Google’s latest effort at a social network since the failure of Google Buzz is really picking up, thanks to the attention it’s getting in its first few weeks of existence. Analyst Paul Allen used census data about surnames to put together an estimate of about 4.5 million users, which means Google+ is growing rapidly; too rapidly even. The service experience a short glitch over the weekend, and as a result sent out repeated notifications to some users. Google VP Vic Gundotra explained the incident on his Google+ page:
“For about 80 minutes we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications. Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over, and over again. Yikes.”
This hiccup hasn’t stopped users from signing up by the millions to the social network, and it’s this growth rate that earned Google+ some mixed reviews. PCMag’s John Dvorak thinks the reason behind it is that Facebook’s history of privacy concerns and other user issues simply backlashed , however others think it may be able to pose a threat to the two major social networks, Facebook and Twitter, sometime further in the future.
But both Facebook and Twitter are gaining relevance in social search, infringing on Google’s space and spurring the search giant to incorporate more social features. Mark Suster, a venture investor with GRP Partners who led a $6 million funding round for Twitter analytics startup DataSift, thinks that Twitter has several benefits over Google+, most notably that it’s real-time and that it creates a “powerful interest graph.” The same can be said of Google+ though, and the search giant is pushing towards monetizing this new source, even in this early stage.
Google is reportedly working on a data marketplace known as “DDP” in-house, according to some unnamed executives familiar with the matter. The audience for this data exchange will be publishers using DoubleClick, which will be able to sell their data as easily as they would sell ad space.
This may very well be the future of data, and even though Google’s slower to implement successful social features, it could beat out Facebook and Twitter in the rapid monetization front, leveraging the social nature of search behavior and applying it to existing algorithms and services. However, Google’s playing down the relevance of its latest social scourge, bringing up previous iterations of social search that are still in place. Google+ engineer Joseph Smarr answers several of the media’s burning questions in a recent blog post, addressing the importance of search integration for Google +, saying,
“Google’s had social search for a few years now, and +1 buttons more recently. In both cases, I hope Google+ gets a lot more users connecting and sharing a lot more stuff, which should then make social search a lot more useful.”