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Google to launch Circles? Or just some clever linkbait?

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 14th March 2011

The social media echo chamber has been buzzing this weekend with rumours that Google is set to launch a new social network, possibly called Circles.

The kerfuffle all stemmed from a series of articles from ReadWriteWeb suggesting the internet giant was due to launch the product at leading geek-fest conference SXSW, which is taking place in Austin, Texas at the moment.

The latter rumour was quickly refuted by Google, stating that it didn’t “launch products at other people’s events”. Handbags!

But this hardly poured cold water on the torrent of speculative tweets.

A fuss about nothing?

So is there any truth in these rumours?

ReadWriteWeb has grown into a very respected publication in the social media space and certainly has it’s ear to the ground. And the fact that Google is absolutely obsessed by cracking the social network thang is hardly a secret.

The suggestion now is that Google is set to make an announcement on its next social project at its developer conference Google I/O next month.

This is the same conference where it launched Google TV last year and (ahem) Google Wave in 2009.

A Twitter/Facebook/Foursquare/[insert a social network here] killer?

The rumours are certainly intriguing. They point to the fact that this service has been developed by Chris Messina (founder of BarCamp and Hashtags) and Jonathan Sposato (CEO of Piknik, acquired by Google last year).

Beyond this however, the details from ReadWriteWeb are a little more hazy:

“If what we’ve heard is correct, the service will offer photo, video and status message sharing. Everything users share on Circles will be shared only with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all your contacts in bulk.”

So a Facebook/Twitter hybrid with the ability to segment fans or followers by your relationship with them? My initial reaction is it probably wouldn’t be enough to conquer the world and is surely functionality that Facebook in particular could add pretty quickly.

Nevertheless, Google feels it needs to succeed in this area, so I wouldn’t be running to bet against them…

picture credit

Danny Whatmough