If the internet is the wild west, then Mark
Zuckerberg is a cowboy who has mastered quite a bit of the terrain with 750
million visitors to his Facebook saloon. But, as seen in many old western
films, there's occasionally a showdown accompanied by the cliché, "This
town isn't big enough for the both of us." While Facebook hasn't
met its match quite yet, Google+ may be well on its way.
Google+ launched only two weeks ago, but in its
short time on the web (and despite its invitation-only testing phase it's
currently in) the social
network is blowing up, and many predict that it will be a suitable rival
According to Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com, Google+ achieved
7.3 million users on July 10. His statistical analysis also estimates that
Google+ will acquire 10 million users today, and if Google keeps the invitation
button active, it will reach 20 million users by this weekend.
"My model is simple," said Allen.
"I start with U.S. Census Bureau data about surname popularity in the
U.S., and compare it to the number of Google+ users with each surname. I split
the U.S. users from the non-U.S. users. By using a sample of 100-200 surnames,
I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the U.S. population
that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio
of U.S to non-U.S. users to generate my worldwide estimates.
"My ratio is 1 U.S. user for every 2.12
non-U.S. users. That ratio was calculated on July 4th through a laborious
effort, and I haven't updated it since. That is definitely a weakness in my
model that I hope to address soon. The ratio will likely change over
While Allen works on updating his method, Google+
continues to expand and the question on many minds is whether Google will
pull the plug on the invitation button at some point or not, eventually
limiting the number of users that can access the field testing phase. But
whether it does or not, many current users have expressed their fondness of the
fresh-faced social network.
"I predict that Google+ will go from 0 to
100,000,000 users faster than any other service in history," said Bill
Gross, founder and CEO of technology incubator Idealab. "The service is
great. It is timely. People are engaging with it like crazy. There are rumors
that there are already 4.5 million people. That might be high. It might be as
low as 1 million, or even lower, but my guess is that it's more than 1 million
"The next year will tell. Will there be bumps
in the road? Sure. Will Facebook and Twitter fight back with more innovation?
Of course! But I'm saying that Google+ is already good enough, and the team on
Google+ is being so responsive in a way that makes me believe they have a real