Google+, 189 Million Users and Counting

see Google+ Usage

I read an article stating the above link showed 186 million. When I clicked it two days later, I get 189 million, one million more per day. If the lights dim, we’ll know why.

Imagine trying to keep ahead of growth like that… Fortunately for Google they use FLOSS and the incremental costs do not include licensing fees going to M$ per server. There’s still hardware, storage, RAM and bandwidth, though but it’s probably costing Google several times less per client than using that other OS.

At this rate, M$, FaceBook and others will not be “all-in” for the cloud with no competition.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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22 Responses to Google+, 189 Million Users and Counting

  1. Dr Loser says:


    As a matter of fact, when I quoted that particular Big-O, I was uncomfortably aware that I was doing an awful lot of hand-waving.

    Metcalfe’s Law (which like almost any other “law” in the field of computers, barring possibly Greenspun, is no such thing) is actually O(n²), which is probably more the sort of function that you would find appealing.

    I have always thought that this is somewhat simplistic (it started off in the abstract field of telecoms planning, after all), and ignores several real-world features, which I will lump under the category of “friction.”

    First of all, there’s an obvious limitation on the level of the individual. If every bit of this was replaced with an e-mail, say (I’m not suggesting this is possible; I’m merely simplifying the model for purposes of illustration), then I would be happy to get ten e-mails a day. On an n-log-n basis, I would probably be happy to get fifteen e-mails a day next year, seventeen e-mails a day the year after that, and so on.

    I would be very unhappy to get a hundred e-mails a day. Ever.

    Secondly there is also the presumption of decay, which is rarely built into any model of computer usage. (Arguably you are yourself an early proponent of this, given your mission to chart the decline of Microsoft.)

    Essentially, if you take a historical perspective on these things, then today’s Facebook is yesterday’s Yahoo (the original one that dealt with listing sites by popularity; not the rancid current evolution).

    Put simply, there’s an awful lot of entropy in the system: everything has a swift tendency to turn into pig-iron. Extracting useful information from pig-iron is next to impossible. See the Wayback machine, etc, etc.

    Not strictly to do with either Linux or Microsoft, but I thought you’d be interested in an alternative vector of conversation.

  2. Dr Loser wrote, “I would expect O(log n)”, for the growth rates of effort required for social networks.

    That’s the thing about social networks. They are a living thing and quite random. It would depend on the particular network and the particular set of people using it how the loads grow. All I know is that the “.com”-like growth that everyone hoped for in the first decade of the Internet is now upon us. There seem to be few limitations except the hours in a day and the rate at which servers can be installed. Facebook, in particular seems to be part of the vocabulary of ordinary people I know and it seems to meet a need to communicate similar to the telephone in the last century. It’s an indication that people love to produce content as well as to consume it, quite a change from reading newspapers or watching movies. A decade ago it was novel for people to have a web site and offer content. Now people expect/want a “following”.

    I remember teaching young people during the “.com” era. The numbers showed the potential but the mechanism for catching the wave was undefined. Now, social networks seem to let the users do all the catching and making waves.

  3. Dr Loser says:

    Not to get too mathematical on your ass, Robert, but about these “incremental costs?”

    An awful lot of computer algorithms (quicksort, map-reduce, tries, etc) depend fundamentally on Big-O analysis.

    Do you have a link that details the concomitant expenditure for growth in a social network? I’d love to see it. I don’t think it’s linear, as you suggest.

    Rather, I would expect O(log n). And that’s just for the linkages; not for the processing.

  4. Ray says:

    Wait, doesn’t Facebook also uses open source software and hardware for it’s servers via opencompute?

  5. oiaohm says:

    Dr Loser Everywhere is a broad term. You don’t find fridges and washing machines running Windows. Yes do you finding fridges and washing machines running Linux. Yes control system of washing machine and the washing machine can sms or email you when the wash is done.

    Yes there are even Linux controlled robot vacuum cleaners.

    Desktop is kinda stuck to a desk. A Linux machine might be driving itself all over your house. So what one is everywhere? Yes the Linux is just that robot vacuum on the floor lots of adsl modems set top boxes…… Yes kinda everywhere. Just stuff people like you Dr Loser miss seeing.

  6. kozmcrae says:

    “I merely pointed out a few holes in the “immanence” thing (you might want to look the word up), It’s everywhere, OK? I don’t have a beef with that.”

    I did look it up.

