At first birthday, has Google+ found its niche?

Social network might be becoming hub for all things Google

Google+ is hitting a major milestone this week as its fledgling social network reaches its first birthday.

Google launched its own social network a year ago Thursday. While it's a distant competitor to the world's top social network, Facebook, Google+ is finding its own niche by becoming the hub for all things Google.

"Google+ is at the heart of our efforts to create a simpler, more intuitive experience for all Google users," said Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, during the morning keynote at the Google I/O developer conference Wednesday. "We want to present you with one seamless experience and not a bunch of disconnected products."

While Google+ reached its birthday on Thursday, there was very little mention of the social network and not one single mention of its milestone during the morning keynote at Google I/O that day.

However, on Wednesday, the first day of Google I/O, the company's developer conference, Google announced a Google+ version for Android tablets and one coming for the Apple iPad, as well. Google+ also got an Events feature, which is tied into Google calendar.

Gundotra told the Google I/O conference audience that the social network now has 150 million active monthly users and about 75 million daily users.

Those numbers still leave Google+ well behind its main rival, Facebook, which has approximately 800 million users worldwide.

But that's not the whole story for Google+, according to Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

"As a standalone social network, Google+ isn't close to comparing to Facebook or Twitter, but that's not necessarily the point of it," said Moorhead.

"Google+ is the home base for all things that connect Google. It's the glue that holds it together. But for numbers, it is more like RC Cola, not Pepsi, as it relates to competing with Coke."

And that fits in with what Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO, said last October.

Page, speaking during the company's third-quarter earnings call, said he plans to use Google+ to change the experience users have while using Google.

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