Does Google want to become an “identity gatekeeper?” An interesting GigaOM analysis comes to that conclusion. It’s because of Google’s recent behavior and Chairman Eric Schmidt’s insistence that the new Google+ social network require users’ real names. Why? Because real people are more valuable to advertisers—and more useful to search results—than anonymous individuals or spammers.
Google definitely wants to tap into users’ behaviors on Google+ to help improve its search results, but that’s not all that’s going on. As Schmidt said in a recent speech:
If you think about it, the Internet would be better if we had an accurate notion that you were a real person as opposed to a dog, or a fake person, or a spammer or what have you… So if we knew that it was a real person, then we could sort of hold them accountable, we could check them, we could give them things, we could you know bill them, you know we could have credit cards and so forth.
People with real identities, including their age and gender, location and other demographic details in their accounts, would, of course, be far more valuable to advertisers. As GigaOM concludes:
What kind of services is Schmidt referring to when he says that Google is looking at Google+ as an identity platform that could support other services? Dave Winer thinks that the company wants to effectively become a bank — something he also suspects that Apple and Amazon are interested in as well — and that’s definitely a possibility. Apple and Google both seem interested in NFC technology (near-field communication), which turns mobile devices into electronic wallets, and having a social network tied to an individual user’s identity would come in handy. Ross Dawson says Google wants to build a “reputation engine” using Google+ as a platform.
Facebook is ahead of Google in this fascinating battle. Look at everything Google is currently saying and trying to do as part of its frantic attempt to play catch up.