Google+ May Hit 10 Million Users, New Updates Coming Too

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How many people are using Google+? The scales should tip at around 10 million users today, according to Ancestry.com founder—and Google+ user, of course—Paul Allen. This Paul Allen is not to be confused with the Paul Allen that co-founded Microsoft, though. But I digress…

Allen’s been crunching some numbers lately, with his latest estimates indicating that the still-private Google+ social network should surpass 10 million users sometime today. But how did Allen arrive at these figures without an official user count being made available by Google?

Says Allen:

“My model is simple. I start with US Census Bureau data about surname popularity in the U.S., and compare it to the number of Google+ users with each surname. I split the U.S. users from the non-U.S. users. By using a sample of 100-200 surnames, I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the U.S. population that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio of U.S. to non-U.S. users to generate my worldwide estimates. My ratio is 1 US user for every 2.12 non-U.S. users. That ratio was calculated on July 4th through a laborious effort, and I haven’t updated it since. That is definitely a weakness in my model that I hope to address soon. The ratio will likely change over time.

Since I have been tracking this same cohort of surnames from my first day, I am able to accurately measure growth over time.

I am not claiming perfect accuracy, but I do think the model is sound. A quant has suggested a mathematical formula that I can use to calculate a range of Google users with a 99% level of accuracy, and one of my employees is working on that math now. I hope to include that in future models.”

Using the same “simple” model, Allen estimates that there were 1.7 million Google+ users on July 4. If the service hits 10 million today, that could definitely be considered “growing like crazy,” as we reported yesterday.

(MORE: Google+ Is ‘Growing Like Crazy’)

Part (most? all?) of the weed-like growth may have to do with the fact that Google has re-opened the Google+ invite system, so the days of feverishly trying to get access to the new social network seem to be behind us.

“Stay tuned for changes this week.”

What’s on the horizon for Google+ remains anyone’s guess, but we’ve been promised some new goodies this week, per Google’s SVP of Engineering, Vic Gundotra. In a Google+ post, Gundotra said, “Lots of criticism for Google+. We are listening and working to address. Stay tuned for changes this week.”

Computerworld reports some users asking for a simplified interface, a private messaging system, improved photo uploads, and the ability to nest Circles within other Circles.

Gmail Integration

Another Googler, Gmail Engineering Manager Mark Striebeck noted that the company is “working on several Gmail / Google+ integrations,” before asking for suggestions from Google+ users.

The key questions Striebeck asked:

- What email features would make it easier to interact with Google+?
- How could we integrate Google+ features into Gmail?
- How can we integrate social concepts in Gmail to make the email experience itself better?

I’m not a betting man, but I’d guess that we won’t see true Gmail integration for a while yet—it’s way too important of a feature to rush. That being said, I’m anxious to see what Google comes up with as I personally live in Gmail most of the day but have to shuttle myself over to Google+ to see what’s going on there. When I can have both in one place, it’ll be marvelous.

MORE: A Brief History of Google’s Social Networking Flops