Speaking Tuesday at the Google Zeitgeist conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, Google CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed the upcoming launch of Google Me, the search giant's rumored social network. Previously it was believed that Google Me would be a stand-alone network to compete with Facebook, however that's apparently not the case. Instead, Google Me will take the "layered" approach and compliment Google's current services.
"We're trying to take Google's core products and add a social component," Schmidt said. "If you think about it, it's obvious. With your permission, knowing more about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations. Search quality can get better."
To achieve this, Google plans to cull data from Facebook which already has over half a billion users worldwide. "The best thing that would happen is for Facebook to open up its data," Schmidt added, referring to gaining access to a user's Facebook contact list. "Failing that, there are other ways to get that information."
Schmidt declined to be specific, however he pointed out that Facebook can look at a Gmail user's contact list to make friend suggestions, but Google and other services can't do the same with a Facebook contact list even though the Facebook user gives permission.
According to various reports, YouTube will be one service that implements social-networking elements. Google Me will also access information created by users on other sites including Twitter and Flickr. Zynga Game Network, Playfish and other social gaming developers have also signed up to offer their casual gaming products on the new social "layer."
While it sounds like something big is coming to Google this fall, Schmidt downplayed the idea. "Everybody has convinced themselves that there's some huge project about to get announced next week," he said. "And I can assure you that's not the case."