    “Ergo I submit that this “everywhere,” impressive though it is, is a limited sort of “everywhere.””

    If it is a limited sort of everywhere, then what’s left, that is the proprietary presence, is also a limited sort of everywhere.

    If the black-out protests against SOPA have shown us anything, it has shown that we are far more dependent on the Internet than we thought we were.

    You can have chunks of proprietary islands but without the Internet they would be cut off from the rest of the world.

    If it’s a limited sort of everywhere it’s an essential sort of everywhere and no proprietary interest could have created it in its present form.

  7. Dr Loser says:

    It isn’t “clearly weak,” Robert; it’s a restatement of my original position that (if FLOSS is everywhere) it should therefore underpin the OS run on the vast majority of desktops worldwide.

    Which it clearly does not.

    You do understand this concept of rational argument, don’t you? It involves making a proposition (“FLOSS is everywhere”), waiting for a counter-argument, and then demonstrating the logical holes in the counter-argument.

    Occasionally, if the respondent is Koz^W particularly dense, it may be necessary to restate the argument.

    It is not, however, an acceptable rebuttal to throw in some nonsensical diversion along the lines of:

    “That’s clearly weak. Everyone knows there are a lot of computer systems using FLOSS applications and services.”

    Indeed there are. Indeed, I covered this (in a long post, any single bit of which may be rebutted by facts rather than plain silly off-the-top-of-my-head stuff).

    Yet, strangely enough, the many and various Windows systems out there are not. (Which was my argument against the notion of “everywhere.”)

    As a matter of fact, there are billions of devices (small thingies or otherwise) which are equally free of the noxious FLOSS deviancy. Which was also my point.

    Now, you can challenge my numbers, or my assertions. But just repeating the “immanence” thing is, if I may say so, not merely an obviously losing argument, but somewhat personally demeaning.

    Can’t you come up with anything better?

  8. Dr Loser wrote, “There are a rather large number of computer systems out there (Windows) which have nothing at all to do with FLOSS. “

    That’s clearly weak. Everyone knows there are a lot of computer systems using FLOSS applications and services. It’s rather meaningless to state the contrary which also happens to be true. We might as well declare the sky to be blue on a clear day in sunshine.

    Between the browser which is often FLOSS and the server which is often FLOSS there are all kinds of boxes that also run FLOSS. Then there are compilers and languages which may be FLOSS.

  9. Dr Loser says:


    “Dr. Loser, you sure threw a lot of words at my simple statement that FLOSS is everywhere and tried to explain away FLOSS by saying if it isn’t all there then it isn’t there at all.”

    No, I said no such thing. I merely pointed out a few holes in the “immanence” thing (you might want to look the word up), It’s everywhere, OK? I don’t have a beef with that.

    Whether it does an optimal job, of course, is a question we can leave to a future discussion.

    And, you know, I can’t even be bothered to quote you on the “underpinning Windows” thing, because you didn’t even bother to follow my point, let alone contradict it.

    There are a rather large number of computer systems out there (Windows) which have nothing at all to do with FLOSS. They are not “underpinned” by FLOSS in any way, shape or form.

    Ergo I submit that this “everywhere,” impressive though it is, is a limited sort of “everywhere.”

  10. Kozmcrae says:

    “Koz, Linux is really secure. Really:”

    And birds have wings.

  11. Phenom says:

    Koz, Linux is really secure. Really:

    This is absolutely secure.

  12. oldman says:

    “These observations are indisputable.”

    And yet the desktop market will continue to be windows/OS X oriented. That too is indisputable, but you will dispute it as well.

    And so it goes.

  13. Kozmcrae says:

    Dr. Loser, you sure threw a lot of words at my simple statement that FLOSS is everywhere and tried to explain away FLOSS by saying if it isn’t all there then it isn’t there at all.

    FLOSS is everywhere and is only increasing its presence.

    “Well, FLOSS isn’t precisely immanent; otherwise it would underpin Windows, wouldn’t it?”

    No. FLOSS covers a much wider spectrum than just the desktop (this you know). To underpin Windows GNU/Linux in the form of one or more distros would need to take a higher percentage of the desktop.

    “Some don’t even have an OS at all; others rely on real-time OSes (and Linux is not and never will be a hard real time OS)”

    Real-time like the London Stock Exchange? There are proprietary OSs that are specialized but Linux can be made to work in almost any situation that requires a small, light OS. It beats paying a license fee for each microwave oven you sell.

