Google 2.0, take infinity: Google Me


The past few months have been loaded with expectations and speculations about the new social service from Google that will be introduced soon: Google Me. Facebook is currently dominating the social market, with 500 million registered users and an expected 2 billion dollars of revenue in 2010. It's satellites, mostly in the form of social gaming providers, are also gaining momentum, e.g. Zynga, the most successful of the pack, could generate $500 million in revenue this year. Even though Google's revenue is still much much greater, more than $20 billion a year to be exact, this does not change the fact the future of the World Wide Web lies in social – and Google obviously wants to be a part of that.

SEO is out

We can see for ourselves that the Web has been shifting to a new shape, where you don't look for information anymore, information finds you (push vs. pull). Another interesting fact - The Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference was not about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) this year, it was about possibilities of new social strategies. Modern viral campaigns that use social media, such as the one for Old Spice, make traditional web strategies seem plain, ineffective and a thing of the past. And Google, once the ultimate company and employer, the coolest place to work in, is facing a leakage of its employees towards Facebook, currently valued at 33+ billion. Middle aged Google, slowly loosing its coolness against the new kid on the block.

Facebook is in

A few days ago, Facebook was granted with a patent concerning social search, an algorithm build on the number of clicks made by your social vicinity. A really interesting idea, and potentially a great threat to probably the world's greatest (most valuable) mathematical algorithm – Google PageRank. This is not some service of a new type anymore, this one competes directly with Google's core business and the thing that made the corporation what it is today. And Google desperately needs to strike back.

Google's past attempts with Web 2.0 weren't that successful. From the decline of Orkut, to canceled Wave and useless Buzz, these services didn't quite make it to wider use, leaving aside YouTube. The following infographic beautifully shows all Google's (mostly failed) attempts at social, but they will still give it another go - this time in the form of Google Me.

Google wants in

Aimed to be a Facebook clone, some people say it has great potential, some are reserved, while others think it will be a failure. Besides, an open alternative called Diaspora is set to launch September 15th with huge social buzz, so this game might turn out really interesting. But Google, once the web's innovation leader, is slowly turning into an old school player, finding it hard to cope with new concepts. Something similar is happening to Nokia, who has problems with fully penetrating the smart phone market, and is loosing ground towards new players, such as Apple and the whole Android movement.

But a few strategic takeovers (check out the complete history) and strong partnerships and acquisitions of social gaming providers may just enable Google the brain power it needs to provide a successful Facebook alternative. Facebook is currently loosing some hype and if Google is able to provide a fresh service for what the core functionality of Facebook is – connecting with people you know – this just might work. But this time, it will have to be something smart and creative (but not too creative like Wave), similar, but different (not a total clone like Twitter's clone Buzz), and Google could get a chance to get on top of things again. The only question is if Google still has enough out of the box thinking left to pull it off and finally become a real Web 2.0 player.

I'm really eager to see what they'll do and like many curious people, I will surely give it a try. The only question is if it will be just a try, or will it be interesting enough (for others) to persuade me to stay. For Google's sake, I hope it will, otherwise they may face an even bigger problem on a strategic scale: the lost domination of the World Wide Web.

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written 6.9.2010 19:17 CET on chronolog
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