Understanding the Buzz on Google Buzz

As a small business owner I’m a big fan of Google. I use Gmail, Google Chat, Google Calendar and Google Apps and for the most part these online services are ideal for me. These applications are very inexpensive yet powerful and I don’t have to spend a penny on servers and software. Instead all of the computing power and software is "in the cloud".
I’m also a big user of social networks and services like LinkedInTwitter and FriendFeed. I actively engage online with other marketers and technologists. Over the past couple of years I’ve been wondering what Google was going to do when it came to social media and networks. The answer may be in Google Buzz, but how did this come about and is it actually the answer?
It seemed that social media wasn’t an area Google was going to focus on. To some degree this made sense. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook had a head start with tens and hundreds of millions of people using their services already.
But, in 2007 Paul Buchheit the creator of Gmail, along with a group of ex-Googlers launched FriendFeed. FriendFeed promised to be a one stop shop for all social networking updates and news items. While it didn’t enjoy the mass adoption that Twitter and Facebook did, FriendFeed became a popular tool for thousands of people. In 2009, Facebook purchased FriendFeed because it had developed a very slick service and technology that could be integrated and improve the Facebook experience. But they also bought the company for the ex-Googlers!
These events combined with the increased popularity of social networks and other factors, in my opinion, forced Google to develop a social networking service. Google had always led when it came to innovation but in the case of social networking they were behind the 8 ball and had to act fast. This was not a position they were used to. What happened next were two dismal product launches, first in September last year with Google Wave (a web application for real-time communication and collaboration) and then in February this year with Google Buzz (allows you to share updates, photos, videos, and more as well as start conversations about the things you find interesting – all within your Gmail account). Then came a privacy controversy and a now a relaunch of Google Wave. But neither Buzz nor Wave have caught on like the big three: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
So, at this point if you’re wondering whether you should spend time and effort learning and using Google Wave or Google Buzz I’d say hold off and focus on those big three. Keep an eye on what Google is doing, maybe experiment with Buzz or Wave, but focus on the services that have already been mass adopted like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.