Whats wrong with Social Services of Google?

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It disappoints you when you get to see nice innovations not catching up that faster than they should have. I was under huge disappointment, when come to see Google wave not taking off the hood that well and even when its for sure that Google Buzz is here to stay, it annoy you a little that why its not catching up that faster.

What wrong with technically the best services of Google in social department?

A question that’s been repeatedly asked and attempted to be answered so many times in so many ways still work-in-progress remained confusing. A company, who seems to have best moral grounds and respect among users all around the globe, a way of thinking that always seems to be working for betterment of technology and pushing the standards up, a technical leadership, which always believed in simplicity yet the best practices and at the end, owner of something called close to God Google’s Search, which tends to knowing people’s habits more than anything else in the world. Still the company not rising that big on social fronts? Why?


Just trying to think.. recollecting facts … not suggesting … not answering

  1. Blogger has much support and options than WordPress, still WordPress rules big time.
  2. Orkut been more simpler, cleaner and centered around people more than the business/ advertising, but still it not catching up big time against Facebook or MySpace.
  3. Social Connect and FriendFeed been around with nice features, but no one seems to know much about them not even names.
  4. Google Wave was a path breaking and real huge thing happened to this century, but still …
  5. Google Buzz was way better than Twitter or Facebook status updates, if we count on specifications sheet, but still it seems to loosing battle against Twitter.

Then why so many ‘failures’ whenever Google attempts some social thing?

  • Is the answer lies in their most successful service Google Search itself?
  • What if its Google’s obsession with cloud computing and unification of services, which holds them back from thinking outside the box?
  • Is the reason, is compatibility issues that take time with their 64 acquisitions till now?

All of the above may seem to be random and somehow irrelevant with the current discussion na… let me explain each.

google_god Why I am pointing over the most sane thing ever happened?

Issue is that their programmers and other people involved are kind of devotee for Google like anyone on this planet and sometimes it hinders with ability to think outside or against the main philosophy that may be laid by top management that “Let the consumer use the thing in simplest way, all complications we will handle free of  cost” Philosophy is great, Simplicity is great, but the problem is – Everything is not a Google Search.

You may not decide what would be the best for users. You have hands on almost each service in the world,  but you cant keep on suggesting people to use them at the first place before you mature each of them to stand on their own. I know many would say that Google does allow other services more than any other company in the world, but still I am making my point here ..

One example is WordPress Vs Blogger; Acquisition from Pyra Labs, Blogger seems to be most flexible blogging platform on the planet for people, who are happy with writing and don’t even want to own a domain. you can make use of all kind of scripts, insert any kind of custom code, add other Google services and even write and use your own theme yourself. Then why wordpress still known as the best platform for blogging?

Blogger-Wordpress-Conversion Sometimes initiatives and one product centered approach wins over projects with bigger potential and bigger resources. WordPress has established the whole system with involvement of other companies as well, while Google thinks that we have options in our own domain itself then why go outside? What’s point of not providing support to import whole blog to port on WordPress or others? What’s point in letting users resister their domain names with Google only? What’s point in keeping just a few very basic themes on showcase thinking that users will do everything? Why no inbuilt tool for stats? Why can’t one webmaster change the content of comments to strip out abusive content?

Once you start using Blogger, you really find that its best thing to go with, but not in first glance itself. Sometimes, I feels that flexibility should be matched well by offering excellent example/ templates and it should not only be on users and third party developers to evolve over the platform, but one should keep himself running in the race. There are some excellent themes and options with Blogger, but none of them are on showcase, like Google don’t wanna save itself from responsibility after putting other’s work on showcase. This doesn’t suit a beginner.

twitter-orkut-facebook

Same with Facebook Vs Orkut; Google’s initial hesitations from advertising inside Orkut due to inputs from overly cluttered interface of Facebook and MySpace cost its being first choice for third party developer doing their work for money. That kept the concept of Social Networking sane, when Zyanga with its games like Farmvilla and Mafia Wars etc attracts 80% of Facebook, then one really come to rethink that if the strategy to keep the place personal only was helping at first place?

