We have suspected for some time that Google will make moves to compete with Facebook. As Facebook becomes more popular, and more powerful online, Google risks losing significant market share. Google’s answer is (or very likely to be) called Google Me, and it is currently being whispered about, publicly on Techcrunch, as Project Emerald Sea.
Latest figures (ballpark no doubt) on Facebook are that there 700 millions users. To put that into perspective, mose households that have a computer also have at least one person with a Facebook account. Plus, most poeple that have Facebook accounts spend most of their Internet time on Facebook. This means 2 things to Google;
- They are not seeing Google adverts
- They are not using Google search
Google’s core business is search and the advertising associated with search. Facebook is slow eroding their revenue stream, albeit only to a very small extent at the moment.
However, Google does have serveral of its own “social” sites and platforms, such as Orkut, Buzz, even YouTube and Picasa are social in nature. Plus ofcourse, Blogger network of blogs hosted on Blogspot.com, are all social, as is Google Talk, Gmail and Google Wave (essentially deceased). Then there is the older social networks, popular but often forgotten, Google Groups.
Will Google Me Unite A Disjointed Google?
But where Google is strong, i.e. a wide range of platforms to meet the varying needs of many people, it is also weak. Since Facebook has arrived, people have found a place on the Internet where they can share photos and videos, chat with friends, send messages, arrange events, join groups and support causes – all under one roof. Google appears disjointed to the average Internet user.
Most people at Google are incredibly intelligent, especially when it comes to computers, networks, IT, all that technical stuff. But many of their products have developed in isolation – Orkut was one of their “20% projects”, it was developed by some Google employees on the side of their main jobs.
If you have a Google Mail account, you do not “see” picasaweb, Google Groups or Orkut mentioned, so you miss out on knowing about these social newtworks. Buzz made some attempt to confront this problem, but all the negative buzz about Buzz when it was launch meant that it fell flat. The only people that use Buzz are people that already have Google accounts.
The Problem Google Faces
The problem that Google faces is that Facebook is so well entrenched that many average web users will not see any reason to leave Facebook for Google. Only if there is a catastrophic failure in Facebook will it possibly lose a significant market share. The problem Google has with social networking is the same problem that Bing has with search – the competition is so strong.
The Leaks on Techcrunch
What we know about Emerald Sea (or maybe Emerald City) is what we have read on Techcrunch.com – Google’s Social Product Is Codenamed “Emerald Sea”. They have receive 4 source of information that are saying that the Google project is Social Networking / Social Media site is codenamed Emerald Sea.
“Emerald Sea will be a social layer that spread across the majority of Google’s properties.”
This came from a “tipster” that contact Techcrunch. It seems that the purpose of the project is to combine all of Google’s various products. Personally, I think that this will struggle.
The Source of the Leaks – Quora
This website is new to me – Quora.com. There an anonymous user says the following:
“Yes, Emerald City has been integrated into numerous products and is being actively used internally.
Emerald City is the project name for what people outside of Google refer to as “Google Me”. Lots of existing projects like youtube, google docs, search, calendar, groups, picassa, etc have had significant social integrations added to them. This is an ongoing project that will launch as a major initiative across multiple services at once and many of the hooks endusers will see are currently being tested internally. It is by no means done and is extremely ambitious in nature.” Source: www.quora.com/Google-Me/Is-Google-dogfooding-Google-Me-yet/answers/144443
This was actually posted on 4th November, so it took Techcrunch a month to pick it up, and then me another 4 days. But the news is now spreading!
Why The Google Social Network Will Fail
Most people are not intensive Internet users. Most already have an email address and a Facebook account. If Emerald Sea is aimed at uniting all of Googles products, so allow people to share (Buzz), chat (Google Talk), message (Gmail), upload photos and videos (Picasaweb and Youtube), joins groups and organizations (Google Groups) then it seems very likely that it will expect people to sign up with a Google account. With Facebook, you sign in with any email account you like, and then use all applications freely, with everything seamlessly integrated within the social networking platform.
People will ask “why should I create a Google account?”. And why should they? Facebook is popular because people do not really view Facebook as being a business, instead it is viewed more as an extension of the Internet. It is a closed, more personal, and safer environment than the larger web, that people know about through Google Search.
I have no idea if this is just further speculation on Techcrunch’s part of whether they know someone, but they are suggesting that the real name of the product will be Google Me. Not so important, the name, but interesting all the same.
The first use of the “Google Me” was when people would say “Google Me” to mean “look me up on the Internet”. Once personal profiles started to appear online in various websites, that Google Indexed, people could find each other on Google. Although still only a very small percentage of people can be “Googled” there is certainly a growing trend for people to “Google” someone to find out more about them. Prospective employees and partners alike will Google someones name to see what they can find.
“Google me should be an underlying social strata layer – not product.” Marc Canter, Quora.com/Google-Me
Some Comments from Techcrunch
As with all blogs, some of the most interesting points are made by commenters.
“I can’t imagine the number of intrusive ads that will be on Google’s Social Network. Facebook Ads are very unobtrusive. I would rather have Facebook with my data than Google. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate google but they already have too much public information about me just from my gmail account.” Jeezus – 5 people liked this (that is soo Facebook).
Some people have been asking, if this is top secret, how come so much information has been leaked? One commenter suggests it is a planned marketing leak:
“I actually think this information is the type of thing google want leaked through to build up some buzz an scare Facebook into spending more of it venture capital funds on trying to prepare for a battle when it does not even know the enemy weapons or strategy. I am sure this is one of many authorize leaks Google will do over the coming months.” – Knowles2
One of the Quora writers comes forth on Techcrunch:
“I’ve mentioned this on Quora a few times. I think the real name will be Google Home. There will be a central “site” for it, but primarily it will live in expanded socialized areas on each of their individual properties. If you’re a member of Home, you’ll see the expanded social layer; if you’re not a member, you see the regular sites, much as they appear now. Google has the pieces, but is going to build an out in the open social layer – not walled off like FB.”
And a simple plea to Google from eDDI Hughes from www.nissanpacific.com:
“Can Google please create a legit social network? Perhaps make it separate from Gmail? Start from scratch!?”
Interesting ideas. For more conversion head over to the Techcrunch article on Emerald Sea.
Google certainly needs to unite its various platforms, applications and services if it is to make some serious ground in social networking. Google has a lot going for itself. It has a greater infrastructure than Facebook, a wider range of services, a dedicated community of application developed – think about all the Android Apps on the market.
All it needs to do it get everything under one happy roof, not over sell its own brand, and give people a reason to leave Facebook. Its biggest hurdle may be simply persuading people to sign up for a new Google account to start with. So many people communicate through Facebook alone now that new email addresses are really not required. Google needs to allows people to sign up with any email address to start with and somehow allow use of its services to anyone. Trickier to do that, but failure to achieve this will put off a lot of people.
As for me, I already have a Google account and welcome it. But I know that few of my friends will leave Facebook (it took about 10 years to get them to leave the Royal Mail).