free html hit counter October 2004 | Page 2 of 8 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Yahoo Mobilizes

By - October 27, 2004

yahoomobYahoo announced a “new suite of services for the mobile user” today. More details, head here.
Release is in extended entry.

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Google Buys Keyhhole: Mapping Ho

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pageGlobe.jpgOne of the most jaw dropping presentations at Web 2.0 was by the folks at Keyhole, who have some amazing technology for manipulating satellite images of the earth. The images are incredible, but the implications of their tech is what makes your jaw drop. In short, the application seems to turn the world into a searchable visualization. Hmmm.

Today, Google purchased them. More soon. Release in extended entry.

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Gary Finds MSN Interface

By - October 26, 2004

The inestimable Gary Price noodled around the MSN search preview site and found something he probably wasn’t supposed to. The page has since been taken down, but Gary has screen shots (here and here too) and a summary of the MSN search interface he found there. Good work Gary!

…what I found most interesting, an option to use three “sliders” to manipulate the ranking of pages. In other words, add or reduce the weight of certain ranking factors. Some might even call it personalization since the results I see might be different than the ones someone else views for the identical search.
The sliders are labeled:
+ Updated recently–Static
+ Very popular–Less popular
+ Approximate match–Exact match

Meeker on Digital World: Blogs, Yahoo Are Winners

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meekerSure, Mary Meeker raised her target on GOOG recently, which her company Morgan Stanley helped take public, but she’s seen the future of search, and there’s a lot of blogging in it. From her October “Update on the Digital World” (caveat: PDF download):

The Internet has become a leading source for news and information over the past decade, but we believe the emerging acceptance (by users and publishers) of Web content syndication services will drive even broader / deeper usage of the Internet as an increasingly relevant news and information medium. We see three factors that are combining to drive momentum: 1) rising usage of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) by content providers as a standard distribution platform for online content; 2) ramp in the creation of blogs and other user-generated content; and 3) Yahoo!’s easy-to-use integration of RSS feeds (including blogs) that was rolled out in beta to its distribution channel of 25MM+ My Yahoo! users in late September.

While Google’s search engine and advertising tools set the pace for new ways of searching information, we believe that Yahoo! may be setting the pace for new ways of serving information…

It usually takes years for new technologies to develop. Then, a very easy-to-use way to use the technology is launched and—seemingly overnight—related products become mainstream. Two recent examples include the Web browser, which brought the Internet to the masses, and the Apple iPod, which is doing the same with digital music. Today, this type of mainstream push for delivering syndicated news and information to consumers may be driven by Yahoo!’s newly redesigned My Yahoo! personal page…

….In our experience, if there is value in something that is also easy / friendly to use, people will use it. Consider iTunes for legal music downloads or TiVo for digital video recordings—in both cases, a clean interface and intuitive controls spurred adoption. The simplification of blogging tools, such as those offered by Blogger.com, has allowed anyone with an opinion and an Internet connection to become a publisher, journalist, and editor (our humble definition of a blogger)…Despite all the noise and random content in blogs, many bloggers have become sources for breaking news, fresh ideas, and expert commentary….

…And if there are hundreds or thousands of thought leaders and motivated, interested parties on the Internet with the ability to publish news or insights into any number of local or global issues, then it is safe to say that these blogs often become both the first source of news, a vital proving ground for authors and a source of potential community for other interested parties. For example, you’re probably going to get far more Boston Red Sox specific-content from a blog about the Red Sox made by a die-hard fan than you will from a random sports page, especially if you’re after opinions and community.

meekernewsMary then goes on to note that with blogs, the Power of the Tail comes into play (see Tim and my presentation regarding this and other trends at Web 2.0):

The mainstreaming of Web syndication technology such as RSS through easy-to-use and popular services such as My Yahoo! could create a new business model / revenue stream for companies such as Yahoo!, as well as independent freelance Web journalists / content providers. We believe that blogs represent the traditionally hard-tomonetize tail of content, and the barriers to monetization are slowly being overcome. … By integrating blogs with search, and by making it easy for end-users to find and add blogs, Yahoo! is playing a key role in driving blog readership and RSS usage among endusers.

Meeker then shows us another chart, which makes the “more music, less Britney” point:

meekernews2

This is another way of saying that the internet lets thousands of “bands” flourish, each supported by their own economies of scale.

