Google about to tackle Facebook with Google Me?

Google HQ

Search giant Google has been strongly tipped to be on the brink of launching its own social network to rival Facebook.

Over the weekend, Kevin Rose founder of social bookmarking site Digg revealed on Twitter that a "very credible source" had said the launch of Google Me, the company's very own social network, was imminent.

Rose, an acknowledged industry insider well known for making such predictions, tweeted in full: "OK, umm, huge rumor: Google to launch Facebook competitor very soon 'Google Me', very credible source".

While Google itself has unsurprisingly been completely silent on the matter, there is enough to suggest that the prediction may not be too far from the mark.

The social networking space is one of the few areas of web real estate where Google has failed to establish any significant global presence. Despite initial speculation that it might evolve as such, Buzz has remained strictly a messaging service, as similar to the instant messaging service Google Talk as it is to a full-blown social network.

But Google is sure to have noticed Facebook's increasing success in leveraging the information it holds over its users into targeted advertising revenue. The company posted revenues of $800 million last year, and Google may be looking to protect one of its core revenue streams by following its example.

Google's existing portfolio of services already sees it well placed to enter the social networking space. The company has Profiles, which gathers together information about consumers based on their use of Google's many services, and this will likely form the bedrock of any mooted social network, with direct communication tools sitting on top.

Considering the service would no doubt integrate Gmail as its email platform, it would already have nearly 200 million users around the world from the start making it immediately Facebook's leading rival.

Additionally, Google does already own a social network, Orkut, which has a strong following among some 100 million subscribers in the Americas, though its profile elsewhere is negligible.

However, at the very least it could provide part of Google Me's infrastructure and knowledge base, as well as user numbers should it be integrated into the wider network.