Google Buzz not Buzzing

Google still doesn’t appear to have hit that sweet spot of social networking. They should be applauded for persistence, but not sure how many bites of the cherry they will get before users grow tired of engaging with the latest beta product. I’ve been a long-time user of FriendFeed, so Buzz was not really a radical and compelling service. It’s going to have to produce something pretty radical to shift users away from Facebook, which I still think is their long-term goal. Anyone out there who thrives on Buzz?

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Six months after its debut, it’s becoming clear that Google Buzz has yet to become the social-media breakthrough that Google craves.

Google Buzz went live in early February with visions of combining a stream of updates from services like Twitter with the engagement of services like Facebook or Friendfeed, giving Google a foothold in social media. Ever since Google said in February that “tens of millions of people have checked Buzz out” Google has consistently refused to state how many people are actively using Google Buzz, and it’s still unwilling to reveal that number.

Only a few social-media services truly matter at the scale at which Google likes to operate, and Buzz is clearly not yet one of them. Google appears to have the same problem in social media that Yahoo and Microsoft have trying to compete in search: it’s going to take a huge breakthrough to get the heaviest users of social media to allocate time to something new. Incremental advances can be quickly duplicated by the incumbents, just as when Yahoo and Microsoft roll out interesting new search features, Google can easily follow suit.

Google still hopes to be the tool that could unlock value from social-media updates and posts. “It has become a core belief of ours that organizing the social information on the Web is a Google-scale problem,” said Todd Jackson, Gmail product manager, while demonstrating Google Buzz in February. With Google Wave having crashed on the rocks, and Buzz momentum faltering, Google is preparing to tackle this problem once again with the expected launch of a social-media service called Google Me.


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