Google is reportedly coming out with a Twitter-like tool this week. Google's tried social a few times, but it hasn't done very well. Why are people so excited about it this time?
It's important to remember that everything Google touches doesn't turn to gold. Sometimes they screw up. Sometimes they overestimate their own abilities, and sometimes they are just late to the game.
Do We Need a Twitter Killer?
Everywhere I look tonight, I see people calling this unknown quantity a "Twitter Killer." Bing is a "Google Killer" and Nexus One is an "iPhone Killer" and now Google has a "Twitter Killer." But usually these things don't turn out to kill the reigning champion because people are satisfied with what they are using.
There are millions of happy Twitter users out there. What is their motivation to move to Google? Micro Blogging is not sexy. It's 140 characters. Google would need to come up with something amazing to undermine the entire Twitter eco system, no easy task.
Google Wants a Piece of Social Real Bad
It's clear that Google has seen the future and its name is social networking. To that end, in the last several months Google has moved Google Search to be more social. When you search now, you see Twitter streams in real time in the Google interface. Marissa Meyer has talked about adding social results from your friends in the results stream (a set of trusted results).
It's all about Google recognizing social as a trend that it wants to control. It wants to attach its little Google Ads to our social streams and make money. Who can blame them? But Google and Microsoft and Apple don't always have to get everything they want. Sometimes the market decides otherwise.
Speculation has it that Google will make its micro blogging tool part of Gmail, perhaps in the Google Talk client. Well, Google Talk is one of those tools I was just referring to that Google developed, but didn't really end up replacing the other tools people were using. Why? Because people were perfectly satisfied with AIIM or Yahoo! IM and they didn't need another tool.
Now, it may come to pass that Google creates a killer micro blogging application, and we all love it, and Twitter becomes last year's model just like that. But it's not going to happen just because Google wants it to. It will take a massive shift and I'm not sure people are ready to do that just now.