February 17, 2010

How loud is Google Buzz?

We saw Google making it foray in the highly competitive social media space once again by launching Buzz on February 9, 2010 to give a tooth and nail fight to Facebook and Twitter.
This is not the first time Google has made its presence in social media. After Orkut, Google made an attempt last year too by launching Wave which didn't impress many due to it's slow response time, heavy technical overdose and contradictory to what Google does, it was very low in its user friendliness.

Buzz is the re-entry strategy for Google and this time they've worked hard on it to make it simple unlike its precursor Wave. Google defines Buzz on its blog as a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. It's integrated with Gmail so when you sign in, you automatically get directed to the Buzz tab just like Inbox, Sent, etc. You can post status just like Twitter and can express your liking and comment like Facebook. As one of my friend put it, Buzz is Google's Twitter! True, it is. It's being touted by some as the Facebook and Twitter killer. But after using Buzz, I don't see this happening at least in the short run.

I've been a big admirer of Google and its products but this time I somehow feel Buzz has not hit the right cord. It's just not 'the thing'! Let's see where Buzz falls short:
  • Integration with Gmail - Google talks about this as a plus point in terms of not requiring any additional set up. My personal opinion is that they should have kept it separate, just like it's bigger brother Orkut. Integrating within has made Gmail heavy and slow. Gmail is a very good email product by itself and its equity should not have been diluted by Buzz.
  • Contacts automatically get added - when you log in for the first time, you are automatically made to follow the people you email and chat with the most. It may very often happen, that you don't want to add someone like in Facebook, where you can keep your personal and professional contacts separate. But, here everyone's following you even before you sign up! I didn't like this feature as I believe you should have a clear control over choosing who can follow you and cannot.
  • Postings seen by all - Unlike Facebook, where your wall posts appear to your contacts, whatever you post on Buzz appears to all your contacts Buzz wall, whether you like it or not! There's just no privacy! Another facet to this is that if some of your friends have become heavy Buzz users, your Buzz wall will be flooded with their one-liners and this can get annoying, very annoying.
  • Kept it too simple - Google keeps things simple, fine. But this one's too simple. They could have jazzed up the interface at least somewhat like Orkut. We all are so used to Facebook that I found it like a blue-white-blue paper and you're writing with a pencil continuously. It can be boring at times in this world dominated by visual appeal.
  • No Apps at all - Buzz positions itself as an Application free tool, but then don't you miss the Apps on Facebook which at times kept you entertained, quizzed you, asked your favourtie colour, etc. It's a way of engagement and I think without Apps, Buzz can find it tough with its monotonous visual appearance.
  • Only Gmail contacts added - Buzz only allows you to add someone who has a Gmail account so if your friends are on Hotmail, Yahoo, etc they can't join the Buzz! This means losing 50% or more of your Facebook friends and even more of your Twitter followers if you decide to use only Buzz full time.
We all know that Google is know for 'listening to customers' and I'm sure the Googlers would be working on these shortcomings. How loud the Google Buzz will be, we can only wait and watch! Till then, I'm going to continue on Facebook and have recently developed a liking for Twitter too. Do post your Buzzing experience below.

3 comments:

  1. I agree on disliking the fact that Google chooses everything for the user well before and later gives them a chance to alter it. And privacy is a big issue here.

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  2. @Anu - Although Google has gone right with many of its products like Search, Gmail, Apps, YouTube, etc but Buzz somehow doesn't make you comfortable the first time you use it. It feels like something forced on you. I've stopped using it temporarily.

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