On October 14 Google announced that it would be shutting down Google Buzz, and the internet yawned.
When Google Buzz launched back in February 2010 many people thought that it was meant to be competition for social media giants Facebook, or Twitter, or something. It never really caught on with the general public, and had its share of problems during its short life.
A big problem that Google Buzz had at the outset was with user privacy. Instead of asking users about the specific details of their account that they wanted to disclose, Google Buzz would automatically list the names of each user’s contacts that they chatted with or sent emails to. Another big problem was that the version of the service for mobiule phones automatically would publish the location from where posts were made.
Fortunately this was addressed fairly quickly, but there was a lot of bad publicity generated over these privacy concerns. Many people wondered what Google was thinking by making a feature like publically disclosing a list of a user’s contacts opt-out. Any good marketer will tell you that you can gain favour by asking your subscribers if they want to opt-in to a feature, but rarely is there any advantage to demanding that they opt-out. This is especially true in matters of privacy.
Google has launched many great products in the past. One that immediately comes to mind is Google Earth, which was developed from software that one of their aquisitions published. In that case they took a little known product called Keyhole and made it better. With Google Buzz it seems that they were not so much trying to provide a service, rather they were trying to compete head-to-head with social media giants Facebook and Twitter. Sadly, they failed with Google Buzz.
Only time will tell if Google Plus will follow in the footsteps of Google Buzz. Hopefully this won’t be the case and people will start to embrace it the way that they have Google’s other great products.