Stephen Baker

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Google Buzz: Email is social Web--and getting more so

February 9, 2010News

Reading about Google's new social network service, Buzz, on TechCrunch. Basically, it's like importing social networks into e-mail, that is, gmail. Of course, email has always been a form of social networking, and a much more popular one than Facebook.

Google's ploy is to place e-mail at the center of our digital lives, both on the computer and the handset. As as the Internet evolves into mobile, advertising generated by each user's social networks will pop up at the calculated time and place. (Notice I don't say at the "ideal time and place." This is not and will not be an exact science.) Still, this is the merging of social and mobile--It focuses on who we listen to, and tries to figure out when and where what they say is relevant. Google's betting that these rivers will converge in e-mail. The company starts off with an installed base, according to TechCrunch, of 176 million users. That overstates it, perhaps, since four of those people are me, under various versions of my name. But still, a lot of people.

The trouble for me is that my Google "friends" don't represent my social network. They're a mixture of friends, family and work, with a touch of commerce thrown in. Do I want to rework one email account, tagging and inviting people, to participate in Buzz? Probably not, unless... I get an Android phone. That could change my behavior. And I'm betting that's the mobile dynamic Google's betting on.

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