Three letters. WTF!
Logged into GMail and got (what many of you got) a thing about Buzz. I wasn’t sure what the thing was but clicked on it. The next thing it says is: You are following 30 people and a bunch of people are following you.
WTF!? I didn’t want that! Huh? What just happened!? Is this list public? Who sees this??
OK, calm down, calm down. Start from the beginning. What is buzz?
Buzz is Twitter (Or Facebook Status) inside GMail. If you type something in there, alot of people, often everyone can see it. It’s like Twitter that way.
Why is it freaking me out?
Because GMail is the place where everything is private. It’s not my employers email. It’s not my wife’s email. It’s my personal private email. It’s my sanctuary. Everything in there is for me and me alone. Now, this rule has been broken. Now, there are parts of GMail that are very very public. I hate this with a passion. It messes up my primary mental model of what GMail is. Private.
Why is it brilliant?
I didn’t even realize what was happening and suddenly I was actually using the system the way Google intended it. It was so frictionless that I literally fell on my butt and used it more than I have used Twitter in a month. Even my mother-in-law used it. Most of the messages on it from people were “WTF is this thing?” They certainly nailed the “frictionless system”. The traffic on Buzz must have jumped from zero to a gazillion overnight.
One especially insidious trick is that my IM client (Digsby) thinks that a buzz message is an actual email. This is huge for Google. They just inserted a twitter look-a-like into my #1 killer app; email. Absolutely brilliant. This is not a well you can go to often. I hope they made a good bet, because if this thing sucks then they will hear about it forever.
What will happen next?
Initial surge of activity. Some people will get hooked. An ecosystem will arise similar to the Twitter ecosystem. Twitter / Facebook and Buzz will compete for mindshare. Google will eventually win overall. Facebook is still fine because it has other value, but Twitter might end up suffering.
What’s interesting from a UX standpoint is the lack of 120 character limits. This may be Twitter’s saving grace. They have simplicity going for them.
Why the name Buzz?
I don’t know if Google is aware of this, but Yahoo has totally built a web property called Yahoo Buzz. How is this not trademark infringement? I see the TM next to the Buzz logo. Is there a lawyer in the house? Besides, it’s a pretty bad name. Buzz. It’s got no heart. Guzz? Gooz? Glooz?
There is so much to think about with this new development, I am just overwhelmed.