I can’t decide which inflated statistic is more meaningless: that Google+ has 90 million users or that 100 million people use iCloud. What I do know is that it comes down to how you define the verb use. Here’s how I define it:
1. To put into service or apply for a purpose; employ.
2. To avail oneself of; practice.
That implies a commitment on the user’s part and a reliable satisfactory result. If merely having an account means using then I am a user of probably a hundred Web 2.0 apps that I can’t even remember. If the devil isn’t in the definition of user, it’s in the definition of active user.
Let’s get Google+ out of the way first. It is a beautifully designed platform. With no one in it. It’s like this mansion some cat built in my hometown, where there are no mansions, right before he went to jail. It’s pretty, but it’s empty. Sure, Scoble can get a zillion followers. But Scoble would have a zillion followers if he jumped off a cliff. Which he will only do if some nitwit builds a cliff jumping app and convinces Scoble that it’s the new big thing. For the rest of us, there’s simply nothing to be had at Google+. I’m pretty active on the internets, and I have been added to exactly 21 circles. And at least some of those are spammers. I had four times that many friend requests a day or two after I signed up for Facebook. Why? Because the non-geeks are on Facebook. And, I suspect, because the desire for two-way communication on Facebook is geometrically higher than on Google+. It doesn’t matter that Google+ is designed better. Unless you are a celebrity (of one sort or another) or happy to be merely a one-way consumer of content, Google+ is an empty experience.
So while there may be 90 million people with Google+ accounts, if you net out those who signed up but aren’t truly active, the broadcasters who only want another billboard to self-promote with, those who are there only to try to sell you something and the spammers/scammers, I bet the number is a small fraction of that.
Then today, the newly crowned King of my beloved says 100 million people are using iCloud. Maybe, if by use you mean signed up. But upgrading your iOS and clicking Yes on the iCloud button that gets tossed in your face does not make you a user. I guess I use iCloud to update my apps automatically and without that scourge that is iTunes. But do I really use it? Nope. For one thing, it doesn’t do what I need it to do. Apple should have nutted up and bought Dropbox, which does. For another, no sync program is going to be truly useful until and unless it supports Word documents. Even if you’re one of the two people in Enterprise lucky enough to have a Mac, literally every corporate document is created in Word. Pages? Ha! That’s funny. I love my iMac, but I still slog away on a bloated 5 year old XP box at work. With Word. Oh yeah, and Outlook. Sucks, but that’s life.
I could go on and talk about how iCloud doesn’t work (easily) with Google Calendar or Contacts, but you get the point.
So keep tossing those numbers out there guys. But those of us in the non-geek, real world know better.
And don’t even get me started on Match. It is a honking mess. The only thing keeping Match in the game is Google’s boneheaded decision to limit Google Music to 20,000 songs.
Hopefully there is a silver lining somewhere in this Cloud business. But right now, it’s so unfinished people have to inflate the numbers to make us believe it’s as good as it should be.