Google going full throttle in Social Space, Acquires Aardvark


Google to me is a brilliant example of keeping place with the dynamics of the market place. The undisputed king of search has never ceased to surprise me with its knack of identifying user needs and cashing onto the opportunity. The icing on the cake comes from the way they execute.

keep-it-simple-stupid-kiss-thumb[1]They have always kept it darn simple and user friendly , which explains why Gmail has been become synonymous with E-mail. A lot of it is attributed to the Google’s entrepreneurial DNA which has helped Google’s employees put their best brains in creating useful products which are high on performance and features and are brainlessly easy to use.

But then, did Google miss the whole Social Bus ? Oh yes, they have Orkut under their fold, which was the de-facto Social Networking standard in India, but then Facebook and Twitter took Social Networking several notches higher in no time. Google seemed to have lost its way with Orkut and even a re-design did not help its cause.

Not the one to settle for anything but the best, Google delivered the so called Future Of Social (Collaborative) networking with Google Wave. A technology master piece, it created tons of hype but lacked the single most Google USP- Simplicity.

All the hype it generated failed to convert into user adoption which IMO may be because it is way ahead of its time. Instead of  losing hope, it  recently launched the oh-so-simple Social Offering Google Buzz. It is early days and am not going to get into the details of why it isn’t destined for great heights for the simple reason that it makes audacious assumptions.

But Why Is Social Important For Google ?


Google is a search engine at its heart, isn’t it – It could do without jumping in the whole ‘Social’ mad rush, couldn’t it. Unfortunately, Twitter alone was generating truck loads of information and that too in real time. So, if I wanted to search for breaking news stuff , I went to Twitter Search and voila , I had the content served hot and fresh. In other words, a whole new Social Search was emerging which could give the Page rank based algorithm of Google a run for it’s money.

Real time search is becoming  the need of the hour because it gives answers in real time and even though the authority of the search result may not be as high as a Google Search result, the speed and extremely targeted result is good enough.

Why Google Acquired Aardvark?


Well probably because twitter is out of their reach :-).The decision makers have accepted that they would have loved to acquire a product like Twitter. However, Aardvark is to my knowledge a defining example of Real Time Search. It leverages the power of Social Networking and quenches a seeker’s thirst for answers/information in real time and does so in a highly targeted way. Take that for changing the way you mine the Internet for information.

No wonder Aardvark has grown leaps and bounds since it works on a very simple premise “ By The People and For The People”.

No wonder then, even with its baby steps, a site like Aardvark could have made the folks at Google wary of their “Search” dominance.Yes, may be it is not a real threat to Google in the near future given the scale but then it always pays to stay ahead of the game and Google knows it way too well.

This also explains the reason why Google has finally managed to acquire Aardvark for a whopping $50 million.That’s some price for a relatively young ( <3 year) company which primarily works on User generated content.Interesting to note that the acquisition price is phenomenally higher than the $30 million offer.

With Aardvark under its fray, Google has made in roads into the ‘Social’ angle of the web.How it integrates Aardvark with its existing product base is something only time will tell, but goes to show that Google is darn serious about making its mark in the so called ‘Social Web’. The price they have paid to get a taste of an established Social product might seem high, but if Google finds a way ( which i think it will) to leverage it with its existing product base, the impact might just be worth the money.

What are your thoughts on the Aardvark Acquisition? Is this a desperation move from Google to get a footing in the Social Web or it makes for a worthwhile addition to the Google portfolio ?

PS: Apologies for going verbose and sounding like a total Google Fan Boy. But, I could not help myself writing my heart out for a company that has re-defined the way we use the Internet and is always keen to outdo itself. Ok, may be i am a Google Fan Boy :-)

  1. […] building its very own version of Yahoo Answers or for that matter, Google’s recent acquisition Aardvark. Facebook is keeping it under wraps and is planning to leverage its huge user base to build a crowd […]

  2. Madhav Shivpuri says

    Hi Ankit,

    Congrats!!! That’s was probably achieved fairly quickly and by providing quite variety of content with great analysis thrown in. Thanks to you and other regular writers Trak has become my daily destination like for probably many others.

    Ye Dil Maange More!

    1. Ankit Agarwal says

      Danke heir!! It is symboitic to say the least between the readers and the writers.

      Trak was one of the first blogs i became a regular and dint realize when i went from one side to another.Now, you have gone there too :-)

      Its always good to have a connected audience.And of all good things about trak , i have to give it to Arun for achieving that connect with readers..

      Here’s to many more centuries:P

  3. Arun Prabhudesai says

    Ankit, Excellent post – I like the reasonings you have given and I second your opinion on that.
    Although Google have lot of products / service – they can be called as peripherally social and not mainstream – But with Buzz / wave and now aardvark and think they are making a conscious effort to be in the middle of this space…

    1. Ankit says

      Thanks Arun, in all the excitement i totally 4got that this is my 100th post at trak !!! Super happy, and all thanks to you and the readers encouragement.Couldn have done it without it..
      Personally, i am more happy since my 100th is probably the best one for me :-)

  4. Madhav Shivpuri says

    Google is already part of social media – whether others think of it that way or not! Below are some Google’s apps developed or acquired, but which have definitely made Google an integral part of my daily life. – one of the earliest and widely used blogging platform – Can you imagine a life without it! God, I need to see all the stupid things people do in their homes and with their pets. Google is ofcourse social!

    Gmail – With chat thrown in, Gmail captured wide acceptance. I hardly ever use Skype (except for voice call, not Gtalk). Yahoo and AOL chat have become history (at least in my house).

    Google social bookmarking (Buzz it! like its called now)

    Google Reader and News- The world’s newspaper

    Yeah.. there are definitely more… but suffices to make the point, I hope.

    I have a feeling that Google might paste the script of Vark’s ‘Ask somebody’ search box across its properties, and also give out its script to web masters similar to its own search box; the search results could be displayed on the respective page where the query occurs, but the search query statistics could feed Google’s search algorithms for ‘social’ effect.

    1. Ankit says

      Madhav, to a certain extent you are right.Google has had all these prods which primarily have the ‘Social’ context.
      However, twitter,FB are the new benchmarks in Social Search since they have up to date updates and breaking news.The update frequency is mind boggling and RT’s and stuff can get important content go viral.The relevance and frequency has made them a real time alternative to search.No matter Google has a phenomenal database and they give us authorative results, but then i have been checking for important,breaking news kind of stuff on twitter first.Cos, you get it as it happens and in most cases from citizen reporters.We have had live coverages of events and things like that.
      With aardvark Google is going to leverage Real time search too, and you nailed it perfectly.It could very well put it as an addon to the existing search box.Another possible use could be to use it to understand user query behaviour.This could in turn help tune them their search database better

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