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"