Google Buzz: Gmail status update and content sharing has us bam-Buzz-elled

There's a buzz around Buzz, Google's status update and content-sharing feature in Gmail. Sound familiar?

We're bemused by Google Buzz, a new status update and content-sharing service integrated into Gmail. On the one hand, it's pretty good. On the other, no-one's going to use it. Yes, we're bam-Buzz-lled.

What's good is the way Buzz shows shared content. There's no character limit, unlike Twitter. New posts and comments pop up as they happen. Status updates can be geotagged from wherever you are.

You can set Buzz to automatically post notifications of posting to other sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Google Reader, including thumbnails of new images or videos posted to sites such as Flickr, Picasa or YouTube. Videos and pictures can be viewed inline, and commented on. Comments appear in your inbox, from which you can reply directly. Buzz will also recommend buzzes that are related to what you're buzzing about, or that your friends are enjoying.

All this sounds great, but not particularly distinguished from FriendFeed or Facebook's news feed. And the elephant in the room is, of course, Twitter. Twitter has succeeded because of -- not despite -- its simplicity and limitations. All-singing, all-dancing, status-updating, content-sharing feeds have been around for a while and still haven't killed Twitter's traction. As big and rich as Google is, high-profile damp squibs such as Google Wave show that the search giant isn't guaranteed to succeed, no matter how much buzz -- ahem -- is generated at launch.

Still, Buzz stands a chance as part of Google's long-term strategy to tie together all your online stuff, all in the cloud. If corporate users continue to move from Microsoft Exchange and Office to Gmail and Google Docs, Buzz and Wave could come into their own as elements of the big G's online one-stop shop. At which point Larry and Sergei are proclaimed Joint Earth Emperors for Life.

Buzz does have the advantage that it's rolling out to a large existing user base, unlike FriendFeed. Whether they'll use it or not remains to be seen. Our Gmail contacts list doesn't have the same friend/colleague/random person demarcation as Facebook or even Twitter, and our first impression is that managing your followees is unclear and fiddly.

To buzz yourself in, look for a new Buzz tab in the left-hand navigation of your Gmail, between Inbox and Starred mail. If you can't see Buzz in your Gmail account, head for google.com/buzz and click 'Try Buzz in Gmail'. You may have to wait a few days as the feature rolls out, however.

So are you buzzed about Buzz, or should Google buzz off? Share your thoughts, comments and other buzz-related puns in the comments.

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Software
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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