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February 10, 2010

Google joins social networking party

Buzz takes on Twitter, Facebook

By Steve Evans

Google has unveiled a Gmail-based social network platform called Buzz.

The platform will connect with a user’s Gmail contact list and can integrate with Flickr, YouTube and various other Google platforms as well as Twitter and enables people to post updates on what they are doing and comment on friends’ updates.

The platform will be automatically integrated into Gmail so all 175 million users will have access to it. Facebook, thought to be Buzz’s main target, currently has around 400 million members.

“With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you’re up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people,” Todd Jackson, product manager, Gmail and Google Buzz, said in a blog post.

“In today’s world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it’s increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most,” he said,

Updates will be flagged directly in the user’s Gmail inbox and their profile page, while people can comment on a status update as they can in Twitter or ‘like’ a post, a feature similar to Facebook.

A mobile version of the platform will incorporate location-based services so a user’s update will be tagged with their current location. Users will also be able to search for updates from people nearby.

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“Google Buzz [on the mobile] is much more than just a small screen version of the desktop experience. Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context — the answer to the question where were you when you shared this? can communicate so much,” said Jackson.

Google also confirmed it is planning an enterprise version of Buzz, aimed at businesses using its Apps platform. It will contain additional features to help people share within an organisation.

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