Google Me Social Network Wont Make Facebook Flinch

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Google Me Social Network Wont Make Facebook Flinch

by Clint Boulton

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Facebook Is Really, Really Big

At nearly 500 million users, Facebook is to social networks what Google is to search. Bing spent a year trying to gain traction versus Google and instead took share from Yahoo. Google Me, as a new service, would have the same dilemma.

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Facebook Is Sticky

We alluded to this before, but Facebook is to social what Google is to search. It has the brand awareness to the point where liquor stores in small towns claim a Facebook Page on their billboards outside their establishments. It is also sticky, with users in the United States, spending/a> as much as 6 hours a month there. At Google, people come to search like hummingbirds and flit away just as quickly. The use case for both social and search is different. People don't see Google as a social site where people like to hang out.

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Google Profiles

There was talk that Google Me could be an enhancement of Profiles, but that would require a lot of work to build a network. The Profiles service is an ugly data palette at best and certainly no Facebook challenger even if Google tacks sharing features on it.

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What Network?

To effectively challenge Facebook in social, Google needs a network of users to get off the ground quick. Google doesn't have that. What Google has is a loose amalgamation of social services, including orkut, Social Search, Buzz and some APIs. YouTube, Picasa and Reader are merely ancillary social services.

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What Google Has

Googles orkut has more than 100 million users, mostly in Brazil and India. OpenSocial and Friend Connect APIs have failed to pay major dividends while Facebook Connect has racked up thousands of Websites. Google Social Search hardly provides any connective social tissue appearing at the bottom of users' search results, even if it's linked with the Google Buzz social conversation service. This shows there are lots of moving parts, but little cohesiveness.

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What About orkut, Google Buzz Together?

Google Buzz piggybacks on Gmail, which has 180 million users. Some think orkut and Buzz could be somehow combined to form Google Me. Even if those stars aligned perfectly, Google Me's network would be half that of Facebook's massive user base.

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No Buzz About Buzz

Despite several new features, earnest invocations and wishful thinking, Buzz hasn't pulled users from Facebook, which seems to be the ultimate preference for sharing links, photos, videos and following people and organizations. Consumers are trying Buzz out of curiosity before diving back to the comfort of their favorite social services, Facebook and Twitter.

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Google Buzz Busted

Google Buzz tried to leverage the Gmail network by exposing its users, which was met with sharp rebuke by users who didn't want their contacts exposed.

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People Are Wary of Google

Facebook has its own trust issues regarding user privacy. But the company has already earned a black mark against the privacy policies of Google Buzz even without launching a major social network. Google's WiSpy incident, in which it accidentally collected 600 gigabytes of data fragments is another cause for concern. It points to the trust issues. A full-fledged network that aims to integrate all Google applications might not pass the acid test with consumers already nervous about Google's gaffes.

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Antitrust = Bust

Given its collective privacy snafus with Buzz and WiSpy, its general data collection practices, and the general impression among regulators that Google is getting too big for its britches, expect the FTC and DOJ to take a close look at any major social network Google has on tap.

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