Today's big rumor is that Google is cooking up some sort of social network that will challenge Facebook. At least, that's what Digg founder Kevin Rose hinted at on Twitter:
Google hasn't had much luck on the social front (see Google Wave; see Google Buzz) but if you piece together all of the company's social endeavors, it sort of begins to look like a proper networking platform. Google Profiles could take care of personal information, Google Buzz could handle status updates, Google Latitude could cover the location-based phenomenon everyone is going gaga over, and Google Wave could squeeze its collaboration features into the cracks.
This is all speculation, and both Google and Facebook have been reluctant to comment on the rumors, but it's worth noting that quitting has never seemed to be one of Google's interests. Also, Big G was recently on the lookout for a "Head of Social," according to GigaOm. Check out part of the job description:
This is a new and very strategic position, as Google knows it is late on this front and is appropriately humble about it. In Google's view, conceptually, there are two ways to tackle social, each impacting who may be successful in this senior post: 1) building an innovative offering specifically in this area; or 2) developing the capability and integrating social into Google's existing portfolio.
Sounds to us like they've been gearing up for something major for some time now.
Facebook is the Biggest Mountain Ever
Then again, even if Google combined its services into one mega platform, Facebook is still a force to be reckoned with. The platform is nearing 500 million users, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is confident that 1 billion is doable so long as it conquers the countries that haven't caught on yet (Russia, China and Japan).
"If we succeed [in innovating and remaining relevant] there is a good chance of bringing this to a billion people… it will be interesting to see how it plays out," he said at this year's International Advertising Festival in Cannes. "We are down to just four countries where we aren't the leading social network."
Should Google Finally Throw in the Towel?
With numbers like Facebook's, and, considering Google's social failures, it's hard to imagine Big G -- or anyone else, for that matter -- coming out with a platform that could get anywhere near Facebook's rule. "...people don't necessarily want their relationship with Google to be a foundation for social networking," pointed out Harry McCracken, founder of Technologizer.com.
But people like Next Web's Brady McCarty remain confident: "Knowing that a Google account is required to use Orkut, and a Gmail account is required for Buzz, we can safely assume that we're looking at roughly 200 million users to any service that would combine the two, he said. "It wouldn't take much for Google to not only be a thorn, but to actually come knocking with a heavy hand on the door of Facebook."