Today Google announced Google Buzz, its first effort in social media. For a company that has its hand in every other part of the internet, it was only time until it released its own social media platform to compete with the already popular, like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc.
Buzz will be accessible via Gmail and with 36 million Gmail subscribers, Buzz isn’t starting from ground zero. It connects you with the people you email and chat with the most — with options on opt in or out to protect your privacy. It will publish streams similar to Twitter or Facebook statuses and will allowing sharing of pictures or links like Facebook or Google Reader.
Google is trying to aggregate all your social media-ing into one place, and it just might work. Granted, Facebook already has 400 million users, Goliath to Gmail’s 36 million, but people are looking for a way to decompartmentalize – I think. This way users won’t have to check several sites to keep up with different friends, they will all be in the one place we all check constantly, your email.
I’m not entirely sure how it works or what it looks like because my account hasn’t been updated yet (has yours?), but there is already headed controversy online. Apparently, Buzz is just like the already popular FriendFeed, and the creator is not only upset, but passive aggressive (see tweet image).
Yahoo already has a social media tool called Buzz, so they are up in arms. However it has been said that Yahoo’s Buzz is little more than a rip of Digg. Microsoft has come out against the platform as well.
So technology moguls’ opinions aside, how will this impact my life? I think it will in a couple of ways.
It will clog up your email window: One thing I like about Gmail is that it is clean and easy to use. I can control it to keep my inbox the way I want and my folders organized just so. The influx of Buzz updates (which are, of course, controllable) will only serve to clog my box more than my daily shopping emails do. Similarly, it will be harder to ‘turn off’ the outside world. Sometimes I just don’t want to see pictures of you drinking from last weekend.
It will open your personal brand: Google is one of the most ubiquitous sites in the world. It keeps track of everything and makes it easily searchable. Suddenly, my entire life will be more viewable. I suppose, that might be a little dramatic, but as you all know, I am a little paranoid about privacy. I am certain that Google is going to great lengths to protect its users, but the transition might not be smooth — as is often the burden early adopters must bear. Already today I have cleaned up my personal Google profile to make sure I have the most current information available and the privacy settings are to my liking.
That said, this does not have to be a bad thing at all. Once all the kinks are worked out, it will be a nice way to see what all my contacts are doing. I suppose I need to play around with it more before I am convinced of the benefits and uses.
Buzz is relevant now to consumers in ways that Wave isn’t. This is like a small step into Google-izing our entire lives (I hope they take this privilege in stride and the world does not become that of 1984) where Wave might be a giant leap. I am interested in playing around with it, and will have more comprehensive thoughts when I do. Check out this Mashable article in the meantime.
Who has played with it? What do you think?
Update: I just signed onto my Gmail account and I have Buzz. Do you have it yet?