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Google gets … buzzing?

This morning Google announced a new social feed feature for GMail called Buzz; check out the 2-minute video for the details:

In short Google seems to be courting the world of the social once again, and leveraging their extremely popular GMail service.  From The Guardian to Jeff Jarvis, the reception of Buzz has been lukewarm, with most commentators noting that Google’s earlier social forays like Orkut or Google Profiles failed to reach popularity except in localised ways. Dave Winer argues that Buzz is dead-on-arrival for developers due to an API which doesn’t leverage a familiar interface (such as Twitter’s API) and thus is unlikely to be developer-friendly.  Gizmondo notes that Buzz is more like Facebook status updates than Twitter, “with Likes, dislikes and the ability to respond directly to a posting and have other people see it. When someone makes a new comment in reply to an old Buzz, it bumps that entire Buzz up to the top.”

Personally, I’ve already disabled chat in GMail so while I’ll try Buzz out, I suspect it’ll be disabled pretty soon (I’ve already got Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed, so one more lifestream tool seems unnecessary). I also like my GMail to stay for email, and I don’t fancy getting Buzz replies (Buzzes?) sent straight to my GMail inbox (not limited to the Buzz tab).  Buzz seems to drag content in (from Flickr and Twitter, for example) but is one-way; Buzzes don’t (and can’t as yet) send back to Twitter, which seems a rather anti-social integration! I’m also unclear on how Buzz profiles for non-GMail users will be created … if that’s even possible. All that said, I’ve dismissed a few other winners recently, so I’ll give it a try and see what happens.  If you’ve on GMail, feel free to add me on Buzz and we’ll see how the conversations go!

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  1. I can't help but think that Google are spreading themselves a little thin by introducing Buzz so soon after Wave. I'm not sure about you, but I've found Google Wave to be a fairly horrible platform – it lags, it's confusing (the ability to reply to a message or start a new message or continue on with an old message that doesn't follow on from the most recent message in the wave becomes tedious if not every participant is doing the same thing!), and I've only got four contacts who actually use it. To add yet another way of communicating to the list seems like overkill. Perhaps I'm just missing the point, but I thought that Wave was meant to do all this – providing a place to share video and images as well as chat. So… why do we need Buzz again?

    I can't really see Buzz catching on. Maybe 20% of the people I regularly contact via email are Gmail users. This 20% mostly excludes my friends or family (i.e. those I'd most likely want to share with), as they're not really huge users of the net for anything other than email/Facebook, and wouldn't care for such a platform, if I'm to make a guess. Buzz seems like Twitter on steroids, without the ability to access a far-reaching audience. I'll stick with what I've got: a blog, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook. With these, I kind of think all my online social networking needs are covered. Sorry, Google. You fail.

    • I suspect Google has essentially placed Wave into indefinite beta … the take up appears to have been slow and, as you say, the tech just doesn't do the ideas behind it justice. Until it's really that fast and has a more clearly defined purpose, I can't see Wave reaching a critical mass. Buzz seems a lot less in-your-face, and certainly appeared with less build up; they're probably testing the water, but you're right, if it's limited to the GMail users and GMail interface, it's unlikely to draw that many who aren't already GMail users!

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