Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Buzz - Facebook Threat?

Earlier this week, Google started rolling out Google Buzz to all Gmail users. Google Buzz is an attempt by Google to provide a social networking facility within Gmail.

After enabling Google Buzz on my Gmail account I was presented with a new menu item in the left hand menu and a prompt to connect some of my other Google presences to my Google Buzz feed. These included Picasa Public albums, my two blogs and Google Reader. These links are used to automatically populate my Buzz stream (buzz) with items as they are published.

With these items now automatically populating my 'buzz' all I need now is for someone to read them. Unfortunately, my Gmail account is not my primary email account and is only really used for administering my Google presence. Further experimentation will have to wait until I find some friends who are using Google Buzz.

Google already has a number of social networking tools (Orkut, Google Wave). Where Google Buzz fits in with these other products is unknown. However, from my limited time using the product it is most like Facebook. You can post status updates, photos, videos and subscribe to friends posts. The difference is that it is also linked to your other Google products such as Blogger, Picasa and Reader and these products will automatically update your buzz when you post updates.

Interestingly, a group of former Google employees created something similar in 2007 called FriendFeed. FriendFeed is a social networking aggregator that was recently sold to Facebook. It has a advantage over Google Buzz in that it includes the ability to aggregate content from more than 50 services including Facebook and Twitter.

As you can see there is quite a lot of competition in the social networking world and from what I can see Google Buzz does not really offer any large advantage over the other sites such as Facebook, FriendFeed and Orkut. To really make a dent in any of these services they will need to expand the aggregation service and convince their Gmail subscribers that this is an alternative to Facebook.