Google CEO Larry Page, in the company's earnings call today, spent several minutes talking about the company's social product, Google+. He called it the "social spine," reminding listeners that the service isn't just a destination, but a unifying social framework for all Google's products.Page reiterated the talking point that "170 million users have upgraded to Google+," but did not divulge numbers on users of the social service as a standalone product. Rather, he said, "the social destination is growing as a new product with healthy growth." He said that Google is gratified that some Google+ users have over a million followers; Page said that he himself has over 2 million.
After the Google+ upgrade yesterday, Google's Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz talked on CNET Reporters' Roundtable about the engagement on the service. Page didn't add substantially to their talking points, although the recognition that the Google+ destination is a separate, growing product was welcome to hear, since chances are that's how most users think of it.
Responding to a question on the call, "How important is the social signal, two or three years out?" Page said that social data can clearly improve search results. "For the first time, the search box isn't just searching for a string of letters." He used the example of searching on a friend who has a common name; thanks to social signals, Google can return the right "Ben Smith," and not just give results based on PageRank.
"We have a lot of these signals already, and we can always use better relevance," Page said. "I think search is going to change a lot and it will include a bunch of those signals and other things as well."
Here's the Roundtable from yesterday: