Update: Google is already calling "Emerald Sea" something else according to a report.
Original Article: It’s been widely discussed for months now: Google is working on some kind of social strategy that would presumably be the company’s latest shot at trying to take on Facebook. Of course the company itself has never presented it this way, but the lines aren’t too hard to read between.
It was originally thought that Google was simply working on a full-fledged social network, but CEO Eric Schmidt would later indicate that this wasn’t exactly the case, and that Google was working on adding a "social layer" across many of its existing offerings. This would actually make a great deal more sense, given that when combined, many of Google’s existing products would make up one giant social network. That and Google Buzz hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.
Google has worked to bring its offerings together for users under a single Google account – meaning if you log in to Gmail, you’re also logged into YouTube and everything else. The new social layer should connect many of Google’s services like never before. However, few details are known about how Google intends to implement such a layer.
The social layer has been known as, and commonly referred to throughout the Blogosphere (since even before it was known to be a social "layer") as "Google Me". That changes now, as MG Siegler at TechCrunch reports that it is now being called "Emerald Sea" internally at Google as it is being tested. He claims to have confirmed this with 4 unnamed sources. There was initially some confusion over whether it was actually "Emerald City" or "Emerald Sea", but it would appear that it is indeed "Sea", which as Siegler points out is the name of a John Ringo novel.
I’m not familiar with the novel, but here is Amazon’s product description of it if you want to take a crack at drawing conclusions for Google’s choice in name:
The fast-paced sequel to There Will be Dragons is a rollicking adventure above and below the high seas with dragons, orcas, beautiful mermaids-and the irrepressible Bast the Wood Elf, a cross between Legolas and Mae West. Duke Edmund Talbot has been assigned a simple mission: Go to the Southern Isles and make contact with the scattered mer-folk-those who, before the worldwide collapse of technology, had altered their bodies in the shape of mythical sea-dwelling creatures. He must convince them to side with the Freedom Coalition in the battles against the fascist dictators of New Destiny. Just a simple diplomatic mission. That requires the service of a dragon-carrier and Lieutenant Herzer Herrick, the most blooded of the Blood Lords. Because New Destiny has plans of its own.
Is Facebook the "fascist dictator" in Google’s scenario? Maybe. It’s interesting considering the recent public disputes over data exporting between the two companies. We don’t know for sure if the book is what Google even got the name from. In fact, we don’t even know how reliable Siegler’s sources are, but it is what it is. Make of it what you will.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Google has pushed back its launch of "Google Me" or "Emerald Sea" or the "social layer" (whatever you want to call it) to Spring 2011. Chances are it will not be called "Google Me" or "Emerald Sea" once it’s actually announced. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more a gradual sprinkling in of social elements to Google products as opposed to a main launch anyway. One could argue that this has already begun.
If a main push is indeed coming in the Spring, that gives Facebook that much more time to continue to build on its head start in owning online and social identity (which the company appears to really be pushing for based on this Facebooker’s call for an end of online anonymity).