The buzz around the Internet marketing and social media circles is humming with the news (or the rumor, call it what you want) that Google is getting set to introduce a new feature to Gmail. No, it has nothing to do with your e-mail but rather your ‘experience’ with Gmail and in particular your social experience. Looks like Google is getting into the social game. This comes on the heels of the talk of Facebook getting into the e-mail game as well. What’s going on? It’s like opposite day with Google going social and Facebook getting all e-mail on us.
Google Inc. is taking a swipe at Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. with a new feature that makes it easier for users of Gmail to view media and status updates shared online by their friends.
Google could announce the new Gmail feature as soon as this week, said people familiar with the matter. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.
The change adds a module to the Gmail screen that will display a stream of updates from individuals a user chooses to connect with, said one of these people. It is a format popularized by Facebook and Twitter.
The whole idea is an interesting bit of news but is it something that people will use? I know for me that I really like going to my Gmail because it’s just that and nothing more. I can go to Facebook or Twitter when I feel the urge. Just like I have no interest in a Facebook e-mail account I can’t say that this Gmail as social tool approach is lighting any fires for me.
I am sure the industry will fight and squabble over these matters and forget that they are really yelling and screaming at a small cross-section of the real world. Whenever these announcements are made I immediately think about all of my friends who are using some of these tools but are not nearly as vested in them (yes I do talk to people who aren’t enamored with every little shiny social media object that gets tossed in the ring). Will the bulk of Gmail users welcome this? I don’t know. If they are already using Facebook and are happy what is so compelling to make a switch?
The Journal gives a little more information
The new stream will eventually include content that a user’s connections share through Google’s YouTube video site and Picasa photo service, according to one person familiar with the matter. But whether those features will be announced in the coming days remains unclear.
OK. I get “it” but I also see that “it” is possibly becoming too much. Normal human beings who do not live and breath social media and who find other social interactions just as meaningful may not be impressed. Maybe I am being too simplistic but I see Google as the practical, stable older brother who is a business guy and Facebook and Twitter as the crazy younger siblings who can’t hold a job but are “fun”. That’s fine with me. Google to me is about business and practicality. Facebook and Twitter not so much. I like it that way but that’s just me.
Is it possible that the large numbers of users of all social media that we talk about are actually more casual than we think they are? Do they need to be connected with everyone, everywhere at all times? Your thoughts?