It was the company's biggest mistake, said Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and it will never happen again. He was referring to his failure to anticipate “the rise of the social media phenomenon”. This has let Facebook get far ahead in online social communications and the associated social media marketing race. “In our defense, we were working on many other things,” he said, “but we should have been in that area.”
Google did see some potential in social networks, but never invested enough in them to enjoy more than temporary success. Orkut did well in India and Brazil but was gradually replaced there by Facebook and never made significant progress in the US market, while Buzz never generated much of a buzz anywhere. Google+ has now established a solid international foundation, largely because it is so tightly interwoven with other Google assets such as YouTube, calendars and apps; however, it is still struggling to develop the same kind of appeal to advertisers. Its future may be brighter, as it is now the world’s second largest social media network,
Similarly important, Schmidt suggest, is the current revolution in device use. He sees smartphones becoming ubiquitous this year – "There are more tablets and phones being sold than personal computers. People are moving to this new architecture very fast" – with new software models being developed as a result, changing the way that social activity is approached. He expects the combination of machine intelligence and big data to offer whole new ways for businesses to relate to their customers, getting to know them on a much more personal level but on a mass scale. This means every business will need to rethink its social engagement strategies.
Schmidt also said that he expects the internet to reach far more people worldwide over the next year, opening up new markets and creating opportunities. Google intends to invest heavily in expansion and create a lot of new jobs in the process. It will also be investing in innovation, which Schmidt sees as the key to its success and to avoiding mistakes such as the one it made with social media. Although not every innovation is a success – it just dumped Bump, the company it bought up for a file transfer approach, which did not prove desirable enough to be worthy of continued investment – Google is determined not to let a rival spot the next big thing before it does.