I’ve been thinking about this a little bit over the last couple days, and I’ve come to this conclusion. Google should be making a Content Management System (CMS). Right now.
I’m not talking about their existing website product, Google Sites. That’s just a Google version of Geocities, with less dancing babies. No, what I’m talking about is a full-blown WordPress, Drupal, Joomla competitor. They have the capability to do it, and they DEFINITELY have the incentive.
Look at the modern web through Google’s eyes. It’s fragmenting. What was traditional site content of the past decade – essays, posts, pictures, etc. is now moving away from open. Obviously Google’s biggest threat is Facebook – and now that they’re a public company, the shareholders are going to nudge the company to embrace more open competition to Google directly.
Gone are the days of indexed Flickr feeds and nicely organized personal blogs – categorized and tagged and out in the open. No, the new web is fracturing along dozens of lines – and even Google isn’t helping themselves by rushing SEO changes out the door and pairing that with such abrupt and inexplicable reliance on “Google+ will save us all!” G+ is vast, certainly, but in the same way that an empty football stadium is. You know cool stuff could happen in there, if only you could get some players.
Why Google Should Build a CMS…
I’m no Google lover. But I’m falling slowly out of love with WordPress. It’s too complex. It’s too detached. It’s not commercially-friendly (trust me…) It has beaten Drupal and Joomla by nothing more than a war of attrition. But who is offering a serious threat to WP as a self-hosted, self-installable content management system solution? By the stats I’ve heard, WP is powering 1/8-1/3 of all websites on the Internet.
That is Google’s bread and butter. And it’s getting weaker.
The weaker the CMS environment, the weaker the “open” web becomes. Facebook’s “Timeline” feature (and the lack of global privacy / visibility controls) was what prompted me to leave their network. But going solely on Twitter, LinkedIn, and my own blog here – it’s not as social as I wish it were. There is a massive gap between “I own everything” and “Mark Zuckerburg owns everything” and that chasm can be filled by only a handful of companies. I miss those casual interactions on Facebook, even though I certainly don’t miss Facebook itself.
What a Google CMS Could Be…
Imagine a self-installable CMS that featured Google’s apps & services baked right in from the start. Instant integration with Google Plus – so that all new posts were cross-referenced against your personal profile. The ability to do one-click Adsense deployment (Google’s 2nd most profitable entity after Adwords search is Adwords for content). Built in site mapping and Google webmaster tools optimization.
But it can go further. Every time Google pushes out a new SEO update, imagine a CMS that automatically adjusts to include the new metadata; or help you understand what terms the individual page ranks for and where.
Another distinct advantage is that Google could embrace the Android-store app model, and bring true modular web development to the commercial forefront. There’s a massive gap between the Facebook, iPhone, and Android App universes and the current web app opportunities. Plugging that hole with a powerful and extensible CMS could mean a whole new pioneering front for Google+ and GoogleCMS developers – giving rise to not only a fresh new economic model for Google (30% off all apps sold through their web app store) but also providing a clear incentive pathway for developers to keep building on the open web.
Remember, Competition is a Good Thing
I’m not advocating the wholesale disposal of WordPress. But if Google launched their own “open web” version of Facebook timeline (or better) that allowed the Content Management System to become a much better personal hub for social engagement – the competition would be great for all of us.
For the WordPress community it would mean a real choice of content platforms for clients. It could also mean letting WP emerge as a true full-featured management application; while a Google CMS might live more in the personal / social space.
For those of us who believe the web is better while open, a new, clean CMS with some built-in social solutions and advantages could mean for once a true alternative to Facebook and other social media walled gardens.
For Google, the more open content there is on the web, the more their search product retains its value. And with deep-rooted integration with their social products & broad range of apps, there’s no telling how much more engaging and social websites could become.