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Weds. Signal: What's The Buzz, Google?

By - February 10, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-09 at 11.11.37 AM.pngSo Google went and did it – it integrated a whole mess of social and local features into Gmail, wrapping the whole thing into a product burrito it calls Buzz (Yahoo has got to be fuming, if it has any more fumes left, that is).  

The first-day response is somewhat positive – mainly due to the huge installed base that Gmail brings to the party.

Screen shot 2010-02-09 at 11.12.01 AM.png

However, I am not so certain this is going to work. And my reasons remain the same:

1. Buzz does not let you publish out from Gmail to Twitter or Facebook. So for this to compete, you have to build yet another network of followers/friends – and do it through Google services. Not many of us use Google services for social purposes. That’s a mismatch.

2. Related, but worth repeating: Buzz does not let you do pretty much anything at all with Facebook. Buzz tries to find your friends and connections through algorithms that watch what you do on Google services, then lets you add more, but through the lens of Gmail. There are two things wrong with this: Algorithms, and email. Facebook didn’t depend on either to create its initial value. Instead, it let humans pick other humans, which honestly, is what social is all about at its core.

(The images are from streaming coverage of the Buzz event from Cnet.)

The reality is, Facebook has won the social graph war. Google taking on Facebook for the social graph is akin to Facebook taking on google in web search. IE, silly. Google should incorporate Facebook Connect into Gmail/Buzz asap, and then build on top of it with its powerful services and algorithms. THAT would be a win.

In fact, one very well informed source of mine inside the non-Google socialsphere (IE, one of the major competitors) tells me he thinks Buzz will in fact play out, over the coming months, as *good* for his and other similar companies.

Well, time will tell. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of stuff worthy of your attention this Weds. morning (and I’ll include some tasty stuff about Buzz as well):

Introducing Google Buzz (Official Google Blog)

Google Buzz: What It Means for Twitter and Facebook (Mashable)

With Buzz, Google Plunges Into Social Networking (NYT) Plunges in? Well, for the fourth or fifth try…

Google Buzz? MSFT, Yahoo Say ‘Been There, Done That’ (SEL) Yep. And they failed.

Google Buzz re-invents Gmail (Tim O’Reilly) Tim is a big fan. This is meaningful to me, as he’s my partner on Web 2.

Twitter: Now more than 1 billion tweets per month (Royal Pingdom) Twitter continues to grow in usage.

FM Audience Takes Off – Now #4 in Conversational Media (FM) We’re behind just three others – Facebook, Myspace and Blogger. Look, I get to promote FM on my site to a certain extent. And I am very proud of the company’s growth and financial performance. OK, enough said.

Social Media Top Online Priority in 2010 (Marketing Profs) Yep. This is one of the reasons FM is so well positioned.

A Touch of Romance (Adverblog) I may well do this for my valentine – create your own romance novel cover.

The Man Who Looked Into Facebook’s Soul (RWW) I am a very big fan of academic research based on large social data sets.

Management Secrets Of Grateful Dead (The Atlantic) Are you kidding me? Finally, they get their due.

Oh MY GOD Bonnaroo lineup is announced. Anyone who has followed me for some time knows that I sorta kinda totally love this festival.

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18 thoughts on “Weds. Signal: What's The Buzz, Google?

  1. Joseph says:

    “1. Buzz does not let you publish out from Gmail to Twitter or Facebook. So for this to compete, you have to build yet another network of followers/friends – and do it through Google services. Not many of us use Google services for social purposes. That’s a mismatch.”

    It’s a chicken and egg problem. For something like Google Buzz to carry the day, it needs buy-in for its open framework from Yahoo and Hotmail so you’re not just socializing with the Gmail elite. The initial PR releases from these other companies pooh-poohed Buzz, but you can bet that if it gains any significant traction that its competitors would love to participate and relocate its users social attention from Facebook back to their own email service.

    More generally: I miss your writing about these subjects in depth. Your daily Signals are just more noise for me–I’m oversaturated with curated links and hungry for good analysis.

  2. tony says:

    You are mistaken (or rather, google is misleading us) that gmail contacts are the primary source for the social graph it is building. Many of the suggestions of who I should follow on Buzz are people I’ve had no email contact with whatsoever but are people I follow on flickr, twitter, or friendfeed. The google socialgraph API is the real driver of this. I was very impressed with the suggestions it made for me and the UI through which I added people is quite nice.

    Not being able to post to twitter via gmail is fine. 3rd parties will build front end clients to buzz a la tweetdeck, brizzly, etc. that will offer richer functionality.

    I think Buzz is a much more real threat to facebook than many are making it out to be and it has the potential to wreck yelp, foursquare, and any other service that does not want to open itself to becoming part of the buzz borg.

  3. Matt says:

    John: Good points. One thought I had while reading this was re: google apps.

    The premise in your note that people’s social connections are already established is true. But at work, you have a installed base of social connections. And at work, your broadcasts need to stay private. Facebook would not work for this (at least currently), but Buzz in Google Apps would.

    Most people will acknowledge that email for the enterprise is problematic in its current form. Think about all the emails like, “Clean the fridge out by 3pm or I’m throwing it all away” or “Does anyone have a contact at Forbes?” or any other group broadcast email. Yammer does a nice job of solving this, but wouldn’t it be better off as part of a comprehensive communications platform, anchored by email but not dependent upon it?

  4. peter cowan says:

    “The reality is, Facebook has won the social graph war. Google taking on Facebook for the social graph is akin to Facebook taking on google in web search. IE, silly.”

    facebook has won the social graph war? maybe for now, but the problem with your statement is that **it’s not their data, it’s ours**. google indexes publically available data, facebook’s indexing of the social graph is more akin to an enclosure of the commons. So yes, maybe fb is winning the war, but the loser of that war is not google (or yahoo, or even microsoft), it is us, the users. the best chance that we, the real owners of that data, have at getting control over it is something like google buzz succeeding without leveraging facebook connect, forcing facebook to adopt open standards.

  5. “Not many of us use Google services for social purposes.”

    TBH, when I see a GMail address, I run away:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcxKIJTb3Hg

    ;) nmw

  6. Errol Mars says:

    I think you are wrong on Facebook owning our social graph. In my case Facebook owns nothing but a bit of info on some of my family and friends connections. Actually Google has the same data. These connections have nothing to do with the way I interact in life or on the web on a daily basis. Google Buzz has actually recommended people for me to follow not base on my email contacts but the services I link to from my Google Profile.

    Think about the public data Google has collected from crawling the web and the analysis they do on that data. Google knows more about me than Facebook ever will. If this guy (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/facebook_user_data_analysis.php) can get all this data from Facebook public profiles, what about Google?

    I’ve used Buzz more today than I use Facebook or Twitter, and based on my experience so far I will be using it even more as more people connect.

    I think Google has finally figured that Gmail is the key to the social web for them. Just look for more Google services being integrated into the Gmail UI.

    The war for the social web is just getting started. After all social is just a feature, just like search. Like every website of a decent size needs search, they will need a social feature too. Open, distributed and scalable will win in the end.

  7. John says:

    a very good comment thread, thanks guys. John, this is based on my own observation of my readers’ habits. Do you use Google for social purposes?

  8. cleondann says:

    This is really a good post by john battelle. i really like and enjoy your thoughts. This is a true fat that facebook has increased its social value in many places

  9. bigjobsboard says:

    Google Buzz is a blow up! Hey, John I agree with your article. This is a big mistake to Google. google bumped and crashed in front of Facebook. it’s like a rat fighting a tiger. Google should just kept their tails on their territory and not trespass on others’.

