“It is our intention to make this a model for how open a social site should be”
Google is previewing their new Buzz feature as I write this:
And they couldn’t be any more clear that this is a direct challenge to Facebook. With the ability to share photos, geo-tag posts, see who’s near you and more.
It’s no secret that Google would love some of the attention that Facebook is getting on the web. Christmas Day 09 actually saw Facebook pass Google as the most visited site in the world. And while Google’s own Orkut social site has been a terrible flop (outside of Brazil at least), they have been stealthily building all the blocks of a Facebook competitor piece by piece.
In fact, it’s only the tying together of these various strands which is holding them back. Consider these Google products working in conjunction:
Picasa for photos
Youtube for videos
Reader for articles
and you have the basics of a Facebook-like service already.
And it goes without saying that there are other features which can be tied into these, sharing custom maps, reviewing product pages, the FourSquare-like features of the new Google Buzz, NearMeNow on the iPhone/Droid, etc, etc.
So will it work?
I think it will. Buzz will start rolling out to Gmail users within the hour, and judging by the buzz (sorry) on Twitter, there’s a huge amount of interest already:
APIs will be available, and public info will be provided as XML feeds. Anything public will indexed immediately by Google’s real time search. There is a lot of stuff here, even speculation about using Google Voice conversations as part of the Buzz. They have put a lot of thought into spam fighting (and I must say, Gmail spam fighting is great for me). Buzz seems to offer a huge amount of potential, especially if you consider the built in user-base Gmail has.
However, with @replies to tag people, the ability to ‘like’ or comment on posts, photos and updates, many may see this as too close to Facebook to be worthwhile.
So, what do you think? Can Google finally make a success of their social strategy, or is it too similar, too late?