If estimates are correct, Google+ might be the fastest growing network in history, having already amassed 10 million users just two weeks after it was first introduced.
The numbers don't come from Google (official estimates have yet to be announced) but from Paul Allen – founder of Ancestry.com, not co-founder of Microsoft– who posted on Google+ last night the results of "surname-based analysis" which shows that "the number of Google+ users worlwide reached 7.3 million users yesterday, up from 1.7 million users on July 4th." That's a 350% increase in six days.
And the numbers are increasing at ever greater rates. Allen's latest estimates show that 2.2 million people have joined Google+ in the last 32-34 hours. "I project that Google+ will easily pass 10 million users tomorrow," he wrote.
Allen found his numbers by sampling surnames from the U.S. Census Bureau data and comparing it to surnames of Google+ users worldwide. To learn more about his research methods take a look below:
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.
The results are pretty spectacular. While the data is obviously unofficial (and should be taken with a grain of salt) they indicate that Google might be finally tackling the social networking arena.