I still love Orkut and still know, the traffic to Orkut is true traffic rather than that of game freaks (the case with Facebook), who will sooner or later get bored with games and then will be frustrated that there is nothing like friend updates in Facebook, but just Farmvilla updates…. but still I wish to ask question that why Google failed to bring more developers in orkut? Simplicity may not be the best policy always.


Cloud Computing: Somewhere we don’t see what Google might be seeing for future. Google’s each move heads towards cloud computing. Similar things were started from Microsoft, who wanted to place best solutions for everything that a user might ask for, but now Google seems to be more aggressive on the same front.

Google is heading to the topology of “One Account for all” and their recent XOAuth step seems to be right step in right direction. They already have placed all common services on cloud, be it search, mails, blogging, news, feeds, photos, maps, friends, entertainment or anything one do with computers. Chrome OS meant to be the gate of cloud computing, where one login will make you working from anywhere and from any device.

Yes! they had removed the necessity of having a Google Account for their Chrome OS, but still that clears the intentions. What do you think the Google’s obsession for speed, Launch of Google Docs, which enables you to read all common kind of documents online without any installation, advancement of YouTube and its agreement with Media giants to provide full movies or cricket shows like IPL, Google Books, Google translations and flooding like a rage plugins for Google Chrome; is all random?

Google seems to have learned that sometimes things that come in packages and work decently win over specialized products, examples been Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. The rise of NetBooks and popularity of Google Docs really have made it possible for Business persons doing their work with minimal and cost effective setup. Being comfortable with such a system is the first step towards Cloud Computing and though Microsoft started this, but Google making it a reality for sure.

GoogleAppsEd2-717009

If we see from Google’s point of view, then it makes sense that you login though one account on Chrome OS and you will get all your work ready for you in the same state, you left it. Either it be your docs, your movies, your social networking with Orkut, your blogging with Blogger, your feeds via Google reader, your status updates via Google Buzz and so on.. moreover, once XOAuth starts working in that direction then it would also be easy to announce that all these services wont be sharing data (that could be a security concerns). Definitely Google understands that most of the users might prefer working with what comes out of box like they did with Internet Explorer or Outlook Express.

But question is, even if you seems to be winning in long run, why not to treat each service separate to make them best on their own? Didn’t Internet Explorer Team working in the same way now? Haven’t people started leaving Internet Explorer at last?

  • Orkut is still the best about functionality, just what needed is more attention and more people to it. At least few of giant applications, games etc.
  • Google Buzz requires celebrities as Twitter is riding on flow of early initiative? It needs to work on integration with services like Twitter is going along with Facebook, WordPress and all. Definitely its more powerful and APIs are available to do so, but still if developers are not catching, then Google should take it in own hands to make them catch up. How can you think that costly Android devices are enough for spreading Buzz? No apps for Symbian, no integration with Gravity etc and you think that you can make it popular? Think again…
  • Blogger needs to learn basics from WordPress. Something like WordPress.org needed to hand over the whole code to users. More of it, needs to integrate things in a way that one could get things working out of the box, be it states, widgets or professional looking themes? I find lack of flexible themes from Google itself as a major fault, at least should showcase 50-100 themes in dashboard like WordPress does.


Acquisitions; are they pose some issues as well?

When you acquire some new company then you mingle with entirely new set of rules that company might be following, a different environment, a different system that might have been crucial for working of the same. Sure,  the pieces don’t fit together that easily, but still users expect a lot. Orkut users expect that why not Picasa albums and Orkut Albums could be combined or have some link between them. Picasa users expect that why they are under 1 GB limit, when Orkut Albums could enjoys around 10, 000 pics means many GBs. I  understand the technical/ administration aspects, know that both of them are different services and acquitted at different times and its never been in Google that you change entire way of working once you take over some company.

mergers_acquisitionsBut users expect as other services from your side already keeping the bar higher. Obviously integrating things asks for compromises as you cant go with downtimes and can’t predict what will be the response, if you come to change something entirely. Obviously acquisitions pose some issues that take a little time to go off and that time might be crucial for an early initiative.


Even after writing this much long, I might not be sure that what other reasons might be, same with Google, I guess. My verdict is Social Services are different in the manner that early initiatives, spreading, integration with other services and reach to mass in simplest manner is what keep them going .. sometimes being technically better might not be sufficient.

