I was pretty sure Google wouldn’t sit waiting forever after the “Facebook Mail” announcement, but wow, I didn’t imagine they would start retaliating so soon.
I was checking Techcrunch as I often do and I stumbled on this article, finally bringing some light on Google’s next move towards being “more social”, something tons of people talk about since a while after the Wave experiment crashed miserably.
I guess G’s rush is a result of the pressure they feel after Facebook is deliberately trying to step on its toes invading the mail-realm with their social-realm power, or maybe it was something they planned since a while, I guess we’ll never know.
The article I cited up there is not enough to answer all the questions, but we can gather several insights anyway.
First of all, it’s a pretty big thing: a co-founder involved, a whole area of the Googleplex dedicated to it, that’s for sure not a “side project” like Wave was. Something big’s cooking!
Additionally, Google has by now enough resources to make something interesting out of all this. They have access to the biggest amount of data in the history of humanity, they partnered with Twitter starting their own version of the social search paradigm and they had a lot to learn from. They sure learnt something from the Wave experiment and from Buzz’s big incident.
Speaking of Wave
I admit I went into a frenzy trying to find a Wave invite back then and, once I got it, I played with it for some days and dismissed it for a lack of use. I mean, it was cool and all, but I couldn’t really find a use for it, a motivation to visit its URL at all, and that’s kinda sad since most people had the same experience.
Google – it is widely accepted – ended its life kinda in a rush. There are tons of services which aren’t as popular as one would expect, but they still are there. Wave has been shut down by Google for lack of patience, and maybe now we can see why.
Perhaps the experiment has served as foundation for the new “+1″ project? I wouldn’t be surprised if the minds behind it will come out as being currently assigned to this new thing.
Lots of speculations
Nothing’s certain, but there obviously are a lot of thoughts about +1.
How does Chrome fall in all this? Techcrunch’s article mentions an extension to integrate +1 in Google’s browser – opposed to fully baking it in its core, which wouldn’t make much sense anyway – but since we still don’t know what is all this about, it’s hard to predict the functionalities that this “extension” will eventually have.
Google could be ideating a “social layer” to sit on top of the full suit of its applications, making sharing of documents, videos, emails, projects even easier, allowing people to “Like” (for lack of a better term) or comment on them, even if this would probably feel a bit too much Facebook-style.
What I believe almost sure is the key role Android is going to have. It doesn’t really make sense to create a social application without involving your top mobile product, especially since it’s obvious how the world of social is moving more and more into the world of mobile.
As far as I can see, there’s no mention of anything like this in Gingerbread (Android 2.3), but seeing how fast the releases are coming out (2.2 isn’t that old at all) it wouldn’t surprise me if +1 came out in time for 2.4 to hit the phones.
Maybe “war” is a bit too much, but it’s undoubtable that Google and Apple aren’t really big fluffy friends anymore, each stepping on the other’s toes – actually Google is doing much of the stepping nowadays – and with Apple integrating Twitter into its Ping just a few weeks ago you never know what their next move is going to be.
Since Google Voice has finally landed on the iPhone as well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a +1 integration when the time comes.
Google has no interest in locking anyone out of its social platform. Most iPhone users are Google’s users as well (in my experience, “most” equals to “100%”), so locking out iPhone users would be completely insane.
And Apple would have little interest to lock out +1 from its App Store (besides, there’s no contractual reason for that, not like Apple ever needed one but yeah) unless they are planning a social network on their own – and please don’t tell me Ping is a social network ’cause I’ll gouge my eyes out in despair.
On the other side, Apple has been rumored to be “in talks” with Facebook regarding Ping or possibly other collaborations, making this whole “social affair” even messier than it needs to be.
Where Gmail falls into all this?
Good question. For sure, +1 is going to involve Gmail tightly. It wouldn’t make sense any other way, but how this is going to happen is not clear. I can’t deny that Facebook’s system is fascinating, my only objection to it has always been the fact I am no big fan of Facebook in first place, and delegating to it all of my online communication seems a bit crazy at this time.
However, considering my business – like many others – already uses Google Apps to manage their corporate mail, I can see a massive use of +1 should it become integrated with Gmail even on a tight level.
Gmail and +1 would be a perfect way to counter the “Facebook Mail” project, admitting Google even needs to at all.
What’s going to happen?
Wish I knew.
Worst case scenario, another Wave incident, Google falling off the social bandwagon of triumph, and really not many other consequences at all, not like a failure can dent Google’s domain, at most they’ll just have to suck up on Facebook a lil and see where that leads.
Best case scenario, another service to log into and one more service to monitor for brands.
This doesn’t mean I am skeptical on the potential of “Social Google”, I just don’t believe there’s much room for revolutionary changes right now. However I hope to be proven wrong as I am curious by nature.
What do you think of all this? Would you use an additional social service, if it’s big G behind it? Do you think it’ll provide yet another source of privacy-leaks like Buzz did?