Feb 11, 2010

5 things I hate about Google Buzz

Google recently released a new social marketing platform known as Google Buzz. If you have a Gmail account you have probably heard of it. I'm always willing to evaluate and use a technology if it's good, but this time around I find myself resenting a company that I've grown to respect over the years. Here's why:

1. It punishes entrepreneurship.

Like Apple, Google has chosen to rewrite an application that provides functionality they want rather than engage another company to form a partnership. Apple's done it to Delicious Monster and Watson and now Google has done it to FaceBook and Twitter.

In other areas, such as starting a broadband initiative, creating the ChromeOS, or even selling Android phones, Google has taken a defensive position to prevent OS makers, handset makers, or even ISPs from filtering the ads that they depend on for revenue. Face it, if Google ads couldn't be served on the iPhone, on Windows, or to computers connected via Comcast, their valuation would suffer in a hurry.

With Buzz however, they are fighting the possibility that they can't *reach* facebook's site and that Facebook can make their own deals. Nothing Facebook does here is in any way a threat to Google's existing business. It may shift advertising dollars but that's hardly anything any company does not have to deal with, especially in tough economic times. With this attitude, Google should acquire Bathroom stalls and billboards as those are also places that compete with advertising budgets.

The only way I can see this not being awful is if it's an attempt to lower the valuation of either Twitter or Facebook to make an acquisition possible. This is similar to what happened with YouTube and Google's own Video service. But unlike with Google's initial entry into Video...

2. They played a heavy hand

Yeah, they threw Buzz right in our face, didn't they? A HUGE button to opt in with a tiny little link next to it to say no thanks. And suddenly you found yourself following and being followed by a ton of people. That's beyond desperate, it's dishonest. That's no better than sending solicitations by mail that look like invoices in the hopes of tricking unwary people. Google, with their "Don't be Evil" motto, clearly failed here.

3. It doesn't fit in with Google's main goal which is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

But they're organizing information, right? No.. they're creating information which they then organize. By this argument Google should get into the market of writing Fiction novels and English lit books so they can then organize them. There is a big bright line between organizing information and creating a tool that allows the creation of information. (By the way, this blog is hosted on Blogger which is owned by Google, and if I were them I would not have bothered with purchasing it either.)

4. It hurts productivity at the workplace or reduce's gmail's accessibility

Believe it or not, there are companies out there that block sites like Facebook, Twitter, and eBay. Those companies are now faced with the possibility of having to block mail.google.com or all of google.com. Employees who were once able to check their gmail during the day won't be able to do it in the future because of newly added firewall rules that they feel give them back some productivity from their facebooking, tweeting, chatting, net-surfing workforce. I've already fielded one request to block mail.google.com for a customer as I'm sure are others.

5. It's downright monopolistic

Having a monopoly isn't illegal. Using that monopoly to extend yourself into other areas is. Microsoft has been smacked down dozens of times from bundling apps in Windows because of it. This move by Google is no different. They are using their Gmail base and extending it to develop traction into social networking. Now, Gmail *isn't* a monopoly which is why this is safe, but the general trend here to leverage one product that I like to make me use another one that I didn't ask for, is the exact same behavior.

There are a number of things I *haven't* discussed (privacy, features, etc) as I generally don't have a problem with them. Still, overall I'm incredibly disappointed with this latest move by Google and yes, I hope it fails.

By the way, you can scroll to the bottom of your Gmail and click the tiny tiny link that says "turn off buzz"


  1. Your points 4 and 5 don't make any sense.

    In point 5, you say it's monopolistic. Then you say, "[n]ow, Gmail *isn't* a monopoly". A monopoly is ACTUALLY "An exclusive control over the trade or production of a commodity or service trough exclusive possession." Since they don't have exclusive control, no monopoly.

    And reason #4 you hate buzz? Because it could possibly make it more difficult for people to check gmail at work. Are you kidding me? THAT is a reason to hate buzz?


  2. @Travis: Good point on #4. You don't quite seem to get what I'm aiming at w/ #5 but that's probably because I've done a bad job at articulating it.

