Google CEO Schmidt gives crafty non-denial on forthcoming social network

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt wouldn’t publicly deny that the company is set to hatch a rival social network to Facebook during a speech today in London, adding fuel to rumors that the search giant may launch a social service called Google Me later this year.

“That would be a product announcement, and I won’t say,” he said in response to a question about whether the service existed at The Guardian’s Activate conference today.

The company is reportedly hard at work building a competing service after several failed attempts at launching successful social products. Facebook is increasingly looking like an emerging threat to advertising revenue with 1 million sites plugging into its platform.

In the last two years, Google has started to take social networking seriously after considering it an afterthought for much of its early history. The company launched an e-mail based social sharing network called Google Buzz earlier this year, but it hasn’t dented the traction of rival products like Twitter and Facebook.

Quora co-founder and former Facebook chief technology officer Adam D’Angelo (who isn’t affiliated with Google) commented on the rumors over the weekend, saying that the company realized Buzz wouldn’t be sufficient. The company would have to build a full-fledged social network and attract a large number of engineers to work on it, he said.

Still, Schmidt said Facebook and Google weren’t all that comparable. Search and social, at this point, are still pretty distinct paradigms for consuming information.


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