Something that Google ought to have done a long-long time ago, was to integrate Orkut and GMail. It’s kind of silly that the same set of people use an entire gamut of services (GMail, Orkut messages, GTalk, scraps, etc. etc.) to communicate with you. Anyway, if you have one, you, by default, have access to the other, which makes the following all the more sense.
- Integrate GMail contacts and Orkut profile information
Really simple idea: Instead of having to labour over your contacts list, everytime your friend changes his contact information, let him do it on his profile page, and it gets updated in your Contacts book, automatically and noiselessly. No need for mass-mails saying that you lost your phone, no need for a 100 people update your information in 3 different places. And most importantly, this also ensures you have the latest details.
- Integrate Orkut Scraps with GMail
It is pretty clear to Google that Orkut scraps are mostly used to say “What’s up!?”, but it isn’t the most convenient thing to scrap a person, because it isn’t built for it and sometimes when you need the privacy, it isn’t there. When somebody scraps you, Orkut sends you a mail saying that somebody has scrapped you; then you have to login, and click to go to your scrapbook. Of course, it is now more convenient to reply to that scrap, but it is not there yet.Just have an option to mail the chap on the Scrapbook page, and have the scrap sent by mail as well, so that when you get the notification mail, you also know what is there waiting for you. To make it better, make the system in such a way that you can reply to scrap without ever leaving the comfort of your inbox. Convenient, and private when you want it to be.
- Integrate Orkut messaging with GMail
This is a totally useless piece of software. Maybe you don’t want the sender/receiver to know your email address, but the message could be delivered to your inbox nonetheless (Facebook does it, and I think it also lets you reply from within the inbox in certain cases, withouth ever letting your sender/receiver knowing your email address. Even if it doesn’t, it can be done.) Besides with the kind of spam plaguing Orkut messaging, and the excellent spam filter that GMail has, users would rather like this, and maybe use this much often.
- Integrate Orkut communities with Google Groups
Another totally useless piece of software. There are thousands of people on Orkut who have subscribed to communities, as badge communities, so that they appear on their profile pages. But for the communities, where members have some participation, it is very inconvenient. You have to go to the page to find out whether there has been any activity, and it is very easy to fall behind by months in some of them. To make Orkut communities really useful, one should be able to receive group messages in the mail, so that one can actively participate in the discussions.
Not just Orkut and GMail, Google should dispense away the whole idea of making different profiles for each of their services. If you sign into Google groups, you need to make a whole new profile, ditto for GMail, Reader, Blogger etc. By having a single profile page, which can be built into Orkut, Google can make its users’ life much more convenient. Have a public profile page, which can be automatically plugged into place in Blogger, Reader and Groups, with the additional options of revealing more information, if the user wishes to. By including your GTalk status message also, you have a credible competitor to Twitter with regards to your reach atleast.Besides, by tying up your entire life under a common platform, that is your Google ID, dispenses away the need for tools such as Friendfeed, therefore making it impossibly redundant for a large section of its customers, i.e. by doing this Google will actually erect barriers to entry for upstarts like Friendfeed, because you can already keep a tab on your online presence through Google.Of course, the icing on the cake would be if Google adopted the OpenID system, which would really help me tie up all the sundry services that I use on the web to one user ID and password. Of course, one can create an OpenID using your Google ID.
It is pretty clear from the above, that Orkut is the way it is, because Google wants to extract all the pennies it can using Orkut’s advertising system, a la Facebook. But that is where Google is wrong, because it is not leveraging its strength in GMail. Google is clearly targetting the enterprise space (GMail only recently released integration with Outlook.), which is quite natural because that’s where the moolah is. But it shouldn’t be imitating it’s competitors since none of it’s competitors are really into this space. Just look at where Facebook is going. Instead of developing Orkut Apps on the lines of Facebook, which will only ruin Orkut’s simple image for me, many users would prefer these.Combining Orkut with GMail makes it very powerful, since now companies using the Google Apps system can use it as a simple form of CRM. By allowing enterprises having their own profile pages, visible only to certain people, companies can use these profile pages to build their own CRM profile within the GMail framework. This is just one example I can think of at the moment, but there could be myriads others.
But what does Google stand to gain from all this? Apart from increased traffic purely from the standpoint, that Google Apps is more useful to small- and medium-enterprises, having profile pages for firms will also be more profitable for the users of the system.Let’s say I am Zuper Linux Company, a small company operating out of Bangalore, using the new-and-revamped Google Apps as the solution for my company’s e-mail and CRM needs. When I go to the profile page of a customer, what are the ads that I am likely to see on his profile? If the customer hasn’t bought the keywords present on his profile, somebody else will have, which would probably be his competitors, or associates. Which in turn, would be a new lead for my small start-up firm. Which would mean I would definitely click on those links, leading to more revenue for Google. And mind you, all those clicks are actually useful for the advertiser and person who clicked it, which means the advertiser would be more than willing to pay a premium to get listed on such pages.Having profile pages for firms, gives you a whole new way to bring out targetted advertising’s benefits, which not only translates into more clicks, but also more pennies per click.
If Google does implement these, do I think I should ask for royalty? If I did, do you think they would give me any?
And if you think I was just ranting, it seems even Wharton thinks I am making sense and Oracle is already making money off it. What’s stopping the guys at Google?