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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Google 'Buzz' Network Site Takes on Facebook and Twitter

Google is tapping its huge network of Gmail users and Web surfers to create the 'Buzz' , hoping to help it catch up with online social networking leaders Facebook and Twitter.

Google on Tuesday launched Google Buzz, which allows users to quickly share messages, Web links and photos with friends and colleagues directly within Gmail.

Google Buzz is built right into Gmail, so users don't have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch ? it just works.

"If you think about it, there's always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don't have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you're sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time," Google explained.

Like Facebook, Google Buzz will let Gmail users post updates about what they are doing or thinking and share those with the rest of the world or with only a select group of people. Gmail users also will be able to track other people's updates and instantly comment on them for everyone else in the social circle to see.

Status messages that users publish on Buzz and flag as viewable to everyone will be automatically indexed by Google's search engine and be available within Google's recently launched real-time search results.

And, just like Facebook, Google Buzz can serve as a showcase for video, photos and Web links to interesting stories.

Google Buzz will be rolling out to all Gmail accounts over the next few days, Google said. The company also plans to make Google Buzz available to businesses and schools using Google Apps, with added features for sharing within organizations.

On phones, Google Buzz is much more than just a small screen version of the desktop experience. Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context ? the answer to the question "where were you when you shared this?" can communicate so much. And when viewed in aggregate, the posts about a particular location can paint a rich picture of that place.

Buzz is not designed to be a closed system. Google's has relied on other services' openness in order to build Buzz (users can connect Flickr and Twitter from Buzz in Gmail).

"Our goal is to make Buzz a fully open and distributed platform for conversations. We're building on a suite of open protocols to create a complete read/write developer API, and we invite developers to join us on Google Code to see what is available today and to learn more about how to participate," Google said.

Google has tried to ride the social networking wave before, launching the Orkut social network in 2004. But while Orkut is big in certain overseas markets like Brazil, it has failed to attract as many users as social giants like Facebook and MySpace in the United States.

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