The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Reading the tea leaves wrong

Erica Naone, I.T. Editor for Web & Social Networking at Technology Review, recently wrote about Google’s many seeming failed attempts to deal with its “Facebook problem.” To get to my point a bit more quickly I’ll just assume that Google’s Orkut, ranked by Alexa as 65th in the world for web traffic and having more than 100 million active users worldwide, is a “failed” attempt at social networking, and I’ll ignore the massive social network data acquired by Google through its invitation-only introduction of Gmail.

Naone’s asks, “Can Google Get Social Networking Right?” with an assumption that Google is trying to out-Facebook Facebook. Naone’s opinion seems to be that Google has bumbled all efforts in that direction so far. She writes, “Google has acquired several promising social services, including the microblogging site Jaiku and the location service Dodgeball, only to hold back on investing in them.”

It looks to me, however, that Google did not buy Jaiku or Dodgeball for their value as going social network platforms. Given the timetable, it’s my guess that Google bought those two companies to get control of their respective mobile geo-location technologies. Google completed its accquisiont of Jaiku in less than a year after Jaiku introduced its Mobile client software. After neglecting Jaiku’s social web platform for a few years, Google launched Lattitude, “a location-aware mobile app developed by Google. Latitude allows a mobile phone user to allow certain people to track their location.”

About the same time, Google gave Jaiku’s web based software away for free by making it Open Source.

By focusing on mobile social networking, it seems to me that Google is not seriously trying to compete with Facebook directly. Google is aiming to leapfrog Facebook. It is a different technology that is more in line with Google’s other telephonic asipirations.

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Written by Tom Fox

08/12/2010 at 10:50 am

Posted in Google, Social Web

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