UPDATE: I’m an idiot. The LinkedIn “info” button shows up next to every e-mail address on every web page because I finally upgraded to the newest version of the LinkedIn Browser Toolbar for Firefox. I feel pretty stupid now for jumping the gun on this, and there is no mysterious partnership between Google and LinkedIn, but isn’t this a good example of how browser plugins are changing the way we view sites? (More thoughts on this later.) At any rate, I wouldn’t mind seeing some kind of mash-up of Google/LinkedIn/Plaxo; it’d definitely make managing my contacts between the three much easier.
There’s no mention of it on Google’s or LinkedIn’s websites, but just days after my post asking for a Google Contacts application, it would seem that Google is doing something about their contacts, and they’re doing that something with LinkedIn.
It’s unclear exactly where this is heading, but when I logged into Gmail today, I noticed a small little “info” image next to the name and e-mail address of the sender of each message I received. The first time you hover over the “info” image, it asks you to authenticate with LinkedIn. After that, when you hover over the image, you automatically see whether the sender has a LinkedIn profile, what degree of a connection they are to you (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.), their position and company, location, how many LinkedIn contacts they have, and their LinkedIn profile summary. You can then click on their name to proceed to their LinkedIn profile. From this little window, you can also invite them to your network if you are not already connected to them.
Now, when you proceed to Gmail’s contacts page, there’s nothing of the sort connecting your contacts with LinkedIn, but this little, quiet addition makes me wonder what Google and LinkedIn are up to. Is there a partnership in the works? Will I be able to use LinkedIn to manage my Google contacts and vice versa in the not too distant future? I don’t think I’d be opposed to that. In fact, I’d laud it.
Now, if only LinkedIn would provide sync’ing services like Plaxo or, better yet, LinkedIn and Plaxo should work together so that LinkedIn contacts are automatically sync’d to Plaxo, and then end-users could make use of Plaxo’s sync’ing services to synchronize contacts with desktop applications.
But now I’m just day-dreaming in fantasy-land.