I have some little ideas.
Step 1: Be Social
Step 2: ????
Step 3: Profit
I won’t pretend I’m privy to what GOOG is moving towards internally, but this is what I would be doing if I was them.
First, social is predicated on one thing, identity. Facebook is the clear leader, then twitter, Google should make it super simple and a value add to integrate signing in with any gmail or google apps account. The next level of this game is about identity and context. It’s not too late to win that.
Whoever dominates identity will be in a great position. Someone will. Might as well be you, no? Get on it.
Also, user experience, it matters. You left authentication and authorization for google apps a discombobulated mess for how long? You know who I am, you just let me read my email, why choke on the other accounts I’m logged into when I try to open a document? It really is the little things.
Here’s where it really gets good. Make the web social. Don’t make a service that is social, make the whole thing social. Seriously.
The first run GOOG had was making the web readable. Now make it writeable. There is no reason that every site has to be a destination. Let us mark it up. Leave notes for each other. Chase each other. Gameification. Come on GOOG, let’s make this thing fun again. Let us overlay selective layers of context on the web. You can feed this data and context back into search. Win and win.
Don’t stop there, make the world searchable and writable. Break it out of the web.
You have mobile devices, you have identity, hook all that together.
Make the real time web, the real time everything.
Let’s start with an easy one. Location. Now ignore the fact that you bought Dodgeball, smothered the baby, and now someone is going to buy foursquare from the same guy for even more. Spilt milk under the bridge… Location is context. Push based location is a dead end, but it was a novelty that opened up some possibilities. Location needs to be more of an ambient context. Solve identity, you have android all over the place, find the balance between privacy and role based ambient location.
Let people filter on both sides, I only want certain people to see certain locations and I only want to see certain people in certain circumstances. Make it dynamic and easy to configure. People will love it.
Let people create contexts, and engage each other around contexts. This is what humans do. This is what social means.
Did I mention someone needs to solve identity?
That should be enough to get started.