  10. Cory O'Brien says:

    What surprised me was how deeply Google integrated Buzz into Gmail by default, since it still feels like a VERY early adopter focused product. Even as an early adopter, I was overwhelmed by the sudden increase in messages in my inbox, so I can only imagine what someone who doesn’t pay as close attention to the tech world would think.

    I also agree with you that this feels like Google attempting to grow their own social graph, but in such a forced way that it comes off as spammy and unorganized. Facebook has had years to build up their social graph data, and it just seems like Google wants to catch up overnight, and sacrificed user needs to do so.

  11. That’s great but when will it be available for Blackberry?

  12. Karthik Sridhar (@AntarYaami) says:

    Posting my comments from http://bit.ly/aZrgRD

    I think Google Wave would have been successful, (if) they had completely replaced, Gmail with it. Something Color TV did to B/W TV & Radio.

    Here is my (conspiracy) theory: Had Google not been “too big to fail” and carried on in its entrepreneurial spirit, they would have launched Wave replacing Gmail. Its what they wanted and envisioned.

    It would have eliminated the need for email and chat and continual development of both the products. But the wise ones would have weighed their options and found that the move today will be perceived as drastic. It had negatives not just for the brand but also the investors. They far outweighed the positives.

    Wave was introduced, however, because it still was a breakthrough technology, whichever way you saw it. And Google is known to come up with such innovations. But the way it was released, limited invites, no user manual (!) made sure it only ended up being a Cherry Coke to Coke.

    Buzz is a typical Salesman’s reaction to the competition’s discount offer. While Wave was supposed to engulf the top user markets, Twitter swayed a lot of attention towards itself, everywhere (Iran, for instance). Facing that, Google sought the most convenient part of a new product development. Gmail. Extending their second most successful product into the Social Media would, typically give them
    a ready user base. Their thought must have been something close to: “Hey, everyone uses Gmail dont they? And what could they be writing through their personal email ids anyway? Forget that I know what they need. They should ‘network’ together even more” Shazzaaammm – BUZZ. Just like that, you have a twitter clone in your mailbox, for which you dont even need to download an API client, or be restricted to 140 characters. You can even ‘like’ the buzz, while adding photos. Buzz was Twitter meets Facebook meets Google interface. And since you’ve been such a good boy, we’ll give it to you on Gmail.

    Twitter does let me chose the face I want to see on my timeline. That is because, like Facebook, it wasn’t relying on my past experience with another Twitter product. It was a fresh start.

    Buzz, was an afterthought. And their-in lies the difference.

  13. ajay kumar says:

    Few things are as distracting when working quietly as the buzz of fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lights have many metal parts that could wiggle loose over time and create vibration buzzing, often as a reaction to the shifting magnetic field of the ballast. All fluorescent lights have a ballast. Sheet-metal housing, screws and washers are some parts that could be affected. Thanks a lot.
    Carefree Real Estate AZ

  14. ajay kumar says:

    Few things are as distracting when working quietly as the buzz of fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lights have many metal parts that could wiggle loose over time and create vibration buzzing, often as a reaction to the shifting magnetic field of the ballast. All fluorescent lights have a ballast. Sheet-metal housing, screws and washers are some parts that could be affected. Thanks a lot.
    Regards,
    Carefree Real Estates AZ

  15. jaffa jefda says:

    The google’s decision to opt in its user base with weak privacy settings caused a serious breach of user information and garnered significant criticism. One feature in particular that was widely criticized as a severe privacy flaw was that by default google buzz publicly disclosed a list of the names of gmail contacts that the user has most frequently emailed with. Thanks for sharing.
    Regards,
    irenew

  16. jaffa jefda says:

    The conventional search engines ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page, the two theorized about a better system that analyzed the relationships between websites. They called this new technology page rank, where a website’s relevance was determined by the number of pages, and the importance of those pages, that linked back to the original site.Thanks a lot.
    Regards,
    essays term papers

  17. I really hope this is available for Blackberry sooner rather than later! where to buy magic jack

  18. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of Google Buzz. I think it’s poorly designed.

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