Google’s Buzz has hit the tech headlines in good and bad ways, but it’s totally swamped other Google offerings like Latitude. Google’s not forgotten it of course, and has revealed it may well intertwine Buzz with Latitude. LBS social networking FTW?
Google’s mobile Buzz implementation has a location-based system built right in, which grabs your geocoordinates from the smartphone’s AGPS system, whizzes it off to Google’s cloud, and then drives location-sensitive data back to the app in the form of location aware Buzzes in the “nearby” view. As I noted before, this tech has the capacity to turn into something rather incredible (and slightly creepily unnerving) should Google take the concept to its natural extremes.
But Google has another location-aware social network already, and has had since February 2009–Latitude. Google’s not deprecating Latitude, since it’s based around slightly different systems, and is more of a location-based friend discovery system as opposed to a chat-based social networking system. Still, many of Latitude’s features are emulated, or improved upon (or can be in the near future) inside Buzz. And that’s why Google is noting, in an interview with eWeek, that while it’s going to continue investing in Latitude since it’s “extremely important,” it’s conscious of the public buzz about Buzz, and will be investigating “points of integration between Buzz and Latitude.” In particular, there may be apps Google can “build that have certain compelling use cases” which may be enhanced by location-awareness.
This is fluffy, question-deflecting business talk, and it reminds us that Google truly is a giant organization pushing out innovative solutions in a thousand different directions all at once–sometimes without really thinking about the cross-product potential. But a liaison between Buzz and Latitude really does seem a smart idea, since the potential to enhance a friend-locator app with a sophisticated chat/info-sharing system has obvious benefits for the end users too.
And, don’t forget the real motivator behind this idea: Money. Google’s skills at profiling you as a user are legendary, and sometimes worrisome, and there would clearly be a huge new array of attributes it could calculate about your habits if it integrated the always-on location sensitivity of Latitude with the info-rich chat streams inside Buzz. And then it can use that data to sell ad space to interested parties who’d like to advertise stuff to you based on your location, or when visiting certain places or talking about them with your pals.