Perhaps the two names most synonymous with the Internet, Google and Yahoo, have been rather lackluster when it comes to social networking. Yes, Google has Orkut and Yahoo has services like MyBlogLog, but neither can hold a candle to sites like MySpace and Facebook.
According to Google Operating System, Google has teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute on a project called SocialStream. From the sound (and look, below) of it, Google is not simply content to copy the standard social networking formula, but instead wants to add to the field with a mixture of innovation and interoperability between all their services. This definitely seems like a step in the right direction and exactly what I feel Google should have been doing for a while now.
Yahoo, on the other hand, is said to be working on a new service dubbed “Mosh”. Few details are known about the project other than it is a likely replacement for they failed Yahoo 360 project. Yahoo has many assets (Flickr, MyBlogLog come to mind) and if leveraged properly and integrated into Mosh, the site would have more than a fighting chance.
Too much of Internet development has become a race to create a copycat product of the industry leader. The world doesn’t need a Google or Yahoo-branded MySpace or Facebook (just like the world didn’t need a MySpace branded YouTube), but there is room for something greater. Both companies already have new media properties and more than enough financial assets to bring something unique to the space.
Time is certainly the most key element in this case. Everyday more and more people are developing apps on Facebook’s platform and it will be hard to convince both them and the users of Facebook and MySpace to make the switch to a Google or Yahoo social network. Whatever their plans are, Google and Yahoo would be wise to get their projects off the ground soon.