Google Launches “Buzz,” Goes After Facebook, Twitter, And Foursquare

Google Social Announcement

Update:  Google just announced “Buzz,” a ripoff of Twitter and Facebook with a mobile, “check-in from your location,” component bolted on.

We’re trying to keep an open mind, but we’re having a hard time seeing this as anything but a desperate copy of some very well entrenched Web services.

Earlier: Google is announcing new “social” features and products today.

Yesterday, the WSJ reported one new feature will “allow Gmail users to view a stream of status updates from people they choose to connect with.”

Sounds like a Twitter-killer or at least a Twitter-wannabe, right?

Maybe it’ll be a Facebook competitor.

Let’s find out! We’re covering the announcement live starting at 1 PM EST. So stay with us.


NOTE: Anything not in quotes is a paraphrase.

12:58: Nothing yet. In the meantime, here’s some of our coverage so far:

  • Enough, Google — Just Buy Twitter Already
  • Google Launching Twitter-Killer For Gmail!

1:00: Still nothing. We’re anxious! Some thoughts: Is Google about to announce a silly product that tries too hard to clone Twitter? Or will it launch a product that integrates with Twitter and becomes THE WAY people use the service? Put another way: Will it “embrace and extend” or just awkwardly clone?

1:03: TechCrunch reports “Google VP of Product Management Bradley Horowitz, VP of Engineering


, and product manager Todd Jackson are on hand.” We’re

1:07, Yep, we’re still waiting too.

1:09, We just got a two minute warning. “Some people are still stuck in traffic.”

1:12, We can tell already that the presentation will be 27 slides long. We’ll post the relevant ones here, of course.

1:15, We’re getting started. Bradley Horowitz is on stage now.

Google Social Announcement

1:16, Bradley says he’s here to talk about “sharing” and “real-time.” Somebody has to do a couple shots right now.

1:17, He says Google is presenting tools to help you manage your attention better.

1:18, Now he’s talking about the origins of Yahoo and how it was a directory. He’s talking about the thousands of Yahoo surfers who crawled the Web by hand. He talks about how it was pretty bad. Then came Google.

1:18, He says we see the same thing happening on social sites. There’s value there, but its harder to find it. When you had 50 friends it was easier. Now with 500 friends or 5,000 friends its becoming very difficult. He says there’s a lot of over-sharing and “TMI.”

1:19, He says this concentric circle is going to continue to expand and the problem is going to get worse and worse. “This has become a large-scale problem. The kind of problem we like at Google.”

1:20, He’s announcing “Google Buzz: A Google Approach to sharing.” Todd Jackson, Google Buzz product manager comes up.

Google Social Announcement

1:22 he’s going to focus on five key features. 1) Auto-following. The first time you use it, you’re automatically following the people you email and chat with.

1:23, Two is a “rich, fast sharing experience.” 3) Public and private sharing. 4) Inbox integration. 5) Just the good stuff.

1:24, Demo time!

Google Social Announcement

1:25, Here’s what auto-following looks like:

Google Social Announcement

1:25, And here’s activity pulled in from other Web sites. It looks a lot like Facebook News Feed:

Google Social Announcement

1:26, Photos are supposed to be a “first-class citizen.” So here’s what they look like in the stream:

Google Social Announcement

1:27, Here’s what link-sharing looks like. You put in a URL then select images from the post to include.

Google Social Announcement

1:28, Here’s how you toggle between public and private sharing:

Google Social Announcement

1:29, He says right now, people use one product to share publicly and another to share privately. Google Buzz is supposed to do both.

1:30, We just remembered there’s a product called Yahoo Buzz. Think there’s going to be a fight?

1:31, This is neat. When you get an email and you share it onward, other users can comment on it in real-time. Here’s what that looks like:

Google Social Announcement

1:32, Google Buzz has @ replies which go that mentioned user’s inbox. Looks like this:

Google Social Announcement

1:33, Google Buzz collapses “boring” buzzes. This is called “just the good stuff.”

1:34, Now we’re shifting gears and talking about mobile. Vic Gundotra comes on stage.

