When Google Buzz launched yesterday there were a lot of posts that immediately went up about what the product was and what it wasn’t. It’s a FriendFeed rip off. They are going after Yelp, Foursquare, and Twitter, will Google crush these smaller companies? Google versus Facebook is now finally here. They are behind Yahoo and Hotmail in working social media into their mailing system.
I found a lot of these posts short sighted and not looking at the potential of Google Buzz or what it could mean.
For years I have talking about social media aggregation and saying it was the next big thing. Of course each year I would say this I would proclaim that next year would be the big year for social media aggregation. Basically I have been wrong since 2007 in my proclamations. (Hey I’m human.) I think with Google Buzz we are seeing a few things coming together and also the groundwork being laid for future innovation.
To recap why I think it is so important. We have seen and are going to continue to see more and more communities spring up around the products we buy, our social groups, the organizations we belong to, our professional development, and on a recreational level. Most studies show that the average person can handle being part of three online platforms and anything after that because a tad overwhelming. Now that we are pretty much required to join more than three platforms how we manage and interact with them is going to be important. With Google Buzz, Google has taken a large step of moving our social media communities into an interface that we are already frequently using, e-mail.
The development of Buzz allows us to interact with these different social groups through one platform that we already spend time with. We can monitor the people in our social graph from one point and discover new and important content based off the Google recommendations. Is this revolutionary for most of us already using the various tools available? Not in the least. Is it revolutionary to people not using these tools? Yes. Does Google Buzz have a ton of potential? Yes.
Where the revolution lies in Google Buzz is in their API and the adoption of standard technologies. This is where the innovation is going to happen. This is where the smaller ecosystems are going to tie into the larger tool. This is where we are going to get that two way interaction where we manage a lot of our social media content from one common tool and that will allows us to digest content, create content, find new and exciting content, and interact with our various social contacts.
Is Buzz currently lacking on features to make this a total aggregation point? Yes, you can’t publish to the networks it supports. (For example you can’t post to Twitter through the interface. But this is supposedly coming.) The networks it supports are limited, but with the API development and the usage of common standards these changes should come pretty rapidly.
The even more important point that isn’t being made is this is a huge step for Google to become your data silo of choice. Your contact base, your content aggregation, and where you pay attention to your social graph all in one place that you can access on any network with your Google account sign in. With Facebook being rumored to creating a comprehensive e-mail client (which has been a rumor for years) they see the value of this. (Why do you think Facebook Connect has been pushed so hard?) The battle isn’t what activity stream is more important, the battle is for all of your data and where you consider your “social home”.
Do I think out of the box that Google Buzz is an amazing product? Not at all. What interests me is how this is going to play out. Google has had a record in completely failing with various social technologies. However I think the evolution of Buzz over the next year and how other sites interact with it is going to reveal a lot about social aggregation, data silos, and where this is all heading.
What do you think about Google Buzz?