Earlier this week, it was revealed that Google had acquired fflick, a site that lets you log in with your Twitter account, and see what your friends have said about movies.
According to Jason Kincaid, who first reported on the acquisition, fflick had always planned to expand beyond movies, with that just being the first vertical. It seemed to make sense that Google would take advantage of this to improve its social search features, including Hotpot. I was not alone in this thinking.
Having your Twitter friends’ opinions about things you search for right along with the rest of your search results could be pretty valuable.
I was somewhat surprised to see Google announce the acquisition the next day on the YouTube blog, saying that the fflick team would become part of the YouTube team. Don’t get me wrong, this makes sense too, as a way to make YouTube (Google’s greatest social asset) more social, in the way Google described.
"Many of the YouTube videos you watch and love are also shared on sites beyond YouTube.com," said YouTube Group Product Manager Shiva Rajaraman. "Our site is built, in part, on social tools like comments, video responses and ratings. In recent years we’ve worked to integrate these social signals across other popular social platforms. For example, we see more than 400 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link, and over 150 years worth of YouTube video is watched on Facebook every day."
"We’ve always believed that there are great conversations happening all the time off of YouTube.com, and that commentary has the potential to enrich your experience when watching and discovering video on YouTube itself," added Rajaraman.
Reading a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article about Larry Page’s 3.0, one paragraph in the six-page article caught my eye. It as talking about Google’s "social layer" initiative that is supposed to help it compete with Facebook. It’s been most recently referred to as "Google+1", and the project is being led by Google’s Vic Gundotra. The article says:
Two sources familiar with it, who asked not to be named because the project is not yet public, confirm that it is tentatively called Google +1 and that it is designed to cull data about relationships among users from current services such as Gmail and YouTube. Google will then let users share material through those connections, while using the information to make other products more social. Search results may be skewed toward pages that your friends found useful—for instance, a Google Maps query for nearby Italian restaurants could return one that was positively reviewed by someone you know. (emphasis added).
With this in mind, fflick may play a role in the big picture after all, even as part of the YouTube unit. I can only speculate and try to put some puzzles pieces together, but something tells me the fflick pick-up is more than just a way to talk about YouTube videos, especially when you also consider Google’s much-increased focus on local and social.