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Google Admits Flaws in Buzz Network Testing

     
12:54 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google admits Buzz social network testing flaws [news.bbc.co.uk]
Google has admitted to BBC News that testing of its controversial social network Buzz was insufficient.

The firm has had to make a series of changes to the service after a ferocious backlash from users concerned about intrusions of privacy.

The BBC understands that Buzz was only tested internally and bypassed more extensive trials with external testers - used for many other Google services.

Google said that it was now working "extremely hard" to fix the problems.

"We're very early in this space. This was one of our first big attempts," Todd Jackson, Buzz product manager, told BBC News.



I wonder how much internal backlash there is over this.
3:24 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google has admitted to BBC News that testing of its controversial social network Buzz was insufficient.


Amazing, just amazing. We are talking about the #1 online brand in the world, and they pretend to not have tested this new product seriously enough? Bah.

As they do have a product marketing department and product marketing managers (highly paid, I might add), someone simply must have come up with the plan to verify how the target group actually likes the way it works. That is Marketing 101.

I have read that at Google ALL decisions are based on figures, so I would be very surprised that one of the most important product launches just slipped past this rule.

So I think that Google is (again/see China) just offering a spin to hide the real facts; they probably can not admit that they knew exactly what they were doing. That would give them really bad PR. So they came up with the lame excuse of "not having tested enough".
6:25 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have read that at Google ALL decisions are based on figures, so I would be very surprised that one of the most important product launches just slipped past this rule.

google is very much tech driven, engineers are the vast majority in this company. the few marketing folks must be having a really hard time over there, in an environment where every decision is solely based on figures rather than common sense.

the marketing discipline is more intuitive. thing is, you can't make that clear to a bunch of geeks. they have another conception of the world, they will never understand you. they will instead pick every idea to pieces if it's not in line with their technical view.

so no, if everything is based on figures, product launches will frequently go wrong. better ask somebody in the real world once in a while to get the product right.
6:48 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Nah ..Sorry ..but they are an ad agency aswell ..and understand spin ( how to make site owners confused about how personalised search "opt out "works ),lies ,hype ,evasion ( how to not answer questions that are directly put to them about contravening their own TOS ) captive markets ( how you can increase your quality score by paying more !:)) and reputation management better than they wish you to think they do ..( and places like this have more than their fair share of plex approved spinmeisters pre placed to divert the flack ) ..not just the obvious "usual suspect" posters too ..

They would love to have everyone think that "we're just propeller heads ..give us a free pass" would wash ..

What they are is arrogant secretive controlling cultists ..who know they know whats best for the world ....with plastered on smiles ..and the cracks in the smiley masks just keep getting bigger every day ..

And above all they understand how to manipulate by fear and greed and having as much information on everyone as they possibly can get ..
7:33 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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but they are an ad agency aswell

call them that, but that doesn't make them marketing professionals. remember how they got in the business: they more or less stumbled upon the adwords idea, becoming their only cash cow. look how they still struggle with every other feature than pure text ads.
so "ad agency" rather in the meaning as provider of technical infrastructure for online ad delivery than anything creative.

well, if they understand public relation tools that good, why did they fail so miserably on the buzz thing?

no, i think they were really that naive with their product launch. they have the engineering brainpower. but they lack the soft skills. that's why google will never be sexy and why they will never get the social thing.
7:40 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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call them that, but that doesn't make them marketing professionals


You don't think that a company the size of Google has a huge ad/marketing team, either in house or outside?

Of course they do. And somebody dropped the ball...big time. Head(s) will roll.
7:53 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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"how they got in the business" - has absolutely nothing to do with the company that is is now. Leosghost could not have phrased this better.

The BBC interview is pure damage control. They failed the Buzz launch because of greed, miscalculating the public reaction.
8:25 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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they have to come out and admit it because its users are already up in arms. So yea you might as well come out and try to paint yourself as the good guy fessing up to this mess and how sorry the nice google is to is great users it loves so much.
9:49 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It seems to be living up to it's name to me.
It's in the news papers and featured on the home page here 4 times...
What is it again?
11:14 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What is it again?


We got an email today from one of our clients that said something along these lines:

"....Due to a recent privacy concerns with GMAIL and their new service BUZZ - any farther correspondence about ongoing projects must be sent via from NONE GMAIL accounts. Any emails coming from GMAIL service will be bounced with no exceptions.

Please make a note of it...."

I Kid you NOT.
12:39 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google has admitted to BBC News that testing of its controversial social network Buzz was insufficient (my emphasis)


I doubt the testing was insufficient, more probably, it was inefficient. If you hand a new "product" to testees and ask them what they think and so on, the reaction is most likely going to be good (if the product is any good), because the nature of what testers are doing has rendered them happy to play around with a new feature it's what they're signed up to do.

Question is, did google keep this new project completely secret until the last minute and then thrust it on testees personal google mail accounts without asking them to be involved, or really telling them what it is, or what is going on and then carefully monitor that reaction?

