Wake Up When Google Bores You
The world may not need a Google-branded social network along the lines of what Google is reportedly building. My fellow columnist Cathy Taylor made that perfectly clear last week. Yet I can offer a barometer to show whether Google will launch a great product: the more boring Google makes it, the better it will be.
Google excels at boring. Look at the heart of its business model, search advertising. I’ve worked for companies with strengths in search engine marketing since 2004 and penned over 200 Search Insider columns for MediaPost, and I love search as few on this planet do. Still, Google’s take on search, with its character counts and algorithms, doesn’t provide great material for a Cannes award submission or a David Fincher movie.
Google has a similar track record with social media. Its most exciting contribution is a site that has contributed to the democratization of video production and distribution: YouTube. Most of what’s great about YouTube already existed before Google acquired it, while Google has done well with the “boring” aspects of making it scale and developing revenue streams.
Below are a number of other ways Google has approached social media, grouped by “exciting” and “boring” entries.
Orkut: Google launched its own social network in January 2004 a mere 14 days before Facebook launched, according to the Wikipedia dates. Which would you have bet on succeeding, an independent project at Google or a hobby from some kid in a Harvard dorm room? Google, founded by a couple of grad students who managed to outmaneuver Yahoo and the other 1990s web stalwarts, should have had some algorithm to predict the winner here.