Google CEO Wants Facebook Data for Social Layers

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that while there won't be a big Google Me social network, the search engine sure would like to get its hands on Facebook data. Analysts mull this approach.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt raised eyebrows by saying Google is adding social Web services in layers as opposed to a singular social network to challenge Facebook's fortress.

Several signs earlier this spring pointed to a major assault on Facebook. Rumors of a social network effort, called Google Me, burbled forth in June.

Google fueled the rumor with the frenzied acquisitions of social app maker Slide, virtual currency provider Jambool, social aggregator Angstro and social gaming provider SocialDeck, along with the $100 million investment in social gaming power Zynga.

However, Schmidt tried to dispel the rumors at Zeitgeist, telling reporters:

"Everybody has convinced themselves that there's some huge project about to get announced next week. And I can assure you that's not the case."

"We're trying to take Google's core products and add a social component... If you think about it, it's obvious. With your permission, knowing more about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations. Search quality can get better."

Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray said Schmidt's comments seem to discount the expectations that Google will compete with Facebook in the future, "but he may simply be trying to moderate expectations, which really have risen to a fever pitch around Google and its rumored social product."

Other social media analysts aren't sure Google wants to line up on opposite sides of the same field with its nemesis, at least not so directly.

Altimeter Group founding analyst Charlene Li said search remains Google's core focus and the company sees social tools as features to be added to its existing Web services.

However, socializing search, something it began trying late last year with Google Social Search, will be the key for Google, Li told eWEEK.