Google wants one ring to bind them

After much rumour and speculation about what Google might do as far as social-networking goes, TechCrunch has the details on its first real foray into the social sphere, and it sounds like the search giant is trying to do exactly what many were thinking — and perhaps hoping — it would do: namely, offer a set of APIs and other tools that could allow users to make sense of the various profiles and information that have embedded in different networks (the NYT has the deets as well).

snipshot_e47uot40nd1.jpgThis is something that social networking has been needing for some time, and Google is just the one to do it. For one thing, the company is large enough and carries enough weight that people want to play along — although I noticed that the list of partners TechCrunch has (the full announcement is scheduled for Thursday) doesn’t include a certain company whose name starts with Face and rhymes with “schnook,” although that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. MySpace isn’t there either.

This goes even further than the earlier reports from Erick Schonfeld and others, who talked about Google using a single API to build connections between its own apps and create “activity streams” not unlike Facebook news feeds (I wrote about those rumours here. I for one hope that Google succeeds in getting all of the various networks — including Facebook — to sign on, but I expect that Facebook will see this attempt as a threat (and rightly so) to its more walled-garden approach to its data.

Further reading:

— Nick Carr thinks Google Social could possibly play a role in Enterprise 2.0.
Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 talks about Facebook’s vulnerabilities.
— Mike Masnick at Techdirt says Google and Facebook are flipping each other’s business models around.
— Marc Andreessen thinks Google Social is the next big Internet platform, and he has screenshots of the new feature/service as well.

Update 01/11/07:

Mike Arrington says he has confirmed that MySpace and SixApart are both joining the Google Social platform, confirming a rumour that Peter Kafka at Silicon Alley Insider first reported earlier today. At this point it looks like it could be Facebook vs. the Googleplex.

11 thoughts on “Google wants one ring to bind them

  1. Mathew
    Honest question. Not trying to be either a) funny or b) sarcastic.

    do you ever sleep? Every time there’s something new on techmeme I see your site up there #1.

    On top of your day job, how do you keep up?

  2. Here’s the secret, Mukund — I’ve actually taught myself how to blog in my sleep 🙂

  3. Google Social – best title award goes to you Matt!

    As exciting as this sounds, it remains to be seen how Myspace and Facebook will react, especially with Facebook sitting on truckloads of new cash and a sky high valuation.

    More important is how users fit in. Developers like to think users follow them, but I think developers follow users.

    My gut reaction says that Google will have trouble unless Facebook or Myspace jumps on board, and I predict they will not.

  4. I think you’re right, Joe — can Google’s attempt really work if it doesn’t include two of the world’s largest social networks?

  5. The only way MS or FB will ever get on board is if OpenSocial starts helping other networks gain market share. If it does, MS and FB will get on it to stop them from eating away.

    The question is, will this provide something the user needs? Or just make it easier for widget developers? I can see it going either way.

  6. Marc Andreessen’s excellent post has convinced me that the most likely shake out will be to have Myspace, Facebook, and then a Google centric world with all the social networking leftovers. However this last group has the potential to grow very big very fast as users are going to like the idea of carrying around socializing seamlessly as they travel the web (if in fact Open Social does a good job facilitating that – which remains to be seen). Frankly, I’d just like it if every site just put up a twitter box and a MyBlogLog recent readers widget with a real photo, and then everybody had an MBL and Twitter profile. I think that would take care of 90% of my social networking needs.

  7. Sauron made a website, he's in the business of making bank now and mass produces the One Ring to sell to all us weakling humans. What he doesn't know is that we will gang up against him with Google and chop off his silly little hat.

  8. Sauron made a website, he's in the business of making bank now and mass produces the One Ring to sell to all us weakling humans. What he doesn't know is that we will gang up against him with Google and chop off his silly little hat.

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