Buzz as a PM failure

Google now has two recent examples of how not to launch a product. To be more specific, the launches of Wave and Buzz are unfortunate illustrations of product management and product marketing breakdowns.

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Nokia and Intel's MeeGo OS has to run the run (not just talk)

Today Intel and Nokia merged their existing smartphone and mobile device operating systems (Moblin and Maemo respectively). I'll be brief as I'm at the MWC event right now (see my tweets for latest analysis). The target devices range from smartphones -- or mobile computers in Nokia's current positioning -- netbooks, tablets, in-car entertainment among others.

This is a bold play that places MeeGo into a competitive position with Android, iPhone OS, Google's Chrome and even desktop software like Ubuntu (as well as the mushrooming mobile-centric smartphone software like Palm's WebOS, Samsung bada and Windows Phone).

Intel's support will raise the ability of the new platform to attract device makers as well as the app developers that every smartphone and smart mobile platform desperately needs to be competitive.

They have lots in common: Both are Linux-based; both predominantly target mobile devices; both aim to deliver outstanding rich consumer Internet experiences; and both have been more talk than action to date. Nokia needs to shift step quickly from talking to walking and even better running or the high end market in Europe will be dominated by the same players as in North America and Nokia will have to pursue a winback strategy. It's taken Nokia nearly five years since the first Maemo device shipped to launch the first phone, the N900, and that is not the complete product -- as Nokia concede -- impressive although it nevertheless is (read my first take on the N900 in this Forrester report).

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Google's buzzkill

Yesterday, my reaction to Google Buzz was bafflement. Today, it's frustration, and I can see why some people are finding Buzz to be infuriating.

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Why Buzz, and why being the best isn't what matters

Building off of Tom Grant's post about Google Buzz earlier today, Google Buzz is an interesting case study about how winning market share is not just about having the first or the best product. It is often about having a product (including marketing and sales) that does the best job at getting users to use it and getting developers to create quality content. 

Google knows this better than anyone, and which is why they just released a product that they hope will be easier to adopt than Twitter or Facebook.  Google Buzz is not fully baked and its privacy settings are badly broken; however its intended audience already uses Gmail and just had this new tool literally dropped into their inboxes.  Google is probably hoping to replicate its successful introduction of GChat, an instant messaging client that was substantially worse than any other when it was introduced in late 2005 but today enjoys widespread adoption because it is on by default for anyone logged into Gmail and was gradually improved.

Non-social products can survive with gradually declining market share for a number of years, and then potentially come back if users become convinced that their offering is superior.  However a social media product without users is a ghost town, a phenomena that MySpace knows well as their CEO leaves today.  

This is not a battle over who has the neatest features; it's a battle over who will be the most successful at capturing user time, an increasingly limited resource. 

Therefore: Do you think the technical problems with Google Buzz, both privacy and other, are enough to stop it from gaining broad adoption, at least among existing Gmail users?

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