So it has been a while since the original release of Google Buzz. I figured that I would post my personal review of Buzz after some time, but I have decided against it. There are enough reviews of the functionality for you to read and argue with. While reading an interesting post from Profy, I realized what Buzz was about.You will not find my exact thought process in that post, but there was just something in the post that got my mind thinking.
First, why was Google Buzz integrated into your GMail? They could have used your Google Contacts in whatever way they wanted, but they tightly integrated the experience so that even replies to your comments appear in your Inbox. There is even a weird side-effect, where your contributions to Buzz end up in your Sent Mail.
Second, why is Google responding so quickly to any and all problems? How often do you see Google modify so many things just days after launch? This is a very rare occurrence that is saved for only those products that Google seems to deem critical. Most products just get some updates during their typical product development cycle.
Third, have you seen how active the Google Buzz team is on Buzz? Obviously, they are trying to prove that this product is worthy of your attention. They are also trying to prove that even a big company like Google can use a social service to quickly evolve a product.
Why is this all so important? Buzz is the baby step we need to get to Wave, or at least a new social email experience. Google is putting a lot of effort into truly redefining email. They have seen the problems that many social services create by having their own private messaging system. Many social services allow you to email the user as well without knowing their email address. Google is trying to change the rules like they attempted to do with Wave. This time, they realized that people do not want big, drastic, chaotic change. They integrated Buzz into GMail, but kept it in a separate “folder”. It is an incremental change that many people willingly accept, and the comment replies flowing into your inbox are an interesting idea as well.
The next incremental changes will come over a number of months. We will probably never get lists, Google does not put lists into anything. However, we will likely get wonderful filter capabilities with better integration with Buzz. We will get some way to use our contact groups to segment our Buzz feeds, or even get the ability to better tag people. Slowly, more of Buzz will creep into your email experience, or maybe your email will creep into Buzz. Google Reader will probably be even more tightly integrated with Buzz along the way as well. All of these changes could make your email, the most powerful social network possible. We may never see the evolution from Buzz to Wave, but I am also guessing we will start seeing more of the collaboration features from Wave appear. Wave was an experimental vision, Buzz looks like it will be the actual implementation of that vision.
The other interesting side of this is the evolution of product development within Google. Many people have complained that Google was becoming a “big company with big company problems”. Did Google realize they were becoming corporate and decide to make changes? Or was the Buzz product launch experience the push Google needed to make changes?