Google Begins Ramping up Social Media Features for Renewed Competition With Facebook

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Google will begin the introduction of “layers” of social-networking features later this year, the company’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, has said.

Speaking at the Zeitgeist conference yesterday evening, Schmidt suggested that plans for a social network to rival the likes of Facebook – and now Apple’s Ping – are further away than previously thought.

A wave of summer acquisitions has shown Google to have big ambitions for the future of its social services.

In August, e-commerce engine was added to Google’s expanding portfolio in a $100m deal enveloping the four-year-old company’s “visual search technology”. Jambool, the virtual currency company allowing developers to integrate payment systems into their games, was next on the list for Google in a rumored $70m buy.

Schmidt announced a future partnership with social gaming platform Zynga in June, leading many to speculate about a forthcoming release of Google Games. Earlier that month, Schmidt said Google aims to “improve the way flight information is organised”, announcing a $700m bid to buy airline ticketing firm ITA software.

The Wall Street Journal reports, YouTube, Google’s online video service, is one product that will incorporate more social-networking elements, said people familiar with the matter. Google is working on ways to notify users when a particular video is being watched by many friends in their network.

As part of Google Me, Google also plans to let people play online social games made by companies such as Zynga Game Network Inc., and Electronic Arts Inc.’s Playfish, among others.

The 600 attendees at Google Zeitgeist 2010 got Google TV, three months of Dish service, a Bravia TV and complimentary Best Buy Geek Squad installation.

Videos Zeitgeist 2010 US

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