free html hit counter October 2007 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Uh oh

By - October 31, 2007

Watch this space, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, aw hell, everyone:

NEW YORK ( — Privacy advocates are expected to propose the creation of a do-not-track list, a sort of internet version of the Do Not Call Registry, at a news conference tomorrow.

In addition to the list, the proposal calls for a requirement that advertisers, as part of their online ads, instantaneously disclose details of what they intend to track. According to a media alert announcing the news conference, the groups behind the proposal include the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others.

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It's Fair Use, Prince

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Get a clue, Purple Dude.

The pop star wanted YouTube to remove a clip of an infant boy dancing to his 1984 hit song “Let’s Go Crazy.” When the clip got scrubbed, the baby’s mother cried foul and filed suit asking for damages. The woman’s lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) say the dancing-baby clip is the poster child for fair use.

Google Launches OpenSocial

By - October 30, 2007

Release below. I will comment after kids go to bed, or Weds…

But here’s the big question: Will Facebook and Myspace play?


Google Launches OpenSocial to Spread Social Applications Across the Web

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — November 1, 2007 – Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the release of OpenSocial — a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web — for developers of social applications and websites that want to add social features. OpenSocial will unleash more powerful and pervasive social capabilities for the web, empowering developers to build far-reaching applications that users can enjoy regardless of the websites, web applications, or social networks they use. The release of OpenSocial marks the first time that multiple social networks have been made accessible under a common API to make development and distribution easier and more efficient for developers.

The proliferation of unique APIs across dozens of social websites is forcing developers to choose which ones to write applications for – and then spend their time writing separately for each. OpenSocial gives developers of social applications a single set of APIs to learn for their application to run on any OpenSocial-enabled website. By providing these simple, standards-based technologies, OpenSocial will speed innovation and bring more social features to more places across the web. Users win too: they get more interesting, engaging, or useful features faster.

“The web is fundamentally better when it’s social, and we’re only just starting to see what’s possible when you bring social information into different contexts on the web,” said XXXX. “There’s a lot of innovation that will be spurred simply by creating a standard way for developers to run social applications in more places. With the input and iteration of the community, we hope OpenSocial will become a standard set of technologies for making the web social.”

Learn Once, Reach Across the Web

One of the most important benefits of OpenSocial is the vast distribution network that developers will have for their applications. The sites that have already committed to supporting OpenSocial — Website Partner A, Website Partner B, Website Partner C, etc. –- represent an audience of well over 100 million users globally. Critical for time- and resource-strapped developers is being able to “learn once, write anywhere” — learn the OpenSocial APIs once and then build applications that work with any OpenSocial-enabled websites.

Several developers, including Gadget Partner Z, Gadget Partner Y, Gadget Partner X, etc., have already built applications that use the OpenSocial APIs. Starting today, a developer sandbox is available at so developers can go in and start testing the OpenSocial APIs. The goal is to have developers build applications in the sandbox so they can deploy on Orkut and ultimately other OpenSocial sites.

More Social In More Places

The existence of this single programming model also helps websites who are eager to satisfy their users’ interest in social features. More developers building social applications more easily translates directly into more features more quickly for websites.

“Orkut has tens of millions of passionate users who are constantly clamoring for new ways to have fun with their friends and express themselves through Orkut,” said Amar Gandhi, group product manager for Orkut, Google’s social networking service. “By using OpenSocial to open up Orkut as a platform for any developer, we can tap into the vast creativity of the community and make new features available to our users frequently.”

The common method that OpenSocial provides for hosting social applications means that websites can engage a much larger pool of third party developers than they could otherwise. They can direct resources that might have gone to maintaining a proprietary API and supporting its developer community to other projects.

Because OpenSocial removes the hassle from developing for individual websites, developers can unleash their creativity anywhere that catches their interest. This will translate into a wave of social features in contexts outside of the personal entertainment and games that are traditionally thought of as the social web.

Three APIs available now

The OpenSocial APIs give developers access to the data needed to build social applications: access to a user’s profile, their friends, and the ability to let their friends know that activities have taken place. OpenSocial resources for developers and websites are available now at

Developers will have access to:

– Three JavaScript and Gdata APIs to access social functions

– A live developer sandbox on Orkut at

Websites will have access to:

– A tool to help OpenSocial-enable their websites

– A support forum for communicating with Google and other websites

All of these resources and the live developer sandbox are available now.

Developers already at work

Dozens of developers have helped test early iterations of the OpenSocial APIs and Google is grateful for the extensive feedback they have provided.

[List of all gadget developers]

Links to these gadgets are available at

Your Google Phone Is Coming, Sorta, Next Year, Journal Says

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From the Journal:

Google Inc. is close to unveiling its long-planned strategy to shake up the wireless market, people familiar with the matter say. The Web giant’s ambitious goal: to make applications and services as accessible on cellphones as they are on the Internet.

In a move likely to kick off an intense debate about the future shape of the cellphone industry, Google wants to make it easier for cellphone customers to get a variety of extra services on their phones — from maps to social-networking features to video-sharing. To get its way, however, the search giant will have to overcome resistance from wireless carriers and deal with potentially thorny security and privacy issues.

