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Google Buzz – First Impressions

Today when I logged on to my Gmail, I was surprised to see a new service called “Google Buzz”. Google Buzz allows the users to indulge in conversations in the form of status, photo, or a link right from the Gmail inbox. This is yet another attempt by Google to be relevant in social web.

My first impression is that it looks like a poor copy of Twitter. Yes, it does add a few more features to the service but then the beauty of Twitter lies in its 140 character limit which forces the tweets to be creative. Google Buzz has no limit to the number of characters. Twitter gained as the celebrities embraced it and now Twitter has created a new lingo.  Google has over 175 million unique users of its Gmail service which is huge in comparison to Twitter and since this service is integrated into Gmail, it would certainly give it an advantage but I do not think it would be easy for Google to shift users from Twitter to its platform. It is not just Twitter but the whole ecosystem around it needs to be replicated if Google wants to take advantage of its platform. There are a huge number of applications that take advantage of Twitter’s open APIs which would be difficult for Google to replicate.

Some news reports have also pitched Google Buzz against Facebook which I fail to understand. Facebook is much more than the conversations and has over 350 million users which is double that of  Gmail. I guess it is too late in the day to launch a new social networking service without much innovation. Google should have attempted for closer partnership with Twitter and should have integrated its services like Picassa, Google Reader, etc. with Twitter.

The mobile version of Google Buzz is available on Nexus One, Droid and iPhone. In the mobile version, the application adds the location to the buzz which provides context. The buzz around you can be seen on a map on the phone. Since there is no SMS integration, the reach is likely to be limited specially in emerging markets where the GPRS connectivity is patchy at best. This mobile version baffles me as Google seems to have forgotten “Latitude” otherwise why did they create a Buzz layer. It seems that Latitude is soon be added to the list of failed products like Froogle, Google Lively, etc. I would have liked Google to use Latitude layer (instead of Buzz Layer) for enabling conversations with SMS integration.

Unlike Google Wave, Google has done well to integrate the Gmail contacts with Buzz. I am not a regular user of Google Wave as I find it hard to get my contacts ported on to Google Wave. However, since this service is integrated with Gmail, I see this as a broadcast service. I can use email and chat for one to one or one to few conversations but Buzz allows me to communicate with all my friends at one shot. It is for this reason, I would not call Google Buzz a social networking site otherwise email and chat would all fall under that category.

See the official video of Google Buzz:

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