Will Google reveal a new social network called Circles?

14 Mar 2011

Internet giant Google is rumoured to be planning to launch a new social network called Google Circles which will enable photo, video and status message sharing. Google has hotly denied it will launch Circles at the US new media event South by Southwest Interactive today.

Under Google Circles, which the internet giant is believed to launch as a competitor to both Facebook and Twitter, what users share will only be shared with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all contacts.

The development of social networking technologies is believed to be a key focus of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. A recent management reshuffle saw co-founder Larry Page return to the CEO role while former CEO Eric Schmidt becomes executive chairman.

Key figures in the development of Google Circles are believed to be Chris Messina, co-creator of online and social media phenomena, such as BarCamp and hashtags, and Jonathan Sposato, who sold two companies to Google: Piknik and Phatbits, which later became Google Gadgets.

According to ReadWriteWeb there is no smoke without fire and Google is definitely working on something. But according to Liz Gannes of All Things Digital, Messina himself has denied any such product is under development.

Whether there is a product called Circles or not, the fact of the matter is Google needs to do something with social networking and at the time of the management reshuffle it was made quite clear that Sergey Brin would focus on new ‘strategic’ product development, most likely in the area of social.

Why Google needs social networking

Google sorely needs a social networking play to compete with rivals like Facebook and Twitter. It emerged in recent weeks that Facebook is set to overtake Yahoo to take the largest revenue share of the US online display advertising market this year

The digital research company said Facebook’s share of the US display ad market, which will be worth US$10.1bn this year, will grow to 21.6pc, up from a 13.6pc share in 2010 and a 7.3pc share in 2009. Facebook’s display ad revenues are expected to amount to US$2.19bn in 2010 and US$2.87m in 2011.

Google’s share of the market has grown from 3.6pc in 2009 to 9.6pc last year and is set to reach 12.6pc in 2011. eMarketer is predicting that Google will also overtake Yahoo next year to have a 16.7pc share of US online display revenue.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years