Monday, October 8, 2007

How the Portals Will Win the Social Networking Wars

Every time I make a prediction, there's a better than 90% chance I am going to be wrong. But this one, you can take to the bank. The portals - AOL, Yahoo, Google, Windows Live, all of them - will be big winners in the social networking wars.
"What," you say? "How can that be? I already spend all my time on Myfaceborkutspace. My life is there. My friends are there. I lose an hour each time I even log into Myfaceborkutspace. Portals are so Web 1.0. I am all about Web 3.14159265."
I can't rebut this argument. Social networking is certainly rising and there seems to be no end in sight to the phenomenon. However, what I do know is that people will jump around from one Myfaceborkutspace to another and not all of them will win. This is particularly going to be true as social networking evolves from a destination into a feature of every web site.
So what does this have to do with the portals? Actually, a lot. They will be big winners, no matter which social networks dominate over the long haul.
The portals own the glue that keeps many of us connected to our structured social networks (e.g. Myfaceborkutspace) and the looser ones - e.g. a personal network of contacts. And that glue is a trusted communication system that works with every person and social net.
No matter which social network(s) you participate in, even if you float, you're going to turn to your trusted communication system to manage it all. This will include any or all of the following: a) web-based e-mail, b) instant messaging (which is nowadays integrated), c) RSS and d) telephony tools like Grand Central. And who dominates those? Yup. The portals - all of them. They have a pretty good lock in, especially as they give you all the storage you need.
This is not going to change. The big blurring of work and home technologies is allowing people to achieve greater flexibility in thieir lives. Webmail and IM are big drivers here. We're hooked but good because we use these four tools to also manage our interactions on social nets. I expect the portals will eventually build in new features that make this even all the more efficient.
Further, a lot of interactions you have within a portal site are monetized. So more social networking translates into more bacn, emails and IMs from contacts you want to follow, RSS feeds, voicemails, etc. This cascades into more ad clicks, searches and banner/rich media ad views. The result? Free money for the portals. Thank you Uncle Myfaceborkutspace! Even better, they didn't have to build a competitor. They just sit back and simply cash in.

Portals vs. social networks? The new operating system!

Over on Micropersuasion, Steve Rubel is making a bold prediction: The portals will be big winners in the social networking wars. "Social networking is certainly rising and there seems to be no end in sight to the phenomenon. However, what I do know is that people will jump around from one Myfaceborkutspace to another and not all of them will win." Rubel refers to Long Tail author Chris Anderson who points out that all good web sites should have elements of social networking and therefore suggests that social networking is "a feature, not a destination." Rubel believes that the portals' key advantage is that they "own the glue that keeps many of us connected to our structured social networks (e.g. Myfaceborkutspace) and the looser ones -- e.g. a personal network of contacts. And that glue is a trusted communication system that works with every person and social net."
That's true. You could also say that our buddy list is our social network, and we appreciate just plugging it into the most convenient and trusted network of our choice. Call it "the floating network." I therefore also agree with Rubel when he says that "No matter which social network(s) you participate in, even if you float, you're going to turn to your trusted communication system to manage it all. This will include any or all of the following: a) web-based e-mail, b) instant messaging (which is nowadays integrated), c) RSS and d) telephony tools like Grand Central."
There are good reasons why there is a lot at stake for the traditional portals, and there are good reasons (Rubel names them) to predict they will not just sit back and watch the young social networking sites own the game, especially now that business has begun facing up to social networks. And yet, I am hesitant to follow Rubel's prediction that the portals will have the upper hand in this conflict. In fact, I think he gets the conflict wrong. I don't think this is as strict an antagonism as Rubel describes it, and I would even question the "war parties" as he identifies them: On the one side, the emerging social networks that are relentlessly trying to enhance the one main feature they're built upon ("making connections") into a platform. On the other side, the big portals, the AOLs, MSNs, Yahoo!s, that are seeking to operate more like social networks. This is an over-simplified showdown, for Rubel stages a competition where, in fact, we witness a co-evolution. The portals will adapt the best social networking features, for example by activating the "dormant social networks" they own (see Yahoo! Mash), and the social networks will adapt some of the portals' features; just yesterday AllFacebook and Paid Content speculated that Facebook is preparing to launch a music platform, either as a potential iTunes killer (according to AllFacebook) or a MySpace competitor (according to Paid Content).
However -- and herein lies the major difference to Rubel's assumption -- both social networks and portals strive to eventually become something entirely different: the new operating system. Facebook is not shy about its intentions, and you could argue that they've already transformed the site into something much bigger than a social network.
It is a not a social networking war; it is a race to become the de facto operating system for the social networker. And that is of course why Google, which is neither a social network nor a portal, is in the game, too. The company is said to be feverishly working on "out-facebooking" Facebook by introducing a meta-platform that integrates not only a suite of Google services (like iGoogle, Gmail, Google Talk, Orkut, etc.) but is also 100% open to third-party developers -- and other social networks. Google's recent acquisition of mobile social network Zingku indicates that this uber-platform may have a strong mobile component and the long-rumored free, ad-based phone service. In other words, while social networks and portals are fighting the "social networking wars," Google may be winning the actual competition at hand: to become the dominant operating system for all of our communications. You can also call it the World Wide Web.
Originally posted at Matter/Anti-Matter.

