Monday, March 1, 2010

Google Wave vs. Google Buzz

I find myself trying to use both Google Wave and Google Buzz products because I believe in the overall approaches to communication taken by the Google platform. However, I think they will one day converge into a better-executed single product.

Some won't like me comparing the two as they are built for different purposes. Google Wave is a real-time collaboration and communications tool. Google Buzz is essentially another news feed, as made popular by Facebook. A short list of key differences between the product would include:

1) Real-time. Wave is a (very) real-time product, Buzz is not. There is a delay on Buzz posts, especially through linked sites. Wave is real-time letter by letter.

2) Closed environment. Wave is a closed environment, like email, Buzz is not. Buzz can list content from Blogger sites such as this one, Picasa feeds, Twitter, and more. Wave will have the potential to use Wave-friendly widgets, but these will require external development.

3) Linear communication. Wave is non-linear communication, while Buzz is. Wave uses an elaborate playback scheme to run users through a conversation from start to finish. Comments on a wave can be made at the beginning, end, middle, or privately - there are no limitations. Buzz is far more structured. Comments are locked in a sequential stream.

I think it is easy to see how the two products could cross over. In Buzz I envision a targeting feature, allowing one to direct a post to a specific user and make it private. In Wave, I see developers creating plugins that automatically feed a user's tweets, etc. to user lists.

The question is, which product will be more easily digested by users? Buzz took one on the chin with a very sloppy release that invaded users' privacy. Wave had a very rough time of it too as users tried to put it in context.

My pick would be to Wave-ify Buzz, based on user familiarity with the news feed experience. Facebook is doing a lot to educate a marketplace (400 million users strong, and growing) on how to interact with a news feed, and taking advantage of it would be the smarter and cheaper thing to do.

I would like to be a fly on the wall at Google and see how the products are viewed from development, positioning and competitive standpoints.

© Jeremy Buehler and Rogue Tendencies ( 2010.

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