Editor’s note: Guest contributor Frederic Lardinois is a tech writer who blogs at SiliconFilter.
With 90 million users, it would seem that things are going quite well for Google+. Those numbers don’t mean much without context, though. Google+’s Vic Gundotra seemingly providedsome of that context by posting an image that said “over 60% sign in daily” and “over 80% sign in weekly,” but it looks like Google is being rather vague about whether this means that 60% and 80% of Google+’s total users sign into Google+ or if they sign into Google (or if it means something completely different instead).
At first sight, quite a few pundits took this to mean that the daily Google+ engagement rate for its users was 60%, which is higher than Facebook’s and surely a number Google would want to get out. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though. On today’s earnings call, Google CEO Larry Page also kept things (intentionally?) vague, but provided enough context to clarify that those engagement numbers probably mean something quite different than most of people thought at first.
Here’s what Page said, according to the official transcript of the call:
“Engagement on + is also growing tremendously. I have some amazing data to share there for the first time: +users are very engaged with our products — over 60% of them engage daily, and over 80% weekly.“
Here is how I read this: Google+ users are big Google fans. Over 60% of them engage with Google’s products daily (note that Page says “products”). So in my view, this doesn’t mean 60% of Google+ users engage with Google+ daily, but 60% of Google+ users engage with any Google product every day.
I did, of course, ask Google PR about this, but Google prefers not to comment on this beyond what Gundotra and Page already said.
Google+ has lots of skeptics out there (and I’ll go on the record that I’m not one of them and actually really like the product). This kind of stuff just isn’t helping it to win those skeptics over. When it comes to user numbers, saying “we have 90 million users” doesn’t mean much. What matters is daily engagement. Lots of apps claim they have a million downloads on iOS, for example, but that doesn’t mean they have a million active users (or even 10,000 for all we know). Google would really help itself here if it clarified these numbers but the company would prefer to keep things vague instead, it seems.
A Google project headed by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, Google+ is designed to be the social extension of Google. Its features focus on making online sharing easy for users. “Circles,” think social circles, akin to Facebook’s lists. “Sandbar,” a user-unifying toolbar. “Sparks,” a search engine for sharing content between users. “Messenger,” a group messaging app that allows users to share with certain “Circles.” “Hangouts,” group video chatting designed to allow up to 10 users video chat at once. Each Google+ user can replace his...