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Google+ Hits 20 Million Users. Now What?

Businesses and gamers will have to be patient, but Google acknowledges enhancements are coming for its social network.

The number of people on Google+ has passed 20 million according to ComScore, further validating Google's biggest attempt at social networking yet.

ComScore bases its estimate on a global measurement panel of 2 million users. Google hasn't confirmed the numbers, but last week, Google CEO Larry Page said the service had more than 10 million users sharing 1 billion items per day.

"I've never seen anything grow this quickly," ComScore analyst Andrew Lipsman told the Wall Street Journal.

So, now what? It's clear that Google+ isn't a flop like its immediate predecessor, Google Buzz. With a steady base of users investing time in Google+, we can start to look at where the social network will be going next:

Business and Brand Pages

To the dismay of brands and businesses who want to reach the quickly-growing Google+ audience, Google is restricting its social network to personal use and banning accounts that appear to be tied to a business.

Google promises to have a system for all businesses and brands in the coming months. "The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers," Google Group Product Manager Christian Oestlien wrote. "Doing it right is worth the wait."

Games

It's kind of an open secret that Google+ will become a place to play social games, with hints found in the service's source code and help pages.

How exactly Google+ will attack the Facebook gaming juggernaut is unclear, but Google has reportedly pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into Farmville maker Zynga, and is rumored to be creating a separate "games" stream in Google+ so your friends won't have to hear about the status of your farm unless they want to.

Integration With Other Services

Over time, Google is expected to hook its existing services into the social backbone of Google+, allowing users to share Google Docs documents, YouTube videos, and more with the circles they've created on the social network. For now, integration is limited to the notification boxes that appear atop Gmail, Maps, and other services, but over time expect Google+ tie-ins to grow deeper.

Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter as well as Today @ PCWorld for even more tech news and commentary.


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