Google Social Announcement

1:36, Vic is talking about how much noise there is in social, that it’s a “relevancy and ranking problem.”

1:37, How is that we communicate in the real world? He says location is a powerful signal for relevance.  (I’m expecting check-ins!).

1:38, The problem is how computers express location:

Google Social Announcement

1:38, Google’s been working on these investments:

1:39, You can use Buzz from and from a new application. Also releasing an update for Google MObile on Nokia and Android. More platforms coming.

1:40, Watch-out Foursquare! Here’s how you check-in or “buzz” from the mobile version of

Google Social Announcement
Google Social Announcement

1:42, Look, you can also “buzz” just using your voice:

Google Social Announcement

1:42, Here’s what the Android app looks like on the Nexus One:

Google Social Announcement

1:43, When you check-in from a place, it automatically takes you to a place page. It looks like this:

Google Social Announcement

1:44, Buzz also shows you the “buzz nearby.”

1:45, The new Google Mobile Maps integration lets you check-in and take pictures from where you are and put them in your stream. You can also see “buzzes nearby” in this app. It looks like this:

Google Social Announcement

1:49, They just showed a video demonstration. We’ll upload it ASAP.

1:49, Now they’re talking about launching Google Buzz as an enterprise product as well.

1:50, We’re going to do everything we can to play nicely in the ecosystem. The product will launch in 9 minutes.

1:51, Hah! Yahoo just sent us an email:

It’s been almost a year and a half since we first launched Yahoo! Updates – a social feature that lets people share their status, content and online activities and stay connected to what their friends and family are doing on Yahoo! and across the Web – and we wanted to share the latest on what’s happening with Updates:

  • There are now more than 200 Yahoo! and third-party sites that feed into Yahoo! Updates – like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp and Yahoo! Buzz – allowing people to see and share updates such as when they’ve uploaded photos, changed their status, buzzed up a news story or posted a new restaurant review, all from Yahoo!
  • Yahoo! Updates now appear throughout the Yahoo! network, in popular sites and services like Yahoo! Mail,, and Yahoo! Messenger and across our content properties, meaning people can always keep up to date with their friends’ latest activities
  • Yahoo! Updates are featured prominently on the “What’s New” section of Yahoo! Mail, which is used by more than 300M people worldwide. People can also update their status and share it with friends and family directly from the “What’s New” tab
  • Yahoo! Updates are now available globally
  • Additionally,  Yahoo! recently announced an expanded integration with Facebook that will allow people to connect with Facebook friends on Yahoo! and share Yahoo! content with Facebook friends as well
  • Ultimately, Yahoo! sees social as an enabler and as a dimension that is part of everything we do—and everything people do online.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like to hear more about Yahoo!’s social features.

1:52, Time for questions. The first is about privacy.

1:53, Here’s the demo video, btw:

1:53, Ben Parr talks about Latitude. Does this make it useless? Google says its now just a “layer.”

1:56, APIs are going to be available. Public feeds will be available as an XML feed.

1:56, Will it be integrated with Facebook Connect? “We don’t have anything to announce at the time, but it’s something we’ll think about.”

1:58, You might able to soon “Phone Into Buzz.”

1:59, Sergey Brin is here, by the way:

Google Social Announcement

1:59, A reporter says “this looks so much like Facebook!”

2:00, Bradley Horowitz says other social sites aren’t “useful” anymore.

2:01, Finally we get to the big question: “You can’t write back to Twitter currently. It’s another thing we’re interested in. You can pull in from Twitter.” Stupid.

2:03, There was a question about spam. Google’s obvious answer: we take it real serious!

2:04, A reporter says, “Congratulations you’re the top trending topic on Twitter.”

2:05, Sergey says he posted his recent NYT editorial to Google Buzz before submitting it. He looked at the comments and made edits according to them.

2:08, Last question: Did Facebook ever come up while you were making this?

2:09, Sergey says he ran a bulletin-board (BBS) in high school. “There were literally hundreds of very successful evolutions of communications online. At any given time there will be successful companies out there and we hope there will continue to be.”

2:11, That’s it.