From A VC: Thoughts On Buzz
Reece asked me in the comments the other day what I thought about Buzz. I told him I hadn’t had the time to turn it on and play with it. I did that later in the day and have been using Buzz for a couple days. So here goes Reece.
I’ll state right up front that there are elements of Buzz that are derivative of Twitter, Tumblr, Disqus, and Foursquare (and many other services) and being that our firm is invested in some of those services, I can’t be and won’t be unbiased in my views of Buzz.
I think Buzz is Google’s finest implementation of “social” to date. It is a given in the web/tech circles that “google doesn’t get social”. So maybe the most important thing about Buzz is that it puts that idea to rest.
I also think that the decision to place Buzz into gmail was a smart move. Every time I move to my gmail tabs (I keep gmail open in two to three tabs at all times), I see something like this:
That’s quite a temptation to click on Buzz and see what those 42 messages are about. And I’ve done that at least a dozen times the past couple days.
But that is also one of my big issues with Buzz. That (42) number includes replies to buzzes (can I call them tweets?) that the people I am following leave. Buzz copies the FriendFeed user experience for the most part. And as much as I admire FriendFeed and the people who built it, I don’t believe that is a compelling experience for the mainstream user.
When I follow Pete Cashmore in Buzz, I’m basically following all of his fans. And my Buzz timeline is filled with all of their replies to his posts. I think that user experience works well in something like this blog and the comments. I don’t think it works well in a mass medium where I want to follow hundreds of people.
Like FriendFeed, Buzz allows me to “pump my data into it”. It is an aggregator as well as a updating service. But that poses a problem in some ways. What does this service want to be? Once I pumped this blog, my tumblog, and my twitter into Buzz, I was done. You can all follow me in Buzz here.
I’ve updated Buzz once or twice since then, but since I can update Buzz via this blog, twitter, and tumblr, I think that will be my favoured approach. That’s what I do with Facebook and that’s what I did with FriendFeeed.
I’m not saying that everyone will do that. Clearly that is not the case. But of the 9 million posts and comments that people have submitted to Buzz since it launched, how many of those were brand new status updates and how many were items automatically pumped into Buzz and how many were comments?
I believe the most compelling experiences on the Internet do one thing and do it very well and then open themselves up to other services via an API. Buzz is trying to do way too much in my opinion and while that may work for many people, it does’t work that well for me.
I think mobile presents some amazing opportunities for Google and Buzz. You can already add Buzzes near you to your Google Map on Android. I think that’s a very interesting place and way to receive Buzzes. And when you search for and select a specific place on Google Maps on Android, you can “buzz about that place.” I did that the other day using my Google phone in my office. That’s like a Foursquare checkin and you know that I think mobile checkins are a fantastic way to create social utility.
My partner Albert who still builds web apps, posted about Buzz and he had some favourable things to say about the Buzz API. If third party app developers start building Buzz apps, or building Buzz into their existing mobile apps, that will be a big plus. I’m sure it will happen.
So in summary, Buzz doesn’t really do it for me but I think it’s an important new entrant in the world of social media and given that it’s from google, it’s in gmail, it’s nicely integrated into their mobile offerings, it has an excellent API, and it will be constantly improved, it’s likely that Buzz will turn out to be an important player in the social media world.
Fred Wilson is a partner at Union Square Ventures. He writes the influential
, where this post was originally published.
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