It sure is hard to articulate a service that fails to live up to its name. On Tuesday, it seemed Google Buzz was made available to users — no big ticket launch. Users woke up to find Buzz in their Gmail-boxes and the first question on most minds was: How do I turn it off?
The geek gods, on the other hand, had to pause before screaming ‘ahoy’ over what now turns out to be the long-awaited salvo that Mountain View, CA, has finally launched at Facebook.
But it’s too early to read the tarots of what is primarily a social-networking tool, integrated with our mail accounts. Buzz is the latest in reinforcing Google’s aim of organising and streamlining social content. A one-stop-shop for all our mailing, commenting, content sharing and status flaunting needs, Buzz hopes to rid us of the ‘bad’ habit of hopping on to Facebook immediately after checking mails.
At present, it’s linked to Twitter, Picasa and Flickr for tweets- and photo-sharing, and there are plans to link more networks. There’re options to make messages/comments public or private and even ‘mute’ the ‘bugging’ threads. It supports inline video streaming and its algorithms recommends stuff/people/posts, depending on our surfing trends. The mobile version is readily available and, most importantly, Buzz can be turned off at any time.
All in all, post-Orkut’s downslide and Wave’s inability to take off, Google appears to have done its homework right. It’s a direct challenge to Facebook and its storehouses of data, which are still veiled from the leading search engine. For Google, it’s a first in connecting all of its about 150 million monthly Gmail users, eliminating the need of seeking ‘permissions’ to stay connected, and alt-tabbing between windows. It looks more like a precursor to Google Wave, which got washed away by a high Facebook tide.
Buzz opened to a lukewarm response. And the comments swung between ‘Another Twitter? Oh no’ to ‘Wow, this seems addictive’. So, to write it off at this moment would be as naïve as declaring it a gamechanger.