Google is set to announce a new social tool at a 10:00 am event on its Mountain View campus. Due to the last-minute notice, we’re not on the scene, but Google is providing a webcast via YouTube that we’ll be using.
Stay tuned for the liveblogging to start at 10 am or shortly thereafter….
Okay, so it’s 10:05 and we’re still waiting. #tapsfingers
There we go — Google has given a 2-3 minute warning. We’ll be starting shortly.
We’re underway! Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product Mktg. is speaking first. “Hello on the webcast.” Hi Brad. Says we’ll be doing this for 45 minutes to an hour. Says “the first thing you want to do when you see something exciting is share it.” Well, sure, some of us are that way. But not everyone. Lots of people don’t care for this lifestream, status update stuff. But that’s okay.
Talking about launch of Yahoo as a tool to organize the web into a directory, manually organizing the content. “But that broke down,” so algorithms had to come into play. He’s waxing poetically about the launch of Google, and “we all remember our first experience using Google.” (I don’t. Sorry Brad.)
Now talking social web stuff. “We all recognize that there’s value there.” But some of it is TMI — too much information, oversharing. Our circles of relationships are going to continue to expand, and this is going to get worse. We’ll struggle to make sense of the “torrent of information that’s washing over us now.” This is the kind of problem we like at Google.
Today, we’re launching Google Buzz. (Nevermind that Yahoo has Yahoo Buzz already.) Brad introduces Todd Jackson, product manager for Google Buzz.
Google Buzz is a new way to share inside of Gmail, and starts conversations. Five key features:
1. Auto-following: Buzz surfaces the “giant social network” in Gmail. Nothing to setup. You automatyically follow your
2. Rich, fast experience. Everything you’re used to in Gmail, fast interface.
3. Public and private sharing.
4. Inbox integration. We know the inbox is the center of many people’s online activity.
5. Just the good stuff. Harder to filter through the noise, and you miss a lot of great content from people you don’t follow.
Now demoing these five features. Users will be introduced to Buzz today as soon as visit Gmail. New tab right below the INBOX link on the left. Shows how he’s already following 40 people from his contact list.
You can pull in content from other sites — Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Google Reader. Video links will play automatically. They built a custom photo viewer to show pictures “big and fast” right in Buzz. Demoing lots of other minor features, like similar shortcut set as Gmail has.
Dropdown menu lets you share publicly or privately. Public updates will appear on your Google profile (Yahoo does this, too) and will be instantly indexable in Google’s index. You can manually choose who you share with from your followers.
Inbox integration – comments are one of the most gratifying parts of social sharing. Other services send an email, but Google didn’t want to do that. He shows how the comments appear in your inbox right with your email, but as part of a live conversation – not as a static email message.
Ha! People are already spamming his email account now that it’s showing in this demo. Funny.
Comments, comments on your comments, and @ replies will show up in your in box. (Do people really want all this stuff in their in box?)
Last feature – “just the good stuff.” Google has “recommended buzz.” In other words, Google thinks it knows what you’ll like and will show you buzz from people you don’t follow. (Yikes. Too much clutter?) You can click “not interested” and Google will learn over time, he says.
Crowd claps somewhat reluctantly.
Now Vic Gundotra to talk about Google Buzz on the mobile platform.
Vic talks about how we find relevancy in the real world. What signals do we use? “Location is a powerful signal for relevancy.” He says that digitally “we haven’t elevated location as a powerful signal of relevancy,” apparently forgetting about things like Foursquare and Gowalla which are all about location-based relevance.
Talks about Google’s investment in “place.” Says there are over 50 million Place Pages on Google now. Vic says there are three ways to use Buzz on the mobile platform.
1. Google.com home page on mobile. New buzz icon in upper right corner. Can use that to post an update. Google will query your phone for where you are, and ask you to confirm. This lets you post with your location tied to what you have to say. It’s kinda-sorta like the “check-in” features on Foursquare and Gowalla and Yelp. You can also post by voice, which looks pretty darn cool.
2. Buzz browser-based app at buzz.google.com. When users post about a location with a Place Page, it’ll show up on the Place Page, too. There’s also a “Nearby” button that will show you all public updates in your vicinity.
3. Buzz layer in Google Maps for mobile. Can post updates from with the Google Maps for mobile interface, and can see public posts that are geo-tagged.
Now Bradley Horowitz coming back to speak. More applause for the mobile version of Buzz than the Gmail stuff. Now they’re showing a video that explains Buzz.
Video’s over. Brad announces that there will be an enterprise version of Buzz down the road. “We want Buzz to be the poster child of what it means to do a social destination in an open standards sort-of-way.”
Buzz will launch over the next couple days for all Gmail users.
“We’re just getting started. We can wire this up in so many ways to other parts of Google, and other parts of the Internet.” Says they want to see how people use Buzz as they continue to develop features.
Now Sergey and others on stage for Q&A. First question is about stalking concerns, privacy concerns. Jackson reiterates ability to share public or private, block people, etc.
Horowitz says integration with Google Wave is “high on the list” of things they want to do. “It’s a logical next step for us.”
Impact on Google Latitude? Gundotra says it will be integrated with Buzz.
Question about RSS feeds, APIs, etc., that things like Friendfeed offer. Jackson says they pay attention to users, not what the competition is doing. (Except when there’s a need to advertise during the Super Bowl.) Gundotra says they will work to open Buzz up, and they will make APIs available. Public feeds are currently available as an XML feed.
Jackson says they have no plans to integrate with Facebook Connect, but would consider it. Horowitz says “phoning in” updates is a logical next step.
Sergey: Social services on the Internet have undergone a lot of evolution. Mentions Orkut and says “we have had a lot of success.” Says Buzz is an interesting combo of social and productivity. “I found a lot of productivity from using Buzz and Gmail.”
Question about all the games people use on Facebook and other sites. Horowitz says he doesn’t find many social sites useful “because of the signal to noise ratio.” Buzz is different “from anything else I’ve tried.”
Jackson: You can’t publish to Twitter from Buzz, but you can pull content in from Twitter.
Question about avoiding spam. Jackson – “we’ve thought long and hard about this.” Buzz content going to your inbox goes through same filtering as Gmail. Says there’s a scoring element to updates, too, and low-quality stuff will be folded/closed, and good quality stuff will be emphasized.
Google Profile will show followers, follower count — but you can hide that if you want.
(Sidenote: Our deeper dive on Buzz is now live: Google Buzz: Google Takes On Twitter, Facebook & Even Foursquare)
Sergey talking about how he used Buzz to work on a recent piece he wrote for the NY Times.
Question about Buzz updates and search results. Jackson says “we don’t do anything special, other than instant indexing, to promote a Buzz update” in search results. If a lot of people link to it, it might show up.
Horowitz says they’re not ready to announce corporate/enterprise version. “We will get that out there soon.”
Question: How much “Facebook” went into planning this? The word must’ve come up at least a few times. Sergey talks about the evolution of communication online, from BBS to Usenet and beyond. Says Buzz is part of the evolution. No mention of Facebook yet. “There are very successful companies out there, and I think there will continue to be. I hope we’ll make our own contribution.” He never did mention Facebook by name.
And with that it’s over.
As a reminder, our deeper post about Google Buzz is here: Google Buzz: Google Takes On Twitter, Facebook & Even Foursquare