Google Buzz: FriendFeed in Gmail

Google BuzzGoogle Buzz strikes me as a lightweight clone of FriendFeed integrated into Gmail. That’s not surprising when you consider FriendFeed’s origins: the founders are all former Google employees. While FriendFeed remains a marvelous service — it was recently acquired by Facebook — it never saw much adoption beyond the geek set. Mainstream Internet users have yet to wrap their brains around the concept introduced by FriendFeed in 2007: social media aggregation.

Google Buzz could finally bridge that conceptual chasm, racing out the gate with a combination of four very powerful advantages:

1) Preinstalled userbase: Gmail is the world’s third most popular email service. Google Buzz sits right under the inbox tab in Gmail. That immediately puts Buzz right in front of 146 million active Gmail users. For comparison, that’s over a third of Facebook’s entire population. While Facebook took six years to sign up 400 million people, Buzz just got 146 million people practically overnight.

2) Preinstalled social graphs: Google Buzz gives you a set of people to follow immediately upon activation, based on the people you correspond with most on Gmail. While this does raise a small privacy caveat if you don’t want your email buddies revealed to the world, Buzz accurately maps your social graph right out of the box.

3) Preinstalled content sources: If you have a Google Profile and you post a lot of stuff across the Web, chances are Google already knows most of the places on the Web where you post stuff. Upon activation, Buzz immediately offers to aggregate your content from those places.

4) Workflow integration: For most people, email and social networking are accomplished through different services with different interfaces in different browser tabs. Buzz fits right into a Gmail user’s communication workflow. In fact, it fits almost too well: if you’re not careful, the shortform public chatter of Buzz could easily pull you away from the longform private business of email. You wouldn’t even notice you’re being pulled away, because you’d still be in the same browser tab.

Google BuzzThe aforementioned advantages have given Google Buzz a stunning headstart. The service saw nine million posts and comments within two days of launch. Lest anyone think all those posts come from mere passive aggregation, Buzz gets 200 posts per minute from mobile phones.

The first release of Google Buzz isn’t nearly as feature-rich as FriendFeed, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the service is rapidly gaining critical mass. Google can roll out more features later, as people get used to Buzzing. In fact, expect many of the features of Google Wave to gradually make their way into Google Buzz.

Whenever I tell my nontechnical friends about new social networking services, their biggest complaints are always the quadruple hassles of signing up for a new account, adding their friends all over again, setting up their profiles, and learning a new interface. For 146 million existing Gmail users, Google Buzz annihilates all those hassles.

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10 Comments (with 4 Conversations) on “Google Buzz: FriendFeed in Gmail”
  1. Google Buzz, like it’s kin Google Wave, has tremendous potential. I’m crossing my fingers that they add new features soon before people get tired of all the noise.

  2. Romeo says:

    One of the signs, that a web application definitely appeals to its users is the number of users logging in through their mobile devices. Google knows this and they aggregated content in the most familiar way: a content-driven interface.

  3. Phil-Am OSI says:

    Google buzz is amazing. It’s really surprising one.

    • Mike Abundo says:

      Contrary to how they launched Gmail and Wave, Google immediately rolled out Buzz without a closed beta. They surprised everybody.

      Apparently, Google wanted to hit the social networking scene with shock and awe. Judging from Buzz’s thunderous headstart, their approach seems to have worked. 😉

  4. Hi Mike. Your post inspired me to resume blogging and give my take on Google Buzz. =)

    • Mike Abundo says:

      Awesome! Yup, you’re right about the duplicate posts problem. I’ve had to be very careful about what services I connect to Buzz, just to avoid that problem.

      FriendFeed detects and groups duplicate links. Let’s hope Buzz soon does the same. 🙂

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