Google Buzz: Power Trumps Innovation

So everyone's buzzing (excuse the pun) about Google's new social feature. Is this the best thing since sliced bread or is it going to go the way of FriendFeed? If you're not familiar with it, Google Buzz is a social sharing service that allows you to post "buzz" to your followers and publicly, and is now integrated into Gmail.

According to Google's official blog post on the subject, their goal is "organizing the social information on the web." Now, that's a pretty lofty objective, but I gotta call BS on that. Google Buzz isn't about organizing the information already out there, it's about Google getting in on some of that content creation for itself. It wants to own the next Twitter or Facebook instead of sitting on the sidelines. Not that I blame them, but there it is.

So how is Google Buzz different? It doesn't have a character limit and conversations are threaded so you can comment below the original post. (OK so there's actually a few more differences and you can check out Monica O'Brien's ode to Buzz for the play by play). But, honestly, that's pretty much it and neither of these ideas are really new. Google Buzz is decidedly unoriginal (for more on this check out TechCrunch's superbly titled If Google Wave is the Future, Google Buzz is the Present). There's nothing new here. Threaded comments have been around since online forums, the idea of social sharing is so 2005, and choosing who to follow is, well, have you heard of Twitter?

Despite this though, Google Buzz has one huge advantage over other up-and-coming services - its huge built-in user base. If it weren't for Gmail integration, Google Buzz would be a goner. As is, Google Buzz has million of users from the get-go who have been trained to pay attention to that bolded indicator that there are new things to be read. We just can't help checking it out.

Yet, Google Buzz's unoriginality is not its downfall. It's a nice amalgamation of some other social services and because of the comment threads, it really allows for multi-person conversation in a way that Twitter doesn't. Integration with Gmail makes it easy for users to instantly find people they want to follow and share with. It's like taking a shortcut to a community, and who doesn't love shortcuts?