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Google+ invites forced to shut down

A screen shot of the Google+ social network. Google unveiled the service in a fresh attempt to compete with Facebook. A screen shot of the Google+ social network. Google unveiled the service in a fresh attempt to compete with Facebook. (Google Inc. via Reuters)
By Bloomberg News
July 1, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc., the world’s biggest search engine, shut down the invite mechanism for its new Google+ social network after “insane demand,’’ said Vic Gundotra, head of social efforts, on the company’s website.

Google unveiled the service June 28 in a fresh attempt to compete with Facebook Inc.’s site. Google+ looks similar to Facebook, with streaming updates of photos, messages, comments, and other content from selected groups of friends.

Chief executive Larry Page is starting Google+ after missteps last year with the introduction of a social component to Gmail called Buzz. Google needs to fix the invitation glitch quickly if it wants to effectively challenge Facebook, the world’s largest social network, said Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

The social network will initially be available to only a limited set of users, Google said when it introduced the new feature. The company said it has been testing Google+ internally and is now ready to gradually open up what it calls a “project’’ to the general public.

As Internet users spend more time on social networking sites, Google is releasing new social features to lure Web surfers to its own services and expand advertising sales. Facebook captured 13 percent of total hours people spent online in May, while Google got 10 percent, according to ComScore Inc.