Is Google Buzz A Flop?

By: Jeremy Muncy - May 5, 2010

Earlier this year Google added a new product to the already overflowing social-space. Its name was Buzz and it instantly found itself in the same category (mainly for the built-in Gmail userbase) alongside both Twitter and Facebook. Based on all the hype surrounding Buzz, it seemed we were getting ready for the fight of social-space supremacy.

Fast-forward a few months

After the initial hype-fest died down, and the dust settled, most of the positive buzz has dissipated. What we’re left with are privacy concerns, a rampant spam problem and copyright issues from users. In an effort not to be totally negative in regards to Buzz, it should be noted that Google has been very quick addressing / fixing certain aspects of the service.

Do you think Google Buzz is a flop? Tell us what you think. 

This past week we asked the question, “Would you consider Google Buzz to be a flop?” on our WebProNews Facebook page. We were surprised by some of the answers left by our fans. My personal favorite comes from Steve Blaze; he states that Google Buzz is the biggest flop since the Edsel. (For those of unfamiliar with the Edsel, it was a brand of car from the Ford Motor Company with a disastrous history so therefore “Edsel” has become synonymous with failure).

One has to ask, why is Google having such a hard with social media? In many ways Google was a pioneer of social media, with their Orkut service (which is still immensely popular in both India and Brasil – but now the US where it counts).

Recently Chitika, an online advertising network, did some research within their network and found some interesting data pertaining to Buzz.

Chitika Research: Google Buzz vs. Twitter

The report goes on to say… ”February 9th, 2010 – the day Buzz was launched – the search engines lit up with queries.  The Chitika network saw about 1,500 searches that day for the term “Google Buzz,” approximately 15 times the number of searches for “Twitter.”

However, those searches dropped off quickly – on February 10th, there were 580 searches; on the 11th, 147.  From the 12th on – only three days removed from Buzz’s much-hyped launch – searches for Google Buzz failed to break three digits, and in most cases elicited less than 10 searches per day.  During the same time, searches for Twitter remained fairly stable, averaging about 87 searches per day.”

What are some possible fixes for Google Buzz?

Social media users want services that make there experience easier… not just another service that brings nothing new to the table. There are numerous things that Google could add / tweak to make Buzz more user friendly, specifically here are 5 things that I would like to see…

1.) Lists – Twitter has them and so should Buzz.
2.) Groups – Again, Twitter has them so should Buzz.
3.) Hide all comments – until I want to see comments" option.
4.) Comment moderation – block directly from the comments (like on FriendFeed).
5.) Content filter – Don’t show me any photos from Picasa or posts from a specific user.

Do you have any ideas to improve Google Buzz? Let us know what you got.

Something else that would’ve made this list is Buzz not pulling tweets in real-time. It appears as though this issue maybe getting fixed, a recent message from Josh Wills, an engineer on the Buzz team, explained…

"Okay, change is out everywhere. Here’s the scoop: we’re doing an experiment where we’re going to trust the timestamps on tweets (and by "experiment," I mean rolling it out to everyone, everywhere, all at once.) The net effect of this should be to do away with "tweet dumping", where you’re buzzing along and a whole bunch of tweets show up all at once because we just crawled them and push your page all around. Now, if a tweet shows up at the top of the stream, it will be because it just happened, or because a buzzer commented on it.

Personally, I really like Twitter, and I want better integration between Twitter and Buzz. My hope is that this is a temporary change until we work out a way to play nicely together that is beneficial to everyone."

So Google Buzz might not be exactly what we expected when it first launched earlier this year… but only time will tell if it becomes a major player in the social-space.

Do you see Google Buzz becoming a major player? Or will it just fizzle out? Tell us what you think.

