Google did not expect the negative backlash to Google Buzz when it launched, and has had to work around the clock to address privacy concerns, says Google Product Manager Bradley Horowitz
Jackson’s point that Google failed to extend Buzz beyond Google employees suggests that Buzz was perhaps not initially created with the intention of fostering dialogue between itself and users. Rather, Google was forced to switch gears and engage in dialogue with users when complaints began to mount.
Horowitz stressed that his team isn’t through making the necessary improvements that will make the millions of Buzz users more comfortable with the service.
“We don’t think the right way to build a product like this is under wraps and you release a finished experience to the world. We think the right way to build this is to be in dialogue with users and rapidly iterate the social nature of this product,” Horowitz said. “It’s developed in a social dialogue between developers, users and Google.”
Horowitz said Google is still weighing user feedback, but declined to say what sort of additional changes his team might make to meet user requests.
However, more granular privacy controls, such as filters and other features to let users turn off Buzz are likely in the works.
“The feedback spans the gamut from better, clearer privacy improvements to issues around what it’s like to follow very popular people on Buzz to feature requests down to the granular level of moving buttons and things like that,” Horowitz said.
One of those changes could be to create a standalone Buzz product in addition to the current Gmail-based Buzz. Horowitz said that while he had no specific plans to share, this standalone version of Buzz would hook directly into the current version of Buzz in Gmail, scraping Gmail users’ Gmail and chat contact lists for Buzz contacts.
“The right way to do that would be seamless integration, so just like our mobile Buzz product integrates seamlessly with the desktop version in Gmail, any standalone instance of Gmail should be completely compatible, provide the same interaction, etc. So I would want it to stand on its own and have all the great features Buzz has as are present in Gmail.”
Forgetting the privacy woes for a moment, Buzz has been quite successful. Horowitz said tens of millions of users have engaged Buzz, creating more than 9 million posts and comments, with 200 posts per minute from mobile phones.
T.A. McCann, CEO of Gist, which makes an application that helps users manage their contacts in Microsoft Outlook, Google Gmail and Salesforce.com, said Gist is already letting users add Buzz feeds to their news feeds in Gist. Here’s how.
“We obviously agree 100 percent with blending the web and the social inbox together,” McCann said.