Google Buzz, just released this week, is the latest step by Google towards total world domination. I’m semi-serious about this… a single corporation is about to have the richest data-set ever conceived about each and every one of us. Buzz’s core functions are far from revolutionary. However two key factors will play into Buzz’s ultimate success: (1) Buzz’s applicability to Google’s other core products and (2) the ease of user adoption from Google’s already enormous user base.
Why Buzz is Going to Succeed
Google Buzz is like a mesh blanket that’s is going to have its fingers in every major Google product by the time they’re done with it. I’ll explain how I think Buzz is going to change things for me. I’m an avid Google Reader fan – an amazing Gmail-esque tool for consolidating my daily reading of blogs, newspapers, and tech review sites. I find extremely interesting articles daily that I think a certain group of my friends would be interested in. Although I can share this today with Gmail integration, Buzz offers a frictionless tool for pushing this to not only my friends but also to a broader community of people that realize we virtually share interests. Add this to my use of Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Groups, Youtube, and Picasa – its going to be incredibly powerful to allow a community to share their thoughts on the content we collectively produce. I anticipate a day this semester where I will have a team project and instead of co-locating at Sloan we will use a shared Google Doc, Picasa Album, Google video conferencing, and most importantly Buzz commentary to help mold our final deliverable.
Whats even more impressive (albeit obvious) is that Buzz sits atop the enormous user-base that Google has acquired over the years through basic consumer focused services like Gmail. In twenty years would I ever see my Mom (a) understanding what Twitter is enough to (b) sign up and start tweeting? No way. Will she likely click the “add Buzz” link in her Gmail account and then “Buzz” me? More likely than I want to admit. Twitter’s user acquisition is increasing at a decreasing rate, but Google Buzz’s user adoption is going to shoot up like a rocket ship. Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable, wrote a great post that was published on CNN.com about the instant user-adoption Buzz will experience due to its tight integration with Gmail.
Challenges Do Remain
Not all social networks were meant to be included in your social graph. I read an interesting article on the blog: “A VC” which you can read here. The commentary is that your social graph in Buzz, which will piggyback on many years of Gmail history, will likely include a list of people you’ve corresponded with that you wouldn’t want to include in your Buzz network. Twitter, with its artificial barrier to entry (i.e. understand it, sign up, determine its value to you, and use it) may better facilitate the construction of an ideal social graph.
While the world continues on its way towards information sharing / transparency, there are still a ton of skeptics. Even as an early adopter of social networking, I sometimes get a sinking feeling that a single 140-character post on Twitter will haunt me when I’m in the hunt for my ideal job 10 years from now. I’m more carefree than most but I have a good friend who is terrified to join the Twitterverse because he has aspirations to one day enter into politics. Google will win if they figure out a user-intuitive way of controlling visibility to “Buzzes” in a way that enables purging of now public information in the future.
Buzz Explains a Lot
When the Google / Twitter acquisition talks were in progress, I would have bet the farm Google would buy Twitter. With Google’s market cap and cash in the bank, it was the most logical merger Google could make even with Twitter’s $1B valuation. Google made the smart play – sign an agreement to buy Twitter data but focus on developing Buzz internally. Now they have the best of both worlds – ease of integration with their core products combined with real-time data generated both in Buzz and Twitter.