Jeremy Muncy

About the Author

Jeremy MuncyJeremy Muncy has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network since 2003. Google+: +Jeremy Muncy StumbleUpon: Jeremy-Muncy

View all posts by Jeremy Muncy
  • Stephanie Chandler

    Thanks for the insightful post. I think a lot of us simply don’t have time to manage yet another social network. I suspect that it’s going to be hard for Buzz to gain major traction unless those of us early adopters can find advantages in getting on board. I am a giant fan of Google aps and all the great stuff out there, but I want to see more unique features to justify my time.

  • Tommy

    My biggest issue with Buzz and the reason I did not look at it for any of my clients is that Google forces you to have a gmail account. Most people already have a couple emails and to be forced to have yet another email address just leaves a bad taste. I can sign up for Twitter, Facebook and Myspace without having to have a email address with them, heck I can even use my email for a live account, but Google forces the user to have gmail. Well, I just don’t think it was a smart move…

  • PeterR

    The fact that Twitter was there first, made it all so simple and easy worked in their favour and against Google. Having tried to use Buzz for a bit I can’t get going with it, just like with Wave. In Google’s favour, I am a HUGE fan of the map and search and could not live without them. Gmail is good but not spectacular. So thumbs up for some parts and less thumbs up for Buzz and Wave.

  • Montreal Internet Strategy

    Product launch is always very noisy and then it cools down only to grow gradually after…if it ever grows. Taking into consideration the number of people using Gmail, it is easy for Google to push for the service. Who said people couldn’t buzz instead of tweeting?

  • Buzzer

    Buzz is only dying only in the eyes of the media. Those of us actually using it are finding many lively & interesting discussions, with hardly any mindless facebook/myspace/twitter like chatter.

  • Buzzer

    And no surprise there’s more interesting commentary on this article in Buzz than there is here:

  • Sarah

    Google Buzz at first look seems rather interesting but over the time, it doesn’t benefit me in any way at all.

  • Mar

    You know, there really wasn’t anything much flawed or bad about gmail and Google, until Buzz came along. The edsel-like failure couple with facebook-like privacy isues of Buzz immediately stole it’s thunder away from it’s hype, of which it couldn’t build upon.

    I suppose users of Gmail simply want to use it for mails, and the occasional chat feature, but mostly mails. They’ll leave the ‘buzzing’ to the mySpaces, the Facebooks, or the Friendsters. Google’s just trying to bit more than it can chew off, but from another viewpoint, it’s a learning experience for the adventurous company — and it should stay that way too.

    After all, failures are the fuel for success right?

    *note: I’m not sayin Buzz is a failure though. Just a tad dissapointing only.*

  • James

    Yup… It’s a flop… I mean if Google wasn’t mentions 15x upto 45x time a day I wouldn’t think they were the most annoying thing since MLM, Work at Home, and Make Money Online Advertisements…

    Google is Everywhere and it’s annoying… flop or not flop… I just don’t care… no offense to anyone

    Thank god for Justin Beiber!

    • James

      Of course who knows… Orkut appears to be extremely popular in South America according to Trends.

      Buzz could always grab itself a good share or make a comeback… Think Positive

  • Bryan Hadaway

    I don’t think it’s a flop in any sense of the word (yet).

    The only problem I see is that we are all jaded by now, we already had Twitter and now Buzz; which is just a more personal version of Twitter. So, nothing revolutionary is happening, it’s just a new social media platform to integrate into our lives.

    It’s a little ridiculous comparing the quality/usage of Google Buzz (released 2010) to Twitter (released 2006).

    Google Buzz had way more hype, therefore more scrutiny than Twitter ever went under.

    It’s too soon, Google Buzz has a lot of time to mature before ANYONE can draw conclusions.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Ed Computer Repair Los angeles

    I dont like social media sites and tools to begin with. that plainly starts with internet being mistaken for one way out for marketing solutions, because it is only ONE type of media you can use to attract and retain your clients. Everything else still works too.
    secondly. as all new things at first I personally find it uncomfortable to even explore new things, so I consciously brushed google Buzz off as a next thing and havent even really looked at it.
    but perhaps with time I will use it for the sake of convenience. because I do use lots of googles features and being on the same site I can see it being helpful reaching out to your followers without having to login to other social media sites.

