google has unfortunately been reticent since then, and given no clue about how he user base has grown or the numbers involved. However, the most recent unofficial count would suggest that the figure has been pegged somewhere around 43 million Google + users. With those sorts of figures, Facebook isn’t going to be quaking in its boots. It will take a few hundred million more subscribers to Google + before that happens.

So what’s the future for Google +? Chitika seem to argue that it’s an unconvincing network, and that users are not warming to it.

There’s also a suggestion that some executives at Google share this view, though as yet there’s been no official comment from the social networking giant. Will Google + still be here at this time next year? Only time and Larry page will tell. The problem is his lips appear to be sealed at the moment.

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