Google Buzz: it’s all about search and mobile

The buzz about Google Buzz has been huge since the new service was announced by Google yesterday.

Google Buzz gives you a social network built into Gmail, Google’s web-based email service (known as Google Mail in some countries including the UK). You can watch a Google video to get a good sense of how it works.

Some people say that Google Buzz is a killer service to take on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Others say it’s more of a “social content aggregator” and only another milestone along the road where Google is travelling (I was sorely tempted to call that the “information superhighway”). It’s also being called “a social Swiss Army knife.”

Whatever you decide it is, there’s one big thing it is about – search. Apart from anything else, it gives you the ability to search your social graph and find the content that interests you, filtering out the stuff that doesn’t.

Here’s an insightful view on that aspect from Jyri Engeström, the founder of Jaiku, a Twitter rival snapped up by Google in 2007:

[…] The game is no longer just about “what are you doing”. As microblogging has become more popular, the stream has become more busy, and people are getting tired of sifting through the noise. So, now that pretty much everyone has shown up for the party, the value is moving to discovery, context, and relevance. The question we increasingly feel our social inbox should answer better is: “given what you know about me, look at everything I subscribe to, and show me only the updates I care about most right here, right now.” In one word: Search. And who has the advantage there? We know who.

There’s more, though – mobile. According to Engeström:

[…] You don’t need a crystal ball to know that mobile is becoming the primary (in some cases the only) interface to daily social media. Facebook’s and Twitter’s mobile clients? Let’s be straight, they’re lame feed scrollers compared to what they could be. Nobody has come even close to harnessing the full power of mobile. Which of the three companies has its own mobile platform: Facebook, Twitter, or Google? Again, we know who.

Detailed information on the Google Buzz mobile page. This looks pretty compelling.

Such a picture of disruptive possibilities!

I don’t “live” in Gmail so I find it hard to see how I would use or benefit from Google Buzz, although mobile access looks very appealing. But I’ll keep an open mind at least until I’ve tried it out myself.

How do you see this evolution from Google?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Chris Norton

    Great post Neville, I really do wonder if this is going to be a game changer. Many of the new social networks that come out usually need time to get the all important critical mass but with Google’s 175 million GMAIL customers it already has that. I am going to be watching this and social search pretty closely. Google certainly acknowledges that the future of online is social as you and Shel do on FIR. Keep up the good work.

    • neville

      I’m not sure about being a game-changer, Chris, but Google Buzz could really open up mobile use of the social web. Jyri Engeström’s point that the mobile experience with websites of services like Twitter and Facebook is pretty lame is spot on. In fact, it has to be an open opportunity for some third-party app developer to make more of this. TweetDeck‘s the closest, imo.

      What if you don’t live in Gmail? I don’t. Sure, I use Gmail but it pipes emails offline into my Outlook. I don’t use Gmail as an engagement tool, purely for email.

      It would have to be an extremely compelling alternative to Twitter for me. What does “compelling” mean in this context? Hard to define, actually, but I’ll know it when I see it.

  2. Paul Seaman

    The future is in the browser, in the cloud and in the consumers’ desk-lap-or-hand held device. That speaks to the potential of Google Buzz. The days of multiple social networking sites with closed walls and high valuations are numbered. The open web-based self-controlled networked future is coming. Search and aggregation services by topic are going to take off more than they have so far. We are also going to get more personal control of what gets beyond our own walls (that will help sort out the privacy issues). Whether or not Google Buzz cuts it – something like it will. So enjoy Facebook, Twitter, Linked in and Xing while you can – they’ll be yesterday’s buzz soon enough.

    • neville

      I agree with your main points, Paul, although I’m not so sure the future’s in the browser: to me, it’s in whatever enables me to access and use content. I don’t care whether it’s via a browser or an app.

      Google Buzz opens things up quite a bit, opportunities for others to evolve.

  3. Stuart Bruce

    It certainly looks great, but it doesn’t work for me as not only like do I not ‘live’ in Gmail I also really don’t like it! I simply use it as a massive back-up and to search for stuff I’ve lost. Part of me is also loathe to give/share anything else with Google.

    What it does mean is that it once again increase the importance of online reputation and the need for PR professionals to get to grips with it.

  4. Ellee

    I was looking to RT this on twitter, but couldn’t see your link there, and there are too many characters in the url link to tweet this. I look forward to trying out Google Buzz.

  5. The Digital Week «

    […] Concerns and doubts seem to have centred on two areas. First, what’s the point? We already have Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed – well, some of us have FriendFeed. So while Google’s arguably doing the right thing by trying to own this space, the service it introduces has to offer a lot more than the ones already in place. Neville Hobson identifies the key difference: search. […]

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