Yesterday, Google executive Bradley Horowitz announced that Google+ would soon soften its strict line on usernames. Unlike other networking sites, when Google+ launched last year, it did not allow members to join under any non-Latin, non-legal name. No nicknames, no Chinese characters, and certainly none of the punny play-on-word-type handles you often see in your Twitter feed.
But soon, that will change. The question is, does anyone really care?
Google+ was no doubt one of the most successful marketing stories of 2011, reaching 20 million users in just 24 days. Neither Facebook nor Twitter achieved this kind of immediate success—both took more than 1,000 days to reach that milestone. And today, analysts estimate Google+’s numbers have more than tripled.
But tens of millions of members, a quiver of colorful arrow reminders and creative commercials have not a successful Google+ made. And this is because there is a major difference in user behavior between Google+ and its main rival Facebook: 50% of Facebook users log-in every day and many of them multiple times per day. Google+ subscribers, on the other hand, tend to check-in on a weekly or monthly basis or fail to return at all after the initial sign-up.
In short, Google+ hasn’t become a daily habit for the vast majority of its users.
In all likelihood, because the ‘daily habit’ metric is really the only metric that matters when it comes to social media, we predict that Google+ as a stand-alone destination will end in 2012. Instead of being eliminated, we believe, for now, it will be integrated into Google’s existing suite of products.
Sure, the allowance of alternate names helps, but it’s too little way too late. This Google+ goose is cooked.