GOOGLE has injected social networking features into its popular web email product as the world’s largest search engine seeks to fend off competition from Facebook and Twitter.
Google introduced a new product dubbed “Google Buzz” yesterday that allows users to quickly share messages, web links and photos with friends and colleagues directly within Gmail, the company’s popular email product.
It came as part of an unveiling of a handful of new products designed to make the new social networking features suited to mobile devices, like smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system.
Google’s new social networking technology mimics some of the key features of popular social networking services like Twitter and Facebook, which are increasingly challenging Google for web surfers’ online time.
Gmail is the third most popular web based email in the world, with 176.5m unique visitors in December, according to comScore.
Microsoft Corp’s Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo Inc’s Mail were first and second, with 369.2m unique visitors and 303.7m unique visitors respectively.
In addition to the Buzz features for Gmail, Google said it is launching a special mobile application for Buzz, as well as weaving Buzz technology into the mobile versions of its flagship website and its maps products.
Google launthe Orkut social network in 2004. But while Orkut is big in certain overseas markets, like Brazil, it has failed to attract as many users as social giants like Facebook and MySpace in the United States.