I've been thinking about what Google could do with Google Wave technologies since the standalone product has been killed. I have also been thinking about what the best way to handle blog posts, Flickr updates, my new Twitter account and Google Buzz. I guess I let the streams cross and you know what happens when you do that.
So Google has talked about getting into the Social Networking game with something that everyone has been calling Google Me. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing what that is. I am a little nervous that it will be technically superior, well engineered product with very little character. It is going to need some style to succeed, IMO. They have also said that they are not looking to replicate Facebook (thank goodness). So what might that look like?
Google does two things very well. Search and advertising. Search brings people in and ads help pay the bills. One could make the argument that Search = Aggregation. Add to that other Google aggregators like Google News and Google Reader and you get some idea of the scope of the assets at their disposal to lure people in. People have eyes and eyes are perfect for viewing advertisements.
So what if, instead of building a social network from the bottom up, they take parts of what they already have and mash them up with parts that other people already have in a way that lets users build out their own social hubs.
Every time Facebook tweaks the interface, there is a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Groups are formed, petitions are signed and it's a huge mess. What if you could still use Facebook as your social networking engine, but tailor the interface to suit you?
What about other tools? How about a Twitter engine or a WordPress engine?
You are probably asking yourself, "Why would Google do this when they have competing products like Buzz and Blogger?" Advertising. I'm not sure Google really cares much about Blogger or Buzz except as a way to attract eyes for ad views. So if you prefer Twitter, that's cool. Keep using it. But use some Google gateway to both feed and consume it and, oh, by the way, maybe you would might be interested in clicking this link for Himalayan Goat Jerky.
What's in it for the engine providers? Users, resources and revenue. Google has a huge user base. Larger than Facebook's even. There could be some value in competing to be the best-in-class engine. Then Google as a gateway communicating via APIs and services would seem to me to be less resource intensive than these other services presenting 100% of the UI to their customers. They could reduce some of the infrastructure load and allow them to concentrate resources on their core services. And then maybe Google works out a deal with these other companies for some percentage of the advertising revenue.
Google Wave did a lot of things well. It was extensible and highly interactive. So Waves become Information Channels and now I have a one-stop shop for my entire online experience. I could have search (Google), mail (Gmail), communication (Google Voice), social (Facebook, Buzz, Twitter, etc.), news (Google News, RSS/Blogs) and media (YouTube, Google Audio?) in one place. Would that be compelling?
Obviously, I don't know. I'm just dreaming. If I were any good a this, I would be a billionaire by now. Would it be difficult to do? Sounds like it would be a major feat of tech engineering to pull off. But then again, that's what Google is good at.