For a long time Google has been criticized for not getting involved in the “social revolution”. Yes they released Orkut in January 2004 (before Facebook, by the way), but their entry into social media completely lacked the commitment of social giants like Facebook and Twitter.
With Google being such an Internet visionary, we have to step back and ask, “What are you doing, Google? ”
There’s no doubt that sites like Facebook and Twitter are gaining an enviable portion of the social traffic and face time. What I want to ask, however, is this… Are Facebook and Twitter REALLY doing it right? In other words, is this really the best we can do in terms of social interaction on the Web?
The Internet has a lot of things to see and do, but do we have to go somewhere to be social? In real life we can be social without going to a destination. We could simply be social at home, in the car, at a bar, on the phone, etc, etc. In other words we can be social anywhere we want. We aren’t limited to a few select locations in which to be social. This is not the case when it comes to the Internet. Currently, we have to go to a destination. We still have to go to a URL.
In order to do it right, we can’t just build a social destination (AKA. facebook.com). To do it right, we have to make the whole Web social.
I’ve always felt that you find truth in action …and if we watch the actions of Google, we start to see an interesting picture. Here are a few things to think about: Google SearchWiki launches (11/2008), providing the ability to comment on search results (and, therefore, individual pages), Google Friend Connect launches (05/2008), allowing website owners to add social to their own sites, Google Profiles was launched (04/2009), Google Reader adds social features (07/2009), etc. The list goes on and on.
We could spend a lot of time talking about the many “social” features Google has rolled out over the past year, much of which has been criticized as “Google getting social wrong.” Personally, I’m growing less convinced than ever that there isn’t more to this than meets the eye.
I suspect that their social “failures” are not failures at all. I believe they are silently testing the waters of social and preparing to step into this arena in a big way. And I would put money that we will see Google launch their own social platform within the next couple of years.
If this has merit, however, why haven’t there been leaks from the Internet giant about this killer social platform?
Simple… If you silo your developers into different products, set them to work on product features that simply connect their product back to the users central profile and/or have them build social features that hold little apparent value, you can quite easily accomplish a large task with few knowing what is actually being accomplished. Even those who suspect something much larger is happening would have no grounds to make the claim and would fear doing so for the sake of their employment.
“The axiom, that war is based on deception, does not apply only to deception of the enemy. You must deceive even your own soldiers. Make them follow you, but without letting them know why.”Sun Tzu – The Art of War
This, of course, is all conjecture. But it makes sense that we will evolve from social destinations to a social web. And to get there, all we need to do is tie social into the tools, rather than the destinations. If you’re a company that wants to do that, all you really need is to create your own web browser (Chrome), your own mobile platform (Android), and your own operating system (Chrome OS) to tie it all together. So I ask again… is Google building the social web?