Eric Schmidt: There’s Room for Multiple Social Networks, More Cooperation

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Securing an invite to the Google+ treehouse has more or less been a crapshoot, as Google appears to be opening and closing its invite system arbitrarily. It’s kind of like waiting in line all night for a nightclub, only for the bouncer to finally let you in to a near-empty room of tech bloggers poking at their smartphones. So while checking my lonely Google+ profile this morning, a rare “acquaintance” in one of my Circles lamented not yet having her Facebook friends “jumping ship” with her.

(MORE: There Will Be Two Internets, Or What You Really Need to Know About Google+)

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking to a room of journalists at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, would seem to disagree with the idea that an exodus is necessary to enjoy multiple services at the same time.

He painted an optimistic future where multiple social networks would coexist, with users catering to several online identities simultaneously. It’s a sentiment that’s only reinforced by a recent Slate essay by Farhad Manjoo, which posits that the best social networks (like Ravelry) cater to different facets of a user’s identity, like their passion for knitting.

But Google+ and Facebook both aim to capture the masses, and as our own Allie Townsend pointed out previously, Facebook and Google see the web in different ways. Schmidt stated that Facebook, with its 750 million users, may just have too many entrenched users to face serious competition, but Google+ seems better positioned than most to take Facebook on.

(LIST: 5 Failed Social Networks Worse Than Myspace)

When Google+ launched last week to insiders and bloggers, it put away its own flashbulbs and managed to arrive at mostly positive reviews. By quietly posting about Google+ on its blog (and as our own Harry McCracken surmises), Google+ may have offset the negative stigma Google’s built for itself with Buzz and Wave. The result was a groundswell of users clamoring for invites.

In speaking with the media, Schmidt said that Google would “love to have deeper integration with Twitter and Facebook.” However, talks to renew a deal with Twitter for search fell through, while talks with Facebook to allow friend importing went nowhere.

(MORE: Google Realtime Search Goes Offline, Might Get Google+)

Which brings us to where we’re currently at, with different web giants making faces at one another from their respective corners. Plenty of users are using some or all of the services simultaneously, no problem, and I don’t see any kumbayahs or arm linking coming from the big three anytime soon.

So for now, there’s only one clear cut winner in the social network wars: Us. And it’ll likely be that way for a while.

[via Reuters]

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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