Google’s latest social media experiment came to life on Tuesday in the form of Google Buzz(a social media sharing service built into your Gmail window.) Buzz will let you share photos, links, videos, and status updates through your Gmail inbox or your mobile device’s Web browser. The product was announced on February 9 and promoted with two online videos, one focusing on the service, the other introducing the unique features available for the mobile version optomized for Android phones and iPhones.
Google have blogged before about their thoughts on the social web, steps they have taken to add social features to their products, and efforts like OpenSocial that propose common tools for building social apps. With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you’re up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today’s world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it’s increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations.
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. Google focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don’t have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you’re sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.
Buzz is a great product and something Google can hang its hat and near future success for competing with Facebook and Twitter. Buzz is earning praise, too. The location-based features in Google Buzz for mobile are getting a lot of attention, and the fact that Buzz doesn’t force your status updates into 140-character messages could be great for people who complain about that limitation on Twitter. It’s too early to say whether Google Buzz will be a winner or not, but it will certainly be interesting to see how this service develops over time.