Google Buzz is here! How’s that for a sneaky rollout? I mean, Google’s been trying off and on to get into the social game for awhile, so it can’t be much of a surprise that they’ve launched a product like Buzz, but where were the months of build up? The beta sign ups? The shameless begging for Buzz invites? What do you MEAN Google is just letting us have it?!
The rumors about Google Buzz really kicked into high gear yesterday when someone seems to have leaked that an announcement was forthcoming. Maybe I’m not reading the right blogs, but that was really the first I heard of it as an actual product instead of a rumor without any real form.
I don’t have Buzz yet – Google is rolling out to everyone over the next few days – but below are my initial impressions from the demo video posted in Google’s official announcement.
Google Buzz is going to kill Google Wave
Remember Google Wave? That super awesome amazing phantom product that everyone wanted SOOOOOOO badly that it launched Twitter scams and a lot of annoying begging and pleading and whining from the entire tech community? And then you got it and wondered just what the heck you were supposed to do with it? You know, that dusty bookmark you haven’t opened since Thanksgiving?
It was supposed to change everything! We got all excited, worked tirelessly to get invites to everyone in the company, oohed and ahhed over the ability to work in a document together.
Then we got bored with it. It’s become a sort of wiki-style directory thing. A place for storing shared lists. If Google Wave accomplished anything for us, it seems to have been one of the things that prompted us to start using Google Docs more since the collaborative aspect seems to work better over there when it can be applied to actual, workable documents.
Now we have Buzz, and judging by the demo video it looks like it does everything that we were hoping Wave was going to do. It integrates with Twitter, Flickr, and of course other Google properties like Reader and YouTube. There’s no legwork involved in getting your friends all connected since it just connects you automatically. You already have an address book full of contacts, so no “friending” headaches.
Google Buzz is a direct challenge to Facebook
This should be pretty obvious by Google Buzz’s social nature, but the things that really catch my attention here are the slideshows, the attachment of images from webpages linked in messages, and the ability to watch video without leaving the product. Google is matching Facebook point for point here. And you don’t have to leave Gmail to use it, eliminating the need for multiple browser tabs. (Of course, we’ll still do it, since we’re not leaving Facebook anytime soon.)
Facebook, in the meantime, just launched (yet another) redesign, which puts the focus more squarely on its ambitions to enter the search market.
Google Buzz wants to play ball with Foursquare
I’m a Foursquare fan, and even see some good SEO applications for it. Social-local-mobile search (say that five times fast!) has been Foursquare versus Gowalla recently, with Foursquare scoring an easy victory. I’m sure all of the major players in internet land are licking their chops over the possibilities that social-local-mobile opens up for them. It’s only natural that Google would find a way in. Google Buzz seems poised to challenge Foursquare better than Gowalla and Yelp have been able to do thus far. I would imagine that with access from both Gmail and Google Maps, both existing applications on any given smartphone makes participation all too easy. Yelp now faces an uphill battle on this particular front. Gowalla’s fight will be to stay relevant in any capacity. Foursquare should be breaking out in a sweat in three… two…
Google is starting to look a lot like Super Target
When I was in college, the megastore concept was just rolling out and my little college town got a Meijer, which is a lot like Wal Mart Supercenter or Super Target. The joke was that you could raise a small child to adulthood in there without ever needing to leave the store. This is what Google is starting to feel like to me – more and more we have less need to go outside of the Google bubble to satisfy our internet needs.
Why can Google roll out awesome projects like Buzz when they haven’t been able to fix Google Local?
Again, I plead. Fix it. Fix it soon. With so much of Buzz piggybacking onto info from Google Maps, resolving to fix the Local Business Center seems to be all the more of an imperative. Remember how Luke blew up the Death Star? He found one seemingly inconsequential design flaw, and the whole big awesome thing just fell apart.
What about you? Do you have Google Buzz yet? What are your thoughts about it? Is it just, like, made of awesome or is it going to be another Google Wave?