    Windows could never replace Linux in the variety of installations it fills. It’s too clunky. Microsoft adds layers to add functionality, Linux strips out unnecessary modules and adds any specialized code that’s needed. The OSs are based on totally different design criteria. You know all that but I have to bring it up, otherwise you play dumb.

    Linux is versatile, robust and it’s free. It will only become the OS of choice in more areas. Microsoft Windows has only proven to be a security risk and shows no sign of changing (for the better). It’s bloated and unsuited for an increasing number of today’s devices. These observations are indisputable. But you will dispute them anyway.

  14. Dr Loser says:

    Once again, your maths fail you miserably, Robert. Hardly an infinite revenue stream.

    Ignoring the heat death of the universe (simply to make things clearer), any revenue stream is bounded by the slice of the cake it can take each year. Since the cake in question is undoubtedly finite, it follows that the sum of all cakes over a finite number of years is also finite. A rolling percentage of that sum, even ignoring the fact that the function in question is probably a power series obeying Cauchy, is therefore finite.

    And what do I think about what went into those machines? Well, what I think is that it’s probably the same thing as went into them last year and the year before that and the year before that. I didn’t care then, I don’t care now, and frankly the only reason that I would object to Linux having a 100% desktop share is that (by definition) I would be forced to use the broken thing.

    What happened to that 40% dark matter thingie, then? Are we admitting that we might have made a slight technical miscalculation?

  15. I could not care less about M$’s sales of game consoles. The client division is my canary. Right now it’s singing the demise of M$. Many of the other segments depend on M$ getting the client OS in the front door. Every bit of decline in share of the client today is an infinite revenue stream lost in the future.

    Just imagine what went onto those machines, all 6% of 90 million PCs (= 5.4 million machines). What do you think? FreeBSD or GNU/Linux?

  16. Dr Loser says:


    Posted here to make sure that you don’t bury it in the backlog:

    M$ Earnings Release FY12 Q2.

    Earnings are up 5% compared to FY11 Q2.

    Operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share are, basically, flat.

    I am admittedly totally ignorant on all of this, but if you take diluted earnings per share at $0.78 and you assume that you bought M$ shares at the 52-weekly high of $29.46, you come up with a percentage earnings per share of … damn, this pesky Linux calculator keeps freezing up on me. I knew I should have stuck with trusty crusty tech like X-Windows … er:


    Normally I would defer to your magnificent statistical prowess; but in this particular case you quoted 1.5% at us (without ever defining which quantity it was supposed to measure against).

    Oh well, Robert: there’s always next year.

  17. Hanson says:

    FLOSS = Free and Libre Open Source Software

    If companies build their software on FLOSS, to be precise: software not meant to be released to the public, it’s neither free nor libre.

    If you’re so sure of your precious ideological constructions, then why don’t you sue Google? You use their software through their website. You always tell me that by that I use Linux. Well, now I tell you that by using Google Search you are using GPL-licensed software. Is it fair that you don’t get to see the source code? Industrial Light and Magic uses lots of FLOSS. Is it fair that they hold back their source code while raking in money from big visual effects movies?

    What do you gain when this or that capitalist company uses FLOSS? In most cases: not one damn thing.

    FLOSS is the greatest fail in the universe, unable to realize that corporations are stringing it along.

    I see a glorious new world, full of shiny smart thingies powered by FLOSS — and controlled by corporations in every aspect. An exciting vision!

  18. Dr Loser says:


    Well, FLOSS isn’t precisely immanent; otherwise it would underpin Windows, wouldn’t it? And that would never do. It certainly is all over the place, though.

    I therefore accept your rather poorly phrased assertion that “FLOSS is everywhere.” How’s that for giving in to a superior argument?

    Now, this everywhere thing: I think it cuts to the quick when considering Robert’s usual assertions of exponential growth. I’m going to pick a few sub-sets of “everywhere,” all of which have been highlit by FOSS adocates in the past, and ask you to tell me why it matters.

    (1) Supercomputers. A Loon favourite. I think around 99% of these rely on Linux as their OS.

    Exciting, isn’t it? Have you ever been near s supercomputer? Have you used one? More to the point, if you wanted to build one yourself (out of Robert’s beloved “small thingies,” in parallel a la transputers of yore), would you be able to access a suitable version of Linux? No, you wouldn’t.

    (2) Toasters (or other domestic devices). Purposefully picked at the other end of the scale. Now, coming as I do from Birmingham, I am very much in favour of micro-controllers; also of well-toasted bread. I’ll even grant you that you can probably access the source code of this, or any other, household device.

