Odds are you have now heard about Google Buzz. And, if you're a Gmail user, you might have even seen it in your Gmail inbox. Google's been rolling it out to everyone with Gmail accounts since Tuesday. But what is Google Buzz? People are still trying to figure that out.
If you're only point of contact with Google is Gmail, Buzz seems to be a Twitter-like aggregator for sharing ideas and content. It links with other social media services like Flikr, Twitter, etc.
If, like me, you use other Google services, Buzz becomes a little more interesting. For example, if you have a phone with the latest version of Google Maps, you can now see Buzz posts laid out on a map according to where the person who made the post was located at that point in time. There's also another view in Maps where you can see a Twitter-like list of all the posts of people physically near you. With this functionality, you can leave tips, comments and reviews for any location you visit, and people will see these posts when they check out the Buzz.
If you have an iPhone or an Android phone with Android 2.0+ you can also access a web app, which I can only guess incorporates the features available in Maps and Gmail. My Android phone only has Android 1.6 so I haven't been able to see the app. Please feel sorry for me.
All these features make Buzz a look a little like Foursquare + Twitter + Friendfeed on crack. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Foursquare has been growing quite rapidly in recent months so, for Google to drop Buzz right now is an interesting and maybe smart move.
The question that remains is will people adopt this new platform? Only time will really tell. I think it will largely depend on whether Google works out some of the kinks with Buzz, and if you haven't noticed there are some kinks.
Perhaps the biggest kink in my mind is that content pulled in from Twitter and other sites is slow to show up in your Buzz stream. And to make matters worse, communication with these services is only one way. For Buzz to succeed it'll need to be able to push and pull data instantly from services like Twitter and Facebook. Otherwise, what's the point?
I would be very happy to have Buzz essentially replace the need for all of these separate services, and the convenience of having access to it all in Gmail, makes it even more alluring. Interestingly though, with the addition of Buzz, Gmail has become more a communication's platform and less a webmail portal. It has chat, email, and now an aggregation/broadcasting tool. Strange huh?
It'll be interesting to see how that progresses. For now, I'm going to continue exploring Buzz and hope that Google continues to improve it over the course of time. I've been really impressed with their work in Gmail and I hope that Buzz can live up to it's name.