Game Changer Or Buzz-Kill?

The Web is aflutter with excitement about Google Buzz, the search giant’s most recent social media offering. Critics and fans alike are saying that Google’s latest product could dramatically shift the social landscape. So what’s all the buzz about?

Google Buzz integrates with Gmail to enable users to share updates, photos and videos while engaging in real-time conversations with others in their network. And perhaps most importantly for the industry as a whole, it's Google's best effort yet to compete directly with social media heavyweights Twitter and Facebook. The social explosion has meant extraordinary growth for the big social players - Facebook usage is up over 100% over last year, while Google lags behind at 15%. Industry pundits agree that Google must secure a foothold in the social media climb in order to dampen their momentum.

Some of the top Google Buzz features:

• Automatic friends lists created by pulling Gmail contacts • Auto-follow functionality • "Rich fast sharing" combines sources like Picasa and Twitter into a single feed sharing from sources like Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader • Public and private permission levels • Dynamic email updates covering all Buzz thread content

Some early potential Buzz-killers:

• Inbox overload – the potential for an unending stream of social chatter in your inbox • Privacy concerns – Google is working around the clock to reassure users that they are in full control of their data • Uh-oh potential – without hyper-vigilance regarding privacy management, it can be too easy to share the wrong information with the wrong people at the wrong time • Not Facebook friendly – since there’s currently no way to integrate with Facebook, you have to start your networks basically from scratch

So will Google Buzz truly redefine the social landscape or end up another mere blip on Facebook's quest for social world dominance? It’s still too soon for Google to break out the champagne, but early indications say that this social media tool is most definitely worth the buzz.

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