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Google teases social networking plans

Google recently went on a spending spree, scooping up social media companies galore, while being coy about its plans. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Zeitgeist conference attendees in Arizona to look out for new social networking products before the end of the year. While these are expected to be launched as part of Google Me, details are skimpy at this time.

Instead of an all-out Facebook rival, Google plans to introduce social networking add-ons that will integrate with its core products, including Gmail and YouTube. For example, YouTube will share information in real-time about what videos are being watched by the people on your friend-list.

“With your permission, knowing more about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations. Search quality can get better,” said Schmidt.

Considering the number of gaming companies Google has acquired over the last few months, social gaming will likely be a big part of this offering. Acquired companies include virtual currency company Jambool, mobile games provider SocialDeck, and social game developer Slide. The company is also working on a partnership with social gaming heavyweight Zynga.

Google has struggled in the social networking space, with the long-forgotten Orkut and the more recent Buzz. Even so, Google kept shopping, adding, a “visual search” technology, content aggregator Angstro, question/answer service Aardvark, and microblogging service Jaiku to its portfolio. Its own Social Search moved out of Google Labs earlier this year, as well.

There may be a slight hiccup in Google’s grand plans: Facebook. But not in the Facebook-killer kind of way. Currently, Google allows Facebook to let users pull over Gmail contacts as part of the FriendFinder application. Google wants similar access from Facebook, to pull user data into its platform, said Schmidt.

Considering the odds of that ever happening are not likely, Schmidt has just one thing to say: “Failing that, there are other ways to get that information,” said Schmidt.

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Fahmida Y. Rashid
Former Digital Trends Contributor aims to become the first social network for music
dropp fm aims become first social network music 2

Ever wished there was a better way to share music with your friends? A NYC startup called aims to create a new social network for people who love music.
Imagine a newsfeed filled with audio tracks recommended and shared by your friends. As you scroll through your friends’ music choices, you can listen to a playlist either you or your friends have created. If you like a song someone has shared, you can share it on your profile, too.
That, in a nutshell, is The project is still in its earliest phases, but’s founder Parker Lieberman is confident that it will change the way we interact with music on the web.
“ is an amazing new social network for music that lets users share discover and collect new music from across the web,” Lieberman said. “The combination of the newest music on the internet and interactions with your friends is what makes so unique."
Lieberman wants to be the "record collection for a new generation."

Lieberman is a longtime music enthusiast with a fondness for producing and sharing music that he likes with his friends. Even though there are tons of music streaming websites and apps out there, Lieberman thinks that they just aren’t social enough.
SoundCloud has come the closest to achieving what seeks to do. SoundCloud gives users access to new and pre-release tracks, which they can then share, like, download, or add to a playlist. Still, it isn’t everything Lieberman wants it to be.
Fed up with sending his friends countless emails filled with YouTube and SoundCloud links, Lieberman set out to make his own music-based social network. While he was formulating the idea, he took a look at several different streaming and music sharing services that are already available.

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Good deal: Google to buy Provo, Utah’s $39M fiber network for $1 (Updated)

Go go Google Fiber! Coming on the heels of last week's announcement that Google will build its Fiber service in Austin, Texas, the company announced Wednesday that Provo, Utah will be the third city in the U.S. to receive superfast Internet service. If you live anywhere besides Kansas City or Austin, you may be wondering, "Why Provo?" 
Provo is home to numerous tech companies and startups including, Novell software, and Oddly enough, the city also came in first on a survey of community optimism in 2012. Maybe it was the city's glass-half-full attitude that brought Fiber to fruition?
However, the immediate answer is that Provo is one of the easier places for Google to build its Fiber network. The company's plan is to use the existing infrastructure from iProvo, a fiber-optic network originally built by the city that proved to be a money drain, and upgrade it to full Google Fiber connectivity. According to the Associated Press, Google is in talks to buy the $39 million municipal fiber-optic system for $1. Yep, just $1. On top of that, the AP reports that Provo will also have to pay off loans for the project's construction for "another dozen years." But, Provo thinks it's getting a good deal since its current service wasn't able to support itself. So, it appears that everyone in Provo wins.
The mayor of Provo, John Curtis, announced the Google Fiber deal on his blog earlier this week along with mentioning that it will have to pass a city council vote next Tuesday before the project is considered a done deal. However, we doubt that Provo's city council will vote against it. Once the deal is complete, Google will begin building out the network.
Homes that are currently connected with iProvo will be upgraded to seven years of free 5 Mbps service from Google Fiber with a $30 activation fee. As Google has done in its other two connected cities, hospitals, public libraries, and schools will be connected to the full-speed Fiber service for free. Like Kansas City and Austin, Google will also sell gigabit Internet packages and bundled TV and Internet packages. 
We're willing to bet that Google's going to increase the frequency of its Fiber announcements going forward, especially since AT&T announced a fiber network of its own in Austin last week and has plans to continue building out its fiber network. What city would you like to see get Google Fiber next? 
[Originally posted 4/17/13 and updated on 4/19/13 to reflect Google's $1 deal.]

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Google Reader drives more traffic to websites than Google Plus, according to BuzzFeed
google reader plus traffic vs

Google is shuttering its Reader service on July 1, and according to the company, it's due to a decline in usage and Google's plan to focus on services that do better. Reader, however, has a very dedicated userbase that even launched a petition in an effort to stop the service's closure - and if BuzzFeed's traffic data mirrors everyone else's, they drive a lot more traffic to websites than Google+ users. 

A BuzzFeed post by staff writer John Hermann reveals that compared to Reader, Google+ drives very little traffic to its partner sites with over 300 million users. A pie chart made by the social news website's data team (pictured above) illustrates it quite well: traffic from Google's social network is but a sliver in a pie chart with traffic from the dying RSS reader. And that pie chart, which represents data from August of last year until today, doesn't even include traffic from masked referrals and from news apps that pull feeds from Reader, so Google+'s share might even be smaller.
This shouldn't come too much of a surprise to people who've been following the growth of G+, though, as a study published in 2012 revealed that even Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than Google+. Note that the company claims its fledgling social network has over 100 million active users now, which could very well be inflated as we all know you automatically get a Google+ account when you sign up for another one of its services like GMail. 
If Reader's usage is dwindling yet it delivers more traffic to a network as big as Buzzfeed's, what does that say? Are Google+ users just not inclined to share content with one another? Do BuzzFeed's partners just happen to be voracious Reader users, as well? Or has Reader actually been thriving, and yet the company decided to shut it down anyway to concentrate on Google+, as a former Google product manager speculates? Sound off in the comments, and let us know what you think!

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