Google Creates a “Buzz” in Social Networking

On Tuesday, February 9, Google introduced a new social networking service called Google Buzz.  Buzz gives Gmail users the opportunity to share statuses, photos, and videos.  Sound familiar?  This new service will be in tight competition with Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace in the social networking industry.  A New York Times article entitled “With Buzz, Google Plunges into Social Networking” explains why the popular search engine is branching out.

Services like Facebook are continually growing in popularity.  Even Baby Boomers are now logging on to connect with old friends and family.  While the number of users is growing, time spent on Facebook is growing too.  I cannot make it through a day without logging on to chat with friends back home, view the newest pictures posted by friends that are abroad for the semester, or to simply see whose birthday is coming up.  Like me, many computer users, young and old, have become dependent on internet social networking services.  While users spend increasing time on these sites, users are drawn away from Google. So Google could keep doing what it does and risk getting left in the dust as Facebook continues to grow, or it could survive by innovating itself to give users what they want.  Buzz is its innovation.

Buzz is built into Gmail and comes with an automatic circle of friends based upon who the user communicates with most often on Gmail and Google chat programs.  The 176 million Gmail users will be able to do nearly all the same things that 400 million Facebook users are able to do.  It appears Facebook has the edge in numbers, but Buzz could gain the advantage elsewhere.   Google co-founder Sergey Brin offers that, “Buzz would bridge the gap between work and leisure.”  Buzz could combat information overload and help people find information most relevant to them.  These days, every website I go on seems to toss ads, offers, and suggestions my way.  Most of these pop-ups and links are completely useless to me, but Buzz could change that.  Google can use its algorithms to bring people the information they want to see.   Another strategic advantage to Buzz lies with the January release of the Nexus One, or the new smart-phone run by Google’s Android operating system.  Google has joined Buzz with Google operated mobile phones, while Facebook is joined with iPhones or Blackberries.

Google has recently exhibited different goals than to simply make the world’s information accessible.  Other programs are cutting into Google’s majority hold on the internet navigation, like Microsoft’s new Bing “decision engine” and Facebook.  In order to grow with the industry, Google has displayed how goal complexity exists in organizations.  Following this natural system characteristic, Google has “modified their goals so as to achieve a more favorable adjustment” (Scott and Davis, 60).  Consumers were demanding more than just a search engine, so Google has branched out from its roots to keep up with competitors in its microenvironments and with growing technologies in its microenvironments.  Google has certainly been successful in allowing millions of people to access the world’s information, but it is the natural instinct of the company to want to grow and keep up its dominance in internet navigation.  Organizations in the natural system are after all, as Scott and Davis tell us, “social groups attempting to adapt and survive in their particular circumstances” (60).

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8 Responses

  1. Interesting points. I wonder whether Google could ever be totally left in the dust as the main purpose it serves (to provide a premier search engine) is not a facet of the social networking sites. By adding Buzz, Google appears to me to be attracting more users and usage time by become a go-to destination for everything, but does not seem to be doing so to retain large numbers of users who are going elsewhere now. Anytime I want to look something up, I go to Google. For chatting with friends, Facebook is my website of choice. If Google adds the defining features of Facebook, perhaps Google will become the only website I need to go to. But, if Buzz is not instituted, I do not see myself not using Google and using just Facebook. So, it appears to me that Buzz is a great addition to Google and may give them a competitive edge, but it is not a feature necessary for survival.

  2. The expansion of Google’s offerings reminds me of an article written by Michael Porter about strategy. Porter raises the issue that, oftentimes, many companies try to offer EVERYTHING to their customers, they want to cover all bases and continuously expand their product capabilities. This approach is effective sometimes, but only when these offerings align with the company’s strategy. Porter argues that it is most effective to deepen your strategy rather than to expand it. So the question is….are all of these new gadgets that Google is creating too much? Are they stretching their original strategy too far? Should they instead focus on deepening their strategy amongst their current products? Porter says that sometimes you need to make trade-offs in order to deepen your strategy. You need to sacrifice those new, expansive ideas in order to better improve what you currently have. Is the Google Buzz an example of something that should be traded off?