How Many iPhones are Sold Just to be Unlocked?

It's seems like many people is simply buying iphones to unlock them and then rebuy it. Here it is a russian demonstration on how to do that ;)

Once again, russians are over the top on technologies. Bliat!

Investment bank Piper Jaffray analysts have indicated that as many at 10% of iPhones sold during the month of September were purchased with the intention of being unlocked and resold. Analyst Gene Munster has taken into account the number of iPhone, iPod and Mac sales in Apple stores across the country, and noted that “many” customers were buying the max of 5 iPhones per store visit.

The assumption here is that the phones are being resold as unlocked devices, which is something Apple doesn’t like to hear, and has been adamant about stopping. Munster did note that the recent release of iPhone software version 1.1.1 has rendered most of the unlocked phones inoperable. While Munster’s study has a lot of wiggle room for statistical interpretation, and is still a third-party study based on several assumptions, it’s clear that iPhones are being unlocked at a rate high enough to piss Steve Jobs off.

Will Apple ever allow iPhones to be unlocked and used on other networks? It doesn’t look like it. Apple’s becoming more tyrannical with the limitations on how your iPhone can be used, and many consumers are voicing their disdain for the increased controlling measures Apple’s taking with the handheld. One woman has even gone so far as to sue Apple for what amounts to bad marketing of the iPhone, in her opinion.

10 Signs Of Web 2.0 Overload

If I sprinkle my conversations with references to Second Life or YouTube or User Generated Content (UGC, to those in the know), then I can roll with the big boys. So Digg this and that. Facebook my Engadget you TechCruncher! Fark my Valleywag. As we approach the Web 2.0 Summit in less than two weeks, knowing these useful signs of overload will be extremely useful.

10.) You make popcorn before you and your office mates watch YouTube Harry Potter episodes during lunch.

9.) You use the words Skype, Google (NSDQ: GOOG), and Friend as verbs, typically followed by the word "me."

8.) You think the iPhone is a paradigm shift.

7.) You use the phrase paradigm shift. Or Sea Change.

6.) You don't write to your family -- you make them link to your blog.

5.) Or you turn your successful blog into a pimp-fest for all of your friends.

4.) You have a Zune . . . just because it will be worth something one day, even if it isn't worth a damn right now.

3.) It's not enough to have voice over IP. It's not enough to have a cell phone. You need to have voice over IP on your cell phone.

2.) You are a grown adult, and you wake up realizing you just dreamed in Avatar. Worse, your avatar dreams in real life.

1.) Speaking of dreams, the bottom of this page, where it encourages you to "share this article," doesn't really cause you any alarm at all! StumbleUpon? Furl? Ma.gnolia? Newsvine? Can I please get a "select all" button?

And then you realize that somewhere in this Web 2.0 avalanche, there just may be some substance after all.

Posted by fnelson, Oct 4, 2007 06:15 PMq.

Web 2.0 Can Help Us Find Out About the Good, the Bad, and The Ugly of a Neighborhood

