Google obviously wants Google Plus to do very well. You can tell by how much they've leveraged their other properties to promote it, like YouTube videos, Google home page messages, rolling in Google Plus results into the standard SERPs, etc. But now they've taken the boldest step yet: tying Google Plus sign-up to new Gmail accounts. That's right, you can't get a Gmail account anymore without signing up for Google Plus.

New Gmail Customers Must Also Sign Up For Google Plus

New Gmail customers are now prompted on the second sign-up screen to create their Google Plus profile. It looks like this:

Now You Have No Choice But To Sign Up For Google Plus plus gmail 606x310

This is either the smartest move in the world, or the dumbest, and I'm honestly on the fence. On one hand, Google will get more of what we all know they value: gaudy stats. They'll soon be able to claim that Google Plus has some huge number of new signups, and they'll slap themselves on the back as they boast of membership growth.

On the other hand, skeptics and critics will have all the ammo they need to shoot holes in those gaudy numbers, because a great number of them will be inflated--many people will create Plus accounts on their way to the Gmail account they really want, but they'll never use Google Plus.

Facebook is going to have a field day making Google Plus look like a dormant community with empty user accounts. Nevermind that Facebook (and MySpace, and everyone else) is the same way--with millions of dormant users.

Google already has trouble with claims they're inflating their Google Plus numbers. Just last week they tried to claim 60% of users engage daily and 80% engage weekly. But they were so vague about what "engage" actually meant, that the tech news community started digging deeper and deeper into the bold claim. Turns out what Google really means is that 60% of Google Plus users engage daily with some kind of Google product (which could be YouTube, search, or Gmail). And that,ladies and gentlemen, is how you pull the rug out from under your own gaudy stats.

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It's been called everything from a stupid strategy to "intellectually dishonest." Either way, they're clearly trying to get people like me to blindly accept vague stats and write giant headlines proclaiming "OMG 60% Of Google Plus Users Engage Daily!!!!!"

Does Google Value Press Over Members?

What Google is really after, of course, is more than a gaudy statistic... they're after real users. At least that's what I presume. Their hope is that by forcing people to go through the setup of a Google Plus account, many will see something they like in the new social network, and might consider using it moving forward. But how many potential new customers will they drive away with the strong-arm tactics?

I just wish they could be honest about it. I just wish that while they're trying to grow the network, they weren't simultaneously trying to serve us up a false image of their current health. We all know you're a young social network. No one's expecting 60% engagement this soon. Calm down and grow slowly and surely... you'll be fine.

I happen to think Google Plus has tons of great features going for it--video features alone ought to have all video marketers and creators checking it out. But instead of letting the features sell the service (or developing the lacking features users want), Google seems more interested in growing by statistical subterfuge than by actual usefulness, and I think that's a shame.

  • x40YearOldGamer-

    I have a you tube account and everytime I sign in there it is...... switch to google+ account. for the record "Google" I don't WANT A FUCKING GOOGLE+ ACCOUNT, what I want is a gmail account, and a YouTube Account where by I am not hassled into having a Google+ Account. Do You UNDERSTAND GOOGLE!!!! Leave the social sites like facebook and twitter do their thing, while you stick with the Gmail and YouTube because thats your thing. We don't need anymore "lets jump on the band Wagon" social sites. You my dear Google have the manopoly when it comes to making brilliant "lets upload my video" sites. So leave the social side of Google+ alone and let YouTubers be YouTubers, Gmailers be Gmailers. Or you may find that alot of your accounts will disappear and some one else will just develope a simular site as YouTube without the bullshit that comes with it. Strong words I know but it has to be said as I hate things that are forced onto me. I want it to be my choice what I sign up for, not because if I just want an email account and a youtube account I then have to have a google+ account, its bullshit and you know its bullshit google.

    • ThreeCheeseFondue


      Yep, that just about sums up my own sentiments on the matter.

  • BK Alley

    Google is going to find all of their users abandoning ship. First they forced us to have + to rate apps, then you needed it to use instant upload, now you have to have + to comment on YouTube videos. If my Google stuff no longer functions without + attached, I will switch to something else and say goodbye to Google. The worst part is, Google+ STINKS. It's clunky and annoying.

  • Sproat

    I was recently forced to sign up to reply to a question comment on Youtube. I quickly deleted my Google Plus account and left them a note explaining why. Yesterday, I was going to do the review on an app in Google Playstore. It also forced me to sign up. This time, I left a more in depth reason for my account deletion. What a pain to have to delete something on a regular basis. Before any of this, I had a bad impression of Google Plus. Last year I signed up for Google plus of my own free will. I was quickly disturbed when I found my Google Maps was syncing my location for the whole world to see with my name, picture and who knows what else. I am an average person, but I have my reasons for privacy...from exes to stalkers to bored past enemies, I do not want my location out there for anyone to see without my consent. I tried to navigate the account to see how to unsync my phone from the site. I wasn't able to find it, if there even is a feature to do so, so I quickly deleted it. I have not had my location set with Google ever since. I also turned off the feature to have Google collect my history. With Google Plus storing such personal information about it's customers, it has to be the dumbest decision ever to allow such a site to automatically sync features to it. Google lost my trust because of this. I stay away from Youtube and Playstore comments and reviews because of their forcing the site on me. I trusted Google and raved about their products. They're making a huge mistake by turning loyal customers into untrusting protesters. If Google keeps this up, I will ban their products from my life and many more people will too. I can do without them if they are on the road to beat Mark Zuckerberg at killing anonymity online. When a company wants my private information, I am fine with that. When they allow the world to see it, they've crossed the line. If their site can so easily sync my information without my knowledge, any glitch in their system could cause the whole company to go crumbling with lawsuits.

  • GTFOBigGovt

    Outrageous and obnoxious. Moreover, I found out by being thrown into the "home screen" wherein I was viewing a giant picture of a dead dog and a snake that killed it that somehow "google plus" thought I'd enjoy.. Thanks idiots.

  • AllenChicago

    I just attempted to write a positive Product Review for the YELP Android application on my smart phone, but Google wouldn't allow me to do so unless I created a Google Plus account! So, in essence, Google is stabbing their Android vendors in the back by limiting the number of reviews they'll receive. I'm not on "the fence" about this strong-arm tactic at all. It's wrong and I WILL NOT register for a Google Plus account! The only question is, how far will Google go to coerce it's Gmail, Android, GoogleDrive, and YouTube customers? In a way, I feel trapped because I use all 4 of these services. I'm not angry yet, but just think...Today, it's Google Plus.. what will they attempt to force us to do next, if they "win" this round? Google Execs make up names for their most recent products while inebriated at a party? Android's "Google Store" was replaced by "Google Play". You'd never think that a storefront would be called "Play". Until reading this article, I didn't know what "Google Plus" was. I had assumed it was some sort of purchasable upgrade. Now that I know, chalk up another non-descriptive name from the minds at Google. Personally, I think that unless Google replaces it's top leadership with more "real world" types, the company will ultimately crash and burn.
    -Allen in Chicagoland

  • Full Serve Web, Inc

    You can actually create the account and then delete your Google+ account and your Google profile afterwards and just have the gmail account - I just did. I agree with you, it's annoying that they are forcing you to create the Google+ account first. Or you can apparently sign up using the old Google gmail sign up page, which is still active.