Google+, the search company’s social network, is now being promoted as something companies can use for private, internal communications. It’s the latest part of Google’s strategy to push Google+ into everything that it offers to Web users, as the man leading the project explained to me last year (see “Q&A with Bradley Horowitz”):
When we know who you are, your interests, and who you know—if you let us know that—we can transform all of your activities for the better in search, in Android, in Chrome, in YouTube, in Gmail, and across all we do.
Google has long offered products such as online email, calendars and document editing to companies for their internal use. Google+ will now be offered alongside those, allowing employees at companies that sign up to have internal discussions using the network, share documents, and schedule video chats. That gives Google+ new direct competition from established work social networks such as Yammer, now owned by Microsoft and to be integrated with the company’s popular Office suite (see “Microsoft’s Social Network Becomes Emotionally Aware”). Google+ for businesses is free until the end of 2013, but will eventually cost money.
It’s possible the move will make Google+ a stronger competitor with Facebook and Twitter in the battle to rule Web users’ personal lives—and capture valuable data. Google doesn’t release many figures on its social network’s userbase or growth, but it is far from as influential as more established networks. On Google’s July earnings call it was stated that more than 250 million people have profiles on Google+, and that the company is “pleased” with the growth of the service. Recent third party estimates of activity on Google+ suggest it is growing fast. Global visits to the site jumping from 67 million to 111 million between November 2011 and June 2012, according to comScore, which last summer estimated Facebook’s equivalent number to be over 734 million.
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