Google delays its secret social networking project

Google socialYou win some, you lose some. As Google is rumored to be closing a deal to acquire wildly popular Groupon, it’s also delaying the launch of its social networking feature. Dubbed “Google Me” by the media, talk about the Facebook rival first grabbed attention in July, when a Wall Street Journal report broke the news that the search engine giant was in discussions with Facebook game developers, such as Zynga.

Nothing ever came of those talks, or at least not yet. In fact, Zynga recently partnered with Yahoo, and Google announced its social network would not make the original deadline of late 2010. According to Mashable, sources at Google are instead setting spring 2011 as a launch date. The proceedings of Google’s first major foray into a social web experience have been extremely secretive, the only hint to date being that the finished product will not be like any other social networking site (cough, Facebook). Sources claim Google is looking to introduce social features in a layered effect to its current applications. Google CEO Eric Schmidt supported this idea, saying he feels social services can be incorporated with Google as is.

But isn’t this what Google’s been doing? In recent months, users have seen multiple social elements rolled into existing products. Google just integrated HotPot into Google Places, and of course there was the backlash that came when Buzz was introduced. But far before these social efforts were even a twinkle in Google’s eye, there was Orkut. The nearly forgotten site was started in 2004, and it now mainly operates in Brazil and India, where most of its users are located. The site was a commercial failure in the US, and experienced controversy elsewhere.

In addition to the mixed results Google has felt from previous efforts, there’s the feeling that the Internet titan is scaling back its original intentions for a social site. Initially, Web rumors pinned Google’s project as an able competitor for Facebook, and a former Facebook exec took to Quora to assert Google was working on a “full, first-class social network.”

And now Google is being forced to push back social once more. While the company declined to offer any explanation, Mashable reports that a source heard “tales of disorganization and too many different teams working parallel or in conflict.”


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