I sent out a Tweet tonight asking whether anybody uses Google’s Buzz product independently of Twitter. I got a pretty luke warm reaction. The overwhelming majority of people who responded gave one of three answers (paraphrased):
- It was turned on by default by Gmail. It’s annoying.
- I don’t get it?
- I use it to communicate with some Gmail friends who aren’t on Twitter (this was the minority)
And I have to say it myself. I fall into both category 1 and 2. Gmail turned it on by default. I feel annoyed. I now have a number that appears alongside Buzz every time I log into Gmail to indicate something. Probably total number of new (and meaningless) Buzzes (is that what they’re called?). Mostly (I’m guessing 80%) they are just things that were sent as Tweets on Twitter and echoed in Buzz. I know I could turn it off. I don’t just to see if anything interesting eventually happens.
OK, I get that Buzz allegedly has threaded conversations. I wish Twitter did. I threaded conversations when I use CoTweet. And I guess that is one of the features people loved the most about FriendFeed. But why else are people using it? Is anybody using it? Is it primarily use case 3 above?
And for me it begs the broader question – why did Google launch Buzz like this in such a haphazard, unplanned way with an uninteresting, undifferentiated product? Don’t get me wrong – I’m no Google hater. I drank the kool aid long ago with Maps, Gmail, Earth, etc. I think when they put their mind to things they are the most talented technology company on the planet. Or at least in the top 3. But it seems to me that Google has 2 issues:
- For all of the talk about Yahoo’s “Peanut Butter Manifesto” in which Yahoo! was accused of not focused but rather just spreading a lot of resources evenly around the bread like peanut butter it seems as though Google has a bit of this, too. But they also happen to have the most profitable and successful single business ever created (perhaps). But … kind of reminds me of a certain Seattle company that for years has tried to create new break-out markets but still derives much of their profits from an operating system and a set of productivity applications.
- At some point when you’re a “real” company I wonder whether you can really get away with just launching Beta versions of everything and seeing what sticks. Might work for Silicon Valley startups. Not sure it is as effective for big, branded companies that are supposed to stand for quality.
What do you think? Am I just missing the buzz about Buzz? Are there some use cases I’m missing? Are they working on some killer features that are going to lure us all in? Do you find the rollout of Buzz as strange and poorly planned as I do? I know this is old but here’s an interesting piece on the missing buzz about Buzz.
(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table )