updated 05:20 pm EDT, Sat June 18, 2011
Google gets Photovine trademark and domain
Google may be planning to expand its photo sharing beyond just Picasa. The company obtained a trademark for "Photovine" on June 7 and used proxy firm MarkMonitor to acquire Photovine.com just a week later. Few clues exist as to what it would involve, although the trademark bills it as "transmission of visual images and data by telecommunications networks" and "on-line social networking services."
The move could represent one of the first real social initiatives beyond just its Google +1 site recommendation engine. Google already has a degree of sharing with its Picasa photo service but treats it mostly as a traditional photo hosting service rather than a social component. It may be looking to implement a system closer to Instagram or Picplz or just to integrate friends' photo collections into social streams.
Speculation has also raised the possibility that it might be a parallel to Apple's iCloud, although its emphasis is on private device-to-device syncing rather than public sharing.
Google has been eager to catch up in social to avoid giving Facebook too much clout in the face of a very public rivalry stemming from control over search indexing and persistence on the web. During his presence at the D9 event this spring, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said he "screwed up" on social networking and should have been more active rather than ultimately leaving it to current CEO Larry Page. [via Fusible]