Google Social Strategy Staying Home for I/O

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-05-09 Print this article Print

Google won't release any social-oriented products at Google I/O this week, confirmed several top tech blogs, which pretty much blows my theory from months ago out of the water.

Google +1 was launched in March, and I truly didn't expect to see it released before I/O. We were all wrong. Apparently we will see what the +1 button will look like for publishers, which is a big deal. Remember, it's Google's version of the Like button. More on that later.

AllThingsDigital reported that I/O's Tuesday, May 10, news will be devoted to Android, with Wednesday, May 11, focused on Chrome Operating System.

This makes sense. I reported last Thursday we'd see a Samsung Chrome OS netbook Wednesday. Not sure when the Google TV update will come; the product is based on Android and runs the Chrome browser.

I'm somewhat disappointed but considering Google is doing a layered rollout, it's probably best. Moreover, when Google unveils a big thing at I/O, it usually doesn't go over well. See Google Wave in 2009 and Google TV last year.

Wave failed miserably. While I love Google TV, the fact is most people outside of Google don't like it.

Imagine if Google rolled up its sleeves and trotted out some messianic social product to save the world from Facebook becoming the Google of social (it's already there) only to have it fail. That would be humiliating.

It's probably for the best. Whenever I've thought or written about Google's social effort, I've found some uncomfortable dread coming over me.

Something has just felt forced about it, almost reactionary to Facebook. Turns out, according to Steven Levy's "In the Plex," I'm alone in my sentiment, as Silicon Insider noted:

"It's a good thing Google is putting weight behind social networking, but it's reactive self-interest, not from a place of idealism," says an anonymous Googler described as a "key team member" by Levy. This Googler added, "It's not Google at its best, which is truly, truly pioneering. Whereas this thing is clearly more of a reaction to Facebook."

That makes sense. Search, Gmail and Android were game-changing, whereas Google Buzz ripped off parts of Twitter and Facebook, and the +1 button is Google's shameless copy of the Like button. That tells you Facebook nailed it.

Sort of like how Microsoft began copying things its rivals were doing in desktop software years ago, particularly following VMware into virtualization, among other things.

The +1 button may do well, but it also may be the product we look back at and point to and say that's when Google passed the torch to the next Internet giant. Facebook, after all, is commanding one-third of display ads these days, up from 16 percent a year ago.

How many years before regulators begin talking about Facebook having a monopoly in social? |

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