Whats wrong with Social Services of Google?

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It disappoints you when you get to see nice innovations not catching up that faster than they should have. I was under huge disappointment, when come to see Google wave not taking off the hood that well and even when its for sure that Google Buzz is here to stay, it annoy you a little that why its not catching up that faster.

What wrong with technically the best services of Google in social department?

A question that’s been repeatedly asked and attempted to be answered so many times in so many ways still work-in-progress remained confusing. A company, who seems to have best moral grounds and respect among users all around the globe, a way of thinking that always seems to be working for betterment of technology and pushing the standards up, a technical leadership, which always believed in simplicity yet the best practices and at the end, owner of something called close to God Google’s Search, which tends to knowing people’s habits more than anything else in the world. Still the company not rising that big on social fronts? Why?

Just trying to think.. recollecting facts … not suggesting … not answering

  1. Blogger has much support and options than Wordpress, still Wordpress rules big time.
  2. Orkut been more simpler, cleaner and centered around people more than the business/ advertising, but still it not catching up big time against Facebook or MySpace.
  3. Social Connect and FriendFeed been around with nice features, but no one seems to know much about them not even names.
  4. Google Wave was a path breaking and real huge thing happened to this century, but still …
  5. Google Buzz was way better than Twitter or Facebook status updates, if we count on specifications sheet, but still it seems to loosing battle against Twitter.

Then why so many ‘failures’ whenever Google attempts some social thing?

  • Is the answer lies in their most successful service Google Search itself?
  • What if its Google’s obsession with cloud computing and unification of services, which holds them back from thinking outside the box?
  • Is the reason, is compatibility issues that take time with their 64 acquisitions till now?

All of the above may seem to be random and somehow irrelevant with the current discussion na… let me explain each.

google_god Why I am pointing over the most sane thing ever happened?

Issue is that their programmers and other people involved are kind of devotee for Google like anyone on this planet and sometimes it hinders with ability to think outside or against the main philosophy that may be laid by top management that “Let the consumer use the thing in simplest way, all complications we will handle free of  cost” Philosophy is great, Simplicity is great, but the problem is - Everything is not a Google Search.

You may not decide what would be the best for users. You have hands on almost each service in the world,  but you cant keep on suggesting people to use them at the first place before you mature each of them to stand on their own. I know many would say that Google does allow other services more than any other company in the world, but still I am making my point here ..

One example is Wordpress Vs Blogger; Acquisition from Pyra Labs, Blogger seems to be most flexible blogging platform on the planet for people, who are happy with writing and don’t even want to own a domain. you can make use of all kind of scripts, insert any kind of custom code, add other Google services and even write and use your own theme yourself. Then why wordpress still known as the best platform for blogging?

Blogger-Wordpress-Conversion Sometimes initiatives and one product centered approach wins over projects with bigger potential and bigger resources. Wordpress has established the whole system with involvement of other companies as well, while Google thinks that we have options in our own domain itself then why go outside? What’s point of not providing support to import whole blog to port on Wordpress or others? What’s point in letting users resister their domain names with Google only? What’s point in keeping just a few very basic themes on showcase thinking that users will do everything? Why no inbuilt tool for stats? Why can’t one webmaster change the content of comments to strip out abusive content?

Once you start using Blogger, you really find that its best thing to go with, but not in first glance itself. Sometimes, I feels that flexibility should be matched well by offering excellent example/ templates and it should not only be on users and third party developers to evolve over the platform, but one should keep himself running in the race. There are some excellent themes and options with Blogger, but none of them are on showcase, like Google don’t wanna save itself from responsibility after putting other’s work on showcase. This doesn’t suit a beginner.


Same with Facebook Vs Orkut; Google’s initial hesitations from advertising inside Orkut due to inputs from overly cluttered interface of Facebook and MySpace cost its being first choice for third party developer doing their work for money. That kept the concept of Social Networking sane, when Zyanga with its games like Farmvilla and Mafia Wars etc attracts 80% of Facebook, then one really come to rethink that if the strategy to keep the place personal only was helping at first place?

I still love Orkut and still know, the traffic to Orkut is true traffic rather than that of game freaks (the case with Facebook), who will sooner or later get bored with games and then will be frustrated that there is nothing like friend updates in Facebook, but just Farmvilla updates…. but still I wish to ask question that why Google failed to bring more developers in orkut? Simplicity may not be the best policy always.

