Google has tried twice unsuccessfully to create a better mousetrap than Facebook. Both Orkut's launch in 2004 and Buzz's roll-out just last year were valiant attempts - but no bull's eye for the Grand Daddy of Search.
The ubiquitous Google never stops trying to be everything to everybody- whether's it's good at something or not. With over 270+ products (at last count) in its Google toolbox - from 'Google Goggles' to 'Living Stories, to hardware that includes Google TV and Droid smartphones, to real-time search, to office enterprise systems, to artificial intelligence, to WiFi and even the development of their own energy plant, the company doesn't seem to stop reinventing itself.
However the one arena that seems to keep eluding Team Brin-Page is developing their own version of Facebook.
This month, rumors are circulating once again that Google is going to make yet another attempt at creating a social network, and if the tweet of Digg's Founder Kevin Rose is to be trusted, the name of that enterprise would be "Google Me."
With Buzz having stumbled coming out the gate earlier this year due to privacy issues- and while Orkut even with their 100 million users has never taken off - it's curious why Google would go back to 'square one' and start afresh with yet another 'go' at competing with Facebook?
Perhaps, its because 90 percent of all the content published on Buzz was just an automated rehash and RSS feed from existing Twitter accounts - or maybe it's because Orkut's lack of 'sex appeal' - but to develop something from scratch must be eating up a lot of Google's resources. Not that they don't have them to spare.
Some reports feel the search for a 'better' social network than Facebook is based on a vendetta the search engine giant has with the Zuckerberg's latest attempts to convert Facebook into its own search engine. In an All Facebook report, it was noted that Facebook's Open Graph represents the start of Facebook's 'social semantic search engine.'
This relatively new process basically ranks all the "like" clicks from Facebook users into a matrix of preferences that will allow the network to compete head-on with Google. In my estimation, for Facebook to ever obtain the level of 'search' depth as Google, it's going to take a very long time. On the other hand, Google is not one to give a lot of rope to a 'would-be' competitor.
Others think "Google Me" might be the start of of build-up of Google Profiles which incorporates their users' profile data. However the service is presently not that robust. If Google was to transform the product into one that broadcasted status updates and worked off of the Facebook and Twitter models, this might be part of the "Google Me" strategy.
Then there's what Fox News calls the "quirky" Google Wave, an online enterprise system and collaboration tool that is probably the most similar to Facebook. However, this operation seems to be a disjointed platform with a lot of 3rd party plug-ins that don't seem to work together in any type of comprehensive fashion - or at least one that is embraced by a lot of users.
So is "Google Me" another silly attempt by the Big G to stay relevant in all areas? And if they employ enough resources will they be successful this go-around? I think out of all the reports, rumors and gossip cyberventillating cyberspace, the one that rings true with me is Danny Sullivan's. The Search Engine Land's editor in chief who has been following every move Google has made over the last decade wonders whether "social networking" is even in Google's DNA.
"So far, Google’s failed to have a hit in the social-networking space, swinging and largely missing with both Orkut and Buzz. It’s unclear whether a third, new service (or a renamed Buzz) will do that much better," he told FoxNews.com.
He might be right - perhaps Google just doesn't possess the 'social networking' gene!
UPDATE: TechCrunch - June 29 - Adam D’Angelo, who was Facebook’s CTO for years and is now founder of hot Q&A service Quora, is weighing in with more details about "Google Me". And from what he’s hearing, Google Me is indeed very real, and it’s gunning for Facebook. He states the following
- Here is what I’ve pieced together from some reliable sources: This is not a rumor. This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it. I am completely confident about this.
- They realized that Buzz wasn’t enough and that they need to build out a full, first-class social network. They are modeling it off of Facebook.
- Unlike previous attempts (before Buzz at least), this is a high-priority project within Google.
- They had assumed that Facebook’s growth would slow as it grew, and that Facebook wouldn’t be able to have too much leverage over them, but then it just didn’t stop, and now they are really scared.