  • Fox Cole

    I agree with Stephanie and others who feel that Buzz is, for now, just another dog on the pile of social networks, with nothing uniquely useful or attractive to help it stand out. I don’t have enough time to manage the three social networks I currently belong to (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), so without a clear reason for doing so, I’m not ready to add Buzz to the list.

    But let’s call that a moot point. Google stepped on their… um, foot… initially by the flawed way in which Buzz was released. Because of this, the early reactions might be that it’s a flop, but the release problems don’t necessarily have anything to do with the merits of the service itself.

    * Gmail users were initially forced to have Buzz whether or not they accepted Google’s invitation to use it. A ‘no thanks’ refusal still resulted in Buzz being enabled in the user’s account. Even if this were the result of a programming bug, it was an inexcusable one that should have easily been tested out and fixed before the release. This was the biggest release error I’ve seen outside of Microsoft’s track record.

    * That created instant security and privacy concerns, especially because users had not been educated in how to use and manage Buzz before it was enabled for them. So for at least some measure of time, personal information could have been freely available instead of protected until users learned how to either get rid of Buzz or make it securely private.

    * Buzz should have been allowed to grow organically instead of being pushed to the existing Gmail user base. This method would have built a solid base of opt-in users, who tend to be more positive about and loyal to a technology that they’ve chosen voluntarily. Positive, word-of-mouth advertising is still the best way to win good followers.

    * It was not clear why Buzz insisted on using Gmail. Other networks don’t require it, and other Google products don’t require it. This is, as someone has already commented, a limitation that will turn away potential users. If the intent was to piggyback on Gmail’s superior spam control, apparently that strategy isn’t working… another thing that could have been tested out before Buzz was released.

    * Google, of all companies, should have been aware of and been able to head off privacy concerns before attempting to release Buzz publicly.

    Although the way Buzz was released crashed it to entry-level status immediately instead of exciting a built-in base of Gmail account holders, Google can begin (or, rather, I’m sure has begun) adding features or functionality that other networks don’t have and re-growing Buzz by word of mouth.

    I’m curious to see what advantages they’ll come up with that will be unique enough to win me over and make using Buzz worth my time and effort.

  • Guest

    You know, the only way anyone will ever use this thing is if they make it a sidebar in Gmail, not a tab you have to click on. There needs to be a status field (maybe integrated with your chat status) RIGHT THERE, and a live feed of following posts. People have to be able to post on impulse, or they won’t at all.

  • Guest

    I love to see pics and videos in the timeline. I like to see posts longer than 140 characters. I have things to say and I don’t like using goofy abbreviations to make the limit. I don’t like tweets. I think most of them are lacking. I’m not on facebook either because it seems just too cumbersome. I already have a blog, I already frequent a micro-blogging site called Brightkite, and I participate in Buzz. I don’t want or need “followers” nor do I really want to follow people. I like to read posts, but substantive posts, not shit like “I am at puke restaurant and the food is really really runny.” I could care less about people’s mundane lives. I want to know what people are really thinking. I love that in Buzz you can mute posts, so it never shows up in my stream again. They’re not really done with the testing phase, there are a lot of glitches, but then again, I’m patient with glitches, having chosen PC’s over Apple in 1985. My computer is always on the verge of blowing up with all the crazed things that I try on it. I have inflatable toast, so I could care less if people do or don’t use Buzz. What does it matter to me, a user? Nothing. Of the 13 people that I follow on Buzz, only a handful will post constantly.

  • @silverton

    You can vote for the few ideas I’ve directly submitted and submit your own ideas here I also need to formalize this idea for a Buzz Activity Stream Subscriber-Configured Custom Curation dialog for individually-configured feeds. To my mind, the most promising aspect of Buzz development is that Google is deeply involving the community in the very design evolution of the service. The more we are involved, the more we can make Buzz what we need it to be for us.

  • Guest

    Google is evil and hates you if you don’t murder babies.