Google Piling Up Social Network Arsenal to Challenge Facebook

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-07-28 Print this article Print

This Google gaming and social network story is really boiling over. In the last month, Digg's Kevin Rose tweeted that Google has a social network in the works, an assertion backed up Quora's Adam D'Angelo and possibly by this document.

In mid-July, TechCrunch said Google had invested $100 million in social gaming platform Zynga and was striking a deal with that sensational startup.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall warning) that Google is in "talks with several makers of popular online games as it seeks to develop a broader social networking service that could compete with Facebook."

But isn't this the worst-kept secret in high tech? I could resort to snarky commentary about traditional media outlets merely building off of blogs like TechCrunch, but they do a much better job of trashing mainstream media.

Oh, wait, TechCrunch is the new mainstream media. They just don't know it yet.

Anyway, the WSJ says Google is also talking with Playdom, which Disney just purchased for as much as $763 million.

The article rehashes the notion TechCrunch established that something called Google Games will be the centerpiece for what I'm just going to call Google Social but what others are saying is Google Me. Not to be confused with "Despicable Me."

However, the WSJ did score this gem: While Google CEO Eric Schmidt declined to confirm the development of a social networking service that would incorporate social games, he did confirm the Zynga deal by saying "you can expect a partnership with Zynga" in the future.

So what will Google Social or Google Me be like? Here's the other gem from Schmidt, who even though he already declined to comment on a social network service, said, "The world doesn't need a copy of the same thing," a reference to Facebook.

Now that certainly fuels the fire of speculation. Given these comments, I reiterate my position that it's imperative that Google buy Zynga or at least leverage it in a way that will make the millions of people playing "Mafia Wars" and "FarmVille" on Facebook play them on Google instead.

If not, that's just eyeballs and investment money wasted. Experts over on ReadWriteWeb talk about the impact a Google social network might have on Facebook.

My favorite is these comments from The Onion's Baratunde Thurston:

Expecting Google to effectively challenge Facebook in the social realm is like expecting that you can change your mate. Sometimes we have to accept people and companies for what they are and what they are not.

I put the odds of Google overtaking Facebook at 30 percent. However, I put the odds of Facebook eventually going the way of Friendster, MySpace and PointCast Network at 100 percent. No one stays on top forever. No one.

I'm sure truer words were spoken at some point. I just can't recall when at the moment. |

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