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Social Schmidt eyes up Facebook integration

Whether Zuck likes it or not. Ha!

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Eric Schmidt took a passive-aggressive stance towards Facebook yesterday as he outlined the search'n'ads giant's plans for social networking.

Speaking at the Zeitgeist conference in Arizona, Schmidt said Google's product lineup would get more social networking add-ons by the end of this year.

According to sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal, these will come under the Google Me banner.

However, according to the Guardian, Google's strategy was more about "layers" of social networking features and access to other platforms, rather than an all-out walled-off Facebook rival.

This apparently humbler approach might be appropriate given Google's previous false starts in social networking-esque products, such as the short-lived Wave and its Buzz service.

The firm hoped to be able to integrate users' Facebook contact information into its own products, Schmidt reportedly said - whether Facebook was open to the idea or not.

"The best thing that would happen is for Facebook to open up its data," the Wall Street Journal quoted Schmidt as saying. "Failing that, there are other ways to get that information."

The Wall Street Journal said Schmidt did not elaborate, but given Google's sprawling tendrils it shouldn't be beyond the wit of its engineers to knock up code to rapidly pull together an individual's contacts a la Facebook.

Who knows, it could even give users a fresh start, by allowing them a pause for thought on exactly how many old schoolmates they want on their list.

Either way, it will strengthen Google's grip on who its users are - and who its non-users are too. ®

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