Which is why I’m interested in and excited by Feedburner, Kanoodle, AdBrite (recently renamed from MarketBanker), and the like. In her report, Mary talks a bit about the potential for all this to mean money to someone (after all, she’s a Wall St. analyst) and she concludes:

We believe syndication technology is one of the tools that through a virtuous cycle should propel Internet leaders such as Yahoo! further into the forefront of all media, albeit slowly and steadily. High-quality, unique, and cutting-edge content is critical for the growth of any medium. We believe advertising and fees for syndicated content present a potential business opportunity for the Internet leaders and content providers.
…We would like to think that the popularization of syndicated content could further fulfill some promise of an engaging, useful and vibrant user-generated medium on the Internet. This does not suggest the endof mass media, either broadcast or narrowcast, but it could represent significant changes in consumption andmonetization. If the Internet is a marketplace of ideas, then the best ideas should float to the top, with traditional mass media perhaps serving as a tool for legitimizing/establishing discourse. The driver for Yahoo!, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.com’s Internet successes has been their never-ending quest tocreate the perfect, seamless user experience—in other words, they do right by their users. What open syndication shows is that by doing right by their users and independent publishers, they also have the potential ability to do right by investors, in our view.

I think Mary outlines trends in this space well, her report is a must read for all of you interested in the business implications of blogging. Her conclusion: This blogging thing, it got legs. And that’s a fine way to end my 1,000th post here on Searchblog.

The Rule of Ten

By - October 25, 2004

Caveat: Totally off topic (sort of).

For some reason, I grow uneasy if I have more than ten emails unanswered in my inbox. I’ll stay at my computer late, I’ll forego creature comforts, if it means I can get the message queue down to ten or less before I sleep.

Lately this has become difficult, as the number of fun and/or important time requests, or reads/groks/responds, or emails that force other actions have risen to the point where my inbox often demands more of me than I can reasonably give.

A quick spin through my inbox reveals: A great paper to read from a colleague; I can’t respond to him till I read it, so it stays in my queue. There’s an appointment to book when I next go to New York, and a Very Important Person who’s emailed me wondering if we’re on. But I can’t confirm till I get an email from someone else, so…it stays in the queue. A voicemail from another New Yorker (I get vmail as email, thanks to VOIP), which I can’t delete till I call them back, and it’s too late to call, so the email stays in the queue. There’s an invitation to a breakfast panel, but I am attempting to limit my time now, as it’s All About the Book. Still, the person asking is great, and I would very much like to be in the company of smart people, it always proves fun and worth the time. I can’t make up my mind, so … the email stays in the queue. There are three comments from smart Searchbloggers, each with valid and interesting points which merit followup, but they require that I think, and think judiciously, and it’s late, and my kids are home so… their email stays in the queue. And so on. I’m down to 15, but I can’t seem to kill the last five….

Am I insane? Does anyone else manage their life this way? More to the point… does anyone have a better way?

PS – This is post #999 of Searchblog. Cool!

Is The Google IPO Rubbing Off?

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sdc_logoOr is Shopping.com going to pop on its own accord? It priced at the top of the range today…and will trade shortly. Lead underwriter: Goldman. Ticker symbol: SHOP.

Shopping.com’s IPO priced 6.87 million shares at $18 per share, the underwriter said. Earlier in the day, the company raised the expected price range of the offering to $16 to $18 per share from $14 to $16 per share.

Note that back in March, when they filed (wow, back in March!) I pegged this as a search IPO….

More on the IPO at IPOHome:

Shopping.com is the largest online comparison and consumer reviews shopping service in the U.S. with more than 20 million users per month. It is also the fourth largest online shopping destination behind only eBay (EBAY), Amazon (AMZN) and Yahoo!, and it now comes to market with a track record of growth and earnings. Over the last three years, annual revenue increased from $13 million in 2001 to $67 million in 2003. More importantly, losses have turned into earnings with 2003 marking its first full year of profitability both on a GAAP and proforma basis. For the twelve months ended June 30 2004, the company generated almost $16 million in operating cash flow (or EBITDA) on $84 million in total revenue.

Also: Hoovers and Gary.

It will be very interesting to see if this pops like GOOG did. If it does, I’d warrant it’s frustrated wanna be GOOG investors, who didn’t get in on that gravy train, jumping on this one… just in case. This does not feel right to me. On the other hand, it feels…familiar.

