Lack of Available Google Profile Usernames & Custom URLs

I was not able to get myrealname@gmail.com. Yeah. I know. Cue the violins. It’s such a tragedy. It was probably because I didn’t get a beta invite to Gmail, and someone beat me to the punch. Whatever. I’m over it. Kind of. But I always knew that not getting my name as a Gmail username would come back to haunt me in more ways than one. So let’s talk about Google Profiles and custom URLs.

If you have a Google account, you are eligible to create a Google Profile. I have several Google profiles: a few for myself and many more for clients. Your Google Profile is associated with your email address, so you can have a Google Profile that associated with your Gmail address or some other email address. It does not have to be a gmail.com address. Let’s take a look at the 2 scenarios:

  1. Your profile is associated with a non-Gmail email address.
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL (non-Gmail Account)
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL (non-Gmail Account)

    If you have a Google account that is associated with a yahoo.com, hotmail.com or some other domain, you have an advantage: you can actually pick a custom URL for your Google Profile. You are actually presented a box where you can type in your custom URL. Just fill in the blank with your username: www.google.com/profiles/_________.

    That’s pretty cool, right? Well it is until you realize that pretty much every possible username is unavailable. This is because you cannot get a username that someone already has for their Gmail account. For example, let’s say some already has imabadass@gmail.com (and they do, btw). If that is true, then you will not be able to get google.com/profiles/imabadass for your custom URL. And because Google does not recycle email addresses, it doesn’t even have to be a current email address username. If that username has ever been used, you are outta luck.

    The bottom line: Using a non-Gmail email address will allow you the option of creating your own custom URL username. Good luck finding one that is available!

  2. Your profile is associated with Gmail address

    Google Profile URL: Custom URL for Your SEO Sucks!
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL for Your SEO Sucks!
  3. As you can see, with this option you are only given 2 choices. You can use your Gmail username, or you can use some string of predetermined numbers. Obviously, this is a great option if you have an awesome Google/Gmail username. If you take this route, email spammers will be able to easily deduce your Gmail address. If you don’t want your email address spammed to hell over, I recommend using the string of numbers. However, that is damn near impossible to brand (if that is your goal).

So there you have it. I wish you the best of luck with your Google profile custom URL. And don’t forget that it’s probably twice as bad over at Yahoo and MSN when you try to set up those profiles.

Google Buzz: To Boldly Go Where Yahoo Has Already Been?

Google Buzz finally rolled out to my inbox. It’s kinda funny because Google Buzz (buzz.google.com) comes to us about 2 years after Yahoo Buzz (buzz.yahoo.com). The part that I haven’t figured out yet is: What problem does this new Google feature solve? Was there really a need for another buzz-like feature on the web? I guess so. I think it’s part of Google move from a search company to a software company. More specifically, this is obviously a move to gain a bigger foothold in the ‘social scene’ (social media).

Google Buzz finally rolled out to my inbox. Here is the first notice I saw:

Welcome to Google Buzz + Gmail
Welcome to Google Buzz + Gmail

It’s kinda funny because Google Buzz (buzz.google.com) comes to us about 2 years after Yahoo Buzz (buzz.yahoo.com). The part that I haven’t figured out yet is: What problem does this new Google feature solve? Was there really a need for another buzz-like feature on the web? I guess so. I think it’s part of Google’s move from a search company to a software company. More specifically, this is obviously a move to gain a bigger foothold in the ‘social scene’ (i.e. social media).

Anyways, I’ll partake in the Buzz because it’s in my best interest to look for opportunities in all things search. I recommend you get familiar with it, too.

Google Wave: The Future of Real-Time Internets & Web Communication

Google Wave Logo
Google Wave Logo

Holy radio waves, Batman! The folks over at Google Wave made a huge splash yesterday. Led by Lars Rasmussen, Jens Rasmussen and Stephanie Hannon, Google Wave is a real-time collection of chat, IM, and other real-time apps, and it’s quickly moving to integrate with Google Docs and Gmail. As for the nerdy details, Google Wave is built on the Google Web Toolkit, using HTML 5, and it is interoperable. Furthermore, Google plans to launch the Wave code as open source. Here’s a screenshot released by the Google Wave Dev Team:

Google Wave Combines Chat, IM, Friendfeed, Docs, Pictures, etc...
Google Wave Combines Chat, IM, Friendfeed, Docs, Pictures, etc...

Fun fact: Lars and Jens are brothers from Denmark. They founded Where2, a mapping company that was acquired by Google and is now known as Google Maps. From the way that Lars and Jens describe Google Wave, it’s almost like they are discussing the email of the future. It totally reminds me of those kitchens from the 1950’s, where they would advertise “The Kitchen of Tomorrow – Today!

I think if email was invented today, it would be like Google Wave. It’s like dragging email and chat into real time., so you can do both at the same time within the same tool. Both Yahoo and Google have tried to merge chat with their email services. And I think I have even seen the same thing in my Hotmail account. But matching chat and email has not been a seemless experience to date. Google Wave goes way beyond the current methods of shoe-horning chat into email platforms. Everything in Google Wave is real-time. From the look of it, Wave is more like Facebook in nature. There are pictures, links and docs, and everyone can comment on any given element.

I guess the big question is: Will Google Wave ultimately kill other Google products like Gmail, Google, Talk, Picasa, Google Docs, and Blogger? Also, will Google Wave kill Twitter, Friendfeed, IM, Chat, and other real-time apps or services?  The answer: probably not. I’m fairly certain that Google engineers could go after any service and effectively design a better wheel if they wanted to, but the factor that will make Google Wave so compelling is not it’s ability to destroy any current real-time services. Rather, the thing that makes the future capabilities Google Wave so intriguing is the fact that they are opening up the protocols from the beginning. [Note: In the long run, they plan to release a “lion share” of the source code, and they are going to open up a ton of the code early on.] Furthermore, if I know Google well enough, they are probably thinking more about integrating with other currently-popular services, like Twitter, rather than aiming to destroy them.

Google Wave Chat & Email
Google Wave Chat & Email

The Google Wave team has created a platform that can be taken and used by third parties. Unlike Twitter, data does not have to be stored on a Google server. Because of this, hundreds or thousands of third parties may create Wave systems, and just imagine the possibilities for apps and extensions! No matter where you create a Wave account, you should be able to communicate with other Wave users. Or if a team of developers wants to create and run a Wave server for private use within their company, that is possible to. The data will remain on their Wave server and never be seen outside of their corporate network. And to add to the excitement, Google Wave offers people the opportunity to collaborate on projects. Did I mention the open architecture and APIs? Wow. What didn’t they think of?

While everyone is still digesting the capabilities and possibilities of Google Wave, it’s clear that the concept has the chance to revolutionize the way we communicate on the web. Wave is a gigantic undertaking. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of popular internet services, and that is going to make it an interesting Google product to watch. Google expects to keep Wave limited to a developer preview product for several more months. I know they have invited people to sign up for updates. If you want a shot at early access, I suggest you sign up, too. You never know. You just might get lucky enough to have another internet-based social distraction. But that’s what we live for, right? 🙂

PS. How will Yahoo and MSN respond to this? What about Facebook, MySpace and Twitter? I’m definitely interested in their responses. Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, has made Google Wave one of the projects he is putting his time into. So unlike other Google products that whither and die due to lack of support, Google Wave has the support and attention of the co-founder of Google. Me thinks he won’t let this product fail. It’s too good of an idea. In the spirit of friendly competition, I hope Yahoo and MSN are working on something to compete with Google Wave. Good luck to all competitors. I think you’ll need it.

Here is the video of the 80-minute presentation from yesterday at Google I/O: