With its new Google Buzz service, Google believes that if it can mimic some of the sharing functionality that makes social networks so successful, it will keep its Gmail users from going to Facebook and Twitter. In a best-case scenario, Gmail would gain millions of new users via Buzz, with Google pairing relevant ads with the service. Analysts say Google Buzz isn't going to take much market share from Facebook and Twitter, the social sharing services with which it is geared to compete, unless it connects with them.
Social media experts aren't sold that Google Buzz is going to take much
market share from Facebook and Twitter unless it adequately connects with the
social sharing services with which it is geared to compete.
lets users post status updates and share Picasa
photos, YouTube videos, Twitter tweets and other content-comparable to the
functionality of Facebook and Twitter-right in Gmail.
Google's idea is to keep its large Gmail base of 176 million users from
going to Facebook or Twitter to share content.
While users flock to Twitter with the frequency of hummingbirds to post
tweets, they quickly flit away, posing little threat to Google. Google
recognizes that some 400 million users around the world
are spending a lot of time on
That means millions of users' eyeballs are seeing Facebook's social ads
instead of Google's search ads, at least for a portion of their daily Web
Google believes that if it can mimic some of the sharing functionality that
makes social networks so successful, it will keep its Gmail users from going to
Facebook and Twitter. In a best-case scenario, Gmail would gain millions of new
users via Buzz, with Google pairing relevant ads with the service.
"This is Google doing what Google does, organizing more information and
serving up ads around it," Jeremiah Owyang, a social media analyst with
Altimeter Group, told eWEEK. "This time they are aggregating other
peoples' content in a way that is similar to the Facebook News Feed."
One thing that may hold Google Buzz back from playing on an even field with
Facebook and Twitter is that it doesn't let users post Buzz content directly to
those services, which would expose Buzz to millions of users who may not use
Piper Jaffary analyst Gene Munster said in a research note that Google Buzz
must port to both services if it intends to grow.
"In the space of real-time updates, we continue to view Facebook as the
long-term winner ... and believe ultimately Google will need to better
integrate Buzz with both Facebook and Twitter to harvest any meaningful
benefits as a part of a local advertising platform," Munster
Currently, users can choose in their Buzz account to connect Buzz and Twitter
, allowing Twitter
tweets to appear in Buzz. Owyang sees the one-way Twitter connection as a
blessing for Twitter in the short run, noting that this is another way to
However, in the long run, he believes Google will serve more social ads to its "historical social graph" of Gmail users, which is nearly three
times as large Twitter's base of roughly 60 million users. Twitter has not yet released a
platform to put ads in front of its users.
Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray told eWEEK that if Google Buzz grows
and furnishes an enormous stream of content that rivals Twitter, then there
might be a risk to the search engine deal it has struck with Google. However, Ray believes it is unlikely Google would abandon Twitter to promote Buzz.
"While Google certainly will want Buzz content to be part of their
real-time search results, it's hard for me to imagine they'd adjust their
search engine results solely to promote their new social features. Google needs
to serve up the best real-time data possible as part of their search offering,
and with Twitter pouring out over a billion pieces of content each month, my
expectation is that Twitter will continue to be part of Google's core search
offering into the foreseeable future."
While Twitter may feel the heat, few people are ready to claim Buzz poses a
serious threat to Facebook, whose rapid growth in the six years since its birth
is unprecedented among social network sites. But Owyang acknowledged on his Web Strategist blog
"To Facebook, this is a direct threat, these features emulate
Friendfeed and the recently designed Facebook newsfeed. Expect Google to
incorporate Facebook Connect, commoditizing Facebook data as it gets sucked
into Google and displayed on Google SERP [search engine results page]."
However, don't expect Facebook to sit there and take the assault.
The company has just improved its search service
and homepage design and offers several features
to keep users comfortably within its walled garden, including connecting
Facebook Chat with third-party instant messaging
clients through Jabber.
Facebook has more than enough firepower to withstand Google Buzz.