For several years now I’ve been lamenting the fact that social networks have been divorced from web mail. Seems like a natural fit, right? If you’re already logging into a site that knows who your friends are, why not help me keep in touch with those friends beyond the simple “send an email” option?
Some of you may remember that Yahoo has been taking steps to integrate their web mail with social networking (and other daily tasks) for a while now. Facebook wants to add mail to their social network. Google decided to play catch up today and released Google Buzz, as covered really, really, really extensively by TechCrunch and others.
What is Google Buzz? Imagine your Facebook feed interspersed with your email, and that’s pretty much it. When one of your contacts updates her Google status, you’ll see it in your Gmail inbox, and you can comment on it, making it show up in her Gmail inbox again. Adding a little jab at Foursquare, Google will also allow you to geo-tag these status updates, which makes perfect sense if you’re updating from a mobile device.
So it’s fun, it’s cool, but…it’s a couple years too late. Most of us just finished building out our Facebook friends lists, and we have co-workers, classmates, and our parents on it now, so I don’t really need another way to announce my status updates to my contacts. Will I use it? Yeah, occasionally, but I have far more friends on Facebook than I have contacts on Gmail. Not everyone uses Gmail, y’know?
This is not a new concept or a new feature, it’s just a more convenient tool for current Gmail users to keep their friends and family up-to-date. Hopefully TechCrunch will stop flogging this as soon as the “buzz” dies down.