It looks like Google may be looking for a new online fight.
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"I think it's obvious that Google wants to become the primary -- if not only -- stop on the Internet," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "Which means they need to not only dominate search, but also to become the biggest player in social networking."
The Internet has been abuzz with speculation that Google is getting ready to take another plunge into the burgeoning social networking world -- this time with an online games focus. Much of the talk is based on the fact that Google recently shelled out $182 million to purchase Slide, which has developed applications for social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace.
And there's online chatter that Google has secretly bought Jambool, a company that created a virtual currency payment product called Social Gold. Google did not reply to requests for confirmation.
However, Google's silence hasn't stopped industry watchers from piecing together bits of information.
"Google has said little, but their acquisitions and the rumors certainly seem to add up to the conclusion that Google is planning something big in the social networking space," said Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Thus far, Google has made acquisitions and launched social applications that were largely unconnected from each other and from the core Google consumer experience. With their next and much-anticipated launch, my expectation is that we'll see a cohesive offering that moves social into the center of the Google experience."
The moves feed into speculation that erupted late in June when word started to circulate that Google was working to develop a social networking site executives hoped would be a Facebook killer. Google has never confirmed the development of the site, rumored to be dubbed Google Me.
However, Ray said it would be natural for Google to work its way into social networking, and to use the popularity of online games to help it do so. Google's decision to kill its failed Google Wave social networking and collaboration service, means the company has figured out that it needs to go after the booming social networking audience with a really big piece of bait.