Using different names in Google+ will pave the way to busienss pages, promised co-founder Sergey Brin
The Google+ social network’s meteoric rise to over 40 million users one month after launching to public beta exceeded the company’s internal expectations, Google senior vice president Vic Gundotra told the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco yesterday. He also vowed to meet user demands for pseudonyms, which are essential for business pages.
Appearing alongside Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Gundotra, who has shepherded Google+ to fruition for the past one and a half years, was asked by Web 2.0 Summit co-host John Battelle if he was happy with the speedy user adoption. Gundotra said he is happy with Google+’s fast start – users have also shared over 3.4 billion photos in the last 100 days – but acknowledged his team has a lot to do.
Taking on Facebook
With Google+, the search provider is engaging rival Facebook in the war for users’ attention. Incumbent network Facebook has over 800 million users, some of whom use the service an average of 8 hours per month. That’s a lot of eyeballs, time and ad clicks that Google is not getting.
Brin, noting that he is “not a very social person himself” and hasn’t spent a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, said that while he initially believed the Circles sharing construct would prove too complicated to use, he found Google+ instantly compelling as a user. He makes public and private posts.
Gundotra added that Brin was intimately involved in the social network’s design, including Google+ Hangouts, the network’s free video chat service for up to 10 users. Brin said he was actually being sarcastic about his enthusiasm for Hangouts and admitted he was wrong about how the service should work.
Battelle then brought up the point that while he encounters colleagues on Google+, his family members are loath to join. He noted that when venture capitalist Sean Parker spoke at the show Monday, he said it was hard to compete with network effects, getting users and their friends to switch to new platforms. This is Google+’s universal challenge in a nutshell.
Gundotra said Parker is right in terms of challenging the incumbent at its own game. He added that Google is trying to play a different game, leveraging Google’s inherent user base, which is spread across Google Search, Gmail, YouTube and other services. Many of these users are connected by their Google accounts, or profiles, which are the connective tissue for Google+.