Google Buzz and the World of “Beta”

Google Buzz is a good idea.  In fact, there are a lot of features in Buzz that I really like, first and foremost being the threaded conversations (Twitter, please make these standard).  But what I don’t like about Buzz is this: it’s another beta product from Google that might never get any support from the company.

Google Wave is the perfect example of this.  Wave was launched last year to much fanfare, but nobody could figure out what the hell the point of it was, and so it kind of disappeared.  Buzz was launched, presumably to take over Wave’s position as Google’s big social media extravaganza.  Wave just kind of… Waved goodbye (sorry).

Now, I’ve been looking at some statistics, both from the Chitika network (where I work) and Google’s search insights tool.  Buzz had a huge first day – HUGE – which is to be expected, considering the press surrounding it.  “Google’s coming for Twitter!”  Headline of the century (for that week, at least).  And in both Google searches and search traffic coming into the Chitika network, the day was massive – Chitika stats, at least, blow away searches for “Twitter” by orders of magnitude.

And then, as fast as it blasted onto the scene, Buzz’s buzz just kind of… poofed.  Disappeared, like a fart in the breeze.  Within a week, the term “Google Buzz” was getting negligible searches both in Google and Chitika.

What happened?  Well, like Wave, a lot of people didn’t quite grasp what they were supposed to do with Buzz.  Despite being shoehorned into the Gmail platform, most Gmail users were confused by Buzz and simultaneously bombarded with stories about how awful and insecure it was.  So, as happens so often in the fast-paced world of the Internets, people just… forgot about it.  Stopped caring, moved on to the next product featured on Mashable’s front page, declared “The hell with it” by not bothering.

Therein lies one of Google’s (few) flaws: very often, they seem to launch a new product – in Beta – to much fanfare, and then as the ADD Internet wanders away to something shinier and newer, so too does the Google team.

There are exceptions, of course.  Google Docs is a great one, seems to have a decent tech team backing up the project and is used by a fairly large chunk of Internet users.  But Google knows where their bread is buttered – their core product is search, and they monetize with search ads.  Beta products come and go, and I’m rather afraid that Buzz is another one that… well, won’t “go”, exactly, but will be forgotten, just another tab in the Google collective’s inboxes that never gets any love.