On Feb 10, Google launched a new social networking product – Google Buzz, right inside Gmail. After that there have been scores of blog-posts regarding the privacy flaws in Google buzz. Clearly the transition from something as personal as Mail to another thing as public as buzz wasn’t going to be simple. The latest update on this issue is that Google has admitted that testing of Buzz was insufficient.
To quote the article,
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.
This brings us to the controversial question – How much testing is good enough? The last week is indeed an ideal case study about Product launches in the internet world. The swiftness with which the firm has responded to the privacy concern of users is nothing short of legendary, I must say. They created a war room, changes were made live in days across all users and lots of privacy concerns have been addressed already. But could all this have been avoided in the first place?
A brief background about the case in point- The pressure to get this product live must have been immense, given the strategic nature of this product. Facebook, the world’s biggest social network recently got its 400 millionth user signed up. Orkut or friend connect on the other hand weren’t growing as fast. Also, there was a bit of a thinking shift here as well – something that is above routine testing -A friend on Google talk is a two-directional relation ( You have to give specific permission to another contact who wishes to chat with you) while a follower on Google Buzz is a one-way relation. This leads to complications, particularly in the email ecosystem. Hence, there must have been a trade-off between (a) time to go live (b) Testing (c) Philosophical shift from a friend to a follower.
This is just one of the many cases though. A startup can afford to correct such mistakes over time, since they start from ‘zero’ users. However, an established firm cannot afford that kind of luxury. The TTgL (time to go LIVE) v/s adequate testing tradeoff will always exist. How to get it just right is the question in my opinion – Put in your insights in the comments section …
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