Introduction to Mat Wright

Mat Wright is a Zend Certified Engineer and qualified designer available for freelance web development + consultation work.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Introducing Google Buzz

If you have a Gmail account you may have already noticed something new in your account area - it's got a name and it's called Google Buzz, Google's very own social networking service.

As I write this article Google is still rolling out the new service so if you don't see Buzz in your Gmail account yet, it will be there over the next few days.

What's All The Buzz About?

Buzz is automatically integrated with the Gmail service so your most important contacts automatically become your 'friends' with whom you can share content, send messages, chat, view statuses, and so forth.

"Our belief is that organizing the social information on the web — finding relevance in the noise — has become a large-scale challenge, one that Google's experience in organizing information can help solve" writes Todd Jackson, Product Manager for Gmail and Buzz in the Official Google Blog yesterday morning.

Google have already been experimenting with real-time web search for sometime having already introduced Google Social Search last autumn. Social Search is designed to take personalised search results one step further and provide content from your very own social network. Social Search returns results including your friends latest blog articles, status updates, picture uploads and so on. You need to be signed in to Gmail (or another compatible Google service) so that Google may compile your social circle profile from contacts found in your Gmail account, Google profile, FriendFeed and even your Twitter contacts. Google then shows public content from your social circle alongside its regular search results. The content that Google shows is already publicly available on the web and could be searched manually if you wanted to, so there's no privacy issues for Google.

Buzz seems to combine these and other existing tools (Picassa, Google Reader) together and package them up as a social networking service which will pitch Google directly against the likes of Facebook , Twitter and Bebo. Buzz product manager  wrote in the recent Official Google Blog article "If you think about it, there's always been a big social network underlying Gmail." he went on to summarise the philosophy behind Buzz: "We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately".

Privacy has been one of the ongoing sources of criticism that Facebook receives so the level and ease of control of privacy settings that Buzz offers will likely prove to be a key factor in its success or failure.

Worlwide Social Network Domination ?

If Google is hoping to dominate the social networking scene, then the hardest obstacle to overcome is going to be Facebook. Facebook has already amassed nearly half a billion (short-scale billion) users worldwide since its creation just over five years ago in 2004, however with over 170 million existing Gmail users who will automatically become part of the Buzz network that's already a huge step in the right direction for Google Buzz.

Some further reading :

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