Thoughts and ramblings on tech, media, culture, and food. Plus some other stuff, I'm sure.

The Google Buzz Strategy

Recently I wrote about Google Buzz and some of its shortfalls, detailing what it does and doesn't do well, along with some speculative scenarios that could see Buzz becoming a dangerous infraction on privacy. I think this did well to give a very basic overview of what Buzz does and, hopefully, help us be on the look out as responsible media users for things that seem just a little bit fishy in the Google world.

What that little project didn't do is look at the inner workings of Google the parent company or how Buzz was birthed. Now, I'm not an insider and Google itself isn't the most vocal about its trade secrets. However, with a little bit of research and the help of people who keep track of acquisitions, I think we can start to get a pretty good picture of what makes up Buzz.

Amit Chowdhry at Pulse2 created a nice little list of Google acquisitions back in 2008, giving a short summary of each of the acquired assets up to that point in time. Obviously, we are a little past that year, and so I was able to supplement that list with what has been maintained on a  dedicated Wikipedia page. From the exhaustive list I was able to compile a short list of technologies most likely to have been baked into Buzz (including the Gmail system it sits on and the Google AdSense platform that Buzz contributes to) or could provide opportunities in alignment with Buzz's social networking aim. That list ended up consisting of:

  • Neotonic
  • Applied Semantics
  • Urchin
  • Dodgeball
  • Measure Map
  • Adscape
  • Trendalyzer
  • DoubleClick
  • GreenBorder
  • Feedburner
  • PeakStream
  • Postini
  • Zingku
  • Jaiku
  • Aardvark
  • reMail

What this list shows us is a mix of content-creation tools, past Twitter-clones, a heavy analytics and user tracking focus and a good measure of advertising technology. We know that Buzz operates in ways similar to Twitter, at least in how a user perceives it. It's likely that such a simple concept didn't require all of these technologies to work. However, we could deduce that the acquisition by Google of the Jaiku micro-blogging service (and its subsequent closure) would speed up development of a similar service (in this case, Buzz) significantly.

We also know that Buzz was released as an integrated platform with the Gmail web-based email service. Thus, it could conceivably benefit from any and all of the technology acquisitions that made Gmail possible. These would include reMail, Postini and Neotonic for core functionality, but also DoubleClick, Trendalyzer, Measure Map, Adscape, and so on for analytics data, user tracking and ad serving.

So, it seems it took Google 16 or more acquisitions, plus some of its own time to replicate Twitter. But not only replicate Twitter, absorb its user-generated content along with the user content from Flickr and various RSS feeds. And after absorption, as we saw in that previous post, let it sit, never to interact with an outside service (at least for now).

Interesting strategy, don't you think?