Google is about to make a number of social networking updates to its Gmail service, according to reports. The company declined to confirm any specific updates, but did say that it will be unveiling some new product innovations this evening.
The reported enhancements include a real-time contact update stream, similar to those provided by Facebook and Twitter, as well as photo and video sharing capabilities.
Google users can already post status updates to Google Chat, which is connected to Gmail, but it is unclear whether Google will aggregate the chat updates or create an entirely new add-on for users to access real-time information about contacts.
Additionally, while some reports hint that Google will include add-on video and photo sharing capabilities specific to Gmail, others suggest that the web giant plans stronger ties between Gmail, YouTube and Picasa.
Google has had limited success in providing social networking services. The firm's Orkut social site is popular in Brazil, for example, but virtually unheard of elsewhere.
Analyst firms such as Gartner predict that social networking services will replace email as the primary vehicle for communications for many business users by 2014, and Google is likely to be feeling under more pressure to compete in this area.
Other email providers, such as Yahoo and AOL, have already made moves to become more social, while Facebook is rumoured to be updating its private messaging capabilities to better compete with email providers.
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