It all started with a single tweet. Digg co-founder Kevin Rose tweeted that Google is planning to launch its own social network, a viable competitor to Facebook. Within hours, the Internet was buzzing with news of Google Me, the rumored name of this new network. Though Google has already dabbled in social networking with its social community Orkut, its popularity is centralized in Brazil, and India as of late. Now, by utilizing Google’s already existing library of apps, Google Me is poised to be a larger, more diverse platform that will appeal to users worldwide.
Online consensus from blogs and news stories all point to Google Me as a combination of many already prominent Google apps and services – Orkut, Buzz, Profiles, Picasa and Latitude are just a few of the many apps Google could pull from to create its ultimate social network. Fortune Tech’s Seth Weintraub estimates Google has at least 30 social properties it could combine for Me. Instead of overhauling Orkut, Google is creating an entirely new network – a smart move, seeing as Orkut hasn’t found popularity in the United States.
Orkut is a very basic social network, and has a user-base of more than 100 million. What makes it so popular overseas is its focus is on communities and discussion, aspects that popular networks like have, but aren’t utilized as much by users. Instead, photos, status updates, and games like Farmville reign supreme. On social networks, sharing content in quick, short spurts is preferred over long discussions. Networks like Twitter and Tumblr are examples of how simple, short and quick content has taken the lead. Google Me will most likely focus on this short and simple trend, which should appeal to a wider and more global audience.
To differentiate Me from Orkut – while still retaining Orkut’s users – Google should focus on making its network more social media friendly, essentially creating a one-stop-shop for all things social and sharing on Google and the Web. Google can also utilize its popular Android mobile OS platform and take its network mobile. This would give users access to Me on multiple platforms, encouraging greater use and providing even more sharing capabilities, and the ability to participate in geo-tagging and location-based networking as well.
By focusing more on social media and emerging trends like location-based networking, Google can quickly establish its network as a major player in social networking. It has all of the tools, and now it needs to make them all work together on a single platform. Orkut was a start, but Google needs a network that is fresh and truly Web 2.0 to make it succeed. If the rumors are true, Google Me will be exactly that. Google’s strengths lie with simplicity, personalization and accessibility. A social network with all of these elements would make Google Me attractive to users, while remaining uniquely Google.
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