It's been just over a month since Google+ launched, but rumors say the site is showing signs of slowing down.
One report, based on a statistics published by Experian Hitwise, says that Google+ visits dropped to 1.79 million in the U.S. this week, which is a three percent drop compared to the previous week of 1.86 million. Google has not confirmed this information.
If it's true that Google+ is seeing a decrease in its traffic, then one reason could be its exclusivity. Even members who have access may be slowing down their usage due to a lack of friends on the site. Users most likely engaged in more time on the site during their first few weeks of acceptance into Google+, as they tried to figure it out. But without a large network to interact with, their usage may slow down.
Google+, not another Google Buzz
However, just because Google+ may be seeing a slow week, it doesn't mean the site will end up like its predecessor, Google Buzz, an e-mail friendly sharing network that flopped. The fledging social network still has some tricks to pull out of its hat, but when will everyone be able to see them?
Google+ launched with a tremendous amount of buzz from Google. The buzz started with its name Google+, which was a bit too similar to the Google +1 (plus one) button that randomly appeared on Web sites and news articles as a way for you to publicly "like" something. Whether the name is confusing or not, as many users still write "Google Plus," it managed to generate interest.
Then, Google created more buzz around Google+ by making it an exclusive project to which one would need to be invited before being allowed in, much like how Gmail started. This initially may have created some excitement, but as more and more people became curious about Google+, invites tapered, hence, the alleged lull in traffic.
Google+ vs. Facebook
Then there was the whole Google+ vs. Facebook debate, as to whether or not Google+ would have what it takes to dethrone the reigning social media champ. Google never said publicly that it's trying to supplant Facebook, and insists that Google+ is an attempt to make online sharing easier and better.
So now that the buzz of Google+ has calmed down, when will they open up their ultra-exclusive network to everyone? The Google+ homepage says, "Right now, we're testing with a small number of people, but it won't be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone."
What it's about
So for those who aren't on Google+ and missed all the buzz, here is a brief update about what Google+ offers:
Google+ offers something called "Circles." These Circles allow users to share different information and links with different people, much like Facebook groups. The Google+ Web site says, "Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself -- just like real life."
Then, there is "Hangouts," which allows a virtual open hang out, so users can drop by and say hi to their friends wherever they may be via streaming video.
And to continue with the mobile phone picture craze, Google+ incorporates "Instant Upload," a tool for sharing photos. The difference between this and Facebook photos, for instance, is that the photos will automatically upload to a private album on Google+, minimizing the hassle of selecting images, and reduces upload time.
The Web site also features "Sparks," which allows users to tell Sparks what their interests are. Then, Sparks will send users stuff it thinks they'll like.
Also, Google+ will include "Huddle," an open text messaging service for groups. For instance, the Google+ Web site uses going to a movie as an example:
"Texting is great, but not when you're trying to get six different people to decide on a movie. Huddle turns all those different conversations into one simple group chat, so everyone gets on the same page all at once."
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