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June 29, 2010

Google's new Social Network "Google Me" Set to Take on Facebook

It seems Google is all ready to take on Facebook with its rumored launch of its new social networking website code named "Google Me" to counter facebook's amazing growth. While Techcrunch ran the story today citing Kevin Rose founder of Digg, tweeting about the upcoming Google Me to take on facebook,some leading sources including some insiders including former CTO of facebook Adam D’Angelo, who currently runs Quora has sharing a few things known to him.

Angelo shared his thoughts as an answer to one of the questions on Quora. Here are his responses
  • Google is launching a new Facebook Killer is not a rumor. This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it. I am completely confident about this.
  • They realized that Buzz wasn’t enough and that they need to build out a full, first-class social network. They are modeling it off of Facebook.
  • Unlike previous attempts (before Buzz at least), this is a high-priority project within Google.
  • Google had assumed that Facebook’s growth would slow as it grew, and that Facebook wouldn’t be able to have too much leverage over them, but then it just didn’t stop, and now they are really scared.
While Google has every reason to view facebook as a competitor as facebook's growth has belied all expectations. Most social networking sites from Friendster,Bebo,Myspace,started with much promise but eventually failed to scale up... something which Facebook has been able to do without going public.

While "Google Me" can get a head start with a ready made users in the form of Google and Gmail, as more than 4 users out of 6 uses some form of Google via either Google adsense/Adwords/Gmail/Google, use Google Products. However Google in the past has not been able to d justice to their social networking products . Orkut today is a regional power in India and Brazil with not much growth or market share coming from North America or Europe.

While there is no doubt that consumers today need something as an alternative to Facebook, I am not particularly sure if Google is the right Company to take up that challenge. Google Buzz rode on the Google marketing machine but failed to impact Twitter in any remote way and in the process made Google Buzz a terrible mish mash of a real time tool which adds nothing to what twitter already has apart from integrating Google's other products across their clickstream. Facebook’s US user base grew from 42 million to 103 million in 2009. That’s an incredible 144.9% growth rate!.

According to comScore, Google still has nearly two-thirds of the U.S. search market, but dropped a fraction of a percent from 65.7% in Dec 2009 to 65.4% in Jan 2010 [source: Information Week]. While Google is still the leader in the search space, and Facebook only accounted for just under 400 million searches in January, that is a gain of 13% over December. If this trend continues, Google may have ample reason to fear Facebook. Also Facebook is supposed having plans to launch their own email client, Titan.)

At the beginning of 2008, Facebook’s international audience was 34 million people. By the first day of 2009, that number had increased to 95 million – making nearly 70% of the total Facebook audience. Today, this number is well over 400 million. This is not only about numbers but the demographics which has shown growth makes Facebook a must for any marketers.The 35+ demographic now represents more than 30% of the entire user base.The 55+ audience at Facebook grew a whopping 922.7% in 2009.

Creating the next Facebook is going to take more that ready made users which Google claims to have.Almost 500 million people already have their content stored on Facebook,with their detailed click stream being leveraged by advertisers trying data mine Facebook as the next big Online Channel to reach new users , and despite what Facebook claims about being open, I doubt if Google have really come up with the next big disruptive technology to outsmart the Facebook juggernaut and make it easy for anyone to jump into the arms of a competitor.

Facebook’s growth rate accelerated by at least 25% in 47 countries in one recent quarter. Its quarterly growth rate more than doubled in 28 of those countries.Now translated into over 100 languages, Facebook has shown that it can penetrate nearly one third of the entire national population in multiple developed markets, and we expect this to be true of many more countries in the near future.According to comScore, Facebook's monthly audience more than doubled from 54.5 million U.S. unique visitors to 112 million unique visitors during 2009.

If some of the Google's product which has come out from their infamous Google Labs are shining testimony to what Google can do ( except across Search) Facebook need not be bothered.