I can’t help but notice that Google+ is gaining momentum, and Android is a big part of the cause. My own use of Google+ is up since switching to Android about a month ago, but it’s also clear that the network is growing globally. Late last month at a special event to announce new features, Google disclosed that Google+ has seen 58 percent growth in its user base, from 190 million in May to a current level of 300 million.
Most industry observers know that Facebook is king of the hill — some 1.19 billion monthly active users (pdf) as of September 2013 — when it comes to social networking. But I have to wonder if Google will catch up over time. I wasn’t optimistic on Google+ when it first launched. I didn’t see the need for another social network. And to be honest, I still don’t. But Google is growing because of its strategic moves, by making Google+ an integral part of everything, nearly as much as search.
And Android is a big part of this. One simple example is having my pictures all automatically backed up to my Google+ account. On a broader level, Google is pushing everyone to have a Google+ account to do pretty much anything from commenting on YouTube to use Hangouts. The more we access Google services from mobile phones, the more Android is helping Google+ to grow.
On a hardware level, the new Moto G is fascinating to me, too. Starting at $179 unsubsidized (and topping out at just $20 more) nobody is going to say it has top-drawer specs. But for the money it has amazing specs that people moving up to a smartphone for the first time (or upgrading a 3-year old smartphone) would absolutely love. In this price range Apple and BlackBerry don’t compete, and Nokia barely does at the very low end of its Windows Phone portfolio. The more Google pushes good quality hardware out with low pricing, the more Android continues to grow, which helps push Google+ use even higher.
Advancing Google+ and introducing a new, low-cost smartphone could prove a winner for Google.
And I suspect Google+ will be very sticky. Teenagers can decide to abandon Facebook because they’d rather use Snapchat, or whatever the latest craze is. But if you want to use Google services, you’re pretty much sucked into having a Google+ account. I realize this irritates people initially. But they’ll get over it. When I put my investor hat on, I still prefer Google to Facebook (despite being optimistic on both companies)
The world is going almost entirely Mobile, and Google is doing a really solid job of integrating Google+ into the mobile experience. I think Google has a pretty good track record for making its services so compelling that we actually want to use them anyway, If they keep upping their game with Google+ I suspect we’ll be looking at continued profitable growth for the Mountain View giant over the next decade.
Just think ... the more people use Google+, the more valuable data Google collects and can use to help advertisers target ads to the right people. The more effective the ads are, the more Google can charge.