The most famous social networking website and platform owned by Google Inc. would be Google+. As the second-largest social networking site in the world after Facebook, Google+ helps Google share a big piece of cake in the social networking market. Besides Google+, Google has several other social networking platforms that you may not be familiar with.
However, recently, Google is dropping its 10-year-old social media platform Orkut, and its document-conversation application Quickoffice. With these two old boys gone, it is the time to take a look back at Google’s long history of social media attempts.
A powerful social layer that connects many of Google’s online properties. Google+ was launched in June 2011. During the past three years, Google+ definitely had its moment. Google+ reached 25 million users after its first month. There are currently 540 million active users who used at least one Google+ service. The head of Google+ social efforts, Vic Gundotra, left Google in April and released an article called “Google+ Is Walking Dead”. This raised people’s discussion about Google+’s challenges and weaknesses. But besides its social media function, Google+ plays an important role in SEO and Google’s data gathering. Although Google+ may not become the No.1 in social networking market, it will still deliver value to Google.
Orkut is being slated for decommissioning. Brazilians and Indians are more into Orkut, comparing to Americans. Orkut was launched back in 2004 and it was Google’s first step into social networking. On June 30, 2014, Google announced that Orkut would be shutting down completely in three months, in order to focus on YouTube, Google+ and Blogger that have proven to be more popular.
YouTube was founded by former employees of PayPal and purchased by Google in 2006. YouTube represents the best of Google’s social networking platforms. YouTube’s entire interface of the website has been available with localized version in lots of countries. Advertising is YouTube’s main mechanism for gaining revenue.
One great progress about Buzz was that is was integrated into Google’s Gmail program. Users could share videos, photos, links, status messages and comments visible in their inbox. However, the principle theories here seem to be fault – do people want to engage in social sharing with their e-mail contacts? After all, a lot of your e-mail contacts are not your friends. Google wanted to use Buzz as a bridge between work and leisure but it didn’t solve users’ privacy concerns. As a result, Buzz was shut down in December 2011.
Dogeball was a location-based social networking software for mobile devices. Users send their location to the service, which notifies them of friends, families and interesting venues near them. It brought a creative concept to the public – stalking your “crushes” on your phone. But Google just didn’t catch the right timing – very few people were familiar with phone-based social services back in 2004.
What differs Waze from traditional GPS navigation software is its community-driven nature – users are able to contribute to complementary map data and other traffic information. People report traffic jams, police traps and accidents. Google took over Waze in June 2013 and added a social data aspect to its mapping business.
Overall, Google hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to social media attempts. The loss of Orkut indicates that social networking business still bothers Google. One area Google has done great is its acquisitions. For years, Google has been purchasing social networking sites from others and adding new features into them. Since those acquisitions cannot really help Google win the social world, maybe it is time for Google to learn the lessons from the acquisitions if it wants to beat Facebook in social.