There are some companies in the world today that have become more than mere corporate organizations; some companies, like Google, have become global institutions in their own right. For the past two decades, Google has been a mainstay of the technological industry. In fact, we may even consider Google to be the gateway to the modern internet. Such is the popularity of Google, that the use of the term “google” is now used as a transitive verb ubiquitously! Needless to say, a company of such a magnitude has various diversified interests with a vast portfolio of products and services on offer. Now, if new reports are to be believed, Google may be looking to expand into yet another niche. This time, Google is said to be “inspired” by Snapchat for their own ephemeral news content feature called “Stamp”.
Let us have a closer look at the new information, and assess how it will affect Google and its competitors.
Google And Social Media: A Troubled History
As one of the world’s biggest tech companies and the second most valuable brand, Google has emerged as a perfect platform for success for any of their new ventures. However, we have to consider Google’s long, and troubled history with social media. While Google has been wildly successful in so many technological endeavours that define the world today, social media has always been a sore spot for them. They have tried to establish a presence in this field on multiple occasions, each marked by failure or disappointment.
Google tried to pioneer location-based social interactions with platforms such as Dodgeball and Latitude, both of which ended up as tremendous failures. Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) competitor Google Buzz was also doomed to fail from the start due to its forced integration with Gmail and privacy concerns. However, perhaps the most painful for Google was the failure of its social media platform Orkut. A strong competitor to Facebook and Myspace during the nascent days of social media, Orkut almost made it big. In fact, it even managed to amass 300 million global users at one point, with strong growth from emerging markets such as India and Brazil. Unfortunately, Orkut could not keep pace with Facebook’s popularity and got shut down in late 2014.
Google has continued to invest in social media to date, banking on Google+ and YouTube in a big way. Even now, though YouTube’s social aspect is limited at best, and it seems like Google+ may end up as yet another expensive failure.
Google To Follow Suite With Facebook And Copy Snapchat
According to several reports, Google is now working on a new technology allowing publishers to provide Snapchat style ephemeral news content. The published stories could be very similar to ones on Snapchat’s Discover section, consisting of a mix of photos, videos, and text. The new technology is being built on Google’s current open source Accelerated Mobile Platform (AMP) tech. The AMP platform follows a mobile-first design philosophy and allows publishers to have their content loaded much quicker. AMP also provides easy access to information via swipeable pages. The new platform will reportedly be called “Stamp”. It will be integrated with the Google search engine, and possibly even the search bar. According to some reports, Google is already in talks with various publishers like CNN, The Washington Post, Time, Vox Media, etc. regarding content integration.
The immediately obvious observation is that Google Stamp is clearly a copy of Snapchat’s Discover feature. Copying Snapchat seems to be very much in fashion these days, and Google is now among various others like Facebook, Instagram, etc. to do so. Snapchat’s success has very clearly demonstrated the allure of ephemeral content, and others are eager to follow its example.
The new Stamp feature makes a lot of sense from Google’s perspective. Users are increasingly choosing to consume information from social media on mobile platforms in short digestible segments. This new technology is a natural extension of Google’s desire to be the primary source where people consume information. Even, It makes more sense when you consider the recent reports of Google’s failed $30 billion bid to acquire Snapchat in 2016. It would seem that their failure to acquire Snapchat has motivated them to create a rival competing service instead.
Google’s Ultimate Target Is Facebook, Not Snapchat
Nevertheless, Google is also targeting Facebook, not just Snapchat with the new Stamp platform. Facebook’s app-centric and mobile first approach along with their Instant Articles feature both represent a significant threat to Google’s business model and their share of ad revenues. Facebook even expected to beat Google in display ad revenue in 2017. In fact, this new technology may just persuade Snapchat to acquiesce to a possible Google acquisition in the future. Snapchat has been struggling of late under immense pressure from the likes of Instagram and Facebook. More competition from Google is the last thing they need at the moment.
However, a potential Google – Snapchat merger could be hugely beneficial to both parties. Google would acquire Snapchat’s 166 million strong, primarily younger audience. They would also finally be able to break into the social media space and expand their ecosystem. On the other hand, Snapchat would benefit immensely from Google’s technology, influence, and financial muscle. Together they could make a potent team capable of challenging Facebook’s domination of social media. It could also help Google capture the $70+ billion TV market ahead of competitors like Facebook and Apple.
Google’s game plan with the Stamp platform is pretty clear. Google wants to stem the tide of users turning to Facebook’s ecosystem for information. They are also having yet another go at the lucrative social media pie. We will have to wait for more concrete details to emerge to see whether Google will actually succeed in doing so.