Oh, Google. As usual, the Internet giant spent the week kicking out new releases while forging through the flames of trash talking. Read on for the latest deets on Google's rumored social layer, an accidentally leaked cloud storage service, and why the whole Groupon thing might be the best idea ever.

Groupon + Google = Changing the Game

Google’s pending purchase of Groupon has got many a geek in a tizzy, particularly over the price tag: A whopping US$ 6 billion. Should Groupon sell for the purported sum, it would be the second most expensive transaction in the history of private venture-backed companies, exceeded only by the US$ 7 billion sale of Cerent to Cisco in 1999.

With such numbers on the line, the mounting criticisms are no surprise: The bid signals Google’s desperation, Groupon’s human-intensive sales model doesn’t jive with the Internet giant’s, antitrust investigations, Facebook’s possible retaliation-- the list goes on.

But what about the good stuff? After all, Google’s a lot of things, but “dumb” certainly isn’t one of them. Consider the question that Niel Robertson, CEO of Trada, asked himself when Google last shelled out a surprising sum: Could Google spend three billion dollars any other way to catch up to YouTube?

The conclusion I came to was simply ‘no’. Metcalfe’s law is at work every day on the Internet and one of the things about Metcalfe’s law is that once you get big enough, you basically are unassailable until a completely new model comes along. YouTube was, at that point, unassailable.

And get this: it still is. Even though Google still provides its own video service, right along with popular sites like Facebook, YouTube is still number one.

Should we consider Groupon the YouTube of coupon sites? Possibly. The company has a reported US$ 500 million annual run rate in revenue after a mere two years of operation, and is on track to leap 50% in 2011. If you can name another coupon site with numbers even close to that, you deserve a cookie.

Robertson goes on to point out the rise in popularity of location-based technologies, as well as the perks that will surely come with advertising distribution. From this angle, the move doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Plus, purchasing Groupon now would ensure that it won’t end up in the hands of competitors like Microsoft or Amazon.

What do you think?

The Green Sea, or City, or Something...

Speaking of unassailable networks: Hey, Facebook! It seems silly to think that any company -- even Google -- could one day be bigger in the social space than The Social Network, but Big G isn’t one for giving up.

New details have leaked about the Internet giant’s alleged competitor, a social layer designed to spread across the majority of Google products. Once known as Google Me, word on e-street is that it’s been re-codenamed “Emerald Sea”. Yeah, like that one book by John Ringo.

“One tipster, a former Googler, warns that these internal nicknames shift all the time and it could even end up being known as “Emerald City” at some point,” wrote TechCrunch’s MG Siegler. “As to what Google will end up calling it when it gets released next year, that remains up in the air, it seems.”

An Early Hello, Google Cloud Picker

In other groovy rumors, Google is testing a new online storage tool called Cloud Picker:

Google Cloud Picker -- (image credit)

According to the forums, Cloud Picker -- somehow connected to Google Apps, Docs and Sites -- was presented when a small number of users tried to insert a file or image into a Google site. Instead of being able to embed the file, the “Google Cloud Picker” window shown above opened.

It appears to be some sort of organizational tool, specifically for files stored in -- dun, dun, dun! -- the cloud. And, from the looks of it, this is going to be targeted towards consumers rather than enterprise folk.

TechCrunch’s Leena Rao contacted Google to learn more about the product, only to get the following response:

Oops… looks like someone pushed some code too quickly. It’s not quite ready for prime time yet but stay tuned!

Chrome 8 Has Landed

An early merry Christmas to all of you Chrome fans! Chrome 8 is now the stable version of Google's Web browser. The release contains more than 800 bug fixes since Chrome 7, and features stability improvements such as support for Google’s upcoming Web apps and a built-in PDF viewer.

Chrome 8.0.552.215 arrives just about six weeks after Google released Chrome 7, keeping in line with the Internet giant's plan to maintain a faster release pace. This means the changes from release to release aren't as huge as they used to be, but it also means users won't have to wait long for easy fixes. Chrome Dev channel, anyone? (Or maybe you just want to download Chrome 8.)