  3. I disagree with all your points.

    1. Facebook does a whole lot more things than just status updates -- which is what buzz only do for now. So Facebook won't see much decline of its business. Twitter DOES gets punished though, but it fully deserves it. Twitter is the most buggy big site on the internet right now. These guys can't write code. End of story. Google has the engineering level to bring the Twitter idea to the next level. The Twitter guys *don't*. It's evolution from where I stand.

    2. That's bullshit. Now you read too much into things, just like people who want to find everything little possible thing wrong with someone else they don't like. And besides, why not promote it? You spent money and engineering time on it. That's really a non-point.

    3. It fits PERFECTLY with the idea of information. Because now, that information would be hosted on Google's servers, in a form and setup that was designed to be easily read back, in a way that advances further *other* projects. For example, like the search function on google, which is now used to find the flu spreads in the world. Without having the information saved in a way that it's retrievable in a specific manner, you can't do things like that.

    4. Buzz is the ULTIMATE company tool. People who have used it with a special circle of contacts only -- their co-workers -- they said that it beats intranet discussion forums any day. Your clients who asked for gmail to be blocked, are complete idiots. They're missing the point and the vast help this could bring to their company's interaction between employees.

    5. So now you're telling us that the redesign of CNN.com was uncalled for? That adding video support on Pitchfork's news posts was uncalled for? That Photoshop's new features are uncalled for? That the anti-virus auto-update is uncalled for because it adds new features to the app, in addition to updating its virus definition? The point is, Gmail -- and every other product -- is a BASE for FUTURE new features. If you don't want them, you simply disable them, and if you can't, you move to a competitive solution. Google pays engineers to think of ideas to enrich Gmail, make it more useful and interesting, and that's just what these guys did. Why hate them for that?

    As for Microsoft getting sued back then, I was always against it. Check my OSNews articles of that time, you'd see that even back then I was saying that they were excluded and finger-pointed unfairly. Just like you do today for Google.

    As I said earlier on Twitter, you know a company is successful when everyone starts hating it. For as long Google was the underdog, the Linux weenies would love on it. Today, that Google has exceeded its primary competitors (MS today, Yahoo! etc), now that it's not an underdog anymore, now they prefer to root for the new underdog and hate the No 1.

    Think about it. And as a friend I'm telling you, don't fall into that pit of thinking. Do smack a company when they do something wrong (e.g. I don't use Chrome because it has an API ability that NoScript requires, and Buzz could be done better feature-wise etc), but not when they simply expand their business and services.

    I shout a lot about Apple too, but not for releasing a new product to expand their vision. Instead, I shout for not implementing the product the right way (in my view). Do call Google out for the lack of some Buzz features or their terrible UI, but not merely for Buzz coming into existence. That, that isn't fair.

  4. From back to front...

    #5 - It's not really monopolistic yet, but after we are all plugged into Google HiveMind, we'll look back on all the baby steps that got us there, and how Buzz was one such milestone.

    #4 - I agree with the commenter that says it's more of a tool than a distraction. If employers are insisting on blocking it, then their employees are either too immature to handle it, or the employers themselves are too far behind the times to realize the potential for productivity.

    #3 - You bring up a good point here. But as Google grows and grows and grows, you can't pretend that you didn't see them becoming more than just a sophisticated organizer for information.

    #2 - I am absolutely in agreement with you on this one. Buzz seemed to be pushed far more aggressively than any other Google product I've ever used. I hope this doesn't become the norm for a company whose discretion I've always admired.

    #1 - Not following you on this point. They introduced a new feature to be competitive in a market in which they do not yet dominate. To me, that's entrepreneurship. Successful entrepreneurship often means taking business away from others in the same market. Welcome to American-style capitalism.

    All in all, I'm not a very big fan of Buzz. I never use it because I already have more social networking functionality than I really need. What I think is going on though, is Google is going to slowly leverage features from Wave (which has yet to really catch on), integrating them into Buzz, until Buzz essentially becomes what Wave is now.

    Then, once that happens, I'll definitely use it, because although Wave has yet to make much of a splash (buh-dum ching!), it's pretty badass.

  5. I can sum up why I dislike buzz.

    It sucks.

    There you go, I hate it. For a lot of reasons. None of which I need to explain to the Google apologists in this comment section.