— aleatory

Google & It’s Search For a Social Graph

Google Borg
image courtesy Tantek

Techcrunch lead on a $100m investment by Google in Zynga the social network gaming company. It’s the latest in a long line of Google failures in a vital area of capturing web traffic – or, “organising the world’s information” as Google diplomatically puts it.

Canny move or desperation?

When examined in detail for such a blazingly successful company as Google are their record in social really is shocking: a near-continuous stream of failure with little apparent success on the horizon anytime soon. Something is playing up in non-evil algorithm land.

Dead

  • Dodgeball
  • lively
  • Jaiku

Not Dead

  • Latitude
  • Wave
  • Buzz

All are relatively unsuccessful on either Google or their own niche terms.

All elements of organising a user’s network around their infrastructure and not someone else. Each one concentrating on a certain social metaphor and each one failing in their own anonymous way. What will be different about gaming? What will make users skip their existing social accounts and networks that already have these games? While they tend to be pretty limited in depth what will Google do that will be different?

Obviously I’m highly sceptical but when you look at the stakes it’s vital for Google that they find a social something that sticks. Especially when the CEO has always seen them as a media company first and foremost.

Facebook with their über-targeted ads has a technology and reach that is arguably more powerful than Google’s. It is a big threat to continued adwords growth, which despite all the moves against Microsoft & Apple is surely Google’s #1 priority.

If gaming really is the leverage to unseat Facebook then Zynga may turn out to be a great choice – the 3 year old company is already rumoured to be projecting $1bn in revenue for 2011, signalling the undoubted importance of this much derided gaming sub-industry.

It may be blood from a stone attempting to get Google to admit it’s worried about anything – least of all a single web site – But putting yourself in their shoes it’s difficult to see Facebook’s rise as anything less than the #1 threat to their existing revenue model.

1 comment
  1. rutherford says: 12 July 201011:12 am

    I see mashable have a graphic up detailing similar.

    I excluded Orkut, Open Social & Google Friend Connect partly because they aren’t exactly mainstream but mainly because they contradict my negative conclusion.

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