So the rumours are building about the ‘Facebook killer’ being worked on at Google. And whenever there are big rumours, the blogosphere rushes to comment. For example, Mike Arrington argues Google should clone Facebook, Kim-Mai Cutler argues the opposite.
My own thoughts are mixed, but I’ve had a couple of ideas which I don’t seem to have seen elsewhere:
- Android. 5 million activations a month, a focus on mobile first (as said by Eric Schmidt), and working across mobiles and the merging tablet market (in terms of tablets now getting mainstream coverage and adoption post iPad).
- Data knowledge. They might not have completely aced social search and the social graph yet, but they’re used to working with humungous data sets.
- Understanding the need for users to own their own data, as shown by the ‘Data Liberation Front’
- Adsense – allowing users to instantly monetise with a proven model.
- Does it have to beat Facebook? With Google Me and the rumoured Google Music, perhaps picking up ex-Myspace users is a better first step. If it can pick up people leaving Myspace and Facebook, social networks become a two horse race, with Google in the game.
- Location – combining social graph with location-based apps and great mapping software.
- Previous approaches haven’t resulted in great design and usability.
- Fragmented approach with Google Profiles, Google Buzz, Googlemail, Orkut, etc.
- Orkut has had success in some territories, but is up against Facebook and a global reach of 500 million +
- Remember their interest in Jaiku as a Twitter rival?
- Google Buzz being shoe-horned into Googlemail, and the privacy uproar it created.
- Mainstream social network users aren’t showing a huge global response to privacy concerns yet.
That’s pretty much a summary so far. When it comes to whether or not Google can create something that will succeed, none of us can possibly tell until we see a product actually launching. But what we can see is that Google has some significant advantages in the market which it has so far failed to utilise for Google Buzz, Orkut or Jaiku, but which could transform any new product.