Google Buzz could quickly become the most popular location-based service on the Internet. Not only does Buzz integrate itself into Gmail, which will give it a large mainstream user base, but Buzz also puts geolocation front and center on its mobile sites. In addition, the new Buzz layer in the Google Maps mobile interface makes it incredibly easy to find geotagged Buzz messages around you.

Nobody is Geotagging Tweets - So Can Buzz Geolocation Succeed?

Twitter introduced its own geolocation API in August 2009, but while we were very excited about the possible applications of this API, very few users and developers actually use it today.

While location-based apps and services like Foursquare and Gowalla (which launched its own API today) have quickly grown in popularity, only 0.23% tweets currently include location data. Unlike Buzz, however, neither Twitter itself nor any of the popular Twitter client really put geolocation at the center of their applications.

Buzz's Advantage: It Already has the Users

Now, however, Google is releasing a product to millions of people that makes geolocation a major focus of the service. Already, you can bring up the Google Maps layer and find buzz messages in virtually every location. This quick adoption makes sense, given that Google is putting the colorful Buzz logo in a prominent place on its mobile interface.

The Google Buzz mobile site also makes it very easy to see messages from nearby users (including those you don't follow). The "nearby" button is very prominent and takes you right to a list of nearby messages, which feels a bit like BlockChalk (though without the anonymity of that service). Thanks to this, you can even get good use out of the service if none of your friends are Gmail users. You can, for example, just ask a Twitter-like question that's related to your location ("Where can I find good pizza around here?") and anybody on Buzz can see your message and post an answer.

Worries about Privacy.

By default, location sharing is turned on in Buzz, which raises concerns about privacy. Just today, as the European Union celebrates "Internet Safety Day," the E.U. warned users to turn off geolocation services whenever possible. Clearly, we do feel a lot more comfortable with sharing what we had for lunch than where we are right now. It would be nice, though, if Google allowed users to easily control the precision of this location data. A lot of people would be very comfortable with sharing what city they are in, for example, but don't necessarily want to disclose the exact coffee shop they are sitting in right now. On the other hand, that would also dilute the value of the information and it looks like Google opted to go for precise locations that are couple to Place Pages for this exact reason.

Geolocation: The Killer Feature for Buzz

By connecting Buzz to Google Maps Place Pages and by having a huge built-in user base, Google will be able to deliver a better location-aware social networking experience than any of its competitors. The question, of course, is if users are actually looking for this. The early reactions to Buzz are mostly positive, but we still have to wait and see if this will be another failed attempt by Google to create a social networking service, or if the tight Gmail integrations and Google's aggressive push to put Buzz front and center on its mobile services will be enough to convince users to use Buzz regularly.