We're Not Building a Facebook Rival, Google Says

Surfboards lean against a wall at the Google office in Santa Monica, California.

Surfboards lean against a wall at the Google office in Santa Monica, California.  (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Google is not building a social network to compete with Facebook. Really.

An executive for Internet search leader Google reiterated Thursday that the company has no plans to jump into the social network market, despite an intensifying rivalry between the two leading Internet groups and already articulated plans to add certain features borrowed from social networking to its sites.

"We're not working on a social network platform that's just going to be another social-network platform," Google's head of mobile product development, Hugo Barra, said in answer to a question at the Monaco Media Forum.

So what sort of social-network platform IS the group building? In spite of Barra's comment, Lily Lin, a spokeswoman for the search giant, told that the company had nothing new to reveal. 

"We’re always experimenting with new ways to improve our products, and we have already confirmed that we are focused on incorporating social elements across Google," Lin told "But we have nothing new to announce at this time."

In his presentation, Barra said social networking is a key part of any Internet company's strategy. 

"We do think that social is an ingredient for success for any app going forward, search and advertising being probably the best two examples that I would mention. So that's how we're thinking about the problem," Barra said.

Social networking has exploded in popularity and begun to reshape the balance of power in the Web industry. Facebook, launched in 2004, has more than 500 million members.

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in September the company intended to add "layers" of social networking to its sites, rather than unveil a flashy product, but his remarks failed to quash speculation about a Google social network.

Google owns the social network Orkut, which is popular in Brazil and India but has failed to expand significantly beyond those markets.

This week, Google internally announced plans to boost salaries by 10 percent in a move widely seen as an effort to staunch a stream of engineers and managers leaving Google for faster-growing rivals like Facebook.

Google also said recently it planned to block Facebook and other Web services from accessing its users' information, accusing Facebook of failing to reciprocate.

Reuters contributed to this report.