  3. These are both excellent points that I too partially believe. I use Google for nearly all my research and stick to Facebook for my online social life. It also does appear that Google is trying to encompass every possible internet service to cover the entire market. However, we learned about an interesting outlook to consider in my marketing class the other day. Xerox was of course the king of copying from about 1960 until the 1990s or so when digital documents transfer became the norm. Copy machines were often referred to as Xeroxes, regardless of which company actually made them, much as searching for information on the internet is often called googling today. When email, scanning, and personalized printers caught on, Xerox decided to stay with their copiers and continue to improve quality, speed, and size, rather than crossover to the digital world. This choice brought them to the brink of bankruptcy because consumers no longer wanted to just make paper copies. Xerox managed to make a comeback after downsizing and entering into the digital “copying” world.

    We’ll have to wait and see what happens to Google, but the Xerox situation seems to be a possible outcome if Google were to stick to pure search engines. Other search engines like Bing are gaining popularity, so Google is trying to jump on the social bandwagon to retain and gain more customers.

  4. While I don’t see myself using the Google Buzz, I can see why the company would want to implement it. Google has constantly been changing their goals as an organization. Originally Google existed to provide the world with a powerful search engine that could bring them the information they wanted. They then created their own email and smart phones. Google has already been changing to keep their organization relevant and social networking appears to be the next logical step for them. Twitter and Facebook are two hugely successful social networking sites, so I can understand why Google would want to break into that market. However, I have to wonder how successful they would be. Facebook is so popular because of the number of people who use it. When someone gets a facebook account they know that they are guaranteed to be able to be in contact with almost anyone who has a social networking account, because they would be on Facebook. Google will need to be able to have a very strong following almost as soon as they launch Buzz, because what’s the point of going to Buzz if only 2 of my friends have accounts there, while almost everyone I know has a Facebook?

  5. I understand why Google is innovating and making a social networking site since they have become more popular and has potential to increase the amount of customers for the company. However, I had not even heard about Google “buzz” until I read this article which makes me wonder whether it will catch on or continue to be outdone by Facebook and Twitter. Like Emily said, I know that I, myself, will not even look into an account because I am able to communicate with my peers via facebook. I think that Google could expand on what they already have going for their successful company instead of trying to expand into social networking which may be difficult to do.

  6. It’s useful being able to find what my friends on? Twitter and Facebook are saying about a idea I am searching for without having to waste my time on either website looking at off topic communication.I love networking sites but I really don’t care why you are upset. Only getting what I want from my family is going to make them more valuable to me and keep me from getting sidetracked when I am trying to get real work done.

  7. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/technology/internet/15google.html

    The new Google Buzz has had some privacy issues early on. The automatic friends circle brought complaints that Gmail users’ contacts were being exposed.

    Google has fixed the criticized functions and plans to power through this setback without much worry. Its still too early to see if Buzz will be a success, but Google claims “tens of millions of people had tried the service in its first 48 hours.”

    In response to the debut of Buzz (even after the privacy issues), Danny Sullivan, the editor of SearchEngineLand and a long time Google analyst said, “I suspect Google might have a minor hit on its hands already.”

  8. In a class two years ago I remember having a classmate discuss Google’s “issue” of having millions (maybe even billions) in idle cash on their books. Now I see that in an economic environment like we’re in today that their idle cash is finally coming in handy. Where certain companies may have been expanding before the recession really hit hard and were doing so with debt, Google is not able to still expand and be innovative but with cash.
    Responding to Macey’s comment, Buzz is innovative for Google because they didn’t just create a social network like a Facebook, but built a Facebook like social network into their already existing email system. This is ingenious for two reasons. One is this social network is really just and added feature to their email system. And two is they don’t need to build a following since their Gmail users are automatically users.
    Buzz also provides a mixer between professional and leisure. This is important since they have created a unique niche with features from leisure social network Facebook and the professional social network LinkedIn. I look forward to see how Buzz does in the future.

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