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Feeling the Google Buzz?

Google's latest stab at social networking is creating a lot of "buzz," but it remains to be seen whether it will become as dominant as Facebook or Twitter. Based on initial reactions, it doesn't appear to be a threat. The real question, though, is whether it will make Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) a stronger contender in the enterprise.

Make no mistake: That's one of the company's goals with Google Buzz, which uses the inbox as a way of bringing together all of one's social networking activities.

"The inbox is the center of attention for many people's online communication, but the way today's social tools interact with e-mail is pretty limited," said Todd Jackson, the product manager for Buzz, speaking at Google's headquarters at an event that was webcast. "With Buzz, we wanted to change that and bring social updates to your inbox in a way that goes beyond normal e-mail."

Buzz got off to a curious start, rattling some of its Gmail users. "OK, Google Buzz, you've made your point. Now how do I shut [you] off?" tweeted Jeffrey McManus, CEO of Platform associates, the developer of Aprover.com and a Gmail user.

I asked McManus, a longtime user of social networks and well-known in the .NET development community, for his thoughts on Google's long-term prospects in the enterprise.

"Buzz brings very little that's new to the table," he responded.

Burton Group analyst Guy Creese agreed in a blog post this morning. Creese and others believe that Microsoft already has a superior answer to Buzz in its Outlook Social Connector, which will appear in Office 2010, due for release this spring. While it remains to be seen how well Outlook Social Connector will be received, Creese believes it's a good start and will appeal to those comfortable with Outlook.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft seems to feel the same way. ZDnet blogger and Redmond columnist Mary Jo Foley said in a blog post yesterday that Microsoft doesn't appear to be concerned. "Are the Softies quaking in their boots? Not exactly," she wrote.

However, some analysts suggest that while Buzz may not displace Facebook and Twitter, it could gain traction. "Despite mediocre past attempts at social networking products such as Orkut or Dodgeball," wrote Interpret analyst Michael Gartenberg in a blog post, "Buzz is likely to attract a strong following by virtue of its tight integration into Gmail and the ability for Google to expose the service to advanced as well as novice users immediately."

I'd like to hear from those who've used Outlook Social Connector and Google Buzz and get your thoughts. And for those in the channel selling Office and SharePoint, what's your take? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/10/2010 at 1:14 PM


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