Beginning of the End? Google Might Split Buzz Off From Gmail

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When the public reaction to Google Buzz took a fast negative turn, the company made swift changes to alleviate privacy concerns surrounding the service’s automatic tendency to share information.

But now, Google may be taking an even more drastic step: One of Google’s top executives has said that the company may be splitting Buzz apart from Google, making it a standalone service that can still integrate into Gmail. 

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan reports:

Google says it may allow people to participate in Google Buzz without having it integrated within Gmail, in addition to offering a combined Gmail service. That may be a welcome move from users of both products, especially in light of the substantial privacy concerns voiced this week about Google Buzz.

“It’s clear that interest in Buzz may extend beyond the current Gmail base, and we’re open to serving that community,” said Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP of Product Marketing, when I spoke to him about some Buzz issues at the TED Conference.

Horowitz stressed that Google would still offer a version of Buzz within Gmail, in addition to any independent version.

While Google is spinning their response as a matter of Buzz being so popular that people without Gmail are clamoring for it, that response rings false: Gmail had 176 million unique users in December, and its size and inescapability were probably why Google decided to tie Buzz to Gmail by default in the first place.

If Gmail continues to nudge people into using Google Buzz, Buzz will continue to have a lot of users on paper, but a Google-sanctioned client outside of Buzz will make it that much easier for lay users to drag their Google Buzz off the screen or turn off Buzz entirely. Yes, there’ll still be a community of Buzz users (Buzzers?), but it’ll be smaller, more focused, and easier to parcel off from the spot in the day-to-day field of vision that was supposed to give Buzz its annoying inevitability. Which may be where it belonged in the first place, but that’s a far place from serious Facebook rivalry.

(Search Engine Land via Andy Levy’s Twitter)

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