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Google Introduces Social Networking to Gmail

Google Buzz

Google Buzz

Remember Orkut? That was Google’s first venture into online social networking. Users in Brazil and India took Orkut to heart, the rest of the world gave it a big yawn (kinda like Wave?). Don’t count out the genius which is Google U – it had to happen, they have the network, the user base and the technology. Next to search users, who are not required to register, it seems a no brainer that Gmail would be the true target.

Facebook has 400 million users – how many are active is a question. Facebook does not have an email service, yet every user essentially requires an outside email service to obtain, and use a Facebook account. It seems obvious then, own the email, own the social network – one login, and enjoy all the services. That is essentially what the new system behind Gmail is all about, 170 million email users, ready to engage with online social networking systems – allbeit, Google run and owned.

Gmail users can now post private and public status updates – one of the essential features of Facebook. There is also integration with photo sharing through Picassa, and mapping features. Like Twitter, Gmail users can ‘follow’ others, and send messages (longer than 140 characters). All the features are directly compatible with Google’s mobile platform Android.

Will Google Buzz be able to take market share from Facebook and Twitter? That is the ultimate question. One advantage is integrating all possible messaging and sharing services under one platform and login.



  1. March 1, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    Difficult issue. Buzz moves a mail platform into a initiatory social community tool. I always admired Google for their search spirit. Yet here I disagree with them. My life is in our times a majour threat. Notwithstanding Google started taking serious the privacy concerns, Buzz yet requires to overcome its burden. They seem to be joking with peoples data. Google needs better reasoning about its subsequent moves.

  2. February 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    True, re. the “walled garden” – no gmail account, no “buzz”!

    I’ve turned it off, fwiw, and changed settings on my Google Profile. After reading WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Huge Privacy Flaw in Business Insider, I realized I really don’t want everyone who can go to my public Google Profile to be able to see who follows me and who I follow.

    It’s actually really outrageous that Google made this public by default, and that users have to jump through hoops to make it private again. Ick.

    • February 10, 2010 at 10:15 PM

      You are so correct. That is a huge problem and Google should have looked at Facebook’s recent history on privacy and default settings.

  3. February 10, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I think it is a natural evolution for Google use to Gmail as an integration platform with online social media services. An issue many have is setting up accounts with different services (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and an email service), then logging in/out of each continually to keep up with various network messages.

    The problem is what you and I call ‘the walled garden’ – you require a Gmail account in order to use all the services, and Google is limiting compatibility and direct interaction with competitors. Want to share photos – you have to use Google Picassa etc.

    That may change in the future if there is a decent takeup.

    Thanks for passing the link and info to Chatroulette – that maybe a future feature roll out in Google initiatives.

  4. February 10, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    PS: I’ve been thinking a bit more about Chatroulette since commenting earlier today and have decided that, although I won’t use it, it has ginormous potential – for example, making TV interactive and participatory at long last. Just imagine the possibilities: instead of sitting in front of the TV and absorbing your entertainment, you could do something together, with random people you’re likely never to meet in person. To get the full experience, it’ll be helpful if you have a set-up with a large flat-screen TV and web-cam, but it could be exciting even with a laptop. (Could be very creepy, too…)

  5. February 10, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    There are over 14000 people on Chatroulette at this very minute…


    Just eek.

  6. February 10, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    “Remember Orkut?” Sure do, I had an account as soon as it came out. But as you noted, it didn’t take off in North America much. And as for Wave, I think I’d rather chew off my own leg than add it (someone somewhere wrote that Wave was designed to make young people feel as confused by soc-meds as old people [allegedly] are).

    Now Buzz – totally not sure about this one. Is it clutter?

    There’s what I’d call a “clutter threshold”: some people have a pretty high one, for others it’s lower. The popularity of Twitter apps that manage your follows and followers indicates that most people have some issues with clutter. Not sure that Buzz isn’t contributing to the problem, rather than solving anything.

    Somehow I think Google is exploring an exploding (technologically created) ecosystem of continuous ambient information, and coming up with ways to be in what looks more like an ocean than a land-based garden. Maybe Buzz lets you hoist a sail to convince you that you’re actually going in a direction. But there’s a fundamental difference between drifting (ambiently?) and gardening (for want of a better term).

    Show me how Buzz is going to help me cultivate (garden) my ecosystem. Maybe that’s an underlying intent behind these new roll-outs: someone eventually comes along with an app that says, “look, I’m a hoe,” or “I’m a rototiller,” or “I’m fertilizer that makes the good stuff grow and puts the kibosh on the bad stuff.” In the beginning, it looks a bit too much like splashing around in a globalized bathtub, though.

    Have you, for example, fooled around yet with Chat Roulette? Yes, the link goes to AVC.com (Fred Wilson), whose blog I love and whose opinion I respect enormously, and maybe if I played Chat Roulette I’d like it. But I gotta say, at this point (from my uninformed, third-person, remote perspective), I agree with the more critical comments.

    It’s probably necessary (in some weird way) to keep rolling out all these weird new additions that exploit the oceanic mass of globalized ambient information out there. But some day soon, I’m gonna do a Voltaire and have a Candide moment. 😉

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