尽管已经将多个社交媒体工具收入囊中，但Google仍然无力破解这些社交媒体各自为阵的局面，它缺乏一个可以整合所有社交媒体资源的基础框架或者前端。Google目前最具实力的社交工具当属Orkut，该网站在全球拥有1亿的活跃用户，类似的社交工具还有Google Friend Connect,该产品是一个开放社交应用工具，主要用于连接社交网站、非社交网站。其他的Google社交工具还包括Google Groups、Google Blog Search、Google Profiles以及社交搜索器Aardvark。另外，Google还拥有Google Latitude、Maps、Street View、Buzz这类定位服务功能，将它们整合到社交网站中也许是个不错的主意。别忘了，Google的杀手锏还有YouTube视频网站，虽然严格意义上来说并不能称之为社交网站，但该网站的确已经拥有庞大的全球用户群，并且具明显的社交特征。
Google’s buying spree raises questions
Google’s acquisition of SocialDeck at the end of August made it the 11th social media related company Google has snapped up so far this year — five of them in August alone.
The buying spree raises questions as to where Google is heading with its much-anticipated play in social networking, particularly as many of the recent ones, including SocialDeck, are gaming specialists, suggesting that Google sees gaming as a cornerstone of its social media strategy.
There is value in this but what Google needs, and what is not yet evident, is a coherent strategy for social networking that pulls together the disjointed pieces of its growing social media portfolio.
A large but scattered base of social media assets
The absence of a well-defined social media strategy is particularly conspicuous because Google has proven so adept at harnessing other parts of the digital media value chain, and in areas that are not its traditional core capabilities …ldquo; notably mobile device platforms, applications, and more recently Internet TV.
Social networks are important for Google because they have potential capabilities that are at the heart of its overarching strategy: to harness advertising revenues.
Stronger ones are also showing promise as software and services platforms, as demonstrated by Facebook and Twitter, while the increasing emphasis on mobile is also aligned with Google’s interests.
Google already has numerous social media assets to draw on, but the problem is that they are largely fragmented, with no underpinning framework or a front end to pull them together beyond search.
The most obvious social asset is Orkut, which has more than 100 million active users worldwide. Alongside this there is Google Friend Connect, an OpenSocial application for connecting social and non-social websites.
Other related assets include Google Groups, Google Blog Search, Google Profiles, and Aardvark for social search. Google can also add location-related services to the social mix: Google Latitude, Maps, Street View, and Buzz.
Then there is YouTube, which while not strictly a social network does major on user-generated content and has community features.
Gaming can help Google’s assault on social networking but it is not a magic bulletGoogle has been adding to this arsenal through acquisitions, a process that accelerated during August and where the emphasis was squarely on social gaming, particularly mobile.
The latest acquisition, SocialDeck, has built an expertise in developing social games for the mobile platform, while Jambool specializes in allowing app developers to create virtual currency systems for games to enable monetization.
The ability to monetize social games through ad revenues and an emerging inbuilt virtual goods economy is driving the supply-side trend of social gaming.
Google clearly sees gaming as an important plank in its social media strategy, and it can certainly add tactical value. Users are flocking to social games and are spending a considerable proportion of their time engaging with others in this environment, which is good for advertising.
Google’s emphasis on mobile gaming is canny as social media is increasingly going mobile while mobile games already dominate app stores. Google’s location capabilities can enhance social mobile gaming further, while it will no doubt look at developing cross-platform social gaming in the future. Adding all this to the social mix could prove compelling.
Games can add value but a strong framework and front end are required
Strong social networks have scale, thriving developer communities, big audiences, and a monetization strategy based on advertising. This is core to Google’s own interests, and it needs to position itself in this space for defensive and offensive reasons.
Google is clearly preparing to make its move, and weaving gaming into the social mix is attractive and could help advertising revenues.
However, by itself this will not be enough to provide long-term differentiation, and there are fundamental issues that Google needs to address as a matter of priority. It needs to pull its social media assets into a coherent framework with a user-friendly front end or social hub, where search can make a great contribution.（source:BusinessWorld）