Google announced its new social network Google+ earlier this morning. Given that the company now has two competing social networks – Google+ and Google Buzz (or three, if you count Orkut as well) – it’s hard not to wonder what will happen to Buzz in the long run. Google launched Buzz with a lot of fanfare and clearly thought it would be a major hit. Buzz, however, never recovered from the negative publicity around the privacy flaws in its earliest incarnation, though it continues to live on in virtually every Gmail user’s inbox.
Is Buzz’s Fate Sealed?
It’s hard to make any predictions about the success of Google+ yet, but I think the future of Buzz is sealed at this point. Google+ doesn’t even offer any connections between Buzz and Google+. The two products completely separate entities, even though they share the same ideals in many ways.
Buzz has been lingering in limbo for a while now anyway and even though Google pushed it out to millions of users, it’s mostly a wasteland today. There actually haven’t been any meaningful updates to Buzz for months and the whole project feels dormant at this stage. I assume this is partly due to the fact that most of the current Buzz team worked on new Google+ features instead of focusing on the old network.
Shutting Buzz down would affect relatively few users – especially if Google decides to make it easy to transition links and contacts between the two (that’s a bit “if”, though).
As Wired notes, Buzz’s failure clearly became obvious to the top brass at Google and the company started the project that has now become Google+ (and was apparently called “Emerald Sea” in an earlier incarnation) just months after the launch of Buzz.
Google has clearly learned from the failure of Buzz (launching it as a limited “field test” instead of an open beta is one example of this) and Google+ clearly represents the next step in the company’s evolution to become more social. Buzz itself, however, has served its purpose at this point and I assume we will hear about the its fate pretty soon.
Buzz really needs to be quietly absorbed into plus, or discontinued entirely. It's a social layer that is transcended by the Google Plus network and really doesn't need to exist. The further they try to keep these products integrated, the longer it will take them to innovate on anything.
I think Buzz's absorption by Google + is a no-brainer. Consider it software evolution. Google has the incredible luxury of creating a tech playground. Some sand castles get knocked over.