SocialDeck is Latest Ingredient in Google’s Recipe For A Social Platform to Rival Facebook; Reviewing the List, From Aardvark to Zynga

8/31/10Follow @wroush

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one group of “friends” and don’t account for differences in the strength of social ties. Designers of social networks, Adams said, should account for the multiple groups and types of relationships in people’s lives, and for the fact that people might want to show different sides of their identities to these different groups.

Angstro—Acquired by Google just last week, Angstro created a real-time, social-network-savvy address book service called Knx.to, and had also been beta-testing a service called Noteworthy News, which delivered news about people and companies in a user’s social network. According to the Los Angeles Times, Angstro co-founder Rohit Khare “joined Google because he was sold by vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra’s pledge that Google is serious about social,” and now has a desk near Max Levchin’s.

Jaiku—This is old news, but possibly significant. Jaiku is basically Twitter with channels: a microblogging service where individual posts feed into group conversations around specific topics. Google bought the Finnish company in October, 2007. The code behind Jaiku has been open-sourced and ported to Google’s App Engine platform, and Google doesn’t have engineers actively assigned to the product. Still, Jaiku posts feed into Google’s real-time search results. A Google social platform would be incomplete without some sort of Twitter- or Jaiku-style real-time update function.

Jambool—This San Francisco startup created Social Gold, a virtual currency platform that game developers can plug into their online game worlds. In an August 13 blog post announcing that Google had acquired the company, co-founders Vikas Gupta and Reza Hussein, both Amazon veterans, implied that they expected to see the Social Gold platform grow with Google’s support. “We are thrilled to bring the Social Gold platform to Google’s global users,” they wrote. A virtual currency system akin to Facebook Credits would be a basic part of any Google social platform, especially if it’s heavy on games.

Gmail—In a pair of interesting posts, Om Malik and Liz Gannes at GigaOm have been speculating about the potential of Google’s existing e-mail platform as the launching pad for future social networking services. Google just added the ability to make VoIP calls directly from Gmail. If it were also to add interfaces to allow people to post tweets to Twitter and status updates to Facebook, Gmail would become “a full-blown communications platform” that “leverages three of Google’s mainstay strengths: infrastructure, search, and simplicity of user experience,” Malik argued. Meanwhile, Gannes pointed out how plugins like Rapportive, a “social CRM” service I profiled recently, are gradually turning Gmail into a bona fide app platform. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see Google revive some of the ideas from its soon-to-be-shuttered Google Wave project in the form of a more socially-aware e-mail system; Google did say in its announcement of Google Wave’s coming shutdown, after all, that it planned to “extend the technology for use in other Google projects.”

LabPixies—This fascinating little startup makes games for the iPhone and Android platforms as well as “personalized Web gadgets” that allow users customize Web environments such as their home pages on Yahoo or iGoogle, their profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, or Hi5. It’s one of the companies demonstrating creative uses for Google Gadgets, XML- and Javascript-based mini-apps that are the closest thing Google has to Facebook applications. “Working at Google will help us scale to … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/wroush/ Wade Roush

    Update: Just came across a nice AdAge article on this same theme: Google Sees Facebook Threat in String of Deals. It includes an informative chart showing most of Google’s acquisitions since February.