Rumors swirled around the launching of Google's social platform at SXSW last weekend, but ultimately the product now supposedly named 'Google Circles' was a no show and the launch is now possibly slated for May, the Next Web reported.
The former 'Google Me' has been hotly awaited and the social interactive South By Southwest seemed like a great place to launch, but rumors were nixed by Google. As ReadWriteWeb posted: "We believe that Google will preview a major new social service called Google Circles at South by Southwest Interactive today. Update: Google has now officially denied that Circles will launch here, but not that it exists. Others, including Tim O'Reilly, have also now confirmed that they've seen it and that it's awesome."
O'Reilly later clarified his comments in an email to Next Web. ""It's not a product, per se, and it's not a new social network. Just some research-y thinking about how you could better manage social data. Exactly what Chris said. I got fooled by the RWW story into thinking that they'd turned it into something they were going to announce. There's no story here. Just some labs stuff," the Wall Street Journal reported.
Meanwhile one of Google's Chris Messina told Liz Gannes at the Wall Street Journal: "While the search giant is thinking about how to better understand the subtleties of social relationships and may build such functionality into its various products, as it makes them more social, said Messina and others, Circles is not a product currently in development."
But Google has been known to contradict their public statements. And the speculation is always a good read.
The Next Web "heard word ... that it's scheduled to launch at this year's I/O developers' conference on 10 and 11 May".
The possible product was eluded to by CEO Eric Schmidt late last year at a Google Zeitgeist event in Arizona - a platform that will provide social layers and connections between all of Google products.
People from a number of products Google has acquired over the past couple of years could be combining to work on this project, according to ReadWriteWeb.
"The service has been developed with extensive participation by Chris Messina, the co-creator of numerous successful social and software phenomena online, from BarCamp to Hashtags and much more. Messina declined to comment for this story. Jonathan Sposato, CEO of the photo editing service Piknik that Google acquired last year, is working on Circles as well. Sposato may be the only entrepreneur to have sold not one but two startups to Google - having founded Phatbits, a service that was acquired by Google in 2005 and became Google Gadgets. These are heavy hitting tech leaders and the service should be very interesting."
The fact that Messina then spoke with the Wall Street Journal could be an effort to stop speculation and as the article states "Facebook can relax." No sense giving Facebook advanced warning - Google still wants access to their information and stories like this could create problems.
PC World reported "Google's site will be unique, the speculation goes, because it will seek to understand how we relate to our various social networking friends, determine how truly close to them we are, then adjust the amount of content we share with those people."
Interesting - so we will be able to optimize our friends. One has to wonder if there will be an ability to hit them with any of the recent algorithm updates. If one of your friends gets to chatty or starts posting too much can I "Panda" them? If I find one has been paid to get me to sign up to a coupon program can I penalize them?
Paul Adams who worked on social technology at Google, but is now at Facebook, has a book coming out called "Social Circles." Now that could be the sequel to The Social Network - the battle between Facebook and Google with Adams being offered huge amounts of money to jump ship and help Zuckerberg.
Adams also did a large powerpoint presentation called The Real Life Social Network (see below) where he noted the lack of context and understanding of personas impacted true social networking. He was hired by Facebook shortly after the presentation was made public.
"Some reports claim that Google Circles will also allow sharing status messages between groups of friends on (different) social networks, also called "social circles"; that, apart from sharing photos, videos, check-ins and more. Some believe Picnik (an online photo editing and sharing platform) may come into the scene here," WWWery.com reported.
So whether this is all cyber crop circles or a real product leaked too early, we will have to wait and see.