May 19, 2010

Google Buzz API Debuts, Fueling Potential Network Growth

Google Buzz celebrated its 100th day of public existence at Google I/O Wednesday with the introduction of its much-awaited API, and the immediate adoption of that API from some interesting showcase partners, including Seesmic, TweetDeck and SocialWok. In the last three months of Buzz's availability, I've discussed how Google had aimed to avoid offering proprietary standards for developers to point their applications to, choosing instead to work with open tools including OAuth, AtomPub, Activity Streams, Pubsubhubbub, RSS and WebFinger. On Google I/O's first day, the company showed the first fruits of that labor, giving the fledgling network the opportunity to tap into the same developer community that other services, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, have enjoyed.

Chris Chabot (@chabotc), a developer advocate for Google, explained the role of Buzz at Google Wednesday, saying that "The Web is better when it is social," chronicling the rise of social activity to the point where having a social profile online is as common as having a mobile phone. "The Web is becoming a social place. It is moving from a static place to one about people sharing experiences, playing, working and talking together," he said.

Initial Partners Using the Google Buzz API

But as Google's social team has chronicled several times, including Chris Messina's talk on Activity Streams at SXSW this Spring, many of the different destinations on the social Web speak different languages. Rather than inventing a new language, Google wanted to utilize existing standards to avoid such headaches, and make Buzz part of the Web's infrastructure, "not a special destination."

In April, after one particularly nutty report was issued on Buzz's aggregation statistics, we proved the majority of Buzz's active content originates on that network. The new Buzz API makes it easier for third party clients, such as Seesmic and TweetDeck to push comments, likes, rich media and other updates to the network, but also to consume content from Buzz in users' favorite application. This seemingly minor move - one already seen by Facebook and LinkedIn, puts Buzz on par with those historically larger networks, and ahead of scrappy startups like FriendFeed, which never gained such prominence.

Google Buzz Displayed In Seesmic (Next to Foursquare)

Marco Kaiser (@marco) of Seesmic, who demonstrated his company's application pulling and pushing data from Buzz, said Seesmic wants "to support as many services as possible to as many products as possible", and as of today, all of their products, including the Web version, Desktop and Android clients, let you add Buzz as an account and see Buzz content alongside Twitter and other updates. This caps a busy week for Seesmic, following their Monday addition of Foursquare and other updates.

While Twitter has had an off and on relationship with its own development community, the ease of developers creating applications and Web services has led to much of the service's growth. Buzz, assuming expanded adoption of their API by other partners, could receive the same kind of boost that so far has been lacking in the service - seemingly siloed despite so many promises to connect with the outside world.

In addition to the announcements by Seesmic and other partners, Google introduced a testbed for developers to try out the API, which you can find at The test site lets you display your stream, add, edit and delete content, follow and unfollow others. It surely won't be all that long until many of the automation tools that have existed in Twitter's ecosystem make their way to Buzz.

As someone who long begged for services like FriendFeed to be supported by major clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic, but didn't see it happen, the rapid adoption and seeming ease of the Buzz API is a huge endorsement for the future of the network. It could have something to do with Google's name being attached, or the ease of the standards, but the potential is there nonetheless.

Google's official post on the new Buzz API is here: Introducing the Google Buzz API. You can find me on Buzz here: