Can Google Speak Social?

The New York Times asks the question on everyone's mind: How does Google plan on getting its social grove on? Well, while details remain scarce, Google officials tell the paper that social features will be added to existing products, like search, email, maps, photos, video and ads. The company plans to "take Google's core products and add a social component, to make the core products even better," CEO Eric Schmidt says. Such explanations, however, appear to leave analysts cold.

"Google's culture is very much based on the power of the algorithm, and it's very difficult to algorithm social interaction," Charlene Li, founder of tech research firm Altimeter Group tells The Times. More concerning, "There is some belief at Google that their DNA is not perfectly suited to build social products, and it's a quite controversial topic internally," one anonymous insider admits. "The part of social that's about stalking people, sharing photos, looking cool -- it's mentally foreign to engineers." At stake, as The Times notes, is "losing the competition for Web users' time, details of their lives and, ultimately, advertising."
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