Third party developers

developersBigPicGoogle needs third party developers a lot. To work over Symbian Apps for their Social Services, to work over engaging applications/ games for Orkut etc. Google Maps is brilliant, Gmail App is cool, but Orkut App is crap in looks as Jad apps might be limited in their functionalities. Needs to come out from the same. Twitter/ Facebook/ LinkedIn all getting apps for Symbian and others to get people catching up with them. You can’t rule out already popular things, if wanna growth of own things. Have to support Symbian Apps. Aren’t Gmail/ Google Maps App been a tremendous success? Being open has made Google a success and that’s what needs to go on.

Requesting others to take part in discussion via comments.

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A post after a while

“ You call it tough schedules or mark it as over-commitment to achieve some short term targets or consider as hurdles in changing to another flat in same area or smile on my obsession of Farmville, but yes, my blog really got a ‘long break’ considering momentum gained in last few weeks. So, today I thought to join back.”

Lots of things happened in this while, either it be personal,  professional front or like last night conversation with a new friend. Thought to spare some moments to spit out few paragraphs here.


Zabbix: Linux Based Monitoring Solution: At professional front, currently, I was working onzabbix1 designing of a basic Real Time Monitoring Solution targeting a raw and diverse infrastructure as a small step in the process of making a brand new and robust infrastructure of the next coming new year. The theme is to design a solution that I could access most of the basic aspects like CPU Utilization, Network Utilization, Disk Space for all the servers from a central point and then extending the limits slowly towards more complex features. After comparing for a while, I chosen zabbix over nagios due to its simplistic nature and convenience to pass through the knowledge structure to newbie team members of mine.

As about Linux Servers, it worked well, but many of important functions of this don’t seem to be supported with that of Windows Servers. Currently I am trying to obtain live graphs of Network Utilizations in most common terms with it, but facing the difficulty that most of the variables are not supported with the windows agent of zabbix. As of now, using Performance Monitor’s variables for workaround. Wiill come up shortly with detailed article, once finish the task, which has to be spread around a dozen domains in two offices.


Mdaemon: Email Gateway Solution: This is the other product, I was looking for exploring nowPageBanner_SecurityGateway days. The requirement was to find a low cost mail filtering solution, while we were running with third party mail provider. It was something like “I want Email id abc@example.com could send mails only to def@world.com and could receive mails only from xyz@star.com and all other things go restricted”. Having it as a purchased version would have been really nice experience, but currently running over 30 days trial versions. There is a free version as well, but will check that tomorrow, if could serve the purpose. I also tried zibra and other open source solution, but not getting the exact pitch I required. Any suggests will be a welcome.


Addiction of Farmville: Now about the other side of life, finally the last week dragged me infarmville addiction of Farmville and forced me to take visits of my Facebook account, which was literally idle since last many months. There was a kind of crazy early crowd of the same game in my office, in fact, once you start with the game in initial phase, you get tempted to talk about the same… obviously to add more and more neighbours in your farm. Funny part was to see some people being awake in nights for being ahead and so punctual about timing (even I am not exception). No wonder, farmville been the biggest reason too rise of Facebook in recent past.


Shifting to a new room: Your living place really matters a lot in life. After all that is the place, where you take a piece of rest. Even if for me like only their Computer Screen is the whole world, but still a nice room matters. Changed to the new room. Comfortable for me like lazy persons. 🙂

Although the shifting was not a tasty piece of cake, gone through some really weird hurdles around, but now more or less, things are fine. Lost one of my suit in this shifting though 😦


Interesting conversation with a new friend: It was an interesting late night conversation with Rajat, who was added in my gtalk and I was ashamed that why I am not able to remember that who is he. All of sudden, Rajat said that could he call me?

I was busy in dinner etc. and when later got engaged in call, then got to know many more things about him other than name like he is calling from UK, working for TCS, working over a telecom project of upgradation of 2G infrastructure to 3G and at last senior to me by 5 years 😉

He invited me to take a look over his group blog http://getsetgrow.org It was sure a good one and in fact I liked a few of articles like the one over BPO, Information Overload very much. On his invite, I was sure honored to be part of the group, if he wishes so.


