Google launched a new service called Buzz this week. It's not a stand alone product, it's an enhancement to Gmail.
It's also represents the company's latest foray into the social media realm with updates similar to Facebook and the ability to embed media and links. It's curious that this is happening just as Facebook is talking about rolling out a full-fledged email service. (Up until now Facebook has only had an internal simple -- ie. crippled -- message service.) This seems like it's shaping up to be a battle royale between Facebook and Google for the entire Internet.
Rather than me trying to further explain Buzz, I'll let the following promo video fill in the gaps. Then I'll provide ya'll my armchair diagnosis of Google's curious new service.
The fact is that most people only have the time and patience for a single status update service. For some, Twitter works very well with it's super simple interface and the choice to be completely public or private. But Facebook has gained more users and more traffic by creating an illusion of privacy and lots of bells and whistles. In this respect Google Buzz is more like Facebook since it happens inside your Gmail, and because of that, you start by following and being followed by people who are already your Gmail contacts. It's hard to see people flocking to yet another status service even if it is run by Google.
It was probably a smart move by Google to roll Buzz out in Gmail. As an email and chat service it seems to be Google's most successful social media product. And it certainly gives them a leg up on competing with Twitter and Facebook. But Google really needs to make a significant value proposition to make Buzz a serious competitor to Facebook. It can't just be the same thing only in your Gmail. It needs to really offer something much, much better than Facebook in order to compete. In this early preview it's hard to see what the value other than Google saying "hey we already have all your other data, why don't you let us be your social media status update service too." For some, that may not sound like a value proposition, it might sound scary.
Google hasn't rolled Buzz out to all Gmail users yet. If you want to try it go to Buzz.Google.com and maybe Google will let you play with it.