Oh boy. "No one I know uses Google+ much, if at all." I'm getting sooo sick of this argument. Noone I know uses Twitter, but a lot of friends are active on Google+, sharing things in private. Yet I don't call Twitter a failure. It's just different groups of people that use either service, and just because you have more connections to one "side" doesn't mean the other doesn't exist...
You're confusing the cause and the effect. Google± is not being juiced up with integrations to make G+ popular, but rather those integrations are the reason for why G+ was created in the first place.
Google simply wanted a universal Google account for YouTube, Google Play, Blogger and so on. As to for why the wanted that? Well, Facebook is proving that there is value in collecting people's likes and comments, and then using those for serving ads.
On the active G+ users remark, I disagree. Every YouTube user is now a G+ user. Every GPlay user that wants to write reviews is now a G+ user.
So the point that their growth is not organic is rather moot.
I go to YouTube all the time to listen to music. Organizing playlists on YouTube requires an account (playlists which are public by default, something that really annoys me). Liking a video on YouTube requires an account. You really underestimate the number of active YouTube accounts. And even if 10% is a good estimate, given that YouTube is the de facto destination for videos, 10% is huge.
And btw, Facebook is a competitor because a great deal of YouTube traffic comes from Facebook and so many people end up liking or commenting around YouTube links on Facebook. And that's what Google is trying to prevent with Google+: lost traffic, lost opportunities.
Note, I'm not saying that what Google is doing is good for us. After all, the Internet's strength is in its decentralized aspect. All I'm saying is that, from Google's point of view, Google+ already is a success. People miss the point when they view Google+ as a failure. Larry Page once said that Google+ is now the new Google. And he wasn't joking about it.
People laughed at Android when it came out. Nobody's laughing now. I fear a Google dominated near future, which is why in the Google versus Facebook battle I actually hope Facebook wins, but I admire Google's execution.
I think the key to understanding Arrington's perspective here is to look at this sentence:
"And I certainly don’t see people giving out their Google+ names on the cable news networks and other TV shows."
My guess is that Arrington isn't interested in numbers as much as he is in what technology has more fully permeated the public consciousness. The assumption here is that mass media is still an accurate reflection of whatever's dominating the cultural mainstream... Arrington sees celebrities on TV advertising themselves via twitter handles but never a G+ account, so to him, G+ is essentially a fringe product.
I was on that plan and let it expire. My account page still displays the plan, while noting that it's unfunded and I can't use it, so it seems that you can let it lapse and re-up. I've been curious whether that will still be true come the new year.
I have been living in London since 2011, so I let me old T-Mobile plan lapse. When I came back my SIM was dead, so I bought a pay-as-you-go SIM in the store. They told me if I don't top it up every 3 months it is not guaranteed to work. However after I am typically gone for six month cycles, and the last 2 times it was still active.
I'm very keen on trying this new plan though as $3/day on top of pay as you go is not a good value on a 2 week trip. I'd be very happy to just pay $30 and get a reasonable amount of mins/texts along with great data.
The value plan math starts to make sense when you go to family plans and/or routinely need more minutes. We currently have 3 lines, two of which come with 2GB data, with 1000 shared minutes and unlimited messages. $80/month plus taxes.