It's the hottest party invitation on the planet.
Just about everyone who likes to jump on the latest and greatest in the tech scene is getting an invite to the social network that everyone's talking about Google+.
In just the first three weeks, Google's attempt at supplanting Facebook garnered almost 20 million registered users since it launched June 28, according to web-traffic analysts comScore Inc. And this is in a closed public beta launch, meaning the only way you can register is if you get an invite from another user.
"I've never seen anything grow this quickly," comScore's Andrew Lipsman told The Wall Street Journal.
So far, early adopters like what they see.
Technology sites such as CNET so far have given Google+ a thumbs up, and Wired calls it "smooth, fast and intuitive a product that feels far more akin to the revolution that was Gmail." Technology blogger Robert Scoble says the new network is specifically for tech lovers, and not your grandmother.
"We geeks and early adopters and social-media gurus need a place to talk free of folks who think Justin Bieber is the second coming of Christ," he wrote. "That's what we have in Google+ right now. Do we really want to mess that up?"
Finally, normal everyday users seem to like it, too. An informal poll of readers on the technology website Mashable.com found nearly 48 percent of them love Google+, while 13 percent rated it as "nice but nothing groundbreaking." Some 30 percent reported they haven't used it yet; only 3.6 percent thought it was terrible.
"It's really well done," said Layton photographer and restaurant owner Jake Garn. "I've tried a lot of Google's products in the past that have fizzled out, but this has something new the way it organizes your social circles. Facebook wants to pile everybody together, and life just isn't like that."
Google+ is more like what would happen if Facebook and that other ubiquitous social network, Twitter, had a baby. Like Facebook, Google+ has a "wall," labeled a "stream," allowing users to post their day's thoughts and feelings. But as on Twitter, a friend can follow your musings without your permission.
The biggest difference that sets apart Google's new experiment in social interaction is Circles. Users can separate their followers/friends into different groups, such as co-workers, friends, family and acquaintances however, you might choose to separate the people you know in real life. Facebook also allows you to group your "friends" list, though it's more an afterthought than a feature, while Google+ is built around that idea.
"You can categorize your friends in circles and be able to screen your feeds based on what's important to you," said Pete Ashdown, founder and president of Salt Lake City-based Internet service provider Xmission, and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006. "I like it much better than Facebook for that primary reason. Being in the business circles and political circles, you gain a lot of friends who aren't associated with your other friends or family."
"Right off the bat, you can decide on who you want to share with," said Fox13 (KSTU Channel 13) reporter Ben Winslow, who uses social media daily for his job. "I use this quite a bit for work to find out what's going on and share what I'm doing at work and get feedback and get information and tips. I see the appeal of it."
The times could be ripe for an emerging alternative to Facebook, which boasts 750 million users worldwide and has become a standard tool for businesses as well as for families. Yet some Facebook users are complaining about the social network's confusing privacy controls and unwanted spam.
In a study this month of Web companies and social networks, Facebook scored last in customer satisfaction while Google was near the top, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Business Report co-produced by analytics firm ForSee Results.
But despite its criticisms, Facebook has one advantage over any other social network it's still where everyone is.
"These products are completely defined by their user base," Garn said about Google+. "I would like to use it for a while, but if it doesn't catch on, it's not a useful tool."