Cloud Computing: Somewhere we don’t see what Google might be seeing for future. Google’s each move heads towards cloud computing. Similar things were started from Microsoft, who wanted to place best solutions for everything that a user might ask for, but now Google seems to be more aggressive on the same front.

Google is heading to the topology of “One Account for all” and their recent XOAuth step seems to be right step in right direction. They already have placed all common services on cloud, be it search, mails, blogging, news, feeds, photos, maps, friends, entertainment or anything one do with computers. Chrome OS meant to be the gate of cloud computing, where one login will make you working from anywhere and from any device.

Yes! they had removed the necessity of having a Google Account for their Chrome OS, but still that clears the intentions. What do you think the Google’s obsession for speed, Launch of Google Docs, which enables you to read all common kind of documents online without any installation, advancement of YouTube and its agreement with Media giants to provide full movies or cricket shows like IPL, Google Books, Google translations and flooding like a rage plugins for Google Chrome; is all random?

Google seems to have learned that sometimes things that come in packages and work decently win over specialized products, examples been Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. The rise of NetBooks and popularity of Google Docs really have made it possible for Business persons doing their work with minimal and cost effective setup. Being comfortable with such a system is the first step towards Cloud Computing and though Microsoft started this, but Google making it a reality for sure.


If we see from Google’s point of view, then it makes sense that you login though one account on Chrome OS and you will get all your work ready for you in the same state, you left it. Either it be your docs, your movies, your social networking with Orkut, your blogging with Blogger, your feeds via Google reader, your status updates via Google Buzz and so on.. moreover, once XOAuth starts working in that direction then it would also be easy to announce that all these services wont be sharing data (that could be a security concerns). Definitely Google understands that most of the users might prefer working with what comes out of box like they did with Internet Explorer or Outlook Express.

But question is, even if you seems to be winning in long run, why not to treat each service separate to make them best on their own? Didn’t Internet Explorer Team working in the same way now? Haven’t people started leaving Internet Explorer at last?

  • Orkut is still the best about functionality, just what needed is more attention and more people to it. At least few of giant applications, games etc.
  • Google Buzz requires celebrities as Twitter is riding on flow of early initiative? It needs to work on integration with services like Twitter is going along with Facebook, Wordpress and all. Definitely its more powerful and APIs are available to do so, but still if developers are not catching, then Google should take it in own hands to make them catch up. How can you think that costly Android devices are enough for spreading Buzz? No apps for Symbian, no integration with Gravity etc and you think that you can make it popular? Think again…
  • Blogger needs to learn basics from Wordpress. Something like Wordpress.org needed to hand over the whole code to users. More of it, needs to integrate things in a way that one could get things working out of the box, be it states, widgets or professional looking themes? I find lack of flexible themes from Google itself as a major fault, at least should showcase 50-100 themes in dashboard like Wordpress does.

Acquisitions; are they pose some issues as well?

When you acquire some new company then you mingle with entirely new set of rules that company might be following, a different environment, a different system that might have been crucial for working of the same. Sure,  the pieces don’t fit together that easily, but still users expect a lot. Orkut users expect that why not Picasa albums and Orkut Albums could be combined or have some link between them. Picasa users expect that why they are under 1 GB limit, when Orkut Albums could enjoys around 10, 000 pics means many GBs. I  understand the technical/ administration aspects, know that both of them are different services and acquitted at different times and its never been in Google that you change entire way of working once you take over some company.

mergers_acquisitionsBut users expect as other services from your side already keeping the bar higher. Obviously integrating things asks for compromises as you cant go with downtimes and can’t predict what will be the response, if you come to change something entirely. Obviously acquisitions pose some issues that take a little time to go off and that time might be crucial for an early initiative.

Even after writing this much long, I might not be sure that what other reasons might be, same with Google, I guess. My verdict is Social Services are different in the manner that early initiatives, spreading, integration with other services and reach to mass in simplest manner is what keep them going .. sometimes being technically better might not be sufficient.

Third party developers

developersBigPicGoogle needs third party developers a lot. To work over Symbian Apps for their Social Services, to work over engaging applications/ games for Orkut etc. Google Maps is brilliant, Gmail App is cool, but Orkut App is crap in looks as Jad apps might be limited in their functionalities. Needs to come out from the same. Twitter/ Facebook/ LinkedIn all getting apps for Symbian and others to get people catching up with them. You can’t rule out already popular things, if wanna growth of own things. Have to support Symbian Apps. Aren’t Gmail/ Google Maps App been a tremendous success? Being open has made Google a success and that’s what needs to go on.

Requesting others to take part in discussion via comments.

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