First Angstro, now SocialDeck: Clues to Google's social media strategy?

Google has the cash to buy lots of great companies. But can they create a cohesive social network out of the technology they're buying?
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

My wife went on a shopping spree a while back. She bought a couple pairs of pants, 3 or 4 shirts, and a dress. She returned most of it a few days later.

Google, on the other hand, is taking a bit more extreme approach to buying sprees as it gobbles startups for breakfast. All of the technology they're buying is, not surprisingly, from the social media sector. Late last week, Google bought Angstro, best-known for their efforts to build a real-time social address book. Earlier this month, the company bought Slide (social gaming), Jambool (online gaming currency), and Like.com (visual search with an emphasis on shopping). Now the company has purchased SocialDeck, another gaming company with properties that let users compete across mobile and social platforms.

Gee, do you think Google is planning to crush Facebook and its Farmville-powered social stickiness (and accompanying advertising dollars)?

It appears, in fact, that Google intends to out-fun Facebook when it launches its own social platform (presumably called Google Me). This actually makes quite a bit of sense from a revenue and social graph perspective, though.  Google already has solid communications and messaging platforms in place, ranging from Gmail to video to Wave (Wave might be dead in its current form, but you can bet the technology will pop up elsewhere). Focusing acquisitions on gaming, then, is just icing on the communications cake.

With last week's rollout of Google Voice integration with Gmail, it's clear that Google wants us, well, Googling, all the time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just business. However, if a company is deeply vested in voice, video, entertainment, collaboration, email, search, and directed advertising, there are clearly opportunities for growth as the company layers on social components. For very small investments, Google will be able to roll out major pieces of its social initiatives (whatever those finally end up being) very quickly.

This is how Google Apps originally began. Both Google Docs and Spreadsheets came out of acquisitions, although Spreadsheets incubated in Google Labs longer.

However, it took a while for Docs, Spreadsheets (and ultimately Forms and Presentations) to be closely integrated into a real suite. Can Google pull together a social network fast enough to give Facebook a run its money?

We'll see, but Google has far more to gain (or lose) in this space than they ever did when they essentially created a single sign on to Writely four years ago.

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