My last experiences of joining to other blogs as co-author: My last experiences of being co-author for other blogs not been very pleasant. Although don’t remember them all, but one was some fontezer4, whose exact web address, I am unable to mention. I joined the same on their invitation to write for, but  after a few posts, I went busy for a while say for one or two months and for my greatest surprise, when I tried to login back then my account was deleted and my post were credited in name of one of those four authors. I was in real shock and decided not to join any other blog later on.

Although the decision was changed after I got requested by one blog over Indian Idol 4. As the owner was providing me Video Links of each episode in time and my job was to write articles episode by episode. It was an interesting experience as we got as high that were ranked as number 1 blog about Indian Idol on its official website and remained there for more than a week. Later on, the owner of blog suddenly gone missing. No reply over mails, no uploads of videos. I kept on write though, but later lost interest and moved back to my blog only.

Recent chance was interaction with Devilsworkshop group. Their condition was “exclusiveness”, which was obvious as they were offering full adsense value back to original author and even a price once in a month of around $150. I decided to keep identity of my blog more prior and gave up the idea.


It goes really harder to write for others as you don’t get enough time even for your own blog due to commitment toward professional and personal life. It asks for a level of awareness, one could comfortably afford only after being settled enough in his/her professional lives. I know some do very good job in balancing all these things for me job is a little tougher.

So, for now, only this much. Will be back

 

How Orkut could regain strength in front of Facebook

“ Some find it hard to believe, some find it obvious now; some says that it will regain the place back, some says its just international trend arrived at India now; some wants to see Orkut rising again and some finding ways to shift their profile/ photos etc from Orkut to Facebook. But its true Orkut is loosing the turf in India against the Facebook: Social Network Giant for rest part of the world since long. ”

socialnetworkingsitesinindiatraffic

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The news is not new and been floating around here on web since March 2009 that Facebook is getting a steady rise in India while growth of Orkut getting slower. I thought to write over it, n102452128776_1831when something attracted me to Facebook recently. It was addictive Farmwille application, which got kind-of-craze among my colleagues in recent days and when the craze finally got me, then I was surprised to see many of known faces on Facebook. I was also impressed with this particular application in the way its single handedly keeping users engaged in each hour and also luring more to join.


I had profiles on both of the social networks:

Orkut and Facebook, but Orkut always remained prime for me. In fact, I was logging into Facebook once in a while in month only, while Orkut was part of daily habits from Home, from Office, from Mobile. I kept on hearing about national/ international celebrity profiles on Facebook and getting search results showing Facebook profiles, but still it was not able to lure me as I didn’t thought that its offering me anything more than I getting from Orkut, specially after recent makeover of Orkut.

But after checking out techcrunch article, I thought to gather some info about the same topic and in the same way, I came across few interesting articles like 12 Best Reasons Why People Leave Orkut And Migrate To Facebook & 10 Ways Orkut Can Compete with Facebook and felt that I could come up with a few answers and suggestions of my own:


  1. Privacy: There is a lot of buzz about this and many people choosing Facebook over Orkut, because of this only. Initially, as per generic philosophy privacyof Google, it was to be open for all means one has to be shown as he is with all others. Scrapbook, photos, Friend Network and Profile info, everything was open to all. So, it was an open world, where you could contact and know about others in the way, they want to tell the world they are.

    In Facebook, by default only your friends can see your profile. The others can only see your name and thumbnail (reduced version of the profile picture). Nothing more. In addition, you can always configure the options for privacy as deemed appropriate.

    But many times it happens that you wanted to be open for some people and for some, you want to remain closed shell. Like celebrities or popular people, if everyone is allowed to write to them, then they wont be able to use these social networks coz of spam. So, later on, Orkut added some restrictions like only your friends could write in your scraps or could see your photos/ videos (in case of photos, restrictions could be categorized per person basis). Although somewhere I find these step more of caused by market demands than the original philosophy. More or less, people called it a welcome step, but still Orkut kept it more open than Facebook.

    As a step to answer demands, I think Orkut really needs to provide some more detailed Privacy configuration options. Like scrap book could be managed to open for people/ groups only we want, others could only read their scraps only or not even could write. Same for new feeds, photos, profiles and other features.

