Google+ may reach 400 million users by end of 2012
It's a guessing game but only Google has the real answers: How many users does its Google+ social networking service have? And how actively are they using it?
The Internet search giant is adding 625,000 new users a day to the service and will finish 2012 with 400 million, said Paul B. Allen, founder of Ancestry.com.
Allen, who calls himself Google+'s unofficial statistician, has been estimating the number of users on the service that seeks to challenge Facebook, which has more than 800 million and is preparing for an initial public offering next year that could raise as much as $100 billion. Google, which is stepping up its game in the social arena with Larry Page at the helm, said in October that it had 40 million users.
"It may be the holidays, the TV commercials, the Android 4 sign-ups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google+ each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks," wrote Allen, founder and CEO of FamilyLink.com, a company he helped start in 2006 with other Ancestry.com alumni.
But Allen is not measuring active users, which is what Facebook measures. He's just measuring total users. The real question, as TechCrunch's Eric Eldon points out, is how many people are hanging out on Google+ after creating accounts.
Last week, ComScore reported that Google+ had grown to 67 million monthly unique visitors in November, up 2 million from October. But that's measuring visitors.
Still, the two analyses do suggest that Google+ is growing.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Google CEO Larry Page. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images