When I wrote about Oodle a while back, I wondered if the sources of its listings would ever get cranky (Oodle scrapes classified listings all over the web, then creates a vertical search engine). I never thought the first grump would be craigslist – but indeed, the company has asked Oodle to stop scraping its listings. It feels counter to the vibe craigslist has always had. I’ve asked Craig for his reasoning, will post if/when he responds…
The more I think about this, the more I believe that these two deals are linked, intentionally or not. In my last post about Yahoo and MSFT interoperating around IM, I suggested this is a reaction to Google Talk. Kind readers jumped all over me. You were right to do so, as I did not explain myself very clearly. What I really should have said is, it’s a reaction to the potential for Google to interoperate its IM client (Google Talk) with, oh, say, AOL’s (AIM). It’s a battle in a larger war for AOL, and for overall market share.
If you stare at how the battle lines might be drawn up here, the Google/AOL partnership discussions demonstrate that Google is actually starting to play poker in a calculated, strategic fashion, much as its peers in the media world have been for years. Google is at the table now, and like everyone else, it’s eyeing the flop….and the flop, folks, is AOL.
IM and VOIP are critical applications to all players at this table, right? If Google struck a deal with AOL, they could defend their fledgling toehold in IM, and extend it to one of the largest installed bases in the world.
What else is critical to Google right now? Access to traffic of good intent (ie, search traffic and good content traffic). AOL has both, and could help Google defend currently owned search turf, as well as grow its share of this critical revenue/profit driver.
What else? Google must find new users to whom it can distribute the all important Google Toolbar/Sidebar/Destop Search et al – Google knows it has to get into deeper relationships with its users to prosper. AOL has shitloads of users, and were a deal to go down, it’d be pretty straightforward to turn all of ’em into Google clients.
Comcast, from what I can tell, wants to convert AOL users to Comcast broadband customers. Makes sense. Comcast doesn’t play where Google does, so a partnership might work. And while it might be a stretch for Comcast, the company does not have an open distribution network of any significance, and AOL just might make sense should Roberts & Co decide they need to diversify away from its two businesses of pure broadband provisioning and closed cable networks, which is threatened by TV over IP, among other things.
When I interviewed Jonathan MIller on stage last week he said he knew he was a “swing vote” in the portal wars. There is clearly a war going on right now between Google and Microsoft for the prize of AOL, and Yahoo and Comcast are playing in so far as they can cause trouble, and perhaps, swoop in at the last minute and steal the bride itself.
This is a new game for Google, which has in the past pretty much set itself apart from the rough and tumble world of Big Bets Based on Business Strategy. My gut reaction to the news was that this was a bad idea – Google does not have the Media Player DNA, and in its core believes it should win through innovation, not dealmaking. This next stage of the company’s life should be very interesting to watch. My gut tells me that in the end, Google will get cold feet, mainly because the price (of either a deal or an acquisition) will be too dear, and AOL will fall to Microsoft, who will be willing to overpay. But watch Yahoo here, and Comcast – either one might decide to up the ante and change the game as well.
Rumors of Google investing, with Comcast no less, in AOL. I think it’s not a great idea, but more on that initial reaction later.
Also, MSFT and Yahoo partner on IM, can you say Reaction to Google Talk?
And, Google puts wood behind the arrow of Google’s foundation. A billion or so…
I’m running between book stuff, so a few things of note. First, it was fun to meet a few readers last night, one of whom was from Real, which settled its differences with MSFT today, so congrats on that!
Third, I should note for those of you who missed it, that Sergey Brin stopped by the Web 2.0 conference last Friday and I had a chance to interview him on stage. That was fun, as it was both unexpected and great timing, as I had already interviewed Diller, Semel, Medhi, and Miller, all of whom had things to say about Google. So Brin got to answer them. Coverage here.
Fourth, Xeni Jardin of BB has written another op ed, this one about Yahoo both launching Kevin Site’s site as well as helping to jail a Chinese journalist via the Database of Intentions…
And finally, SEW shows you how Google is getting into tagging….
Yahoo tonight is launching a new version of its News search that includes blogs, Flickr photos and My Web results. From the release:
Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today announced that Yahoo! Search is beta testing a new version of Yahoo! News Search which now includes blogs, Flickr photos and My Web links, available today at http://news.search.yahoo.com. The move to augment professional journalism with grassroots journalism signals Yahoo!’s commitment to fusing mainstream content with user-generated content to give consumers a more complete search experience…..
…Beginning today, when a user conducts a search on Yahoo! News they will receive mainstream news stories along with blogs. When a user clicks on “all blog results” they will receive Flickr photo thumbnails and My Web links on the right hand side of the search results page. By incorporating grassroots journalism from all around the globe into News Search results, consumers can now enjoy opinions, analysis and commentary, via blogs, and related photos from the Flickr community that provide a visual context to breaking news as reported by everyday people. In addition, the new My Web feature, Yahoo!’s new social search engine that harnesses the collective knowledge of the My Web community, provides relevant links to information related to the news topic.
Try a search for Web 2.0, which was covered more by blogs than by mainstream sources. The plan is to roll it out at 7 pm PST, but I could not see it yet….
I’ll be heading up to Seattle Monday bright and early, to speak at both Microsoft and Amazon. I return Tuesday afternoon. We don’t have a bookstore signing set up there, but maybe we can meet up in the bar at the W if you’d like. Just let me know….
This is my second to last book tour event. I go to Vegas for a talk Weds, back Thursday. Then, a few talks here and there through November and December, but nothing really requiring major new trips. I am really, really tired, and very, very happy with how the book did. Onwards….
Update: So it looks like if any Seattle Searchbloggers want to meet up, let’s do it at around 7 pm, lobby bar of the W in downtown Seattle. I’ll be the one with a bourbon and a menu…
The big issue is finding relevant and intelligent blog posts on a specific topic, that are based on authority. The authority is not an arbitrary decision of a human community, but a “collective effort.” Google tries to do this in its new Reader by restricting “google search” to RSS feeds. But that’s not the answer.
Instead, I recommend you guys take a look at Sphere, a stealth mode start-up that has developed some interesting algorithms to solve this problem.
Readers may have noticed Intel ads on the right. These are new, indeed, a product of Searchblog’s joining the FM network. Please tell me if they bum you out, but it’s all part of the alpha phase of FM’s rollout. They’ll go away, and others will follow, I hope. I’m very excited, now that Web 2 has occurred, to focus entirely on FM. Many others, including Om, Glenn, Boing Boing, and Matt, are coming along for the ride….
Google is announcing as I type a new feedreader – a first generation one, but full text, which I think is the best approach. It’s not up yet, but it will be shortly, in their Labs section.
Google also announced its work on determining sex of a person using pattern recognition in photos. This is a first step toward ID’ing faces, then searching by face. Cool.
Yahoo, by the way, also showed some cool photo stuff, a flickrstream that shows tags and images by cluster a long a timeline.
Update: It’s live.
Right now, Prabhakar Raghavan is showing a cool slider widget that fliters results in real time giving the fabled second hit of user input into results. This is not new, from what I can tell, but the first time I saw it. Cool.