Larry Page boasts of Google+ growth

During the company's latest earnings call, Google's Larry Page was quick to defend his company's social networking push - Google+ - from claims that it's derivative and irrelevant.

Celebrating a revenue increase for the quarter of 33 per cent year on year and ending just shy of $10 billion, Page had a lot to celebrate. It was Google+ - his company's attempt to take on Facebook in the social networking space - that occupied much of his speech, however.

Although Google+ enjoyed massive growth at the start, it is believed that traffic is dwindling as people sign up and fail to use the service to its full potential. Worse, grumblings from Google's own staff suggest that the platform underpinning the whole endeavour isn't quite what it could be.

"Look at Google+," Page told investors and press during the call. "We had 100 features launched in 90 days - the team is really cranking. We had hangouts on the phone, hangouts on air - will.i.am did a hangout from his concert in Central Park. You can now share circles. You can search Google+. And you can play games in Google+"

It's these features - introduced at a break-neck pace - that are driving Google+'s continued growth, Page claimed. "Looking at the numbers for Google+, I was taken aback. I now want to announce that we’ve passed the 40M user mark Google+.

"People are flocking into Google+ at an incredible rate and we are just getting started," Page crowed - helpfully ignoring the fact that registered users is a very different figure to active users.

"The engagement we are seeing is phenomenal too," added Page to address that very issue. "Over 3.4 billion photos have already been uploaded in Google+. But, it’s still incredibly early days for Google+ because our goal is actually far bigger than the individual feature launches themselves.

"Our ultimate ambition is to transform the overall Google experience - making it beautifully simple, almost automagical, because we understand what you want and can deliver it instantly.

"This means baking identity and sharing into all of our products so that we build a real relationship with our users," said Page - the closest he came during the call to referencing the ongoing argument regarding the use of psuedonyms on the Google+ service. "Sharing on the web will be like sharing in real life across all your stuff. You’ll have better, more relevant search results and ads.

"Think about it this way: last quarter we’ve shipped the +, and now we’re going to ship the Google part."

Page also used the call to address the negative reaction to the closure of several long-standing APIs - like the Google Translate API - and Labs products. "To create products that really change people’s lives, that they use every day, two or three times a day, is really hard.

"So, we have to make tough decisions about what to focus on, or we end up doing things that don’t have the impact that we strive for. We’ve begun the process of shutting over 20 different products, including SideWiki, Google Pack, Google Notebook, and Fast Flip - and we’ll continue to simplify and streamline our products going forward."

Not all of Page's speech was fire-fighting and addressing recent negative publicity, however: according to Google's figures, the company's home-grown web browser, Chrome, has passed the 200 million user mark, while its Android mobile platform now boasts over 190 million activated devices across the globe.

"We’re also seeing hugely positive revenue impact from mobile," Page added, "which has grown 2.5X in the last 12 months to a run rate of over $2.5 billion." It's worth pointing out, however, that this figure includes revenue from mobile advertising and search - not just Android.

It's clear from Page's speech that Google is continuing to enjoy massive growth, and that Google+ will be a focus for the company for some time to come - unlike its previous social networking efforts, including would-be Twitter-killer Buzz and the invite-only Orkut, which were killed off shortly after launch.

Whether that's something Facebook should be worried about, however, remains to be seen.