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The Stingy Strategy That's Making Google+ a Winner

Often when we compare Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) to other tech titans, we say it's become the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) of this, that, or the other because of its propensity to work openly with other platforms. Certainly that's true for Android, Google's open-source mobile operating system that's widely used.

Google+ is a much different story. Try to use a third-party tool such as HootSuite to post to Google's social network and you'll be locked out. Unless, that is, you want to post to a brand page.

But it's actually worse than that. Software developer Mohamed Mansour -- a self-described JavaScript ninja for (wait for it) Microsoft -- created a Chrome web extension called "Extended Share for Google Plus" that allows you to share original G+ posts to several other social networks, including Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) , LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) , Twitter, and the relatively new

Ah, irony. Google, which preaches openness, is pursuing a closed strategy when it comes to Google+. Paranoid much, Google?

Well, OK, maybe that's going a bit too far. After all, Google+ isn't so much a social network as it is a gateway to other account services. Having G+ switched on makes for a more intelligent YouTube, more comprehensive contacts, and more precise search.

And yet in releasing a new Google+ feature called Communities, in which users start up and host open or invite-only groups that live entirely on the site, the search king is seeking ever more data about interests and acquaintances. Data that Facebook already has, in spades.

Will it pay off? Much depends on how well Google monetizes the data it collects, though the odds seem to be in the search king's favor: Google+ is already growing as Facebook did as its peak if you compare counts of "active users." if you take the further step of counting actions taken using the +1 button and related services, Google+ is the fastest-growing social networking site we've seen to date, Computerworld reports.

Former Intel CEO Andy Grove once wrote how only the paranoid survive. Google is too greedy, too competitive to be satisfied with just surviving. The company wants to thrive. Thanks to fearful tactics that have kept Google+ the closed choice among a slew of open alternatives, it is.

As one of the most dominant Internet companies ever, Google has made a habit of driving strong returns for its shareholders. However, like many other web companies, it's also struggling to adapt to an increasingly mobile world. Despite gaining an enviable lead with its Android operating system, the market isn't sold. That's why it's more important than ever to understand each piece of Google's sprawling empire. In The Motley Fool's new premium research report on Google, we break down the risks and potential rewards for Google investors. Simply click here now to unlock your copy of this invaluable resource, and you'll receive a bonus year's worth of key updates and expert guidance as news continues to develop.

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