At one month, Google+ already a 'major player'

The new social network takes on Facebook right out of the gate

Google+ on Thursday hit its one-month birthday and is already a major social networking player, analysts say.

Google released its much-anticipated social network on June 28. Google+ quickly grabbed headlines, gained 10 million users in its first two weeks (and another 10 million since then) and had people seeking invitations to its field trial from total strangers.

Oh, and it's gained a lot of interest in the much-sought-after and lucrative enterprise market. Businesses have been clamoring to set up Google+ accounts, even though the network has asked companies and organizations to wait until a business version is ready in a few months.

"With tens of millions of users and Google behind it, Google+ has become a major player," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "It has a good vibe going for it. The product is embracing concepts from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.... The end result is a higher average quality of information and less overall information traffic, making the service more useful for most."

All of this fanfare and success means Facebook, which had been skating along with nary a serious rival, is having to make room for a new competitor.

"It's been going very well for Google+," said Dan Olds, an analyst for The Gabriel Consulting Group. "I'm not sure [Google] can ask for much more at this point - although I'm sure they will."

Olds pointed out that the new network's technical rollout has gone very smoothly. There have been no outages or security breaches.

"It looks like everything that's supposed to work is working," he added. "This is crucially important at launch, since it ensures that news coverage concentrates on the Google+ story, rather than focusing on bad technical execution or something like that."

Google+ did have to deal with a report from Hitwise, an Internet traffic tracker, this week that its traffic had dipped. Hitwise reported that for the week ending July 23, Google+ had 1.79 million visits, down 3% from the week before. The report also noted that the average time spent on the site had fallen 10% that week to 5 minutes and 15 seconds.

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