Will Google trip over its Shoelace?
Eyes were rolled and giggles were aplenty as it emerged Google has built a yet another new social app.
comes from Google’s experimental Area 120 team, and is currently in invite-only mode, and only works in New York City.
Unlike the standard social networks which focus on current relationships between people, Shoelace is oriented toward meeting new people and growing your social circle. The basic experience is structured around matching users based on their interests and making it easier to plan and meet up at events.
It’s easy to look at Google’s track record with social apps (Buzz! Google+! Schemer! Other things I’ve completely forgotten!) and decide that Shoelace is probably doomed from the off. It’s easy to do that, and experience tells us it’s probably the right thing to do. Google has a reputation for brutally killing things off if they don’t stick in a big way.
And really, if Google wants to offer social apps, it should look at enhancing the social elements of its existing apps. Google Docs is used as a social network by school kids
; Google Maps has some useful social features
; the chat feature in Gmail could have been huge if Google hadn’t have got distracted by building an million other chat apps… and of course YouTube is already one of the biggest social destinations on the internet.
With a bit of nurturing and refinement, Google’s existing apps could offer well-rounded social elements that people could use if they chose. And Google wouldn’t have to try to kickstart another social network from ground level — something probably isn’t really possible unless you’re doing something totally fresh and new, unlike Shoelace.
Shoelace sounds like a hundred other apps I’ve been pitched over the years. It’s wrong to completely write it off at this stage without giving Area 120 a chance, but let’s face it, its long-term prospects aren’t great.