In 1944, the ABC — comprised of the remnants of the NBC blue network — launched to compete with NBC (Red) and CBS. Last week marked the very loud and controversial launch of Buzz to more than 175 million Gmail users. After almost a week to digest the launch, I’m starting to think Buzz is Facebook and Twitter’s ABC.
At first glance, I wanted nothing to do with Buzz and literally turned it off. The increased amount of bacon (social network email, akin to, but not quite spam) simply disturbed me. Then there were the incredible privacy issues. The overall intrusiveness and Google’s audacity to force a severely flawed opt-out service on me was really annoying.
What changed my mind? A) Consider the incredible impact Buzz made right out of the gate. You need look no further than the above screen capture which shows my Mashable column from Friday. Buzz links outpace Facebook links.
B) Google responded quickly to privacy concerns and changed Buzz within 72 hours. The latter demonstrated to me how serious Google is about making Buzz work. Google wants the pageviews from a major social network… It’s about advertising, folks. And while some say search is Google’s core competency, I’d argue it’s Internet advertising.
Statistics reflect the changed opinion. A new major social network has been born… As much as I could do without it personally, I cannot afford to ignore Buzz.
How Will Buzz Impact the Market?
Is Buzz for real? Yes, there’s little doubt. But none of us, not even Google, knows how this will play out. Here are a five points that I am watching closely.
1) How will Buzz impact the social network landscape? Like Jason Falls, I don’t see Buzz as a Facebook or Twitter (or MySpace) killer. Competitor, yes. However, there are so many people using social networks, in my opinion I think this will simply compete for share not kill one or the other.
Each major network has functional strengths and weakness, which will cause some people to migrate to one network or another. One thing I don’t see is use across all three. People are getting social network fatigue, and carving out more time for a social network isn’t likely.
2) How many Gmail users will bail on Google? To create the mass network capable of competing with Facebook and Twitter out of the gate, Google made all of its 175 million Gmail accounts Buzz users. Further, even upon initial complaints, Google will not decouple the two. It’s an opt-out privacy afront for many.
While it’s inevitable that some Gmail users will love Buzz, others will say no, and some will leave Google service altogether. As Corey O’Brien said on this Buzz Post, “Google forced Buzz upon mainstream users, who aren’t as willing to put up with the ‘growing pains’ that early adopters are.” We’ll see how much Google cannibalized itself.
3) What will happen when the apps come? We’re talking about a one week old social network making this kind of impact. But what will happen when the Seesmics, mobile apps, and all of the other clients come to play? Traffic will increase. Dramatically.
4) How will the mobile factor play out? One of Google’s other major plays in 2010 is the mobile Android OS, which is battling the iPhone for Internet smart phone market share. It’s no coincidence that Buzz has location based mobile functionality integrated into its functionality from the get-go.
With GPS location and mobile client searches that let you see what’s happening locally, Buzz instantly differentiates itself from Facebook and Twitter. And that’s going to create a mass social network that caters to the fifty-five percent of Americans that connect to the Internet wirelessly (Pew Internet & American Life Project).
Which brings to mind the increasingly powerful mobile social network FourSquare. Specifically, does it move from an attractive, fun app for your phone to a must purchase for Facebook or Twitter? Whatever happens, Facebook and Twitter mobile functionality will need to increase to stay competitive.
What are your thoughts on Buzz? Or if you’d like, let’s find out together. Here’s my Google profile address.