What I want to know is this: Will I be locked into certain software apps on my Google phone – or can I treat it with the same indifference I do with the PC Internet? In other words, will I be able to wipe the Google apps off, and use other apps if I choose to? Or is this going to be a distribution play for Google’s apps?

A clue is here in the article:

The Google-powered phones are expected to wrap together several Google applications — among them, its search engine, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail email — that have already made their way onto some mobile devices. The most radical element of the plan, though, is Google’s push to make the phones’ software “open” right down to the operating system, the layer that controls applications and interacts with the hardware. That means independent software developers would get access to the tools they need to build additional phone features.

But that still doesn’t tell me if I can use the phone as a blank slate, so to speak, or if I have to use Google software.

Facebook, Privacy, Mo' Money, Maka Maka

By - October 29, 2007

You go away for a few days, and what happens.

– A Facebook privacy kerfuffle (I asked folks at Facebook about this, the response: Facebook respects user privacy and access to site usage and profile information is restricted at the company. Any Facebook employees found to be engaged in improper access to user data will be disciplined or terminated).

– More rumors of an impending Google counterstrike, code named Maka Maka.

– Yet more rumors that two hedge funds have matched Microsoft’s $15bb valuation and tossed another $500mm into Facebook’s coffers.

What to make of all this?

Well, first, the privacy issues is a very real one for Facebook, because, well, it’s the heart of how the company intends to make good on that $15bb valuation. Knowing a lot about its users is key to the Facebook answer to AdWords. For more insight on what I’m on about, read about how Facebook chooses newsfeed items. It’s quite revealing (right down to the idea of News Feed Optimization). In short, Facebook can’t afford to have the privacy issue go sideways right now.

And speaking of affording, all that new money will come in handy for M&A. It has to, because now that the bar is set at $15bb, I’m guessing entreprenuers who might have otherwise been interested in selling to Facebook for stock might reconsider the upside given such a lofty pre-IPO valuation. Facebook still has a lot to prove, and cash is still king.


By - October 24, 2007

Off to a very quick trip to NYC in the very early morning, then a fast trip to Vegooooooose. Vacation, baby.

Facebook and Microsoft

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So it has happened (WSJ paid). What to make of it?

I was in a meeting in the Valley when this went down, so I’m late to the analysis party. I have no idea if anyone has said this yet, I am sure someone has. But – if there is not insight/boxing out/exclusivity into the new Facebook Social Ads platform as part of this deal, I don’t get it.

If there is, it’s a slam dunk. Or maybe for Microsoft, it’s worth the valuation just to keep Google from having the remnant ad deal in Europe. But I doubt it.

I want to know what the terms are, and by that, I don’t mean the financial terms. I mean the stuff that is not being announced – the agreements to work together on the upcoming Facebook platform, the ability for Microsoft to sell into the Facebook domain proper, etc. At the very least, some guarantee that Google can’t work with Facebook on any future ad platforms that might be developed. And of course, search distribution, which was not confirmed in the conference call, from coverage I could find.

Maybe it comes down to this: Microsoft won, Google lost. If that’s the case, OK, but…the real winner here is Facebook. At least, until it has to earn into a $15 billion valution. Good luck with that if social ads doesn’t pan out. On the other hand, well, congratulations for getting money so cheap.

The long and short of it for me is, the more insight into Facebook’s core business this buys Microsoft, the better it is for Microsoft. How much did they buy with this? No idea. But to think that Microsoft isn’t prototyping exactly what Facebook is already building (social advertising) is to not be thinking – it’d be criminal to not be in this game if you are Microsoft, or Yahoo, or Google. You have to be. So how do those two things square – an investment in Facebook, and a commitment to develop an advertising platform that competes with Facebook?

The Journal’s point of view on this is …. instructive. I think no one in the mainstream press has truly grokked what Facebook has a shot at doing – Adsense driven not by search queries, but by personal profile. It could be a major, major new platform, if we, as a culture, take to it. It’s not a given, but it’s a very compelling vision.

The high valuation for Facebook is the latest sign of a renewed exuberance in Silicon Valley over Internet companies with lots of users — even if those users haven’t yet translated into a lot of revenue — and is reminiscent of the Internet bubble that ended in 2000. Microsoft and Facebook say the valuation is justified and that Facebook is starting to find ways to monetize its rapidly growing user base.

Well, sure they are. The big question is this: will Microsoft get to see what they are doing, and work with them, or are they going to be relegated to selling secondary banner inventory? I have no idea. Do you?

Social Advertising

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The hints of Facebook’s next move continue.

“You are invited to a discussion with Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook executive team as we unveil a new way of advertising online.”

I have to say, I do not see why MSFT or Google are competing to get a chunk of Facebook, given what this announcement is most likely to be.

What is it likely to be? Er, a competitor to AdCenter and AdSense, of course. A syndicated play, without a doubt. Has to be. Unless that chunk comes with some serious intel, I’d save the money and plow it into competing.

John Doerr at Summit

By - October 23, 2007

The video is not up yet, but honestly, I found John’s message utterly compelling. A good review of it here.