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5 Reasons Google Buzz Has Facebook, Twitter Worried

Google Buzz, the search giant's new Gmail-based social networking platform, is poised to take on incumbents Facebook and Twitter. Tthe old guard had better be ready.

social networking

On the surface, Google Buzz, which integrates into Google's ubiquitous Gmail e-mail service and Google's mobile platforms -- plus those of the Apple iPhone and others -" looks like a mythical beast taking the best pieces of social networking rivals Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, YouTube and more. But its aggregation and presentation far surpasses them.

While the hype is still buzzing and Google Buzz has yet to be released to all Gmail users, here are five reasons Google Buzz has social networking contemporaries like Facebook and Twitter looking over their shoulders.

1. It integrates with Gmail. Sounds simple, right? Social networking functions that update in near-realtime in your e-mail inbox? Google Buzz's inbox integration puts the e-mail inbox, in this case Gmail, at the center of users' social networking worlds. Google recognizes that most users have their inbox open throughout the day, so instead of making them move to another Web site or application, Google pushes status updates, photos, new comments on threads and other content directly into the e-mail inbox. Where Facebook and Twitter use e-mails to send alerts and updates that prompt users to return to the respective Web sites, Google Buzz skips the middle man and makes the Gmail inbox the facilitator.

2. Google Buzz drowns out the noise. Do you really care if your friend Jack stubbed his toe? Did you really need to see that Jill ran out of gas again? Probably not. Google Buzz promises to weed out all of the unnecessary noise often presented by social networking sites and tools. Using technology similar to what made Google a search giant, Buzz presents "just the good stuff." What's that mean? It means that Google Buzz uses history and algorithms to determine what information users want presented to them based on their previous activity. That way, Google Buzz only gives users status updates and photos that they want from the people they want them from. While Facebook and Twitter offer some options to cut through the noise, they offer more of an all-or-nothing play.

3. Google is working on an enterprise plan for Buzz. The jury is still out on just how valuable Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools are in a business environment. We all use them, but the results vary and there has yet to be a true argument for or against. While Google Buzz hasn't revealed its specific plans, the Google team has said that Buzz for business is coming. While it won't be in version one, Google Vice President of Product Marketing Bradley Horowitz said Google has been using Buzz internally as a business tool. "Our intention is to launch this as an enterprise solution, as well," Horowitz said. That Google has had the enterprise in mind in the early stages of Buzz is a sign that Google means business. And with Google getting more business traction with its Google Apps and other cloud offerings, Buzz is sure to make a splash. It's telling that Google is getting ahead of the curve and eyeing the enterprise even before Buzz is fully released. Meanwhile, other social networking tools are scrambling to adapt their consumer plays to work in business with varying results.

4. Google Buzz cuts out the hunting and pecking. With Facebook and Twitter you find people to friend and follow. You seek them out. Or, they find you. Either way, someone has to seek out someone else. Google Buzz eliminates that with its "auto-follow" feature. Auto-follow immediately connects you with the contacts you interact with via Gmail, Reader and other Google offerings. That means no setup. While Twitter and Facebook users often side with quantity over quality and boast their numbers of followers and friends, Google Buzz wants to focus on the quality and only connect users with the people who actually matter to them. It's like a Google circle of trust.

5. Google Buzz is well-suited for mobile, too. To succeed with any new application or social networking site mobility must be part of the strategy. And Google Buzz is delivering mobility in spades. First there will be a Google Buzz mobile application for the Apple iPhone and Google Android. There will also be a Google Mobile Maps update tying in Buzz functionality for a host of mobile platforms. And, Google will launch a mobile site to access Buzz. While both Twitter and Facebook have come a long way with their mobile plays, the fact that Google has designed Buzz with mobile in mind -- and baked in location-based information that takes Buzz to a new level -- bodes well for the fledgling social networking service and has Google Buzz poised to best its rivals while on the go.

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