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Spotlight on Tiger

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TigerI’m a Mac guy. That means I pay attention to what Apple does, because it pretty much defines my entire ecology. Yesterday Apple launched Tiger, a new update to its system software. While I realize this does not impact many readers of Searchblog, it’s still a big deal, because Tiger has a search feature called Spotlight which, as far as I can tell, is pretty damn cool. Do I have it yet? No. Will I get it? Yup. Stay tuned for more reports. Meanwhile, the strategic importance of search to Apple is summed up in this ComputerWorld piece: “Mac OS X Tiger: All roads lead to Spotlight”. From the piece:

“We think that people using Mac OS X Tiger will be in the Spotlight menu all the time,” said Brian Croll, Apple’s senior director of Software Product Marketing. “You can go there to find documents, pictures, applications or anything else you want. All roads lead to Spotlight.”

Spotlight and its ability to create and automatically update “Smart Folders” in the Finder will help users find and organize files on their hard drives. This has become more of a problem in recent years because “hard drives are so big we never throw anything away,” said Chris Bourdon, Apple’s product manager for Mac OS X.

Mo Money From Online Ads

By - April 29, 2005

The industry is posting record numbers, quarter after quarter.

From the ClickZ piece:

Online ad revenues for 2004 were up 33 percent to $9.6 billion, the highest level ever, according to the latest report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

New data include finalized revenue numbers from Q3, Q4 and full-year 2004 as reported by interactive advertising sellers. Of the total figure, $2.3 billion was spent in the third quarter; and $2.7 billion in the fourth.

The latter number makes Q4 2004 the most lucrative quarter ever reported for the medium, according to historical IAB/PwC results. That’s perhaps not surprising, as the quarter included both the final four weeks of the Presidential campaign and the holiday season. It was the second consecutive year in which Q4 revenues were up year-over-year.


By - April 28, 2005

Googlebot For RealI can’t help thinking this is not the best image in the world for Google. On the other hand, I really love the passion and, well, sense of wonder this guy shows in his Google Blog posting.

In essence, he came up with the idea of painting a mural of a massive robot connecting the globe through wires, inspired by Google data centers (the mural hangs in one).

Reminds me of the original, from Paul Ford’s classic Google Takes All essay:

Googlebot Earth-1

Media? Search? Technology? Advertising?

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Read Jeff here. If you are a long time reader of Searchblog, this will be a nice summary of the long conversation we’ve been having on this site. Man, things are getting interesing.

Missions and Visions

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I had a chance late yesterday to catch up with Jeff Weiner, point man at Yahoo for all things search. Jeff’s been a great resource for both this site as well as the book, and it had been far too long since we last caught up. The last time we spoke at length he showed me prototypes for what became Y!Q, so my expectations were high for this chat.

Jeff’s always been the kind of guy who not only suffered my fascination with Joints after Midnight topics, he’s even encouraged them. This time around he brought one such topic to me: the overall vision statement for Yahoo Search. The statement is not particularly new, Terry Semel referred to it at the beginning of his comments in the last quarterly earnings call, but Jeff wanted to bounce if off me, and by extension, all of you. He also wanted to talk about where search was going, and the implications of the flood of news in this space over the past few months.

The vision statement for Yahoo Search is pretty damn good, if you’re into that kind of thing (I’ll admit, I am). Here it is, in its entirety:

To enable people to find, use, share, and expand all human knowledge.

Jeff and his team have been testing this phrase at small gatherings and in the press this month, and so far it seems to be well received, if still a bit under the radar. Compare it to Google’s mission statement:

To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.

Interesting, no? Now, I’m mixing my visions and my missions, as many of you may quickly point out. Yahoo Search also has a mission:

To provide the world’s most valued and trusted search service.

But that doesn’t really have the same ring to it. Google’s mission, I think, is really a vision statement in mission clothing, and it feels appropriate to compare it with the Yahoo Search vision.

When you think about Yahoo’s search mission as an organizing principle, a lot of what Yahoo is doing – 360, MyWeb, Y!Q, the purchase of Flickr – start to fall into place. Weiner calls his vision FUSE (for Find, Use, Share, and Expand) and it’s an apt metaphor – using search to fuse a myriad of services and applications, all of which center on knowledge and its application.

As Jeff pointed out to me, at the center of the idea of FUSE is what’s happening to media – how every single medium – music, TV, print, telecom, even our first versions of the web – is being remixed and reordered by Web 2.0. It’s an old saw, but mass media really is becoming my media – through RSS, podcasting, iTunes, Tivo, blogs, and many innovations to come. And central to navigating a my media world is search. Hence, the FUSE vision holds water for me – search is not just about a web index. It’s about my interface to the world.

I like both Google and Yahoo’s visions, to be honest, they both augur a future where control lies with us, through the questions we ask and the tracks we leave across the ever expanding web. Yahoo’s focus on sharing, I think, is critical, and perhaps a key area where Google’s (stated) vision may be lacking at the moment. But with so many recent innovations in that space – search history, Gmail, increased RSS support, centralized account management – I don’t expect that deficit to stand for long.

Comments Broken on Searchblog?

