Talking tech since 2003

When it comes to the Internet, it seems that there isn’t an avenue that Google has yet to conquer or doesn’t have its sights on already.  With grass-roots originating in the search and information field, Google’s technological accomplishments and growing reputation for consumer and business focused cloud services has allowed the company to become one of the largest email providers and the developer behind one of the most commonly used mobile operating systems.

But amazingly, Google has yet to sink its teeth into the social media industry; something that companies like Facebook and Twitter – and even more recently LinkedIn’s IPO – have proven to be not only popular amongst consumers but profitable as well.  But why has Google missed out on the mountains of potential that they could have cashed in on had they played their cards right?

Well, in large enterprises such as Google many wouldn’t find finger-pointing to be a very surprising occurrence.  But interestingly enough someone within Google’s ecosystem has stepped up and taken responsibility for what many see as shortcomings on Google’s part.  At a recent D9 Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California none other than Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, made a somewhat stunning statement that he himself could have steered Google in a better direction to become a bigger player in the social arena; but ultimately he failed.

To sum it up, Schmidt simply said “I clearly knew that I had to do something, and I failed to do it.”  He went on to say that he “screwed up”, directing all of the blame in his own direction.

While I think this admission is very admirable and true, I have to say that I really don’t think it’s all Schmidt’s fault.  As a CEO, Eric’s job was to oversee Google’s operations and make sure that Google was stable.  Personally, I think that Google has always done an amazing job at creating very stable information-driven services and delivered these services without a hiccup.  So would I have liked to see Google go social?  Of course.  But would I have liked to see Google go social at the cost of their devotion and focus elsewhere?  Absolutely not.

At the same time, a company like Google really doesn’t fall into the “lack of resources” category; not by any stretch of the imagination.  And really, I honestly think it’s flat-out pathetic that a Fortune 100 company hasn’t been able to move their feet enough to develop a social platform to rival the creation of a 21-year-old college drop-out.

Now that Schmidt has admitted his fault, I think that the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not he axed Google’s future potential to create a social networking service strong enough to compete with existing entities like Facebook?

As it stands now, I think Google is really in an excellent position.  You see, while the ideal situation would be for Google to overpower Facebook’s influence in the social area doing so would require the company to be extremely swift and would only work under the assumption that Google were somehow able to accumulate the user-base necessary in a short amount of time.  Because people tend to be weary about change, this really isn’t all that unfathomable.  But what Google can do is start small by eating away at the “smaller” social media websites in order to gradually convince and bring on more users.  Slow and steady wins the race.

How is Google doing this?  To start off, the company has introduced Google Music, a beta service that allows for users to store and access their music from anywhere via the Internet.  While many see this as a simple ploy to compete with Apple’s rumored iCloud service, I for one see the potential for Google to undercut the only advantage that MySpace currently has in terms of social media; music.  And this new Google +1 service?  You can’t tell me that it isn’t a desperate attempt to edge into the social grid.

So did Schmidt destroy Google’s potential?  Not at all.  If anything, he’s at fault for not getting the ball rolling soon enough.  But when it comes down to it, I personally feel that Schmidt ultimately held Google’s hand and took the company in the right direction.  This, in my opinion, allowed the company to stay on track and most importantly allowed for growth into social networking to be a reality at this point.

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