Google Making Gmail Social?

– Ashlee Vance, NY Times

Later this week, Google will introduce add-ons to Gmail that let users post and view messages about their day-to-day activities, according to a person at Google briefed on its plans. This simple tweak to Gmail will allow Google to mimic the status updates that have driven much of the success of Facebook and Twitter, as people return to the services again and again to check out what their friends and co-workers are doing.

To date, Google has allowed users to post only a brief message about their status through its Chat system, which is linked to Gmail. The new features would allow a more vibrant back-and-forth among Gmail users.

It is not clear whether Google will link the new Gmail features to rival social-networking services.

The Gmail move signals that Google remains serious about becoming a social media force at a time when some of Silicon Valley’s younger start-ups have stolen some of its thunder.

Trying to tweak Gmail so that users can post Twitter-like status updates? Sorry, G, you are way too late with that.

Making a serious run at busting open the privacy inherent in email and creating a public sort of email? Interesting. But that doesn’t sound like what they are planning.

I predict this will be yet another Google Labs add on like Tasks or the integration of a Calendar widget. A ‘nice-to-have’.

Update on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 10:11AM by Registered CommenterStowe Boyd  

Robert Scoble enumerates why Google’s streaming add on to Gmail will not displace Facebook or Twitter, but mostly his comments are beside the real point: Gmail isn’t a social network. Saying that your email contacts list represents your social network is flawed, because it isn’t the network I use for streaming, which in my case is Twitter. Adding a doorbell to your bicycle doesn’t make it a house, and the same is true here.

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