Hot on the heels of Google’s red hot social network Google+, Microsoft has also decided to dip it’s toes with a new product trendily named so.cl.
The first question I asked myself when I read the news was - why?
Microsoft already has a strategic alignment with Facebook to do battle against the forces of Google. They have made a good chunk of change based on Facebook’s IPO. It would make sense to foster this relationship with a strong partner rather than go at it alone with the quiet launch of so.cl.
Speaking of Google, even with their strong online clout with heavily used products like Search, Maps and Gmail, they are finding it difficult to get a foothold into non-geek markets. If you didn’t realise, my opening quip was in sarcasm. A quick browse over there would reveal that it’s a network made up exclusively of social media evangelists and software engineers.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my Xbox and I’m lusting after a Lumia 900. But Microsoft’s own social network just doesn’t feel right, especially with the subpar product they have revealed. It’s just not ok to launch half-heartedly in an already crowded market with well established players, not to mention upstarts like Pinterest. No mobile app is also a big question mark on how serious Microsoft really is with this project.
Microsoft, like Google, obviously understands the importance of socially infusing your products. They recently added social recommendations to Bing search results. This seemed like a great move as they use various social networks as a source, in comparison to Google Search which detrimentally emphasizes Google+ results, fueling strong criticism.
Perhaps if Microsoft had a strong product at launch it could make some sense. However so.cl seems confusing at best, and infuriating at worst - with your search query being posted straight to your profile.
In context, the following tweet could be seen as an insult to the WNBA.
Microsoft vs. Google in social. This is like watching a WNBA game: techmeme.com/120520/p8#a120…— Spencer Chen (@spencerchen) May 20, 2012