Google+ hits 40 million users

Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page says that its online social networking challenge to Facebook is growing fast and has topped 40 million users.

"People are flocking to Google+ at an incredible rate and we are just getting started," Page said during an earnings conference call.

He added that billions of digital photos are shared at Google+.

Page said social features highlighted at Google+ will be "baked in" to the Internet star's other online offerings.

"Last quarter we shipped 'plus' and now we are going to ship the Google part," Page said of weaving social and sharing features throughout the firm's platform.

"We are still at the very early stages of what technology can deliver," he continued. "These tools we use online will look very different in five years time and we are building these tools into Google-plus."

The internet giant on September 20 opened google.com/+ to the public as it ramped up its challenge to leading social network Facebook.

The move came with an array of improvements Google to the social network it launched in an invitation-only test format on June 28.

Enhancements to Google+ included letting members take part in video-chat "Hangouts" using camera-enabled smartphones or tablet computers, or broadcast video presentations to groups of watchers using "Hangouts On Air."

Famous figures who have taken part in Google+ hangouts in past weeks include the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu, the retired archbishop of Cape Town, who is also a renowned human rights activist.

- AFP

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