Traffic to the new social network has slowed, but a pattern seen in finance, politics, and medicine gives the Google site reason to hope
Tech blogs are buzzing today about a Bloomberg report showing a small decline in Google+'s traffic last week, with 3 percent fewer visitors and average time spent on the site down by 10 percent.
We should be cautious in thinking that this is the beginning of the end for Google+. There are essentially two paths Google+ could be on: a downward spin leading to Google's dustbin or a happier trajectory called the j-curve. Based on the most recent numbers, it's impossible to know which is the case.
The j-curve is exactly what it sounds like -- a curve shaped like a "j," meaning that it starts moderately high, drops down into a valley, and eventually recovers and surpasses its initial high point.
If Google+ does find itself on a j-curve, it's not alone. The j-curve appears in several disparate areas: politics, business, and medicine, for examples. In the case of governments, a 2006 book by Ian Bremmer, The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall, argues that the most repressive nations are moderately stable, and the most open are extremely stable. But at some point near absolute repression but with more openness than, say, present-day North Korea, there is a volatile no-man's-land. (This is not universally accepted: Some political scientists point to countries such as modern-day Russia as exceptions, where a modicum of openness has enabled repression to persist, they argue.)