    Have you done so? No. What would be the point? It’s used as a platform for FMCGs, and you’re not going to be able to compete on terms of marketing or production engineering or frankly anything at all. The question of the OS is therefore moot.

    But what’s that, you say? “If there’s a bug in the toaster software, I can fix it?”

    Not on an embedded device you can’t, mate.

    (3) Routers, traffic lights, various bits of equipment in utilities.

    Actually rather less Linuxy than typically asserted. Quite often a Z80 (possibly coupled with the venerable Z8530) will do the trick. Some don’t even have an OS at all; others rely on real-time OSes (and Linux is not and never will be a hard real time OS). Frankly the main point to an OS for a lot of this stuff is to deal with the TCP/IP stack (and also the power supply, which appears to have escaped Linux on the Desktop until recently.)

    Push the stack down into the chip itself, as I’m sure will happen, and you get back to the situation where you don’t really need an OS. In the mean time, what precise good does it do you to know that the OS (in a relatively small number of cases) is FOSS? None whatsoever: see (2). In fact you’ll be lucky in a lot of cases if you can even detect that it’s FOSS. It might as well be Magic Pixie Dust for all the evidence you have.

    (4) The Cloud: I don’t think Robert quite appreciates the economies of scale here, even though he bangs on about them. The cost of the OS is a fractional part of the Cloud (beaten hollow by air conditioning, I would think, and I already know what’s coming off the back of this). As a user of the Cloud, you simply don’t care (and the attempt to update the GPL license to the Cloud era is simply an embarrassing admission that, well, it’s never going to be Free and Open after all). As one of the small group of large companies that are going to dominate the Cloud, you probably don’t care much either. Who knows? It could end up being Linux. Frankly, it could even be invented from scratch (say, on a parallelizable microkernel basis, which would make a lot of sense).

    Either way, you ain’t gonna see the codez, it ain’t gonna matter, and the only possible benefit will accrue to the share-holders of large corporations. I fail to see the idealism in all this.

    In other words, F(L)OSS might very well be everywhere. But who cares? I certainly don’t. It doesn’t even affect my livelihood, since my last job was an embedded one and I will work for anybody who needs my peculiar talents … users of the Linux kernel being an obvious potential suitor.

    Yes, FOSS is everywhere, Koz. Get over the triumphalism and come up with an argument, for once.

  19. Hanson says:

    Hey, you shouldn’t be worried about Google+. Megaupload just went bye-bye. A site very popular with the crowd whose goal in life it is to never pay for anything digital. Wait… that’s also the goal in life of Linux users. What an amazing coincidence! Yes, yes, according to Stallman everything wants to be free.

  20. Kozmcrae says:

    “At what point, Robert, will you admit that all this “FOSS” stuff that you claim is the foundation of Google is, um, not actually free and open at all?”

    Dr. Loser can’t deny that FLOSS is everywhere so he tries the next best thing, deny that it’s really FLOSS. This is the same flawed, no, make that deranged, argument that Android isn’t Linux. So the same logic applies: Take out all that is FLOSS and run what is left, that is if it runs at all.

    FLOSS is everywhere Dr. Loser. It just doesn’t have to be all FLOSS all the time. Most installations, I would guess, use a mixture of proprietary and open source. You are trying to slip in the flawed logic that if it isn’t all FLOSS it doesn’t count as any FLOSS.

    The Cult of Microsoft is getting more outrageous trying to explain away FLOSS as the foundation of their arguments crumble. They never were any good to begin with.

  21. Dr Loser says:

    At what point, Robert, will you admit that all this “FOSS” stuff that you claim is the foundation of Google is, um, not actually free and open at all?

    How many gApps do you need to (not) see before you recognize that Google doesn’t actually give a toss about your precious freedoms?

    I mean, this genuinely is a sort of religious mania, isn’t it? As long as huge companies chant the modern Torah at appropriate moments, it doesn’t actually matter what they do. Words are sufficient and actions are irrelevant.

    (An interesting parallel here is “Salvation through faith” and “Salvation through works,” a noted dichotomy in the world of the Early Reformation. It would appear that you fall firmly in the “Salvation through faith” camp, y’ole Lutheran, you.

    (The only problem with this is that most people don’t give a toss about ‘faith’ and concentrate solely on ‘works’ … as in, Linux doesn’t, from their point of view.)

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