Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) doesn't always release Google+ information with its quarterly financials, so it's encouraging to see new data that the tech giant has posted on its official blog. As we've covered in the past, Google's entry into the social networking space (see how a key competitor could make billions) has fared well since its launch, and the blog post sheds some light on the success.
In the 17 months since its official launch, Google+ has become "the fastest-growing network thingy ever," according to the blog post. More specifically, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) says that over "500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1'ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends in Search...), and 135 million are active in just the stream," adding that it believes the size of its user base is because it is "building tools that build real relationships."
In addition to this announcement, Google also shared that it was adding two new features: topically organized "Communities," and a Snapseed app for the Android operating system. Interestingly, Snapseed is a photo altering/sharing app that is in direct competition with Instagram, and like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) did earlier this year, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) acquired its developer Nik Software. Even more intriguingly, Snapseed was Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s "iPad App of the Year" last year, while Instagram was named the "iPhone App of the Year."
At the time of the September acquisition, Snapseed had 9 million users, which was close to only one-tenth the size of Instagram at that time. Only time will tell exactly how Google plans to monetize its growing social network, but theoretically speaking, a greater level of engagement on Google+ can boost the prosperity of its ad revenue. While reports vary, it appears that this is the area that Google still needs to work on, as its average user spends just three to four minutes on the site per month. Facebook, meanwhile, has a monthly time on site average of between six and seven hours, according to the Wall Street Journal.
From an investing standpoint, it appears that both companies are moderately attractive. Looking at Google, which is expected to grow its EPS by the mid-teens each year over the next half-decade, shares trade at a decent 15 times forward EPS, and its trailing earnings valuation is below its five-year historical average by close to 30 percentage points. In comparison to Apple (-43%), this discount isn't quite as low, but still important nonetheless.