Google is giving its free email service a "Buzz" by adding social-networking features which could challenge the supremacy of platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Google Buzz product manager Todd Jackson equated the enhanced offering to an entirely new world in Gmail during an unveiling presentation yesterday at the Internet giant's headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Buzz began rolling out yesterday with users of Google's Web-based email service getting updates about what friends are doing online and ways to share video, photos and other digitised snippets.
Google's move comes as a direct challenge to social-networking stars Facebook and Twitter, which thrive on enabling people to share experiences, activities and thoughts as they go through their days.
"It could render short-message sites like Twitter redundant," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said of Buzz. "MySpace and Facebook are safe for now. Folks put up much more personal content than the 140-characters you get on Twitter."
Twitter has become a global sensation by letting people share thoughts, observations or developments in terse text messages, known as tweets, of no more than 140 characters per message.
Buzz feeds Twitter missives into Gmail, eliminating the need for people to visit the Twitter website to post updates or see those sent by people they have selected to follow, according to Enderle.