Fast Company

Google's Stealth Approach on Social Plays Out in New Version of Docs

Nothing to see here, Mark Zuckerberg...

A few days ago, the Internet was abuzz with speculation that Google would have a splashy launch of a Facebook rival called "Google Circles" at South by Southwest. That didn't materialize, with Google disputing that such a feature even existed. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch wrote a post called "Social Is Too Important For Google To Screw Up With A Big Launch Circus," arguing that with Orkut and Buzz having more or less failed, Google wasn't eager to swing hard and miss a third time. Rather, he wrote, "I’m guessing we’ll see more small releases over time."

Today's announcement of new social features in the latest iteration of Google Docs bears out the theory that Google's encroachment on social media will be careful and incremental--the idea being that in a few years' time, Mark Zuckerberg will wake up to realize that Google does just about everything his site does, and more.

But for now, baby steps. The new Google Docs is getting favorable reviews from initial testers. Like an IM/email/docs hybrid, it allows you to start chats within the document, asking for input from friends via email; those friends can then hop in the document itself, or simply respond from within their email. Chats are collated in the margins of the document, and once a given issue is resolved, that thread can be closed, so the document doesn't get cluttered with strata of now-irrelevant conversations. Email notifications can be turned on or off, depending on your preference.

Google put together a funny video about an office prank, showing how Docs can be used. "I'll start growing the turnips," writes one prankster. "I'll get the wetsuits," chimes in another.

Not all Google users have access to the new docs right away, but it should be rolling out in a full release soon.

Zuckerberg probably isn't quaking in hit boots just yet. But that, of course, is probably exactly the false sense of security the scheming minds over at Google are hoping for.

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2 Comments

  • Simon Mason

    Sounds more like Wave 2.0 than a facebook rival to me, could also be Google worrying about the much improved Office online from MS - they're not dead yet!

  • Chris Reich

    If it replaces Facebook, it has my support. I feel Facebook is a big voyeuristic pool for Zuckerberg. I just don't trust Facebook.

    I would like to see something similar to Facebook with better security and no data collection or data selling. Use the Google model---let us search and feed us ads. But don't leer over conversations to find "interests".

    Just a rant.

    chris Reich
    www.teachU.com