Conflicting Reports on Google+

Is Google+ a failure or a success? It depends on who you read.

Experian Hitwise reported that Google has its third biggest week since its launch, with 6.8 million visits for the week ending Nov. 12. The biggest numbers were Google+ first week of opening to the public when it received around 15 million visits in September.

But the Los Angeles Times reported that it looked at all of Hitwise's data and found that visits dropped in 11 of its 21 weeks of Google+'s existence, and said the social network has lost about half of its users since its earlier spikes. The Times does acknowledge smaller rises in use, attributing that to Google Apps users and Google's new brand pages.

Google appears to have kick-started some modest growth with these features, but the question lingers: Will Google+ be able to grow without help from its parent company?

The Times seemed to question Hitwise's motives with, "Hitwise has tended to release its numbers after Google+ has had a good week or two." Later in the story, after a reporting error that said Google+ has 8 million less users than it actually had, the Times said, "However, creating an account does not necessarily mean a user will become a regular visitor to the site."

It's hard to decide what to believe, but we think we'll go with Hitwise's version of events. It seems as the Times had an agenda when it wrote its piece, casting aspersions on Hitwise and minimizing its own reporter errors. While Hitwise may not be as transparent as it could be, we don't think they're trying to boost Google's profile. The reality is that Google+ had a bump and is still struggling to create an online identity. Google+ is less than six months old, and it will take time for it grow and develop.

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