UPDATE: It popped, yup it did.

The GooBrowser Won't Die

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mozEric Schmidt, CEO of Google, says they won’t build a browser.

But still some Slashdotters see a browser under Google’s bed, after grokking this Mozillanews.org story. What if…well…what if they don’t build a browser, but rather, well, lease one from Mozilla?

The juicy bits:

…after weeks of analysis, this is where we think Gbrowser is headed.

The overlap is looking like a Google branded and customized Firefox based browser. To help set it apart from the rest of the browser crowd, they’re integrating a lot of their own technologies. Since Firefox does not contain a mail app, they’re integrating Gmail for email access, with a built in new-mail notifier. Interestingly, mailto: urls will work with Gmail, allowing peple to click email links in pages and have Gmail open a new mail to that address, as well as IE-like buttons on the toolbar for composing new mail from scratch.

Newsgroups will be built in similar to Gmail with the Google Groups service, and possibly the ability to select groups to watch, like in a full fledged newsreader (like Mozilla Thunderbird). And Google News will also have built in access from the browser along with Google Alerts or a similar, RSS-based feature.

Other features include better search integration, with the extra features such as Image Searching by right clicking on an image or selected word. As Silicon.com found there is also a Google branded IM service on the way as well, and could be a Jabber or rebranded AIM also coming bundled with the browser.

There are other, extra-browser features that will most likely come with it, and tie into the browser, such as Google Desktop Search, Picasa (with links to the browser for web-related sharing, searching, etc.), and Google Toolbar features that IE users currently enjoy…

Yahacrobat

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AcrobatYahoo and Adobe announced a partnership to incorporate Yahoo search into Adobe products. The most important part of this? What SEW Blog noted Tim Cadogan saying in the AP Story:

For San Jose-based Adobe, the partnership will add online features to one of the software maker’s core products, Acrobat. The program is used by more than 500 million people and has become a common format for viewing documents over the Web and in e-mail attachments.

Under the deal, Adobe will first introduce a cobranded Yahoo browser toolbar that users can choose to install on their computers when prompted to download an update of Acrobat Reader. The toolbar an increasingly popular method of online search engines to stay constantly visible on a user’s Internet browser will feature links to Yahoo products and services as well as Adobe’s Web-based subscription service that lets people convert documents into the Adobe PDF file format.
Later, the companies said, the toolbar will add features such as the ability to quickly convert Web-based content into Adobe PDF files. Yahoo search will also be built into a future version of the Acrobat Reader, allowing users to search for more information from within the document without going through the extra steps of launching a Web browser.

“We call it being available at the point of inspiration,” said Tim Cadogan, Yahoo’s vice president of search.

In other words, search is breaking out of its box, so to speak, and moving into applications far and wide. This will not be the last such announcement you hear in this vein.

Hat tip: SEWBlog.

Playing With Feedburner

By - October 24, 2004

FeedburnMany of you may recall my comments in the past about RSS and business models, I’ve brought the topic up a lot over the past few months. More than half of many blogs’ traffic comes from RSS, and most of that traffic is blind – we don’t know who is reading or why, or how much. Also, unless you stick ad postings onto your site (a practice I’m not really into), none of that traffic sees your sponsors or advertising, should you have any. Net net, not a great business model for serious publishers.

Feedburner is an application that promises to change at least some of that. (Dick Costolo, the CEO, had been a prince helping me set it up. He’s the guy who co-led our RSS Business Models workshop at Web 2.0). I’m playing with it starting this weekend. For every second post over 50 words, Feedburner will burn in an Amazon advertisement. If anyone actually buys something from clicking on those ads, I get a few coppers in my affiliate account. Loyal Searchblog RSS readers don’t have do do anything to see this new feature, it happens automatically.

Again, as with the advertising on the upper right of the site itself, I am not doing this to get rich (any profits made will be given to schools), but to learn about the options and get smarter on the whole new ecosystem. It won’t be long, I predict, before Feedburner and services like it start rolling Overture-like ads into feeds. Then, perhaps, we can change this lame “headlines and summaries only” RSS approach taken by most of the mainstream publishers.

So, feed on, and let me know what you think of the service, and if there are any problems with it. I think the approach of affiliate PPS (Pay Per Sale) is interesting, and we’ll see if it pans out.