Slight Buzz From Google Buzz

February 9, 2010

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the Google Buzz announcement this morning, having found Wave too complicated and not personally all that useful, not ready to do everything in a browser with Google Chrome OS, and am not giving up an iPhone for a Nexus One anytime soon. I love Google, but lately their efforts have left me a bit cold.

But as the presentation wore on, I got excited – immediately recognizing, Google Buzz is essentially FriendFeed – a service I was once enamored with – combined with Gmail. That combination – like peanut butter and chocolate – could be really cool.

Count me among those personally let down by the FriendFeed sale to Facebook. I had long thought a Google FriendFeed purchase likely, because FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit worked there as the creator of Gmail. I harbored a personal fantasy of a Google acquisition, with FriendFeed forming the foundation of Google’s social strategy. But although these hopes were dashed with the FriendFeed sale, oddly, that wish has come true in the form of Google Buzz essentially lifting many FriendFeed ideas.

I’m okay with that.

Anyhow, it’s a given I’ll use Google Buzz, as an already regular user of Gmail, Google Reader, and increasingly, Google Docs without really meaning or wanting to. Google Buzz also looks more user-friendly and easier to “get” than Google Wave.

The biggest barrier to Google Buzz adoption will clearly be Facebook. The service will invite similar complaints once directed at FriendFeed – the Facebook “walled garden” is so compelling many users see little reason to venture outside, and if they don’t see the point of Twitter, they’ll say the same about Google Buzz. The second downside is more personal – no mention of a dedicated iPhone app. Google will have to decide what’s more important – pushing Google Buzz on as many platforms as possible or keeping things exclusive to web browsers or Android. If they really believe in this “open” stuff, Google will release a dedicated iPhone app. Logging into a website via a browser to do stuff has actually become rather passe – I wouldn’t bother with Twitter on the iPhone if not for Tweetie 2.

Lastly, this looks like the long-awaited missing piece of Google’s social strategy. Buzz will be the link between Google’s various properties, some popular and others languishing, that pulls content into one place (Gmail or your Google profile page), adding that special social sauce.

Unused Google properties may see new life when lit in this new light. I’m already fiddling with my long-unused Google profile and tinkering with Gmail contacts – unlike Wave, am getting a slight buzz from Buzz.

Comments

  1. CoryOBrien says:

    For some reason, Google Buzz just doesn't do it for me. I think it's the way that Google presents the information, since there's a lot of unused screen real estate. Perhaps it'll grow on me (and I plan to give it a fair trial, since there are plenty of services that get useful once you get used to them) but I just don't see the huge advantage Buzz has or will have over Twitter and/or Facebook.

  2. webomatica says:

    I also don't think Buzz as it stands right now is going to lure people away
    from Facebook or Twitter. But that potential is new for Google, and looks
    like the groundwork for something big. The strategy of tempting current
    Gmail users into using Buzz seems very smart to me.

  3. jcieplinski says:

    I'm not 100% certain a native iPhone app will be necessary for this. Google Reader seems to work just fine without a native app.

    You may be right, though. I can't imagine using Twitter in a browser. I don't even use Twitter in a browser on my Mac anymore, let alone my iPhone.

    I noticed Buzz was suddenly added to my Google Reader Safari page on the iPhone yesterday. I only played with it for about two seconds, but it seemed to work okay. This is one of those services that simply won't work without an internet connection, so doing it in the browser might not be a terrible limitation. I'll need to experiment with it a bit more.

    Google voice, on the other hand, is really hampered by being a web-app. Having to be connected to the web just to hear my voicemails, or to make a call is a big problem, especially in San Francisco.

  4. Webomatica says:

    Well, have been messing with Buzz on the iPhone via Safari, and while it works okay – it feels really odd. Going back to Tweetie 2 was a relief – dragging down to refresh or swiping to retweet is so much smoother.

  5. jcieplinski says:

    Yeah. I know. It's almost unfair to compare anything to Tweetie 2. I really think Tweetie 2 is the best app on the iPhone, bar none. Even better than all the built-in Apple apps, in many ways.

  6. Greetings from England. This is a helpful blog. I’m wondering if you have any advice on staying out of the friend zone with women? Honestly I’m sick of women telling me they just want to be friends. Maybe I’m being too nice?