Google is know for being highly innovative and keeping on top of the technology train. Android brought the opening of the Google online store. Gmail has an on-going experiment that goes by the name of “Gmail Labs”, which you can find hiding in it’s parent, “Google Labs“. You can try out various things for size, such as “mail goggles” (to prevent you from sending those haphazard emails in the wee hours of the morning) and the capability to have Flickr previews right in your mail. One area that Gmail was lacking in a little was in the social department.
Within Gmail, you had the ability to set your status updates in your chat box, but you couldn’t have a visible stream of what you were doing. For some people this is fine- not everyone wants every part of their day hanging out in the open on the internet, nor do other people necessarily care about what you ate for breakfast or if you noticed a weird odor in your car on the way to work.
A little birdy out there has said that Google is working on employing streaming status updates; you’ll no longer be stuck with one lonely status update that vanishes every time you change it. So what does this mean? First, we’ll start with a basic fact: a large amount of internet users have Gmail as their main email service. This isn’t some obsolete company making a push towards something Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo! Mail have implemented. Second, many companies and websites already use Twitter as a place to throw status updates to engage the consumer and showcase special offers and contests. For companies that may be using Gmail, this could be a great opportunity and a new venue to build their brand. Recently Google implemented streaming real-time updates in their search engine. Items that are being posted on Twitter are being integrated in real-time and showing up in search results
As we all know, Twitter has been allowing those glorious 140 character updates for a few years now. How will allowing status updates on Gmail affect Twitter? With Gmail possibly integrating this closely with YouTube as well as Picasa (Google’s image sharing website), they may possibly be able to become more popular than Twitter in regards to real-time updates.
I feel as if Google has been planning this for a while. I found it odd that they rolled out real-time search result capabilities without being able to play ball. If they allow these status updates to be public, they can be siphoned down into their real-time search results, along side Twitter updates. In my opinion, it’s about time Google stepped up their game. Being the giant that they are, if they finally combine social networking (tastefully) into all the features they already have, the possibilities are endless.
Google tried to compete with the likes of Facebook and Myspace when it released Orkut. Social networking sites that survive are few and far between; I have a feeling Google will do better by improving what they already have.
This new feature may be rolling out as early as next week, however, Google isn’t releasing much information on it. The Official Gmail Blog is a great place to hear about new updates. Keep checking; Google’s social network take-over has begun!