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.
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 :-)