September 27, 2007 |
Lately Google has been making a lot of moves to increase its footprint on the mobile web, with the recent acquisition of GrandCentral and launch of AdSense for mobile, but one of their first mobile services has almost been forgotten.
Mobile social software Dodgeball, which was purchased by Google in 2005, basically allowed users to notify other users of their location, thereby allowing them to meet for, say, a drink at the bar. It had a lot of potential as a Google service but ultimately failed to take off as expected. The site never received much recognition at Google's site and was never integrated with Google Maps, which should have been a self-evident feature for a service that Google itself describes as “a networking service that helps coordinate location-based social interactions between mobile users.” Instead, Alex Rainert and Dennis Crowley, the founders of Dodgeball who became part of Google’s engineering team in the deal, ended up leaving the company.
Zingku was getting started the same year as Google's Dodgeball purchase, but it seems to be much more well developed and offers more usability and features, which should help Google out.
Zingku has been running as a private beta service that allows users to “create and exchange things of interest ranging from invitations to 'mobile flyers' with friends in a trusted manner.” Users share and promote this content which is accessible via mobile, instant messenger, and web browser. This service was designed for mobile phones, and works using standard text messaging and picture messaging features.
Following the news, Google has stated, “We believe these assets can help build products and features that will benefit our users, advertisers and publishers,” which, to me, hints at a little integration with other Google services this time around. Finally!
Now that Google seems to be taking the mobile forefront seriously, perhaps this is their second chance when they will learn from past mistakes. For now, new user account sign-ups are currently frozen as the site makes its move to Google servers, a process which apparently took more than a year to do for Dodgeball. As far as I am concerned, Google has already shown more commitment to this project than Dodgeball, so let's just hope they keep up the momentum.