The reason for the launch, according to Google, is because people today are sharing photos with their friends and families, commenting on news happening around them, and telling the world what they’re up to in real time. This new social sharing means there’s a lot more stuff to sort through, and it’s harder to get past status updates and engage in meaningful discussions.
Google Buzz, the company says, will allow it to mimic the status updates that have driven the success of Facebook and Twitter, as people return to the services again and again to check out what their friends and co-workers are doing.
There’s a lot to love about Google Buzz, according to a list of benefits Google has laid out on its site. They include the following:
- No setup needed. Users can automatically follow the people they email and chat with most in Gmail.
- Share publicly or privately. You can publish your ideas to the whole world or just your friends.
- Inbox integration. Comments get sent right to your inbox, so it’s easy to keep conversations going.
- Photo-friendly. You can see thumbnails with each post and browse full-screen photos from popular sites.
- Connect with sites you already use. You can import content from Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader.
- Get updates in real time. New posts and comments pop in as they happen, with no refreshing required.
- Just the good stuff. Google Buzz recommends interesting posts and weeds out ones you’re likely to skip.
But let’s face it: The real question on everyone’s mind (including Google executives, I’m sure) is whether or not Google can capture some of the momentum surrounding social networking companies like Facebook and Twitter. The Gmail move signals that Google is serious about becoming a social media force. After all, it basically plays second fiddle to the you-know-whos in this space currently.
Analysts remain skeptical as to whether Google Buzz will elevate Google in the social networking realm, according to blogosphere posts this week. But you never know. With a Goliath like Google, sometimes even when you’re late to the party, you still end up leaving with the prize.