As I mentioned previously, Buzz is gaining momentum but is still in its infancy and needs to develop in order to grab a bigger slice of the pie. The challenge for Google is how best to achieve this; how can Google make Buzz jump from the early adopters to becoming a mainstream service?
It seems that some are blinded by the bells and whistles of Facebook and the reputation of Twitter (built by sheer longevity) and so believe that Buzz is just another also ran - it is too early in the game to make that call.
A post by Shannon Wills at TechShali.com claims that Buzz "has failed to stake a claim in the world of social media" giving 3 reasons why this is the case. The first argument is that Google are too late to the party to have an impact. I say we need to ask if they have arrived after the nibbles have gone and people are making their way home or, are the just fashionably late, know how to make an entrance then capture the imagination of the other guests with their witty repartee - the perfect riposte to the braggado of other networks?
Buzz may not have made the entrance it was hoping for but there is a very solid base. With a bit more work and some additional features Buzz could soon be a major player with the andecotes to wow its fellow party goers.
Gmail, to be or not to be bundled
As Buzz is bundled as a part of GMail there was always going to be a tight integration between the two services which can be a good thing if managed correctly. There have been complaints about inboxes filling up with notifications and this was also given as a reason why Buzz will not succeed; taking control of the settings and muting old threads can cut down on the number of notifications received while still keeping you up to date on the items you are following.
Should Buzz be contained within GMail or a standalone app? I say both. If you are Google you don't want to disconnect from the millions of potential users already sitting in GMail but it would be nice to use Buzz as a self contained application for those who want to. We can view and comment on our buzz data in our Google Profile outside of the confines of GMail and the mobile page is standalone so the main app needs to follow suit whilst still sticking to it's roots.
The need to have a GMail account in order to use the service has also been criticised but, considering the integration, it is probably the best way to go. If Buzz could be used as a standalone service, however, then it would also make sense to have a "Buzz only" account which could, perhaps, be registered against your existing, external, email address.
Buzz v Facebook
I think one of the things that makes FB so appealing is that you have different services within one web app. You have microblogging, photo album, chat, and games. Non-techies don't have to think too much because everything is there in front of them.
I agree that holding all the different facets in one place is indeed nice for those that use them all but what about those who only want to perform specific actions? What if you only want to upload your photos?
I feel that, with some careful work, Google could build on its Profile system and integrate the services you use into one coherent offering despite them being independent applications. If you only use a single app then great, that's all you are shown but for those using multiple services everything would be held in one place - a tab for each. Keeping each of Google's services independent is a distinct advantage in my opinion.
With a service such as Buzz we must remember that users want control over what they see. The search and filtering functionality suggested by Robert Scoble, as mentioned before, is a natural progression for Buzz and I can imagine a number of his suggestions being implemented before long. The ability to find all items that a particular person has commented on or to ignore items from a paticular source (e.g Twitter) would be ideal additions and vastly improve the usability of the service.
Historically, Google have struggled when it comes to the social web. Orkut was a failure and development on Jaiku was abandoned. With little consistency between offerings there appeared to be no central strategy to really succeed in the social space but, with Buzz, things are starting to change.
A paradigm shift within the company is evident now that Google have announced they are seeking to employ a "Head of Social". They are only too aware that they are late to the game but seek to mount a second half fight back. It is clear that individual areas working on their own products need to be brought together under one "social" banner to promote consistency and interoperability. With the right person leading the way Google should be able to regain control and create a comprehensive social policy and - with the technology, resources and extremely knowledgeable user base at their disposal - turn Buzz (or a decendent) into a world class offering.
Image by squeaks2569