Business Software

Buzz Reveals Google's Split Personality

Google's new Buzz, introduced Tuesday, is the latest example of a company that still treats consumers and business users as different people, even when they are one and the same.

The company forces its paying Google Apps Premier Edition customers to have a second account to access services that any free Standard Edition Gmail user gets by default with only one account. What's so "Premier" about that?

Having recently "upgraded" to a paid Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) account, I'd expected to become someone important to Google. Rather, I became a second-class citizen.

Google Apps is a collection of productivity applications, including Google Mail, available to all Google users. It is available in both free and paid versions.

Where consumers get something approaching a single Google login, I now must logon to Premium Edition and then access other Google services from a different account.

With Premium Edition, I got e-mail that I like very much, but also a bunch of disconnected Google features. And now I am told it will be months before I get Buzz, which might not actually be so bad.

It would be wonderful if Google hadn't turned me into a person with multiple personalities.

I'd made the mistake of having a Google account before I upgraded to Premier Edition. I even used my real e-mail address, instead of a non-used Gmail account, as my Google login. Google later required me, for reasons long forgotten, to create a separate Gmail account, too.

Thus, both david@coursey.com and davidecoursey@gmail.com can be used to login to Google services, such as news and the basic, free version of Google Apps. They will also get me into Picasa, Blogger, and YouTube, among other Google services.

It even works with Google Voice, a service that really doesn't seem to be integrated with the rest of Google at all.

What my Google login won't do is get me into my Premier Edition account. And "consumer" applications, such as those I've named, cannot be linked to a Premier Edition account. Thus, david@coursey.com is my user name for Premier Edition and works for the rest of Google, too, though there is no connection between the accounts.

When I signed up for Premier Edition, Google did not warn me that I would become a different Google user inside Premier Edition than I am outside of it.

I have since asked Google about this problem and they say they know it exists, but won't say what they are doing to fix it, or when.

Here's what I want:

  • I want Google to start treating me like a person. Just one person, not as at least three different accounts. (I also have a pre-Google YouTube account with yet another user name).
  • I want a single login for all Google services.
  • When I click on a Google app, I want Google to always send me to my Premier Edition account, not make me log into Premier Edition separately.
  • I want Google to handle account merging automatically, so I don't have to import information from the free Google apps into paid Google Apps Premier Edition.
  • I want to be able to access all my Google applications and services from within my Premier Edition account.

I don't think any of this is too much for a paying customer to ask. However, I am aware that there are security issues involved. Perhaps the system admins at large Premier Edition customers don't want their users' other Google products made available from inside Premier Edition.

In that case, the same user name and password could be used on the Google home page to access other services, without actually linking Premier Edition to the rest of Google.

As for the shiny new Google Buzz service, I am not wild about it. But, I am even less wild about being unable to access it (along with all the other Google services I use) from the paid Gmail account that I use all the time.

Google says it will be months before Buzz is available to Premier Edition customers, which is probably just fine based on what I've seen of Buzz so far. I don't think it's a great step forward, for reasons I will detail in a future column. (Tony Bradley has written about Buzz as an enterprise tool).

Meanwhile, Google users deserve a single, unified login. Especially the ones who pay.

David Coursey has been writing about technology products and companies for more than 25 years. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

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