Google Buzz won't threaten Facebook in the social networking arena because users are comfortable with the service and have created a lot of content there. Buzz will hit a ceiling and that ceiling is the number of Gmail users, the majority of which are probably also Facebook users. It's hard to see Facebook users fleeing the leading social network for the new, less fully featured experience of Buzz. Google's challenge with Buzz is similar to that of the stacked deck Microsoft Bing and Yahoo face every waking day in search.
its Google Buzz social sharing service Feb. 9, it became natural to
speculate whether Buzz would threaten Facebook in the social networking arena.
It won't because, simply, users have become quite comfortable with
Facebook and some of the 400 million users have generated a lot of
content there in the last six years. That's content that stays there.
Google Buzz lets users post status updates and share Picasa photos,
YouTube videos, links and other content right in Gmail. Originally designed to
automatically push updates to Gmail users from fellow users with whom they
exchange e-mail and engage in chat sessions, the service and its parent became
entangled in nasty privacy snafus
Feb. 11 added a checkbox
to warn users that Buzz will show the names of Gmail
contacts they are following and people following them on their Google profile.
Google also made a number of other privacy controls more visible. After further complaints, Google Feb. 13
made Buzz auto-suggest
, letting users opt in to who they want to follow.
Google Buzz Product Manager Todd Jackson has publicly
apologized for the stress Buzz has caused has been telling press that Google
should have tested it out with the families of Google's 20,000 employees.
While it may be tempting to label Buzz a failure and
compare it to Facebook's Beacon, which also exposed users' social activities
to friends in a major privacy snafu, the fact
is that Google is leveraging its large user base of 176 million users.
to the original auto-follow roll-out, Buzz gained tens of millions of users the
moment Google turned it on for a portion of users last Tuesday.
Buzz isn't a failure, and Google is saying and doing the
right things to resolve its privacy and public relations headache. Buzz will be
a success, in so far as a company can succeed turning e-mail, which Altimeter
Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang calls
a "historical social graph," inside out as a social experience.
Buzz will hit a ceiling and that ceiling is the number of
Gmail users, the majority of which are probably also Facebook users. It's hard
to see Facebook users fleeing the leading social network for the new, less
fully featured experience of Buzz. Sure, you can share links, photos and videos
and post status updates in Buzz, just as a user might do in Facebook.