Three cheers for Google+! According to co-founder Larry Page, Google+ now has 90 registered million users, which makes him "super excited".
Yes, 90 million is a big number, particularly given Google launched last June. But it's also becoming a distorted number that doesn't reflect Google+'s popularity as much as it has become a must-have for brands and content producers.
The answer is simple: Google's search algorithm (aka Search Plus Your World) has been tweaked to rank Google+ pages higher than other results. It means that someone's blog or a company's Website could rank below a Google+ page owned by someone else or another company.
So what does this mean for brands and content creators? They have no choice but to embrace Google+ if they want to protect their search rankings.
In other words, Google is forcing people to join Google+, which explains why there will likely be exponential growth over the next few years, which should make Larry Page even more "super excited".
As well, Google is aggressively pushing Google+ when people sign up for related services such as GMail and YouTube. The registration process for non-search services used to be straightforward, but Google has now made Google+ part of the overall process to drive even more Google+ users.
This is not to suggest Google+ isn't an interesting service that should be explored by brands and individuals. The problem facing Google is having a good social network isn't enough given Facebook's dominance and competition from other services such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
To establish a strong foothold, Google had no option but to torque the rules to meet its strategic goals. It's may not be evil but it's definitely not kosher.
More: John Battelle has two good posts on Google+. This post look at the conundrum facing brands, and how they need to embrace Google+, while this post questions whether Google+ users are really engaged with the service.
VentureBeat weighs in on how Google is skewing its Google+ numbers: http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/20/google-skews-google-plus-statistics/