Google Buzz is not intended as a challenge to Facebook or Twitter, but as a unique complement to those Web services, the Google executive overseeing Buzz told eWEEK. While he lamented the Buzz privacy woes, Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management for Google, also said he was encouraged by the uptake in the service. Tens of millions of the 176 million or so mail users created more than 9 million posts and comments. Buzz's viral nature had many users comparing it to Facebook and Twitter. But Buzz is no Facebook or Twitter killer, he said, adding that it's about enabling meaningful conversation on the Web.
Google Buzz is not intended as a challenge to Facebook or
Twitter, but as a unique complement to those Web services, the Google executive
overseeing Buzz told eWEEK.
Google Buzz launched
Feb. 9 as a social service that lets users blast out status updates, links,
videos, photos and other content to their contacts on Gmail.
After the first
week of use, tens of millions of the 176 million or so Gmail users created more
than 9 million posts and comments. Buzz's viral nature had many users comparing
it to Facebook and Twitter.
Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management
for Google, said he was encouraged by the uptake in the service, which also
included 200 posts per minute from users posting content on the Buzz mobile app
from their mobile phones.
"The way that people are using Buzz is exactly as
hoped and intended," Horowitz told eWEEK in an interview Feb. 17. "It's
not just status-casting. It's not just checking in. It's really meaningful
interactions around meaningful topics within Buzz and it's reaching the right
audience and people are engaged. That kind of value proposition is I think
unique to Buzz. I've heard that again and again. In the realm of positive
feedback, I think that people are finding that the conversational mode of buzz
is very, very powerful and the quality of audience is also great."
eWEEK then asked Horowitz if Buzz is a Facebook or Twitter
. Horowitz replied:
"Absolutely not. Per what I just said, this is
creating a new category of communication. It's filling a niche, which is not
currently met in the market. I think something unique is happening on Buzz that
will continue to evolve. It's hard to create a trend line or extrapolate too
much from six days of use, but certainly conversation and the conversational
Web is a place where Buzz has excelled. I think it is unique and offers a
compelling, interesting experience."
Currently, users may only have their Twitter tweets show up on Buzz. If Buzz is simpatico with those social services, that
means we can eventually expect to post Buzz to Twitter, right?
We might also expect to one day launch Buzz to Facebook, as
well as push Facebook content to Buzz, right? Not yet, Horowitz said.
Google does expect to one day make Buzz the most open social service on the
market, he promised:
"We have nothing to announce in that regard except
that we continue to work on the APIs that would make that possible and our
philosophical intent is that we do have the most open, well integrated, well
behaving social network in the industry. We want to make sure that users have
an opportunity to get Buzz out and create Buzz anywhere on the Internet where
they deem appropriate. We're working hard to make that a reality so nothing
specific to announce but philosophically we want this to be open in every way,
both in and out."
That's very encouraging for open standards buffs, but
potentially frightening for users who felt their privacy was violated
days since Buzz launched.
Buzz is not even two weeks old, but it has already faced
a severe backlash for exposing users' contacts to other Buzz users and generally
offering vague or insufficient privacy controls. Horowitz said this outcry was not anticipated
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has
lodged a complaint
with the Federal Trade Commission for failing to protect
users' privacy. A woman has
filed a class-action suit
versus Buzz for the same reason.
To ameliorate the brouhaha, Google has made multiple
privacy changes, including
switching Buzz from auto-follow to auto-suggest
, disconnecting Buzz from Google
Reader and Google Picasa and other smaller changes
As of Feb. 18, Buzz now
has its own section
on the Google Dashboard, which
a private summary of the data associated with a user's Google account,
as well as privacy setting controls. Users can see how many people they're
following, how many people are following them and other relevant info.