Vic Gundotra Talks Google+ At SXSW, Draws Some Criticism

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Vic Gundotra, Google's Senior Vice President, Engineering, talked about Google+ at SXSW in a conversation with Guy Kawasaki, now immortalized in a hip hop song.

Much of the conversation was a rehash of things we already knew about - Google's new privacy policy, Google+ growth, etc. However, Gundotra did shed a little light on what many already suspected. Google's not counting Google+ users simply as just those who are spending a lot of time using Google+ itself. It counts users who sign into Google+, and use another Google product within a month. Presumably, this includes Gmail, YouTube, a signed in Google search (complete with Search Plus Your World), Google Reader, etc. Under this philosophy, he said Google+ has 100 million "30-day active" users.

It's not hard to see why people would criticize Google's user counts for Google+, because the easy thing to do is compare it to Facebook and its 800 million+ users, but it actually makes sense if you look at Google's strategy, which includes the integration of Google+ into its various products and the consolidation of privacy policies. Google has had the "Google+ is Google" mentality from the start. Google+ was always described as a "social layer" as much as people want to compare to Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Like Gundotra said at SXSW, it's more like comparing it just to people looking at Facebook's news feed or "liking" content". Google - the Google account - is what it's all about. Google's "features" are spread out across products, though they're working to tie them more together. Facebook has Facebook videos. It's just part of Facebook. Google has YouTube. Likewise, photos are just part of Facebook. Google has Picasa web albums (and Google+ photos together). And so on.

Kawasaki asked him why Google+ still feels like a ghost town, and Gundotra is quoted as saying, “Make sure you’re using it correctly.”

It's worth noting that Kawasaki was hyping up Google+ as much as anybody at BlogWorld in November. “I think Google+ is to Facebook what Mac is to Windows. Think about that for a second," he said at the time.

Gundotra also said he wants to make sure the developer environment for Google+ is just right before opening it up. CNN quotes him: "I'm going to release that (programming interface) when I know we're not going to screw over developers. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. Sometimes that means restraint."

Here's what some people are saying on Google+ itself:

Thom Kennon says, "Gundotra sez G+ not dead yet 50mil daily users yet still, 4 me, last 2+ weeks utterly crickets. Work w/ me people..."

Kosso K writes:

In order to not make a mistake, +Vic Gundotra is deciding to do nothing at all.

Back in October at the web20summit, he said they want to be "cautious" and they don't want to make the same "mistakes that others have made" where they had to offend and upset developers by having to roll back access to certain things over time.

Where I come from, that's gutless behaviour. Grow some balls.

You won't learn a thing by doing nothing and making no mistakes.
It's pathetic.

Kam Rafique writes:

"Make sure you are using it correctly" says Vic Gundotra about Google+ to an audience hosted by Guy Kawasaki.

William Edward Deming taught the Japanese about design in the 50's and one of his 14 points was that to reduce defects (errors) in manufacturing, it is not the fault of the user but the fault of the process.

Google+ should not blame the users for mistakes.

#sxsw #google+ #ghosttown

Amit Agarwal says:

+Vic Gundotra says that +Google+ doesn't have an API yet as stories from third-party apps could "overwhelm" your stream. I will probably use Google Plus more if they made it easy for publishers to cross-publish stuff. Let the users decide.

Vincent Leeuw says:

This is pretty much a problem for most of my non-G+ friends as well. Some are actually interested in +Google+ yet without any way to easily share readily available data it becomes rather annoying.

Lead image courtesy: Hitomi Kumasaka via Google+

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.