Blog Post

Google+ expands sign-in tool to thousands more sites

Google(s goog) has announced a new partnership with two companies that provide social sign-in tools to a wide range of major websites and apps, including Nike, NPR and Fox. The move is designed to make Google+ become a more commonly used registration tool alongside Facebook Connect and Twitter, and might even inject some life into the search giant’s social network.

In a Tuesday blog post, Google announced that infrastructure platforms Janrain and Gigya will start including Google+ in their product suites; the tools provide a way for publishers to let visitors log-in through existing social media passwords rather than creating a new account from scratch.  The news comes a month after the company rolled out the Google+ log-in tool with a handful of partners, including The Fancy and Open Table.

Seth Sternberg, who is director of product management at Google+, said in a phone interview that the log-in option provides Google+ users with a secure way to log in to websites without having to worry that the sign-on will lead to over-sharing and spamming friends on the social network (this has been a problem for Facebook in the past). Sternberg also touted the log-in tool as a way for publishers to garner data about Google+ users and to take advantage of the “over-the-air” app feature for Android — a tool that allows publishers to beam their app directly to a mobile device.

The widespread availability of Google+ as a log-in tool may prove convient for some users, but it also raises questions about Google’s overall strategic goal for its social network, which has in the past been derided as a ghost town (the characterization may be fair — I visited for the first time in a while yesterday and discovered none of my friends had posted there in months). While the company boasted in December that it had 135 million active users, it’s far from certain that most of those are treating Google+ as a full-fledged social network — as my colleague Janko Roettgers pointed out, many of them may just be dropping by to use the video chat service

Increasingly, it’s coming to seem that Google+ may never become a popular social network in its own right, but that it’s most valuable role may be as as a piece of backend infrastructure for Google’s other properties — search, YouTube and so on. In the meantime, tools like the log-in function will serve to drain at least some data and users away from rivals Facebook(s fb) and Twitter. And on this front, the company may be having some success. According to Gigya CEO Patrick Salyer, Google is the second most popular social sign-in option after Facebook.

6 Responses to “Google+ expands sign-in tool to thousands more sites”

  1. Huge generalisation, but I find that G+ is often popular with a slightly older demographic, people who may not have grown up with social networking, but have taken their hand to it later on.

    And I have no doubt there are buzzing pockets of activity on G+, but you’re kidding yourself if you think the audience and engagement is comparable to FB and Twitter. G+ is a second-tier social network, at best.

  2. Finally. I can’t comment on many sites because … I am not on nor will be on Faceplant.

    “I visited for the first time in a while yesterday and discovered none of my friends had posted there in months”. Luckily I have no friends … according to my wife.

    “may never become a popular social network in its own right”. It is popular. Just not with people who take pictures of their food or babies or drunk parties. Or with people who like to tweet “I just brushed my teeth”.

  3. Brian M. Workman

    How to fail at Google plus

    Create account
    Post nothing
    Engage in nothing
    Come back months later and see nothing new

    Why would anybody elect to interact with you?

  4. Pretty sure the author should actually learn how to use Google+ before offering up snarky comments in his articles. G+ is far from a ghost town…

  5. Paolo Amoroso

    I joined Google+ the first day of the invitation-only trial period, and have been actively using it daily since then. To me it always looked like a beehive of activity.

    Which characterization of Google+ is fairer? Your data point or mine?

  6. Enigmaci

    I haven’t posted anything public in months, but I have been very active in various communities. None of my “friends” would see those posts unless they are members of those communities. Just putting your evaluation in perspective.