I know Google desperately want people to use Google Buzz, but as Steven Hodson pointed out, growth of the network will always be limited by the fact that you have to have a Gmail account in order to use the service.
Google Buzz is a clever trap, but a trap all the same. It is the hunk of cheese to get more people using Gmail which in turn locks users into Google even more.
Google, in it’s attempts to ensure adoption have taken the kind of step that hasn’t been seen since the Microsoft of the 90’s and actually forced all Gmail account holders into being users regardless of whether they want to or not.
I’m not sure why but I’m bothered by Buzz. I don’t like it, I don’t want it. But I have it. Sure I don’t have to us it. I think maybe it’s because for the first time, Google has forced a web tool on me. I’ve been using Gmail since 2004. If I love Gmail, and I do, I’m forced to have Buzz. I’m about 10 minutes away from …re-installing MS Office so I can use Gmail as a relay for Outlook again. You know what I like? Choice. That’s what got me using Google web tools in the first place. Today is the first day, I’ve ever viewed Google in the same light as I viewed Microsoft in the mid-nineties.
It’s this kind of move that could result in a temporary boost for Gmail and Googles other services, but as I’ve already seen tonight people are complaining about things like unremoveable messages in their inbox, and of course the pre-existing faults caused by Googles need to have a universal address book and not allow you to delete contacts from one Google service without deleting them on all.
This forced use could ultimately be detrimental to Gmail as users who don’t want an intrusive social network clogging up their inbox choose to go to less crowded and more traditional email systems. Yes, you can stop Buzz features from appearing in your inbox after the fact but once you are in, you’re in.
As I’ve said before, the right tool for the right job, and morphing Gmail into a full featured social network may stop it being a tool of productivity and turn it into another Facebook/Twitter timewaster.