Thursday, July 15, 2010

Google’s Social Aspirations

GoogleLogoGoogle has expressed the fact that they intend to take on Social Networking giant’s Facebook and Twitter head to head to head!  However, this is not the first time that Google has attempted to take on either of these two companies.  This is obviously not going to be the last time either.  Google has Orkut and Google Buzz.  Google also seems to have control over a little known secret weapon that some microbloggers do know about, Jaiku.  How does Orkut, Buzz, Jaiku and all of Google’s other features play into their plans?  Here is some speculation on my part in regards to what may pan out if Google follows what many media pendants are expecting.

First off, Google has all of the tools to make a social networking experience.  The problem is that all of these tools are spread out along Google’s network.  They have Gmail, Docs, Calendar, GTalk, Orkut, Buzz, Jaiku, Blogger, Picasa, and Youtube.  Heck, throw in Google Wave for a real time “Wall”.  They also are huge with the Open Apps initiative, along with Google Widgets.  These are all PRIME ingredients in all social networking platforms.  How can Google get them all to come together?  Google has already created a unified Profile for Google users.  Problem is that it is not the cleanest looking thing in the world, and it is a little bit hidden away.

First off, Google needs to take Orkut and discontinue it.  Do what Yahoo did with 360 (and I will have an article on Yahoo’s new Pulse social network platform soon).  Orkut seems to be popular in Brazil and maybe a couple of other countries, but not in the markets that seem to make the big difference for Google.  Replace Orkut with a new platform that is more of a mixture of the Google Profile and Orkut.  Streamline it to integrate all of Googles powerful features.

Take Google Buzz and Jaiku and decide which one does Google want to use.  Jaiku is very Twitter like.  It is familiar and easy to use.  It also uses the 140 characters maximum post method.  Buzz is a bit more open in regards that you can exceed the 140 character method.  Buzz, Gmail, and Wave all seem to be three siblings all arguing over superiority, but do just about the same thing.  Buzz is built into Gmail to create a flowing conversation that anyone can jump into to create a thread of sorts.  Wave is a stand alone application that allows people to create topics that everyone can jump into and discuss and edit.  Wave is a great tool that would benefit Google Docs.  Maybe Google should integrate it there.

Speaking of Google Docs, this is a great tool to help draw in the corporate users.  Integrate Google Wave into Google Docs to give users the ability to create documents, spreadsheets, and slide shows (power point presentations) and then subject them to other users to help edit and contribute to the document.  For more private documents that are not meant to have the public fingering with, then the standard share option within Docs would be utilized instead of Wave.

Speaking of corporations, how about Google give them the ability to create intranet style social networks that are designed specifically for corporate environments giving them a social networking atmosphere, but still promote communication and productivity.  This could easily be a redesign concept that Google couple use with Google Apps.

Google has already made Youtube, Picasa and Blogger communicate to an extent.  Sharing amongst them is super easy.  It takes virtually no effort to blog a video, or picture.

Last feature is GTalk, Googles IM program.  This is still a major method of desktop communication.  When someone wants instant information, they still go for the IM client and send messages to discuss information in real time.  Google has kept this app slim, trim and still useful.  This is how an IM client should really be.  Yahoo and MSN Live IM clients are bloated with so many “features” that they take forever to load, have a huge resource footprint, yet are still not connected to any of their features.  Facebook’s chat requires you to be on the site, unless you use something like Digsby.  MySpace has a client but it isn’t all that wonderful either.  Again, Digsby is a great answer there.  GTalk is integrated beautifully into GMail, but could probably benefit from integration to Buzz, Calendar and possible Wave.

All in all, Google knows what they have lying ahead of them to get into the social networking game.  The question is if whether or not they will utilize the great tools they already have, or will they just add more clutter to the toolbox with something that will ultimately fail against Facebook and Twitter?  Google really has the ability to leap ahead of both Twitter and Facebook in regards to social networking considering they have something neither of them have.  Google has the Android OS and an army of phones begging to be socially networked.

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