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Google Plus to reach 400m members by end of 2012

The search giant's social network could be half the size of Facebook by the end of next year, according to an analyst.

Have you been on Google Plus recently? If your experience was anything like ours, you signed up, had a bit of a shufty, and haven't been back since. It's not that there's anything inherently wrong or badly designed about it, but perhaps you just didn't see the point, with Facebook and Twitter already taking up so much time.

Well it seems Google Plus isn't short of people willing to give it a try. It now has 62 million members, according to an analyst, and it's growing by 625,000 every single day, Bloomberg reports. Not only that, the analyst thinks growth will accelerate, making it reach 400 million members by the end of next year. Considering Facebook has 800 million, that's quite some growth.

Of course it's likely that Facebook will also experience growth this year, but if it didn't, Google Plus would be half the size of Mark Zuckerberg's project, which is monumental in social networking terms.

Paul Allen is the man with the stats, which he announced on Google Plus, fittingly enough. He says almost a quarter of all members signed up in December alone. "It may be the holidays, the TV commercials [in the US The Muppets are advertising the social network], the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google Plus each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks," he wrote.

If the rate of 625,000 a day continues, it's set to reach 293 million members by the end of 2012, but Allen thinks it'll increase. He points to the 700,000 Android devices activated daily as a sure sign of growth, if Google can integrate Plus into its other products and services. (Those 4 million devices activated over Christmas won't hurt either.)

Google Plus opened to the public in September. Allen's numbers don't say how many members remain active, however. Last month, some stats suggested over half the network's first 15 million members hadn't been back a week after joining, the Telegraph reports. And one of Google's own engineers may disagree with Allen about the social networking site's chances for success.

Have you been using Google Plus? Or are Facebook and Twitter already too dominant? Let us know in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page.