Google might have brushed off Facebook as a trivial company with a trivial product in the early years, but it’s taking the social network very serious now. With Facebook at close to 500 million users and its sights set squarely on Google, the search company can’t afford to ignore the threat anymore. It tried to counter it, partially, with Google Buzz, but even if it had been fully successful it wasn’t going to be enough.
Google has more or less realized this and it’s said that is working on a product to take Facebook head on, Google Me. The rumor is backed by some serious figures in the industry and the general view is that Google is clearly working on this. Further, indirect, proof came from Google CEO Eric Schmidt himself, present at the Guardian’s Activate conference.
Asked to comment on the rumors about Google Me, Schmidt obviously didn’t confirm anything, but his vague answer was interpreted as such. “That would be a product announcement, and I won’t say,” he answered. Since it’s company policy to not comment on speculation, his response is hardly surprising. But it wasn’t a clear denial either and some are now saying if this isn’t more or less a tacit admission.
It may be reading too much into it, but most people had already made up their minds that Google Me is indeed real before this. Google is said to have a very large team working on the new project and is treating it very seriously, something it hasn’t done until now.
Even so, the odds are stacked against the venture, Google has a very poor record when it comes to social networking. None of its products has made much headway and acquisitions, like Orkut, weren’t highly successful either. With the recent Google Buzz flounder, very few are giving Google credit enough to come up with a true competitor to Facebook.