The evidence is mounting that Google intends to launch a social network to rival Facebook. Speculation on the subject began with Digg founder Kevin Rose when he used his Twitter account to declare that ‘Google Me’ is launching very soon, alluding to a “very credible source”. The tweet was later removed, but not before it made its way across the blogosphere.
Adam D’Angelo, Former Facebook CTO and founder of Q&A service Quora, then weighed in on the speculation saying: “This is not a rumor. This is a real project.” D’Angelo claims ‘Google Me’ is a high priority for the company, and will be modeled on Facebook. When Google CEO was asked to comment, Schmidt obviously didn’t confirm anything, but his vague answer was seen as a nod by many. “That would be a product announcement, and I won’t say”. As a former Google employee myself, I can tell you that Facebook is seen as an advertising competitor. Just note the number of Google employees who have now become Facebook executives – CTO Bret Taylor, COO Sheryl Sandberg, Advertising VP David Fischer and Communications VP Elliot Schrage, among others. Facebook is considered one to watch, but Google have been sussing them out for quite some time. ‘Google Me’ could do the trick.
A recent presentation from a Google social networking researcher offers some insight into the company’s potential plans for ‘Google Me’. It imagines a network where friend lists are grouped according to different types of relationships and associations, and has a big emphasis on privacy, which Facebook has been criticized for in the past.
Contrary to popular belief, Google has already enjoyed some success with its social networks. Although Buzz has yet to take off, Orkut has proved hugely popular in Brazil and India with 29m users in Brazil alone, compared to Facebook’s 8m. It is not yet known if the proposed ‘Google Me’ network will replace Orkut and/or Buzz, or if it will act as a stand-alone site. If Google manages to pull off this great social networking coup, it will certainly seal its position as a virtual juggernaut to be reckoned with.
What do you think?
If Google launched a social network that was like Facebook but had more privacy and allowed you to create lists of different types of contacts – would you sign up?
Please reply with your comments below.