It's been exactly one month since Google+ made its debut. The social network was designed to be more than just Google's response to Facebook; it's "an extension of Google itself," as Google SVP Vic Gundotra told us before launch. After the failure of Google Wave and Google Buzz, Google+ is the search giant's last best chance to grab a piece of the social-networking pie.
So one month in, how's it doing?
Pretty well, by most accounts. Google+ has become the fastest-growing social network in history. Thanks to a fair number of positive reviews, it has acquired more than 20 million users - a phenomenal accomplishment by any standard.
At the same time, there are signs that Google+ is losing steam, and that it could have an early adopter problem.
When Google+ first launched, there was high demand for Google+ invites during the social network's first week of existence. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, far from shunning the rival service, quickly became Google+'s most popular user. Many said they planned to defect from Facebook in favor of Google+.
Google+ continued to gain steam andhit 10 million users sometime around July 12. Celebrities and public figures such as William Shatner, Paris Hilton and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have embraced the service, although tech celebs like Leo Laporte and Robert Scoble remain the social network's dominant figures.
Google+ had 20 million unique visitors on June 22, according to comScore.
Google+'s ascension to the upper echelons of social networking hasn't been entirely smooth. Its first major issue: poor handling of Google+ profiles for businesses and brands.
When the service first launched, many companies rushed to create profiles. But it soon emerged that Google didn't intend businesses to use the platform, and it asked companies to hold off on creating profiles.
Google suspended some business profiles and left others open. This inconsistent approach resulted in a firestorm of criticism from some quarters. The search giant has since accelerated the launch of Google+ business profiles, though this clearly should have been a priority from the start.
The search giant has also received some flak for a wave of suspensions last weekend surrounding the company's "common name" policy. It suspended profiles with uncommon names in an attempt to fight spam and fake profiles. In doing so, it suspended several legitimate accounts and pseudonyms. Google has since said it is evaluating its suspension practices.
The social network's biggest problem isn't this kind of controversy, however; it's finding ways to sustain growth. Traffic has dipped in the past week. Anecdotal evidence also suggests the big rush to join Google+ has passed. It's filled with early adopters, but still lacks the mainstream audience that keeps a social network relevant.
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