Slight Buzz From Google Buzz
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.