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We’ve had a problem with the TypePad registration system in the past day. It seems that no one can comment. If you can, please leave a comment on this post, so we can test this, and tell me what browser and OS you’re using. I’ll assume if there are no comments, that means either A/no one is reading anymore (sob) or B/I got a real issue here. If you want to email me with bug reports, I’m jbat at battellemedia dot com.

UDPATE: Comments are indeed borked, and folks on my end and over at Six Apart are working diligently to fix it. Thanks for all the email, I appreciate it.

The State of Video Search

By - April 27, 2005

An interesting round up by Mark Glaser at OJR. I just finished an interview with Mike Homer for my B 2.0 column, and I have to say, this whole space very much reminds me of the early days of search – a new frontier, many new players, lots of enthusiasm, not much understanding (yet) of how this might all play out.

I spoke to the author about all of this and he quotes me as the kicker to the piece:

CBS and other media companies are caught in a tough spot, wanting to exploit the technology and bring in ancillary income from “The Long Tail” — but are also worried that without DRM their content’s value will vaporize in a haze of file-swapping. John Battelle, author of the forthcoming book, “The Search,” and the Searchblog, says that at least now the entertainment industry sees the opportunity.

“They didn’t see it with Napster, but they see it now,” Battelle said. “They know that there are copies of ‘I Love Lucy’ in the content archives somewhere. Each one of those could become annuities that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, because of the power of ‘The Long Tail.’ But they’re afraid that [we’d] be swapping our copies of ‘I Love Lucy’ on the Web. Most of these solutions claim to do that with some flavor of DRM. But if they cut off the forces of participation and the forces of many, it ain’t gonna take.”

What I mean is this: video search – and its attendant economies (think paid search but with the upfront) will only work if we have millions of people informing our collective knowledge of what is worth our individual attention, and that can only happen if we can annotate, share, and remix video. I very much hope we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot on this one – it could be the start of a massive new industry and cultural shift, or we could be stuck with Web 1.0 approaches. I hope it’s the former.

Titans of Tech Column: Sky Dayton

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B2.0-1I personally can’t wait till full 3G nets hit the US. I spent some time with Sky talking this and other stuff over recently, and the result is my current column in B 2.0.


Surfing the Virtual Wave

EarthLink founder Sky Dayton helped connect our PCs to the Net. Now he wants to put Korea’s version of wireless broadband on our cell phones.

By John Battelle, May 2005 Issue

For more than a decade, no matter how you’ve wanted to connect, Sky Dayton has been there with the hookup. The coffee shop owner turned Net entrepreneur started EarthLink and built the Internet service provider into a billion-dollar business. Then he wove a patchwork of Wi-Fi hotspots into a nationwide network, Boingo. Now he wants to reboot the cell-phone business.

All along he’s been guided by two ideas: You don’t have to own infrastructure to sell service, and customers care about applications, not technology. That’s why EarthLink and Boingo thrived while rivals spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Internet backbones and Wi-Fi routers, only to go out of business.

For his latest venture, true to form, he’s renting out space on cell-phone networks to give American customers something that South Korea has had for years: high-speed Internet access over a 3G (third-generation) wireless network and sophisticated handsets packed with the latest technologies. While DSL is fast and Wi-Fi is fun, both tether you to a limited area. 3G truly puts the Internet “in the air,” as Dayton likes to say. EarthLink, where he is still a board member, and Korea’s SK Telecom are putting $440 million into the new venture, SK-EarthLink, for which Dayton will serve as CEO while it prepares for a launch of service this year. Business 2.0 sat down with Dayton in his Santa Monica, Calif., office to get a preview of the wireless future.

How did South Korea get so far ahead of us in wireless?

Part of it is technical. They bet on Qualcomm (QCOM) technology, which is now the basis of all 3G networks. Lately they’ve even overtaken Japan as the hothouse of wireless development. Sprint and Verizon (VZ) and Cingular are just now rolling out the high-speed technology that SK Telecom deployed more than three years ago. We’ve been living in the past. The other part is cultural. Koreans study and work a lot harder. It’s no wonder they got so far ahead.

So what do they have that we don’t?

The applications that SK has built are a glimpse into the future — live video on a handset, multiplayer games, and location-based services. To provide those kinds of services, it created a huge infrastructure: billing, video streaming systems, gaming, mapping systems, all that stuff. We’re bringing that over lock, stock, and barrel and plugging it into the U.S. cellular infrastructure.

Why aren’t you building your own network?

I have a lot of respect for the capital and focus it takes to be successful at building infrastructure. It’s just not my core competency. EarthLink already had mobile virtual network operator agreements with Verizon and Sprint, and we contributed them to the joint venture. We have a foundation to build a house on now.

Which applications will draw users to the service first?

There are many I’m not ready to talk about yet. But there’s music and video and location-based services. On my first trip to Korea last summer, I was at a restaurant, and one of the guys was late. I asked his colleague, “Can you call him and see if he’s close so we can get on with lunch?” He said, “Just hold on a second.” So he flips open his phone, pokes around a bit, shows me a little dot moving on a map on his screen, and says, “He’s almost here.”

(continued in extended entry)

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