Well Google recently released Buzz (didn’t Yahoo do that a few years back?) upon GMail users and anyone else who wants to sign up for a Google account, but the question is will it be the thing to beat Facebook and Twitter? I’m sure Google now hopes so, but I’m yet to be convinced.
Besides, I already use Twitter and Facebook, do I really need another social network? Don’t know what I’m talking about? You can read all about it in this Google Buzz features review.
I’m really not sure about Google Buzz, it seems strange for a company who keeps services in beta for years upon end (like they did with having Google Mail in beta for around 5 years), to release a previously unheard of product onto the world…and one that seemed to care little about your privacy of the contacts that you email regularly, but that perhaps just says more about a bunch of engineers creating and testing Google Buzz and their naivety over how it could be used for more malicious activities, take a look at our most recent technology roundup for more information on that.
Anyway, Google quickly did an u-turn on auto-following your most contacted people which could then be seen by anyone looking at your Google Profile – so well done to them with the quick response, but that too along with the lack of the Beta label almost suggests how highly Google places this in its priorities for further improving its search engine data by having its own social network data to build into its algorithms.
I’ve only had a quick play with it since it got put on my GMail account – on the one hand, I like the way it could pull together different sources of my info and consolidate stuff, but the thought of having another thing to check (as well as Twitter and Facebook) could become too much of a job in itself…especially when it’s sat there within your email interface when I’ve got plenty of work from that to do already. I’ve turned Google Buzz off by clicking the link at the bottom of the GMail page for now.
Buzz also brings with it geographical updates (not for the first time, but these are probably more sensible than real-time tracking that we saw in Google Latitude) which I’ve admittedly not really tested myself as I’m still unconvinced location-based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla – even if you do use those facilities, I find it’s often a tough sell to your friends to use them and having your friends use them is the whole point surely? If and when Facebook start doing location update/check-ins, that when I’m sure it’ll become more popular. In the meantime you can read up on what the Google Buzz location services can do.
Overall, it reminds me of Friendfeed, which aggregated different feeds into one place, but I never used that because it was so easy to get overwhelmed by it all and ultimately was far too much of a big distraction for me personally. It did feel like more of a job checking it rather than something you could skim over in a few seconds and move on – I like that Twitter has a 140 character limit, it keeps things short and easy to deal with, if I need more than those 140 characters then I can use email surely?
I’m rather cautious when it comes to Google trying social/real-time stuff, Orkut is only really popular in Brazil and I was never convinced by Google Wave from the first announcement video onwards and it’s still looking like an over-hyped collaborative working service.
That said I didn’t like Twitter when I first looked at it and it was only when it developed and looked into its possibilities in greater depth that I was sold on it, so who knows, Google Buzz might become huge, no doubt it’ll get fully integrated into future versions of Android, so it might become much easier to use on your mobile phones such as the Google Nexus One.
For me Google Buzz as a social network does need that further development, but I’m also sure it’ll get that given it seems Google is taking this project seriously, perhaps in a few months time I might then take another look at it, especially if I do have an Android mobile phone by then!