Tales of Failed Google Social Networks

With every successful social media network (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), there is a social media network flop. You might have trouble remembering the ones that didn’t make it since you may have never heard of them or heard of them only in passing. What makes a social network take off and what makes a flop? The best social networks make sharing with the people you want to share with easy. There are ways to easily identify privacy (although this is a touchy subject with Facebook) and it is clear how to share. Connections are made and users have fun playing with the different settings. To me this describes the social networks I enjoy using. When planning for new social networks, it’s not that this isn’t considered, but for one reason or another, timing isn’t right and the network doesn’t take off.

In this post, I’ll share a few Google social network flops and my opinion about what didn’t work with each. There may be more opinions on why each network was passed over by the masses, so please share your opinions below in the comments. I’d also love to hear what you think makes a social network stick.

Google Buzz

BuzzWasn’t this essentially Twitter? Yes! (at least that is what it felt like) Launched in 2010, Buzz was the social network that worked in tandem with other sharing tools, alongside your email contacts. Using Buzz, you could share to networks including, Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, and Blogger. It even integrated so that you could like an article on Google Reader straight from your Gmail account or mobile. Poor privacy control, alongside the idea that users want to share social content with their email contacts, quickened Buzz’s demise. Just days after Buzz launched, Gmail users realized their email contact lists were public without their consent (they never explicitly signed up for Buzz). This sparked a giant privacy controversy that caused many to not even give Buzz a shot. Google ended up in a lawsuit and paid a fine to the tune of $8.5 million. Lesson learned: keep privacy policies clear and make sure users understand the goal of the network.

Google Orkut

OrkutOrkut could have been Facebook. It even could have been Google+, but it never had that chance in the United States. Facebook launched a month after Orkut in 2004 and the rest is history. Orkut is the social network of Brazil and India, however. So timing didn’t ruin everything, although Facebook has been gaining in traction for a while now in those countries. If you visit Orkut.com and are logged into your Google account, you can check it out. Feels like an outdated Google+ to me!

Google Dodgeball

DodgeBallAcquired in 2005 by Google, Dodgeball was ahead of its time. Essentially a mobile check-in service,  users weren’t ready for mobile location awareness. In 2005, we weren’t using our cell phones like we are now and people may not have understood the value of sharing places and locations with others. Google shut down this service in 2009 and replaced it with Google Latitude (which if you weren’t aware, was shut down in August of this year). Also, in 2009, the founder of Dodgeball created FourSquare and the mobile check-in app took off like wildfire (which coincidentally, is another name of a social product acquired by Google).

What do you think?

Would you have thought these products would have lasted for such a short time? Why did they not make it and others did? Share your opinions by commenting below!