Larry Cragun's post entitled "Hi, Neighbor, Welcome to the Condominium Project" got me thinking about the new sites offering information about cities, towns, neighborhoods.
This information has only recently become available to buyers. The information shared is at much deeper level than school test scores, police statistics, and Chamber of Commerce information. Now, there are many sites dedicated to an open dialogue and sharing of detail. People can talk more specifically about schools, shopping, the actual streets, and neighborhoods. Soon you may be able to learn things about the noisy dog on the street or that neighbor who smokes on the deck!
From reading all the comments on Sandy Kaduce's post, "Oops, I Think I lost My Rose Colored Glasses", it's obvious how much buyers crave hyper-local information. I am firmly in the camp, that we, as Realtors, should share the facts with our buyers. Buyers hire us to tell them what we know from our years of experience. Do we have access to some of the facts about an area? Yes. Can we direct people to sites that can help them learn more about a neighborhood? Yes, we can make sure buyers know the URL's for the county, the different cities, and the school districts. Encourage buyers to call the schools, talk to the school administration, walk the neighborhoods and talk to the neighbors, call the police, and drive the commute during rush hour.
Should we give our opinion about a neighborhood? Yes, we can, and should, talk about the track record of sales and appreciation, in addition to the above. Many of the facts can be given to clients without "steering" them or "red-lining" a neighborhood.
As Realtors, we can offer new tools to our buyers by directing them to the web 2.0 sites that provide more information about neighborhoods, streets, and the people who live there. Individuals can post information as long as they comply with site requirements.
Here is a sample of some of the sites out there. If more people start using them and adding information, these sites will become a more valuable research tool for all of us.
New web 2.0 sites:
Fat Door. This site is in alpha mode and is only online for some Silicon Valley neighborhoods. One of the founders of the site is an ex-Microsoftie who moved to the Palo Alto area to help develop the site. The site will be an opportunity for neighbors to get to know neighbors and to share information.
Street Advisor. You can enter information about your street for the world to see. This is a good place to talk about neighborhood gatherings, parties, fund raisers, etc. I know of a group of neighbors who have a garage sale every year and use the money raised for a neighborhood block party. What a great thing to share with people and have potential buyers learn about the neighborhood.
Yelp. Learn about all kinds of local information about a specific area. There are reviews of restaurants, shopping, and places to live.
When I searched in Kirkland, I found several posts about a particular apartment complex. Perhaps this would be a great place to list the good, the bad, and the ugly about a condominium or neighborhood.
Walkscore. Plug in an address and find out if a home is within walking distance of services. Homes will be give scores from 1-100. Homes with lower scores will be ones with easy access to services.
And my personal favorite:
Rotten Neighbor This is a new site I read about in the Sellius blog the other day. This site is an opportunity to learn about problems in an area.
People need to use these sites wisely and judiciously. If people abuse the sites and don't provide meaningful and honest information, these web 2.0 sites will become irrelevant.
What are some sites you can share with us? I would be happy to generate a list and post it to the blog. This is information we can all use.
Posted by
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Debra Sinick Debra Sinickat October 4, 2007 11:30 a.m.

The road to Web 2.0 goes through SOA, but how?

A new survey, reported here, finds that most executives see SOA as a key enabler to effective use of Web 2.0 technologies and approaches.
The survey of 330 companies in 11 European countries, sponsored by BEA, found that 55% view SOA as “the best way to support the use of social networking and Web 2.0 development techniques in their IT infrastructure.”
The article was short on details on how exactly these companies see SOA and Web 2.0 converging, other than pointing out that Web 2.0 and SOA both foster greater business agility and productivity.
Though they have a lot in common, and are both about online, on-demand delivery of services, Web 2.0 and SOA typically have been on two separate tracks. In fact, there’s occasionally even been talk that Web 2.0 eclipsing SOA as a preferred path to agility. Web 2.0 is seen as fast-moving, encouraging collaboration, social networking, mashups, and software as a service. SOA cis seen as slow-moving, concentrating on service-enablement of IT resources.
But Web 2.0 and SOA appear to be converging on three levels:
Web 2.0 collaborative environments — blogs, wikis, social networking sites — can facilitate better communication between IT groups and business users as they build and deploy SOA. SOA is an enterprise-wide project, and the work should be transparent and accessible.
Web 2.0 mashups are part of a new generation of composite applications that make SOA accessible to business end-users. It’s now becoming possible for business end-users to develop their own services, rather than waiting for IT. (SOA governance can also play a role in managing the proliferation of such services.)
SOA is granularizing applications to the point that Software as a Service becomes a viable option.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Confirmed: MySpace To Acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

Apparently an overzealous Photobucket employee is the source of this rumor, but we’ve confirmed it with more senior people: MySpace is acquiring Photobucket for $250 million in cash. We’re hearing that there is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million.

Photobucket has been looking for a buyer since March, when they hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

The companies have been in serious acquisition discussions for the last couple of weeks - A dispute that involved Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed.

Photobucket generated $6.3 million in revenue last year and planned on hitting $25 million or more this year. They have 40 million registered users and add another 85,000 per day.

Our first coverage of Photobucket was a year ago. They’ve raised $15 million over two rounds of financing.