The search engine giant tries to catch up with the social media leader

Google has made an attempt on many occasions in the past, albeit without much success at it, to take on the might of popular social networking platform and ride the new media wave. Of course, we all remember Google Buzz and then Orkut, or for that matter, Google Wave! Google is not going to give up so easily, it seems.

Alongside search, a push towards the social realm

Just a day ago, it has launched the Google+ project, a new networking service. So here comes another chance to challenge Facebook, and going by the extent of it this seems to be a bigger push than earlier and a far larger effort than in the past. As we’ve checked in the previous post, Google+ is apparently directed at focused sharing within closely knit groups – not with all and sundry on the Web. The service also provides group text messaging, video chat etc, features that will set it apart.

In fact, when it’s concerned with social networking, the company finds itself in a rather unusual situation, one that its lagging competitors in the domain of Web search are familiar with all too well: always playing catch-up with a market player that thoroughly dominates the scene. Hence Google+, as a post by Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president (engineering), elaborates on the thought process, to state:

“With it we want to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we’ve created Hangouts. It combines the casual meetup with live multi-person video, to allow you to stop by when free, and spend time with your Circles; face-to-face. Coordinating with family members and friends in real-time is hard in real life.

“After all, all are on different schedules, in different places. Their plans can change at any moment. Text messages and calls can work in a pinch, but they are not quite right to get the gang together. So Google+ incorporates Huddle, a group messaging experience. It allows everyone inside the circle to know what’s going on, right this second.”

Search versus social conversations

According to figures made available by comScore, almost 180 million people checked into different Google sites including YouTube in May 2011, in comparison to more than 157 million on Facebook. Its users looked at a whopping 103 billion pages. The networking site users spent an average of nearly 375 minutes on it, whereas Google users checked only 46.3 billion pages and they spent not more 231 minutes on the search site.

These are the specific site usage patterns and consequent numbers closely watched by advertisers and agencies all the time. Obviously concerned with the emerging trend, Google wants to back up its dominance in the domain of search with a renewed push towards social media. However, the product may be a touch too late to arrive, and it won’t be easy to challenge Facebook, a section of the media experts feel.