I'm guessing they didn't, because that was the only way google was going to get some accurate results that may have prevented them from doing something rather silly. I found buzz rudely bolted onto my google mail without notice, and it's just not something you would do if you had thought to test for the "Surprise! we've just invaded your mailbox with an unwanted buggy, privacy invading killer app" scenario.

I think they tested ok, they just didn't run the right test. Who cares about product usability if nobody wants to use the product.
1:27 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google getting nervous:
Bing is not a joke
FB is getting popular
Twitter too
G is competing against Apple too now
People are calling G monopolists etc.
2:28 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You don't think that a company the size of Google has a huge ad/marketing team, either in house or outside?

All companies have strengths and weaknesses, and one of their weaknesses, it seems, is marketing and PR. It's sometimes hard to spend your way to strength even with a large budget.
3:02 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It's bizarre that they leave perfectly good products in beta mode for years - Images, Gmail, Docs etc - and yet they release Buzz as a finished product right from the start, warts and all. It might indicate an urgency to compete with FB and Twitter.
3:15 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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More concerning, it appears Buzz also reveals Geo Location...

[theregister.co.uk...]
5:24 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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More concerning, it appears Buzz also reveals Geo Location...


Bububuuuttt...you may get a 25 cent coupon for a $6 Starbucks late!

This is getting way out of hand, we need to claw back as much privacy as can. Dear EU, FTC and the Western World privacy watchdogs, save us!
11:14 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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@blend27 Yeah, I'm actually not surprised with all the Buzz about it in the papers and here, and I think Buzz was the right name for it (perfect actually), but somehow I think Googlers were hoping the Buzz would be something other than 'debacle'.
2:11 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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He acknowledged that many of the networks "tens of millions" of users were "rightfully upset" and that the firm was "very, very sorry".


This cracks me up. I learned a long time ago it actually works like this;


He acknowledged that they caused all that cancer and that "tens of millions" of users were "rightfully upset" and that the firm was "very, very sorry".


or...


He acknowledged that they had kicked tens of millions of users puppies and that "tens of millions" of users were "rightfully upset" and that the firm was "very, very sorry".


GMail - blocked. Problem solved.
6:03 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It is interesting that Gmail was 'BETA' for years yet Buzz was rolled out immediately with all the OPT-OUT FAIL and privacy issues.
9:00 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I may take some flack on this but for the most part I like Google's products. It doesn't change the fact that more often than not they "accidentally" seem to take the wrong approach on privacy matters.

What is it called when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results? ;-)
9:50 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What is it called when you do the same thing over and over again and expect different results? ;-)

Ginsanity?
5:19 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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G$$ is the only big company I know in today's business that keep pushing beta products to users, and outsourcing testing to end users.

What a greedy and great test plan.
5:20 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Removed the eye catching and annoying Buzz link from my gmail account.
5:26 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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> Removed the eye catching and annoying Buzz link from my gmail account.

Does that actually opt-out of Buzz?

I did the same last week - but I don't know if data regarding my gmail usage is showing up to "followers" - do I still have followers? what a mess :(
6:45 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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G$$ is the only big company I know in today's business that keep pushing beta products to users, and outsourcing testing to end users.


I disagree.

The official statement of "test failure" was not a failure of testing on an engineering level. The product worked as intended when Google launched it. Thus, they did not launch it as "beta" as you might have noticed.

The "test failure" was in product marketing, i.e. those guys who should do the product definition, the launch plan, and the verification of these plans with focus groups.

What does this tell us? One of three statements must be true:

1) Google has a product marketing team that is clueless (did not test, or performed just weak tests). Bad news for investors. Expect more failed product launches in the future.

2) Google has a capable product marketing team, that is powerless against the engineers. Testing took place and revealed that customers would be upset. The marketing guys told everyone, but someone from engineering made the decision to launch anyway. Bad news for investors. Expect more failed product launches in the future.

3) Google has a capable product marketing team. Testing took place and revealed that customers would be upset, but the marketing guys (or management) made the decision to launch anyway. Bad news for investors, because it shows that Google can be evil.

My personal take is option 3, because they clearly had a fallback plan in place prior to launch. The superfast PR bonanza following the launch (aka "backpeddling"), and the quick succession of patches to a product that worked perfectly well, all this points to them knowing what would happen. They were prepared but tried to get away with what they thought might be accepted in the market.

Of course, they knew that you can not "launch a social network" out of the blue sky. Social networks grow. At the beginning you typically have just friendly users, and the network needs to grow from there before it actually can be called a "social network". Google decided for the fast track and opted everybody in, well knowing that this would save them six months to a year. For some reason, they did not want to wait that long. They wanted immediate success and threw the concerns over privacy out of the window.

Google? Evil.
2:31 pm on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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How much personal data do they have on each one of us?
Are they capable of keeping it secure?

Is this some stunt to rank higher in the news than Tiger Woods or Toyota using the same trust issues?
 

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