So Google launched its second foray into social networking today.
“Wait, second?” you ask. Yep. Oh, you never heard of Orkut?
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. That’s probably because you’re not a Brazilian gang member.
It remains to be seen whether or not this will be a “Facebook killer”, or at least deliver a low blow to the giant site. However, Google’s approach to launching this is great for two main reasons:
For a large chunk of the population, the act of checking social networking sites during work hours has replaced the smoke break. Employers have noticed this, and consequently, Facebook, Myspace, etc. are blocked at many workplaces.
On the other hand, checking your personal email isn’t looked upon with the same suspicion. So, Google gets the benefit of the doubt, and people who are already prone to flaking off for a few extra minutes, will most likely enjoy this new feature.
I don’t imagine that this was a huge component of their launch strategy, but the idea of having a unified platform for communications addresses a need that goes well beyond what Facebook can provide. After all, they don’t exactly do email.
You’re already networked
I only know a handful of people who aren’t using Gmail for their personal email accounts. And of those, they’re either hardcore privacy advocates, or just too attached to their Hotmail or Yahoo accounts.
For people like me, checking Gmail is like checking the time. I usually have it up in a browser tab whenever my browser is open. Unlike Gmail, however, I only usually keep Facebook up in a tab if I’m doing something business related. It’s a credit to Facebook’s usability that it’s so easy to get immersed in commenting on status updates and what-not, but it’s also a productivity killer.
The idea of using a Facebook-like app for something beyond finding out what my buddy thinks of the iPad or how Barack Obama’s going to turn us all into Socialists, is highly appealing. And the fact that my contacts are already, well, my contacts, makes life just a smidge easier.
It remains to be seen if Buzz is in the “sliced bread” category yet. But so far, it’s at least as cool as toast.