Google Launches Buzz – First Take

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.
Bottom line?

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.

2 responses to “Google Launches Buzz – First Take

  1. Not sure, Michael, for two reasons.

    First, dropping the Buzz Bomb on its Gmail customers is, for the majority, a change they haven’t asked for. I can’t think of a single Gmail user who would have put “Make it the hub of a link/status sharing service” anywhere in the top 50 feature requests. Why not make it a lab feature first? (Answer: because as a social network, it needs critical mass – but the risk is you’re going to annoy a lot of users who suddenly find their friends share a lot)

    Second, the more products that Google integrates, the worse and more intrusive this will get. My Google profile, for example, already knows about both Picasa and Flickr – which means, because I upload images to both, that my images will show up twice in the stream I’m pumping out. Add in my Twitters, blog posts, Google Reader shared items, and everything else and anyone that follows me will be seeing hundreds of items per day. And I’m by no means an over-sharer!

    My first impression is that Google has made the mistake that FriendFeed made: thinking that I am interested in all the things my friends create at the same level, that of “real time”. I’m not. A news item about my job is important to me – I want that real time. Ditto an email from my boss, or a phone call from my mother.

    But friends’ pictures? I want to browse those in my own time. RSS items I maybe want to see daily. By throwing everything into a real-time stream, Google is removing control of how I consume information – which, I think, is ironic.

  2. If Google wants Buzz to work, they’d better roll it out as quick as possible. No more of this beta crap and “you can only use it if you’re invited” junk. I mean even if users have to go a little out of their way to signup it’s better than the exclusivity route they’ve used in the past.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s