With little more than 24 hours notice, Google invited a group of journalists and analysts to Google HQ to announce a new product. That product called Google Buzz puts Google directly in the real-time and social spaces with a strong mobile component. At the same time it’s a shot across the bow at other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and with a strong mobile component, will put pressure on the likes of mobile social networks such as Four Square and Gowalla.
Google’s approach is tied directly into Gmail on the desktop with a mobile website, an app for Android and integration into various flavors of Google Maps. (notably missing was an iPhone app or iPhone maps integration). Buzz works by starting with your Gmail address book as your core set of followers and allows for both public and private sharing. The demo appeared to be very similar to what would happen if you integrated Gmail and FriendFeed together into shared experience. Enterprise and other API news to follow.
Despite mediocre past attempts at social networking products such as Okrut or Dodgeball, Buzz is likely to attract a strong following by virtue of it’s tight integration into Gmail and the ability for Google to expose the service to advanced as well as novice users immediately. While Twitter users won’t likely transplant their followers and followings to Buzz, new users who have not embraced Twitter or tried and abandoned it are likely to give Buzz a try.
While Buzz is a direct challenge to Facebook, it’s not likely to displace the millions of Facebook users who use Facebook for more than sharing status updates or other media. Farmville, Bejeweled Blitz and other games, apps and services will likely keep Facebook fans loyal for some time. The intersection of mobile and social networks is happening quickly and with Buzz, Google’s is going to capture some mindshare as well as market share quickly. Dedicated mobile social networks are going face new challenges from Google as Buzz gets quickly integrated into Google products and services.
Finally, the email, which is the “social network” embraced by most consumers now has a true social component to it, further integrating email into the real time conversation.
While prior Google efforts have been lackluster, look for Buzz to have short and long term impact.