Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com has made somewhat of a cottage industry out of making predictions about the growth of Google+. As with most analysis of a hot topic it won’t get any attention unless it’s big so Allen has done just that. The chart below shows a 20 million user a month increase based on his methodology.
He then goes even further in his Google+ update he states
Based on the accelerated growth I’m seeing and all the dials and levers Google can still utilize, and the developer ecosystem that will be developed, I predict that 2012 is going to be a breakout year for Google+ and that it will end next year with more than 400 million users.
Well if you are going to go you might as well go big, right? Allen has many reasons for this seemingly outlandish prediction. He states
If this rate of new signups (625k daily) continues then Google+ will reach 100 million users on Feb. 25th and 200 million users on August 3. They will finish 2012 with 293 million users.
I expect the growth to continue to accelerate however. Google can continue to integrate Google+ into its other products and word of mouth will continue to build. Most importantly, 700,000 Android devices are activated daily and this will become a very significant source of new users for Google+. That number will also grow next year.
Android activations are going to play an important role for sure. Other things that Google currently has at their disposal is continuing their already beyond Google-like advertising efforts. Also, people are now used to social media so some of the hurdles of familiarity that Facebook and Twitter had to overcome are not as high for Google. Of course, people are now comfortable with the Facebook delivery of the social experience so Google will have to figure out how to pry people away from their Facebook habit.
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But let’s go back to that prediction. Allen is saying that by the end of 2012, after just 18 months of existence, Google plus would already be half of Facebook’s current size? Of course, by the end of 2012 Facebook could top one billion users because it’s not like they are just sitting back and resting on their laurels. The one thing that could both help and hurt Facebook this year is the supposedly imminent IPO. Quiet periods and speculation will be the focus vs. advertising options and ways to gain more access to their users’ private things.
Personally I think that Mr. Allen is being way too optimistic on this one. One thing not even mentioned is that 400 million accounts doesn’t mean 400 million engaged users. In fact, it is likely to be a small percentage of overall accounts that would be tended to on a regular basis. That’s why overall numbers are for evangelizing rather than actual planning for marketers.
Either way it keeps Mr. Allen in the headlines and maybe that’s what this is all about anyway.
So do you think 400 million Google+ users by the end of 2012 is reasonable?