The Wall Street Journal reported last night that the big social gaming companies that dominate Facebook are in talks with Google to launch on its platform, too.It's becoming clear that Google is getting ready to launch a social networking platform to challenge Facebook. Most recently,
Can Google get social? For many years the tech community has said Google just doesn't get it and doesn't stand a chance moving beyond search and into social technology. Too many failed attempts have left people feeling cynical. This latest effort might be different, though. We asked five of the smartest people we know in social technology if they thought Google could pose a viable challenge to Facebook.
It's a Stretch...
Scott Beale, founder of Laughing Squid and long-time geek gadfly
"It seems to me they are very different systems: Google open vs. Facebook closed. Or is the thought that Facebook will be eventually as open as Google? Posting photos to Facebook is like sending them down a black hole. It would take a major shift for that [Google effectively challenging Facebook] to happen. Google is a utility: email, search, video, etc."
Above: Beale and Thurston, photo from Laughing Squid
Buzz is Closer Than You Might Think
Iain Dodsworth, founder of desktop social stream reader Tweetdeck
"I think Google can and will effectively challenge Facebook. Perhaps in part around Buzz - a product which is far from on its last legs and has great potential with a few tweaks -probably around the positioning of the service rather than the functionality."
Neither Company Has the Right Culture for Social Technology
Kaliya Hamlin, co-founder, Internet Identity Workshop
"A ceratin kind of social 'way' of being inside the company is informing what gets built and that healthy social systems are not driven by 'fight.' It works for now, but I don't think it is a viable model for choosing how to design 'social software' in the long run.
That's not just at Facebook, either though. The culture of agression is pervasive in Silicon Valley, including at Google."
Right: Hamlin, by Doc Searls
Gaming May Be the Wrong Approach
Ben Metcalfe, leading product design consultant and iconoclast
"Looking at how many of these companies make money, I also think it will be a bumpy ride for Google's 'don't be evil' mantra. ?Google are the masters of context-advertising around text and now video, but in games there is no context - which is why there is still crappy subscription and lead-gen monetization going on by many companies in this space. I don't know whether Google has the authority in that space nor whether it is in line with Google's wider values. "
Google Won't Kill Facebook, but Something Will, Someday
Baratunde Thurston, Web Editor at The Onion and international smart guy
"I put the odds of Google overtaking Facebook at 30 percent. However, I put the odds of Facebook eventually going the way of Friendster, Myspace and Pointcast Networks at 100 percent. No one stays on top forever. No one."