Google+ has been out for two weeks, but the number of users has already spiked dramatically. Some estimates put Google+'s current user base at approximately 9 million users, with speculation Google+ will surpass the 10 million mark today.
Figures for the Google+ User-Base
Google's own Eric Schmidt gives our most official number. When asked by TechCrunch's Alexia Tsotsis how many Google+ users were in the beta as of July 9, Schmidt responded, "I don’t know, but it’s millions, it’s a lot." The same non-figure ("A lot, like millions") was Schmidt's response to how many would-be Google+ users had applied but weren't yet invited.
Several enthusiastic Google+ users are venturing to find out where the exact figure currently resides.
Paul Allen of Ancestry.com is using a less-than-precise calculation that's based on the popularity of last names in the U.S. You can read the details of his calculations in a public Google+ post, but the short version is this: By Allen's method of tabulation, Google+ had 1.7 million users as of July 4 and hit 7.3 million users yesterday.
As cited by one of the commenter's on Allen's post, however, there's another method of tabulation which pulls substantially higher figures. This method, proposed by Anthony De Rosa, showed figures of about 6.5 million users at the time of Allen's post and shows figures of about 9 million as of the time of this writing.
So, how many users does Google+ have right now? The wisest response would be to echo Schmidt's shockingly casual line: "A lot, like millions."
Is Google+ "Succeeding"?
To already be in the millions for users looks promising, and a lot of the feedback received from early-phase users has been nothing but exaltation. The shareholders are also taking a vote of confidence, having raised the market cap on the company by approximately $20 billion (U.S.).
Eric Schonfeld of TechCrunch gives us some specific market numbers: "On June 27 (the day before the announcement), the stock closed at $482.80. It rose to a high of $546.60 on July 7, for a $20.6 billion gain to its market cap (with 322.25 million shares outstanding)." As of the time of this writing, GOOG stock is at 527.28, but the value increase is still visible.
We're seeing a lot of friendly numbers, but former Googler Sam Johnston reminds us that early success and "millions of users" isn't enough. "Within 48 hours of Buzz's launch," read his less than glorifying Twitter post, "Google were [sic] claiming 'tens of millions of people have checked Buzz out.'" And we all know how that story ended. But Google+ is a far more exclusive network, the feedback has been very positive, and the sheer volume of posts greatly exceeds the early-stage use of Buzz.
So what's the answer? Is Google+ succeeding? I'm going with a powerful "Yes," with the equally powerful caveat, "as an early-stage test."
For what Google+ is right now, it's phenomenal. But does that mean they can fight against the 750 million user mountain that is Facebook? It's far, far too soon to tell.