Too many social media cooks?

The new Buzz module will allow all 176 million users of Google’s Gmail service to see their friends’ live status updates, and share photos and videos.

Sound familiar? Been there, done that, got the Facebook/Twitter account already?

With social media success stories like Facebook claiming 400 million active users and Twitter recently reaching 75 million users, do we really need another social networking tool? Buzz is unlikely to usurp either of these services ; it doesn’t seem to add anything significant to what they already do and it certainly doesn’t attempt to do them any better.

To add to this, Google also faces competition from Yahoo and Microsoft, which have already added social networking features to their web mail products: Microsoft’s Hotmail and IM products between them claim close to 500 million users.

Also, what are the benefits for businesses? As we know, Facebook and Twitter have both been useful tools for building and maintaining brands, but what does Buzz offer? The answer is nothing at the moment as the service has not yet been rolled out to those using Gmail within organisations – this is due to arrive in March 2010. However, if it is a success, brands would be foolish to ignore the service, as experts predict that, if it was adopted by all of Gmail’s existing users, it would slingshot past News Corporation’s MySpace to become the world’s second-largest social network – behind Facebook.

Despite the cynicism and doubt surrounding this new service (and the growing privacy concerns), we must not cast aside the fact that Buzz has access to a large talent pool of engineers and it stands on top of existing Gmail, mobile devices, and a dominant search portal. Indeed, if Buzz grew, users could integrate with all Google apps and aggregate the entire internet. So, at this stage, I’m going to sit on the fence and say let’s watch this space.

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