5 Must-Have Features for Buzz

DISCLAIMER: I am on a plane and am officially groggy blogging.

Ok, so I have been using (strong word) Google Buzz and I – like all geeks – have compiled my wish-list of features.  So let it be written, so let it be done.

MUST HAVE FEATURES:

  1. Better summary of recent posts – it’s difficult to quickly skim and see if something’s interesting…this narrows the funnel for time spent
  2. Better real-time view – it’s tough to see when people buzz if they are responding to someone’s post…lame
  3. Add Filters – I love my facebook filters…google should be best-in-class at this type of contextual feature
  4. Enable syndication – I want my buzz posts to go to twitter/facebook…one client to rule them all!
  5. Make it easier to follow/unfollow – it’s still kind of clunky to follow, or unfollow people…this makes hulk angry

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  1. Profile snapshot on mouseover – Awesome LinkedIn Feature
  2. Viral invite feature – use FB connect…it’s 2010!
  3. Better search results – see (1) from above
  4. Buzz badges – My recent updates, my followers, follow me…see FriendFeed
  5. Speed up – It’s way to slow and feels clunky versus facebook

Microsoft fires back at Buzz – Introducing Social Connector for Outlook

Amidst all the buzz around Google Buzz, Microsoft fires their own shot across the bow via the Outlook desktop email client – Social Connector.  According to the Microsoft Blog:

The Outlook Social Connector is a set of new features to help keep track of your friends and colleagues while enabling you to grow your professional network. The Outlook Social Connector is available now as part of the Microsoft Office 2010 Beta.

This is an excellent move by Microsoft.  If done correctly, this upgrade could really change the way people interact with Facebook.  Like Twitter client’s like TweetDeck, it could contribute to a decreased amount of time spent on Facebook.com. I for one would visit Facebook FAR LESS if I could access some of the core functionality via Outlook.  On a personal note, I am hopeful that this project is successful as I spend a great deal of time using my Outlook client.

Per my last post, I think that we are going to continue to see real product changes from traditional players like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google coming from the Inbox out, as they race against the clock.  Although there have already been some advances by folks such as Yahoo, I think that the war will really heat up this year.

Facebook isn’t resting on its laurels, either, though.  Project Titan is going to be Facebook’s attempt at a full web-mail client and should be launching soon.  This is an amazing move by Facebook.  If successful, it will really solidify their lead as the standard for online communications.

Google Buzz Launches Social Inbox Wars

Google has officially started a war.  With the launch of their life-streaming product this week, Buzz, competitors with established mail products such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL are now officially on notice.  Get social – fast.

Buzz is Google’s response to Twitter.  For those of you that have tried the product, you will quickly see that the best part about Buzz is the fact that it is integrated with Gmail.  Aside from that, there is no massive innovation relative to established ‘Lifestream’ products like Facebook and Twitter that enable you to socialize around user’s activities.  You can follow people’s updates, they can follow you, yadda yadda.  I will say, however, it was very slick how they pre-populate some of that information based on your Google Profile/Mail.  All in all, it was a smart move by Google to launch it via Gmail as it is a great enhancement to their communication suite (mail, chat).

Perhaps even more important than the product news, is the fire that this news has started.  For some time, folks in the social space have been waiting for the responses of GYM (goog/yhoo/msft) to the growing threat of Facebook.  Many have postulated (including this camper) that the best way to attack Facebook is from a position of strength in the communication space – the Inbox.  Yahoo, for instance, has the basis for a massive social network via it’s hundreds of millions of email users and chat capabilities.  It goes without saying that their distribution capability via this channel is the logical place to begin ‘going social.’  In theory, if Yahoo launched an elegant product via this channel it could be a real threat to Facebook.  That said, although there have been rumblings around Yahoo about an Inbox 2.0 strategy for some time, the rubber has never quite hit the road.  With this launch, however, the gauntlet was officially thrown down by Google.

Given that Facebook is almost certainly preparing for a public offering within the year,  I would anticipate that Google continues its war path in the social space via acquisitions a la Q&A company Aardvark and smart hires like Joe Smarr.  Moreover, I would expect similar Inbox 2.0 tactics from MSFT and YHOO in the coming year.   The biggest threat to Facebook and Twitter are incumbents launching features using Connect, or new products using Connect, that will ultimately be a simpler experience for the masses.