Well it’s official. Google has finally released their new Social Networking product named Google Buzz. Well, it’s not so much a product, as it is an extension of Gmail.
Google’s general philosophy is simple. They want to simplify the electronic life of their users, and to that end, they endeavor to tie all of their offerings together with a unified login, and, whenever possible, a common interface.
Google Buzz is slightly different than Facebook’s approach to social networking. Instead of you having to find your friends on Buzz, Google automatically creates a friends list based on the people you email or chat with the most in Gmail. And you can still manually search and add other friends to your follower’s list.
Leveraging other Google Services
Google has made it very easy to embed pictures (from your Picasa album) and videos (from your Youtube account), since Google conveniently owns both of these services. At the same time, Google understands that in order to attempt to succeed with Buzz, they need to recognize and integrate with other social networking and content sites such as Flickr and Twitter (though Buzz does NOT have the annoying 140 character limit that Twitter has). And, true to form of almost all other Google services, Buzz works on mobile phones without the need for any 3rd party applications.
Too much of a good thing?
While some may like Google’s idea of having Buzz integrate right into your Gmail account as a folder under your Inbox, I find it a but confusing. After you click on the Buzz folder, all of your current Buzz conversations appear like threaded messages. The layout can use some work. On the other hand, Google has built in some nice features, such as clear-cut security options on each Buzz post so you can clearly see who will be able to see your Buzz post (publicly viewable, or only visible to people or groups you specify), and an easy to use photo browser. Some people may not appreciate the typical Google-like minimalist interface when compared with graphically rich social networking sites such as Facebook, but it can sometimes be a refreshing change.
Can Facebook ever be overtaken?
Currently, it is estimated that there are over400 million Facebook users, posting 60 million status updates each day. Compare this with the 146 million users that Gmail has as of last July, Google has a lot of catching up to do if they plan to put up a fight against Facebook. They have hired some great people to work on their social networking products, and certainly have the resources to enhance and improve Buzz based on end-user feedback now that it has been released.
Have you Buzzed yet? If so, let us know what you think of it.