It seems that every time I gear up to do a blog post, Google or Facebook have to worm their way into my monologue at some point. Today is no exception.
A few days ago, Mike Arrington dropped a bombshell that got a little play in the blogosphere and then evaporated in regards to Google’s impending response to the Facebook phenom. We all knew it was coming down the pike, because Orkut just isn’t cutting the mustard in terms of the the US market.
I immediately commented on my blog that I simply couldn’t see Orkut in any way retooled as a social networking tool, and it having a chance at all to compete with Facebook. In fact, I said that “[m]y advice to Google employees whenever they’ve brought up the social network issue with me has always been dump Orkut!“
Shortly after the post hit the web, I received a call from a Google employee that agreed with me.
Here’s what Mike said we’d see:
On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more – such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs.
Here’s what I’m hearing: instead of leveraging Orkut’s social graph information, we’re going to see leveraging of GMail’s social graph. Does GMail have a social graph? Sure it does. For those of us that aren’t bleeding edge early adopters, what’s the best measure of who’s in our closest circles? Those that email us the most, and those we send out the most emails too. The interconnecting web of six degrees of separation can easily be determined by a little algorithm that pays attention to all the to’s and from’s. Google excels at both looking at our private data in new ways, as well as algorithms.
By way of significant upgrades to contact management and the enactment of profile pages, essentially, we’re going to see a truly business-centric social networking system. It’s difficult to find a system that’s not got some sort of API or RSS feed within the Google world – it’s simply a matter of connecting the dots, and making the Google widget platform interoperable.
Mike, in his original post, touches on very briefly what I was told:
In the long run, Google seems to be planning to add a social layer on top of the entire suite of Google services, with Orkut as their initial main source of social graph information and, as I said above, possibly adding third party networks to the back end as well. Social networks would have little choice but to participate to get additional distribution and attention.
Its curious that I’d been talking about this for at least a few months with Googlers along these lines and concurrent to that this has been brewing. I’m thinking of sending a consulting bill out to Mountain View (no, we don’t have a big ego or anything. 🙂
Or at least demanding an early peek at the gPhone.
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