    Specially, where Orkut needs to look out is restriction over profile view. Even if I liked the larger profile pics, some might not and moreover, they might not be wishing to roll out their information for all. Although as being a technocrat, I understand the difficulties lying under such a big change as it will require to change the root way, Orkut stores information for users, which will not be a simple task.

  2. Publicity: We really find Orkut keeping itself low profile in comparison to Facebook, which although been a philosophy of Googlepublicity about all of its products. Google always  placed its products on top without too much going into media on the basis of its own unmatched set of features only. While this strategy worked for most of the services, might be reason of failure in case of Orkut. Facebook really has a strong media presence and in other part of world, we really could find many people, who might not even heard of Orkut.

    It’s really high time, Google should think about Media presence of Orkut even if Google doesn’t want it to be a Business Website. Although I also know the implications that it’ll also lead to brining more ads to Orkut in the way Facebook has coz no point in investing in media management, if you are not making high business use of the same. But still I am looking for Orkut to be heard in most part of the world.

  3. Applications: This is really becoming the bottleneck of the equations between Orkut and Facebook. Even if Facebook already been an orkut-appsestablished brand, now in India, its getting an high very much due to its diverse applications. Orkut also has few applications, but those are really few and none are kind of engaging in the way Facebook has some like Farmville and Mafia Wars.

    As I said this is bottleneck, so Orkut should really do something about it, not today, but now.

  4. Restricted Networking: In case of Facebook, if you wished to join Community of your Company Network,restricted then what you need a genuine corporate email id, otherwise, it wont  allow you to join, while in case of Orkut, its maximum level is moderator’s approval, whose task goes tough, if company is spread around world and moderator has no efficient and effective way to evaluate in real time.

    For some it might be, but as per my view, Orkut should not bother about such a feature. Orkut was not an Official Place sort for Corporate and communities were created by users only not from Corporate itself. It was not business world, but was an open and simpler world and I wish it remain open in the same way, coz this was the reason, Orkut was liked and grown even when MySpace and FaceBook were already giants in other parts of world.

  5. Design: Some find Orkut’s design as a benchmark, while some says same for Facebook. When I joined Orkut, then it was due to its decent and simple blue theme and even this was the tagline then. Although as per demands, it changed its way. I really dont know yet, if Facebook has something like scrapbook, where actual conversations flow and sometimes, you could get an idea about people by their scrapbooks, while Facebook kept it around newsfeeds, which might be many at a time as per size of your friend list.

    Though Facebook had an advantage earlier to keep most of the things limited to one page only, but new look of Orkut made it compete in that way as well.
    facebook new look New-Orkut-SnapShot

    I really find nothing to change from the root about Orkut design right now. It should grow with its own learning curve as being done in past. 

  6. Photo Tagging: Although that was an area, where Facebook started, but Orkut got it more better with face recognition. In facebook, you find the face manually, photo-taggingwhile in Orkut  it does the same automatically and recent makeover of Photo updates make it scoring higher over Facebook.

    What I am really looking for as an addition to Orkut Photos system, is its integration with Picasa & Picasa web. I means you could sync your Orkut album with the one you own at your home and upload photos from Picasa to Orkut. I know Orkut could do this due to integration of its services and really looking for, when this change will happen.

  7. Status Updates/ News Feed/ Link Share: This was really an area, where I was looking for an improvement from Orkut orkut-status-updatesside, which Orkut recently heard, by providing Share on Orkut feature. I guess, now we could find Orkut Share buttons spreading among blogs like Facebook/ Twitters share buttons. Although still I am disappointed with its being JavaScript based as WordPress.com doesn’t support that or might be I am not able to find some work around.

    But still I find status updates/ news Feeds an area of improvement for Orkut as now. Status updates a.k.a. News Feeds are more configurable, innovative and richer in Facebook right now than Orkut. A must feature, I will be looking for the next improvement in Orkut.

  8. At the end, I really dont wanna see “Bad Bad Server, No Donuts for you” again.

Not finished Yet …. I really want readers to add up more and more suggestions for betterment of Orkut. Please do write.