Social Media Circling Back To Google, Whether You Like It Or Not
You could get dizzy. Google, long known for "valiant-attempts-but-no-cigar" has nevertheless circled over the social media terrain for quite some time now. Dating as far back as 2004, when developer Orkut Büyükkökten was commissioned to work on a product that would compete with Friendster, the social network Orkut has stumbled along trying to find a social media foothold in the States, only to be able to scale in countries like Brazil, India and Estonia of all places.
This was followed up with the Big G hijacking users' Gmail contacts to blend them into their next failed experiment called Google Buzz. Since then, its much ballyhooed enterprise network Wave officially closed shop only to be followed by rumors of projects under the code names "Google Me" and "Google + 1," both of which created brush fires throughout the blogosphere over the course of several weeks, only to fizzle out.
Eric Schmidt even lost his seat as CEO and was replaced recently by co-founder Sergey Brin when he backpedaled on what Google was really trying to do with social media. When Schmidt reduced Google's social network attempts to building "social layers" versus a full-blown network, he was quickly admonished by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for not understanding some of the fundamentals about developing an effective social network (see more on this story in recent post, "Eric Be Nimble, Eric Be Quick, See Google's Founders Jump Over Erick's Shtick." )
So when ReadWriteWeb's recent post talks about about rumors at SWSX and Google taking yet another stab at launching a social network - this time - called "Google Circles," it is almost laughable that anyone is taking this seriously. As Owen Thomas wrote in his Social Beat column, "the notion is flattering to SWSX's notoriously self-involved attendees, who fancy themselves the tastemakers and trendsetters of the digital world: How could Google possibly launch its next big thing anywhere else?"
But a Google representative has denied plans of a launch, according to Liz Gannes of NetworkEffect. Google has stated "unequivocally that no such service is launching at SXSW today." However, she would not say whether something called Google Circles was in the works.
On the flip side, Gannes thinks that if Google were to proceed along these lines, the timing of such a roll-out might work in their favor. With Twitter cutting ties with developors (see "No More Tweetdeck, TwitPic, Twitter Apps Doing Their Own Shtick?"), the microblogging sites's strained relationship with their "developer ecosystem" might provide Google with a shot at attracting this displaced labor force.
It's ironic that even though Google's users are in the millions (if not billions) worldwide and as of last June, 2010 the search giant was responsible for 9.3 percent of all traffic on the Web compared to Facebook's capture rate of 7 percent - it hasn't been able to come up with an effective social networkin' mousetrap that could leverage its user base.
Now striking out at bat over three times, perhaps the naysayers and satirists are right - perhaps Google just lacks the "social media gene."
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