File this rumor in the “quite possible” folder. It comes by way of Kevin Rose, co-founder and CEO of Digg. He tweeted to his 1.1 million followers:
Ok, umm, huge rumor: Google to launch facebook competitor very soon “Google Me”, very credible source
TechMiso picked up the tweet and the rumor is gaining steam on Google Buzz.
I believe there is room in the Google ecosystem for a new social network. While Buzz is still fresh out of the box, it really isn’t ideal for keeping up with friends and family. Buzz is somewhat more like Twitter in terms of the relationships between users, although discussions tend to be more fulsome than those on Twitter. Google does already have a Facebook like service, Orkut. However, Orkut is significantly behind Facebook in terms of features and it never really caught on outside of Brazil and India. Some point to Wave as a social network of sorts but it’s really a different animal. Wave is more like a collaboration service that better suits business purposes than social purposes.
If there really is a Google Me, I’m really curious what the service will look like. Surely, it will incorporate many Facebook features but I would expect some significant departures from the mold, and not just better privacy settings. Surely, there’s room for improvement upon the Facebook format.
I believe the biggest obstacle to any Facebook competitor is that many Facebook users have invested significant time amassing their group of Facebook friends. Even if an large group decided to defect from Facebook, it’s not easy to export Facebook contacts to Google. It actually requires a Yahoo! account to pull from Facebook and export to CSV file. From there, the CSV file can be imported into Gmail. Instructions can be found here.
I’m hoping Kevin is right. It’s about time someone shakes things up and competes meaningfully with Facebook.
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