What Google learned from its Buzz 'stumble'

By Stacy Cowley, tech editor


SAN FRANCISCO (CNNMoney.com) -- Google Buzz "stumbled out of the gate" -- a misstep that went on to shape Google's approach to social networking, Google executive Bradley Horowitz said Tuesday.

"There was a lot we learned in the first 48 hours putting the product to market, and there's a lot we've learned since," Horowitz said during a panel discussion at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. "There's opportunities that have emerged from what we've learned that have allowed us to rethink the social strategy."

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) launched its Buzz messaging tool in February, and suffered an immediate backlash from users upset about the feature's slipshod privacy tools. Google quickly tweaked some of the settings, but Buzz hasn't caught on in the crowded social-media field; it's a "me too" effort with few distinguishing features.

Google's recent social-media efforts have been more incremental. The company snapped up a string of startups last month, but it doesn't plan to assemble them into one monolithic "Facebook killer" effort. Instead it plans to gradually integrate social-networking features throughout its entire product catalogue, adding a "social layer" to its offerings.

"It's going to be a journey for Google to get to the right place in social," said Horowitz, who heads product management for many of Google's key applications, including Gmail, Blogger and Google Voice.

His comments came shortly after a speech from Google CEO Eric Schmidt mapping out his company's view of the technology-powered future. The smartphone is "the defining and iconic device of our time," he said. "Your strategy should be mobile first."

Google's effort to stake out a vanguard position are going much more smoothly in that field than they are in the social world. There are now 200,000 Android phones sold each day, and search traffic from those phones has more than tripled in the first half of 2010, Schmidt said.

The Google CEO managed to turn a few heads when he sketched a utopian vision of all the ways technology can improve lives by handling the tasks machines are better at than humans. Scoot over, auto fans -- Schmidt thinks computers would do a better job behind the wheel than distractible, accident-prone humans.

"Your car should drive itself. It just makes sense," Schmidt said. "It's a bug that cars were invented before computers." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,827.75 12.81 0.07%
Nasdaq 4,787.32 29.07 0.61%
S&P 500 2,072.83 5.80 0.28%
Treasuries 2.23 -0.03 -1.15%
Data as of 7:37pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Kinder Morgan Inc 42.32 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 119.00 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 77.62 1.99 2.63%
Pfizer Inc 31.10 0.00 0.00%
Bank of America Corp... 17.11 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Nov 26

Sections

The European Parliament has voted to break up Google and weaken its dominance across the region. More

Warren called it "hypocritical" for the White House to oppose corporate inversions but nominate a person who has worked in this area. More

Two pilots encountered drones while flying over college football games and another pilot saw one while flying over the Hollywood sign. More

Natalie's Cakes and More has raised $84,000 through GoFundMe after protests trash store. More

Retailers are promising big deals this Black Friday, but are the savings actually worth the shopping mayhem? Test your deal-sniffing skills. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.