Today, I opened up my Gmail and was asked if I wanted to connect to Buzz.
Google is really making a push for the social web audience that has so far eluded them. As I wrote recently, they haven't brought to market a successful social web product - at least in the U.S. (Their Orkut hit in Brazil and India.)
Wave hasn't crested yet. Maybe it never will build into a big wave. Most people I talk to in and out of education can't see what it's supposed to do.
Now, Buzz has arrived unbidden and slipped into your Gmail world (and that's a big world and well populated). When I activated it, it grabbed all my Gmail contacts (and some of my non-Gmail users).
Buzz is obviously an attempt to get some of the ever-growing Facebook user base. It has some social-media tools similar to those found on Facebook like photo and video sharing and status updates. I clicked some buttons and it started sharing things I have on blogs, Flickr and other social sites. Actually, I think my "friends" online will soon be sick of seeing the duplication of my online activities in every network they visit.
People had predicted a year ago that Google would buy Twitter as its social stream, but it didn't. For Buzz to work, it will need to connect with existing social networks. It connects right now to Google properties, Twitter and a few others. Actually, it can pull your Twitter posts, but it can't push your Buzz posts to Twitter. Ironically, it probably needs to connect to Facebook to compete with Facebook. If you were Facebook, would you allow that to happen?
Right now, Facebook has 400 million users and is is the world’s largest social network. Twitter, with all the attention it has had the past year, has only about 18 million users.
If Google was able to get all its Gmail users to start using Buzz, it would have more than 36 million (2009 stat). That would make it twice as big as Twitter but still far behind Facebook.
It is interesting to see the Gmail user base so small compared with that of Facebook - or is it really about Facebook getting humongous?
If we count the number of users accessing Gmail from an email app (such as Thunderbird) the 36million user base might actually be significantly reduced as a Buzz userbase. Probably Buzz competes with Facebook on usage basis and with Twitter on user basis.
Google Buzz looks like FriendFeed, another social aggregation service that was acquired by Facebook in August 2009. FriendFeed isn't developing and the active user community is falling away. Google doesn't get social, for whatever reason.