Google has acquired startup company Fridge to enhance Google+’s capabilities for group sharing.
Fridge was designed to simplify the ad-hoc creation of online groups where members can share posts, photos, videos, discussions and text messages, both on desktop computers and mobile devices.
“We strongly believe in the group social experience and couldn’t think of a better place to realize our vision of bringing the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web as part of the Google+ Project,” reads a Fridge blog post.
A key Google+ component is its Circles feature, which is designed to let members easily create multiple sets of friends and contacts — like family, work, college buddies or softball league teammates — in order to share different content with each one, as opposed to sharing everything with everyone.
For current Fridge users, the news isn’t good because the service will shut down. New content can no longer be posted to Fridge, and users will have until August 20 at 6 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time to download their content they have stored on the site. After that, all user data will be deleted.
Google+, launched in late June, is in a beta version and available only to people that members invite. It is estimated that between 15 million and 20 million people have accounts.
While that is only a small fraction of the 750 million members on Facebook, Google believes that its site will give Facebook a run for its money. For example, Google maintains that Google+’s mechanism for sharing and for privacy is much simpler and effective than Facebook’s.
For the week ending July 16, Google+ ranked in the 42nd spot among social networking sites and in the 638th spot among all sites in the U.S. in terms of visits, Hitwise said on Wednesday.
However, it is growing fast, despite being available by invitation only. For example, it ranked in the 2,404th spot among all sites in the U.S. in the week ending July 9, Hitwise said.
Meanwhile, visits to Google+ topped 1.8 million the week ending July 16, up 283 percent compared with the prior week and up 821 percent compared with the week ending July 2, according to Hitwise.