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Google Rumored To Be Taking Another Swing at Social

Google Rumored To Be Taking Another Swing at Social

Between Orkut, Buzz, and arguably a whole lot of other services, Google has its fingers in a lot of social media pots. What's its next social experiment? According to a rumor propagated by Digg Founder Kevin Rose, it's a Facebook competitor called "Google Me" that will launch in the near future. Google hasn't confirmed the information.

By Katherine Noyes
06/28/10 11:50 AM PT

Google is getting ready to launch a brand-new social network called "Google Me," according to a rumor circulated Saturday on Twitter by Digg Founder Kevin Rose.

"Ok, umm, huge rumor," Rose wrote in his tweet. "Google to launch facebook competitor very soon 'Google Me', very credible source."

Google did not respond by press time to TechNewsWorld's requests for confirmation and comment.

'Kevin Has Had the Midas Touch'

"Any time Kevin Rose speaks (tweets), I listen," Lon Safko, social media entrepreneur and coauthor of The Social Media Bible, told TechNewsWorld. "Kevin has had the Midas Touch on many projects and is in the know."

Of course, "the mysterious tweet is still unsubstantiated," Safko noted. "So far all of my Google contacts are not picking up their office or mobile phones.

"I suppose this adds additional circumstantial evidence to Google's charges of trying to knock off another killer social app," he added.

200 Million Users?

However, given Google's existing Orkut and Google Buzz social networking services -- and the less-than-stellar success of the latter, in particular -- there's been widespread speculation as to what form a new contender might take.

One possibility, for instance, would be that Google plans to combine the two in its new offering, as The Next Web's Brad McCarty suggests.

"Knowing that a Google account is required to use Orkut, and a Gmail account is required for Buzz, we can safely assume that we're looking at roughly 200 million users to any service that would combine the two," McCarty wrote. "200 million is already half of the 400 million population of Facebook."

'The Odds Are Stacked Against' Google

Then there's also the possibility that Google Me will be the next step in the evolution of Google Profiles, as noted by The Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker.

Given Google's lackluster success with social networking so far, however, there's also plenty of skepticism about its chances of doing better a third time.

"The odds are overwhelmingly stacked against the search engine company," wrote GigaOm's Mathew Ingram, for example. "Despite its size and market clout, Google hasn't shown that it has any real understanding of how social networking actually works, or any idea what to do with it."

'It Didn't Really Get Social Media'

Google "has increasingly tried to 'socialize' its various sites and properties," Greg Sterling, founder and principal with Sterling Market Intelligence, told TechNewsWorld.

"For quite some time it didn't really 'get' social media," Sterling noted. "Now it's trying to integrate it at every turn, it would seem."

Its most successful social media site is YouTube, he added -- "and we could debate whether that qualifies as 'social media'. After that, its efforts have met with varying degrees of success, with Buzz being something of a miscalculation."

Indeed, Google has already tried to replicate many social applications over the past several years, Safko agreed. "Fortunately for the competition, Google's generic offerings have been as tempting as a can of Kroger's string beans."

'Unlikely to Put a Dent in Facebook'

It's hard to say what form Google Me might take, Sterling said.

"It could be a successor to Orkut or some merging of Buzz and Latitude or something else -- such as an upgrade or enhancement of Google Profiles," he explained. "It's unlikely that whatever appears, however, will be a direct challenger to Facebook.

"Regardless of what Google does," he opined, "it's unlikely to put a dent in Facebook's usage."

'The Next Monster Predator'

In the meantime, "I believe that Google has replaced Microsoft as the next monster predator," Safko asserted. "Google is the next Great White that smells blood and is circling Facebook's boat to bite off a larger piece of the social media ad rev.

"If I were Mark Zuckerberg, I would take this potential threat seriously," Safko concluded. "Let's see if Google's longstanding policy ['Don't Be Evil'] ... is remembered in this ad rev feeding frenzy."


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