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Google - Wave Out, Slide In

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David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Google once looked untouchable, but with this week's closing of Google Wave and the slow growth at Orkut and Google Buzz, Google is not longer looking untouchable.  But with deep pockets they are looking to acquire some winners.

Google Wave was largely an Australian developed product but while it launched with great fanfare, most people were unable to figure out true day-to-day uses.  Google has been disappointed with the user adoption and has announced it will discontinue developing Wave as a stand-alone product though they will keep the service online through the end of the year and will roll the technology into other projects. 

Though to his credit, Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO, painted the failure of Google Wave as a sign that the company's innovative culture continues to take risks and aim big.  Not every innovation will succeed - but when you launch as many ideas as Google does - you don't need all of them to be winners in order to be profitable.

So while Google is pulling the plug on the new age messaging and collaboration idea, they are diving into social games with a splash. With Slide, Google is purchasing a company with an established social media footprint on Facebook, MySpace and other networks. Slide is the maker of a number of popular social games including SuperPoke! Pets, Rock Riot, Top Friends and FunSpace. 

Slide was launched in 2005 by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin with the intent of building photo-sharing software that would allow users to create picture slide shows.  Somewhere along the line, the photo ideas sputtered - but the social games took off and helped Slide grow.  Slide's users can download Slide's games for free, but some decorations and virtual gifts cost money - which is where the electronic gold can be found. 

Meanwhile Google could not strike a deal to acquire the social app leader Zynga, but has instead made an investment in Zynga, rumoured to be around $150 million USD.  Zynga is a clear leader with a user base of 268 million, five times the nearest competitor.

With an investment in Zynga and leadership of Slide, Google seems poised to make a play into the social media space - oddly enough one of the few areas of the web were Google does not already have a strong presence.

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