Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google +1 : Unraveling the Mystery


The mystery is there only because people just can't get something very straight forward into their heads. Google is NOT trying to dethrone Facebook here. Not as a social network at least.

Let me back it up a bit. Over the past few weeks Techcrunch has really really been on a roll with regard to grabbing inside details about Google's social project which was earlier dubbed Google Me. Check it out over here.

Gist of it is this, Google's social project seems to be coming off as just a toolbar with a share button which I can only imagine allows you to share across several networks. Oh. And it would probably include the goo.gl ur shortener too. 

Doesn't seem like a big deal to you? Well you are probably right. On the surface this probably doesn't mean anything but some convenience in sharing stuff. But what if it was looked at from a different angle? I decided to observe the comments first. Yeps. Everyone is screaming how utterly useless this will be to them and that Google sucks for working on this for 6 months. Here's my view.

ok if this is it... Well I wouldn't say it sucks entirely. I think people are missing the point. I'm not entirely sure Google wants people to leave Facebook and come to them in droves. I honestly hope that isn't their strategy because there is very little hope that they could do a project like that in secret and hope for it to work with a bunch of techies as testers. Nah. For a social product to overwhelm Facebook they'd need to be very open about the whole thing and have a lot of people on board to test it.
Here's a reality (or is it sanity) check. Google might finally have realised that they are about to lose search ground to Facebook. The day Facebook says "use this search bar to search for stuff you'd normally search for on Google" the game might be up. Why? Friend recommendations come to the top. Why is that important? Human psychology. We need to be part of a group. Why do you think everyone is on FB. Because that's where their friends are.
Point is, friend recommendations. So if this is Google +1 then imagine this. Every link you share/like, whether the share goes to twitter or facebook it doesn't matter. To Google if you do this through their system then it's a +1 to them and it dominoes down into a possible way of enhancing their search engine.
Now do you see where this is going?
At least... That's where I hope it's going. If this is just a share button. For goodness sake. Just embrace www.rockmelt.com . Yes. I'm in love with it.
edit : something else to think about. Google reader. "Add your friend's +1s to your reading list" (that's about the max in real social that i can see coming from this)
edit 2: to all the people yelling a share button can't be what they worked on for this long. well. a brand new social graph oriented algorithm could take that long. heck. probably longer.

I just had to get caught to a troll after that who had been trolling this post and I missed that before responding but I felt my response carried a few additional points.

From him to me

No offense, but that is an extremely stupid and simple minded way of thinking. The "Any gain is better than nothing!" idea doesn't take into account how much money they spent developing it.
And again...newsflash to all the delusional morons out there...the average person does NOT have a Google account. Gmail...the biggest reason people sign up for a Google account has TWENTY PERCENT market share. So 4 out of 5 users do not have one, and they sure as hell won't sign up for this.

And my reply

um no offense but dude. Do you have any idea how valuable a social oriented search algorithm added into their existing algorithm is? Or have you not been watching the news as to how scary the FB Social graph is to Google's search? Did you not read about Mark's interview where he outright said that Google has it all wrong? That people don't want to see a plain old algorithm generated result anymore which is essentially only what Google's algorithm wants you to see.
Did you miss the article about how a guy gamed the system into pushing his site to the top by fueling negative comments? He discovered that it doesn't matter how bad the comments are, as long as a lot of people have commented or discussed on and about his site it still drove the Google bots to his site.
Welcome to reality. This isn't an "any gain is better than nothing" idea. If my general observation is anything to go by, people don't mind clicking the like button. But you know what they for some reason like more? Being able to share a link from wherever they go into twitter or facebook without having to leave the site. Trust me on this one. Rockmelt allows this and everyone, without exception, who I have demoed it to at my University, techies and non techies alike, have gone wild over it.
The only argument I'm willing to accept here is the whole Google Account bit. And that, well you are just assuming it'll happen the way they roll out their other products. Let's just wait for that bit shall we?
My only argument was to clear out the fact that I think everyone is getting it wrong. They don't want to dethrone FB as social engine. They want to make sure it stays clear off their turf. That turf happens to be the search and ads business. nuff said

So my final argument summarized for anyone to read.

  • Google isn't trying to create a new social network.
  • Google doesn't want to create a new social network.
  • Google can’t create a new social network without extensive user testing and public feedback
  • Google is under threat from FB on the search front. Sure you don't use FB to search for how to cook or how to code today but it'll take a few UI changes to disrupt all of that (over simplified but big picture view that's it)
  • Google wants you to interact through them to all your other social networks. You do this and you don't have to switch anything but you'll soon start seeing stuff recommended by your friends showing up on the side. What would you click? Those dodgy links or a link saying "Friend qwerty +1ed this"
  • In the end it's about Google bringing social to search. Oh, and telling FB to stay off their park.

At least, that is what I really hope this is if it is for real.

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