Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Buzz on Google Buzz

Over the past few days since the release of Google Buzz I have noticed countless articles stating that Google is stepping on their own toes, people cant wait to see Buzz launched so they can turn it off, and that it's redundant, useless, privacy nightmare, etc etc etc.

This is a far stretch from Google's typical announcement reactions, to for example their up coming 1Gbps fiber to home service . So why the bad sentiment?

Two reasons.

First, the only big complaint people have with Google these days is Power and Privacy (yes that's one complaint). Google holds so much information about each individual's habits that they could probably launch some software that will give you accurate life coaching advice! The fear is that this info could some day (once the 'don't be evil' mantra is worn down by greedy board execs and share holders) fall into the wrong hands, and be used for the wrong reasons. Google Buzz is just another avenue for personal data gathering, which is the most precious type. I could care less if people knew about something as generic as what brand of cell phone I prefer, but to tap into conversation with close friends and family about private matters is a bit invasive. I see Google Buzz taking the wrap for that, but it's just like anything else, just like this blog for example. I just don't post things that are too personal to be public, and that's that.

Second reason is that people already have their beloved Facebook. Facebook is the one hub that has captured the market (which was MySpace's to lose). The universal, no frills, clean interface which brought an older age group into the fold, coupled with the chat feature was a hit.

What do I think will come from Google Buzz?

I think it will do well in due time. Facebook will not be replaced any time soon, but they are having some huge problems. Facebook's site is often so slow its almost unusable. This keeps them from expanding into more robust functionality and paves the way for up and coming competition like Google Buzz. Facebook is also getting into bed with some unsavories like AOL. Just the sheer mention of AOL brings back floods of memories nightmares of gaudy advertisements, ineffective search tools and god awful bloated user interfaces designed for seniors and infants. (Remember when AOL's installer was classified as badware?) Facebook doesn't integrate directly with other popular services the way that Buzz does (well you can make it work, but its a bit clunky and not a tight built in integration like Google Buzz has going). It's also being put right in the face of the entire gmail community which as you know is massive. This will give the service a couple advantages Orkut just couldn't touch, which is immediate membership and consistent member usage. This could be Google's first real shot at entering the world of social networking.

Facebook now has over 100 million mobile users. This number is only growing, and with social tools integrated out of the box with these types of tools this number shows no signs of slowing. Who is the king of mobile app development? Google of course. Their Android team is quickly sweeping the marking and positioned to be a major competitor in the smartphone marketplace for years to come. When all the android handsets start shipping with Google Buzz clients by default (which will possibly become more well produced and useful than the facebook app), and the facebook app is no longer pre installed we might notice a shift of power in the long run.

All in all there are privacy concerns with any social app, and its a new era that takes new responsibility and awareness that nothing is private. Social apps are not going anywhere, and the same complaints can be launched toward any one of the many services floating around out there. Google's ridiculous collection of gobs of personal data is scary as hell, but I dont think that will deter the service from being a success if they can continue to product the type of software we have seen that they are capable of (gmail, android, google maps, and of course search, etc. etc.)

Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.