Google Buzzing No More

In a move that will shock absolutely no-one who actually paid attention to the service in the first place, a Friday post on Google Inc.’s blog revealed that Google is finally planning to pull the plug on its ill-fated Google Buzz service.

Buzz was a Social Networking component users could add to GMail to send status updates to their regular email correspondents and any other followers – but is more likely to remembered as a botched attempt by Google to build a strong Social Networking product of its own; and one with major privacy concerns. Buzz’s integration with GMail caused trouble when it was discovered that, after it was activated, Buzz automatically created social circles that exposed users’ most frequent GMail contacts for everyone to see. That kind of transparency didn’t go over well with people whose contact lists included secret lovers, ex-spouses, doctors and prospective employers – and despite overhauling the service to give people more control over their information, the changes came too late to placate outrage users and privacy watchdogs; and Google would later be reprimanded by the Federal Trade Commission.

In a conference call Thursday to discuss Google’s third-quarter earnings, Page promised the company will be weaving more of the company’s products into Google+ to ensure that users get an “automagical” experience – a move that makes sense, given that the Google+ Social Network already matches a lot of Buzz’s feature set while remaining much more privacy-orientated; and has attracted more than 40 million users already. The closure of Buzz will mean that after 20-odd months of lukewarm reception, Buzz will join more than 20 other products and services that Page has closed since he replaced Eric Schmidt as CEO in April. Page says he wants to “put more wood behind fewer arrows” as Google tries to maintain its dominance of Internet search and advertising while it duels with Apple Inc. for supremacy in the increasingly important smartphone market.

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