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Google Slides away from Wave FAIL with social network buy

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Google has bought social network tech outfit Slide for an undisclosed sum in its latest effort to tackle Facebook’s Web2.0 dominance.

The buy came just 48 hours after Google killed its Wave tool, which made a splash landing in May 2009. But within a year of its birth, the email-IM-and-everything-else-Web-2.0-splatter-gun platform had proved itself to be an unpopular product that no one wanted to play with.

Last week Google boss Eric Schmidt hinted that the ad broker was beavering away at a social networking site that it hoped might, one day, unseat Facebook.

"We liked the [Wave user interface] and we liked a lot of the new features in it [but] didn't get enough traction, so we are taking those technologies and applying them to new technologies that are not announced," he said hours after the firm declared the death of Wave.

Fast forward to last Friday, and Google had acquired Slide. It’s not clear if this was the new tech Schmidt alluded to in his statement, but the company certainly fits the bill in terms of Mountain View’s needs right now.

“For Google, the web is about people, and we’re working to develop open, transparent and interesting (and fun!) ways to allow our users to take full advantage of how technology can bring them closer to friends and family and provide useful information just for them,” said the firm’s engineering director David Glazer.

“Slide has already created compelling social experiences for tens of millions of people across many platforms, and we’ve already built strong social elements into products like Gmail, Docs, Blogger, Picasa and YouTube.

"As the Slide team joins Google, we’ll be investing even more to make Google services socially aware and expand these capabilities for our users across the web.”

According to Reuters Google paid $182m for Slide, alongside $46m in staff retention bonuses.

The Chocolate Factory hasn’t announced any specifics about how Slide’s tech will be melded into its products. Google has already confirmed that its creepy, privacy-lite Buzz is here to stay in Gmail.

Whether Slide’s offerings will similarly be bolted on the company’s free web mail service remains to be seen.

Of course, Google might just be planning another attempt at pure social networking, but it’s hardly an area the company has had much success with – yet. ®

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