Buzz Kill: Google Buzz Is Broken At Launch

Eminem with a chain saw

Photo: AP

Google Buzz was announced to widespread derision yesterday afternoon.Now, for many Google users, it is up and running. Whatever the merits of the final product, the rollout is a disaster.

Some problems with Buzz thus far:

  • Buzz was only available to certain users when it first went live. But everyone who went to saw a giant button encouraging them to try out the exciting new product. This button took you to your Gmail Inbox, where… nothing was different. (Though there was a warning at the top of the page that not all users had access to Buzz yet.)
  • Buzz lets you link-in your Twitter account so that people who follow you will see your Tweets. The problem? Google doesn’t add tweets in anything like real-time. The company tells us that it “crawls Twitter … periodically” but has to balance “bringing fresh content” from Twitter with “not demanding too much of [its] API.” Translation: Twitter won’t let Google have tweets fast enough for them to be of any value.
  • All of the above applies to Flickr, although obviously real time isn’t as important there.
  • One early adopter tweets: “Gmail/Google Buzz formatting broken in Google Chrome. OH THE IRONY.” (Google tells us it works just fine for Googlers.)
  • Some users have been confused to find that Buzz works on their phones, but not on their computers. Google has released Buzz for mobile universally, but is still adding Gmail accounts.

In all fairness, even if this product were perfect, it wouldn’t be useful at launch because it takes time for people to start using it. But Google is known for keeping polished products hidden away in Google Labs, and keeping ‘beta’ labels around for widely adopted services.

So why did they give so much hype to a product that doesn’t work yet?

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