As a frontal assault on the social Web castles of Facebook and Twitter, Google Buzz lets users post status updates, pictures, links, videos and other content in Gmail and share them with users or the entire Web.
I wrote about it after viewing the launch event Webcast. I also logged into Gmail to find Buzz turned on.
It’s a snap to use; if you have a Google Profile, you may start buzzing to the Web or privately among users immediately.
Before you click on that link that invites you to Google Buzz in your inbox, you should check out the demo videos for both the desktop and mobile versions of the Web service, which will be rolling out broadly to Gmail users over the course of the week.
First, this video after the jump shows how Google Buzz pulls images from links, plays YouTube videos in line and lets users scroll through Picasa and Flickr Web albums:
Comments Gmail users make in Buzz on your Buzz are automatically pushed to your Gmail inbox, facilitating the information-sharing aspects.
Moreover, Buzz will recommend Buzz from users that Gmail users are not directly following. Users can turn this off; it will be interesting to see how many people will take Google up on the recommendations.
Next, the Google Buzz for mobile app looks like a great way for Google to compete with Foursquare, Gowalla and mobile versions of Facebook and Twitter.
After navigating to buzz.google.com in their mobile browser for Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphones, users can use their location to identify places around them and attach these places as location tags to posts, or see what others have posted about the location or business.
Moreover, the new Buzz layer in Google Maps for Mobile lets users see buzz near them or anywhere on the map and lets them post public buzz directly from the layer, attaching a photo from their phone. Users can also access Places Pages to read recent comments or to post buzz about that place. See this demo:
Finally, a voice shortcut available in the quick search widget on Android and in Google Mobile App on iPhone lets users post buzz by speaking “post buzz” into their phone and then saying their status update aloud.
Are these interesting features? You bet. They put a fresh, social twist on an otherwise siloed Gmail application.
Gmail has 176 million users, according to comScore. Facebook boasts more than 400 million and I’m not sure users will stop using Facebook or even Twitter to do some of the same stuff on Gmail. Why won’t people leave Facebook for Google Buzz on Gmail?
Here’s one analogy I like to use: People have gotten very comfortable with sharing on Facebook, much the same way people have gotten comfortable using Google search instead of Yahoo or Microsoft Bing.
Why mess with a good thing? Still, it will be fun to watch this theater played out in 2010 and beyond.