Say You, Say (Google) Me–When Will the Search Giant Get Social Graces?
We all want to be something else, don’t we?
And so it is with Google (GOOG), the robotic, algorithmic, black-box search behemoth girding the globe with datacenters stacked up to heaven.
As it turns out, all it really wants is to be our friend.
The big question is when it is going to do that, by introducing a social strategy that actually works, even as perceived rival Facebook barrels ahead.
Sources close to the company, as well as some voluble Silicon Valley players–such as Digg’s Kevin Rose and Quora’s Adam D’Angelo–insist that Google is zeroing in on a plan for a service internally called Google Me—get it?–that it will begin to unveil in the weeks ahead.
Wouldn’t it be nice if it did so today, when Google is holding yet another product feature-fest at its San Francisco offices, as it did recently about its cool Voice Actions mobile offering.
(Memo to Google PR: Digital Daily’s John Paczkowski will be liveblogging the event, but you can’t ask press not to talk about a public company event before it takes place–even if it is invite-only.)
That’s unlikely, but some answer in the social space couldn’t come soon enough, especially because all of Google’s various and sundry efforts have yielded little in the way of any gains and, well, have shown a lot of losses.
Yesterday, for example, it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that Google’s Orkut social networking service had lost primacy in India to Facebook.
Orkut, as is well known, has lagged worldwide, except for inexplicably rocking India and Brazil.
Now, even though Google has added more punch to Orkut of late, it is down to just Brazil.
And then there was Buzz, which Google launched in February to much fanfare, followed by much more confusion.
That’s because, by using Gmail as the central organizing principle for Buzz, it quickly degenerated into an “Animal Planet” episode called “When Email Attacks.”
As for Google’s overhyped-by-bloggers communications and collaboration app Wave, it soon became “Wave Buh-Bye.”
To be fair, it is admirable that a big company like Google, which made its bones from search, has rolled out so many attempts at innovation over the last two years in areas such as apps, cloud computing and especially mobile.
And, in those categories, it is doing well, even as its stabs at social media have fallen so far off the target.
Is it because Google is inherently as social as a digital version of a telephone book, or an encyclopedia or an almanac? Which is to say helpful, but not at all attracting of friendship.
Or, as with its early efforts to find its golden business model, has Google just not yet hit on the social equivalent of AdSense and AdWords?
Meanwhile, over at Facebook HQ in nearby in Silicon Valley, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has his team working all night on a multitude of feature launches, which he described to me at the recent rollout of the social networking powerhouse’s Places geo-location feature as fast and furious.
That’s probably the right tone, although if I were Facebook, I would take it down to Defcon 5 with regard to Google.
At least until Google Me is more than just a clever, rainbow-colored search term, that is.
Until then, let’s all enjoy this music video of the incomparable Lionel Richie singing the classic song “Say You, Say Me”:
Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.