A friend was just asking me to offer my take regarding the relationship between Buzz, Google Profiles, and other social networks. Providing an answer gave me an opportunity to place my understanding of all this into perspective, and I thought I’d share. This is all a bit off the cuff, so by all means, feel free to comment, correct, and complete.
The whole buzz about Buzz – as many out there have been asking and professing – is that It’s a question of cutting into business areas that were, until about a week ago, the almost exclusive domain of the pioneer social / business / micro-blogging networks, namely, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. (Yes, there are other networks like MySpace, but let’s leave those forums aside, for simplicity’s sake). The idea is that all the things that you needed those networks to do — posting a personal / business profile, “friending” people, following contacts, posting status messages, “tweeting” (i.e. public distribution of text messages), controlling access to your information based on categorizing your contacts and setting security settings accordingly — you should now be able to do via Google and Buzz. OK, this medium still needs a bit of refinement. But considering that this product came out of nowhere right into our Gmail boxes at a surprisingly “ready for prime time” quality, it’s already succeeded in creating quite a “buzz” in keeping Google far ahead of the 8-ball as the global campfire around which we gather to do just about anything on the Internet — search / share information, find people / maintain contacts, store / organize data, find entertainment, and so on. By no means do I think Google Profiles / Buzz will replace the existing social networks, and I think it would premature (if not outright foolish) to forecast as such. But the fact that Google Profiles / Buzz offers a range of those existing functionalities, while integrating with them very nicely, does indeed force the incumbents to sweat a little in keeping their offerings attractive and compelling.