Most of the attention these days around social media and social networks has been Facebook and is recent moves to try and make it the social destination point on the web. After all they just absorbed Friendfeed, their only real perceived threat, and announced how they have turned on their real-time search feature. So everything would seem to be going Facebook's way because really it's not like Twitter is any threat to them.
There's only one problem with that assumption. It's wrong.
You see, very quietly Google has been working in the background on their social initiative and now as they start to roll out more and more of the smaller parts that will make up its larger social media initiative Facebook would be wise to sit up and pay attention. By themselves Google's little Social Gadgets may not seem to be threatening but as people add more of them as they become available to their iGoogle pages the potential to make a severe impact on Facebook will become more apparent.
Mike Elgan wrote about this today where he notes that this new move with iGoogle isn't something he is predicting to be a Facebook killer but it is something that could threaten if especially given the one-click viral nature of the gadgets.
Social Gadgets transform the page. The new gadgets unveiled today include social games like Chess, Scrabble and Trivia. Social productivity apps, such as a sharable to-do list, are nice, too. But these pale in comparison to the gadgets that threaten Facebook directly.
(Note that Google will be gradually rolling out Social Gadgets in the US this week, so you may not get immediate access to them.)
A Google-made Gadget called Timeline performs the same function as Facebook status updates.
Another Google Gadget unveiled today is called Social Photos. It does just what it sounds like it does -- it lets you upload and share your photos using whatever popular photo sharing site your pictures are already sitting on, including Flickr and Picasa.
Gadgets are also viral. A one-click "Share this gadget" feature could spark exponential growth in the use of iGoogle for social networking.
While the purchase of Friendfeed may have the folks at Facebook feeling like they have some breathing room the fact is they don't. Google has never been one for splashy type entrances – with the except maybe of Google Wave – and their moves into Social Media appear to be no different. In the end though Google could end up being Facebook's biggest threat and not one that they can buy off either.