Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Google Buzz is huge news for social networking... But could it be another Wave of disappointment?

So Google's decided to turn Gmail into a social network, and call it Buzz? And there I was wondering why Facebook had decided to update its interface today.

The slightly low-key launch represents a massive shift in the fight for social networking mindshare. After years of the social networks infringing on email's space via private inboxes and direct messaging, email has woken up and fought back.

And via pre-built friend lists (thanks to contacts) and a familiar interface (nearly 200 million people use Gmail every month) Buzz could catch on very, very quickly.

Or it could spectacularly fail, like Wave arguably has. Let's look at the evidence.

1. Like Wave, Google Buzz has a confusing how-to video that points out some fiddly usage quirks. Can we be bothered to learn the new techniques?

2. Not everyone uses Gmail. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that normal people are more likely to use Hotmail or Yahoo. (My Mum's on Facebook. She isn't on Gmail.)

3. It's a copycat move, designed to mimic Twitter and Facebook. Both have been around a while and do this stuff well. Do we really need another option?

4. Google Contacts is rubbish. I desperately want it to be my personal answer to a CRM tool, but in reality it's just a list of everyone who has ever spammed me.

5. I don't have it in my Gmail box yet. I haven't felt this alienated since I paid for my Wave invite on eBay.

What do you think? Bye bye Facebook or big Buzz about nothing?