free html hit counter October 2007 | Page 5 of 7 | John Battelle's Search Blog

Travlin', Again

By - October 10, 2007

Posting is going to be spotty for the next week or so. I am traveling, then Web 2 starts….

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What Should I Ask Steve Ballmer?

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Ballmer-1Steve Ballmer has been much in the news this year, taking potshots at Google (remember the one trick pony quote?), calling Facebook a fad (but considering another investment, reportedly), projecting massive growth in Microsoft’s advertising business, you name it. It seems Steve knows one thing for sure – if you are going to win in these markets, you must to be in front of them. Literally.

That’s good for us, because on the morning of Day Two of Web 2, we’ll wake up to a conversation with Steve Ballmer. This will be his first appearance at the event, and I think it marks a new era at Microsoft, an era of engaging with the Web industry more directly. In the past few years of visiting and doing business with Microsoft, I’ve found folks at the company welcoming, willing to admit mistakes, and eager to learn.

And as I have done with Mark Zuckerberg and Chris DeWolfe/Rupert Murdoch, I’d love your help on what to ask him.

A few things come to mind:

- Microsoft and Facebook, happy partnership or headed for trouble? Do you plan to invest more, or is Facebook a fad? How is the ad deal you did with them working out?

- The question I will also ask Brian McAndrews: You declared recently that 25% of MSFT’s revenues would be advertising in the future. That’d make Microsoft a media giant, one of the largest in the world. But is being a media company, well, in your DNA? If you are serious about this, how do you do it? Is a major acquisition (AOL? Yahoo?) in the works?

- Office Live: How does it win against Google Apps, Yahoo Zimbra, Sun OpenOffice, etc?

- Google: Is it still a one trick pony? What do you make of the company?

- Silverlight vs Flash vs…

- Search: You talk it up and have come a long way, but…why keep tilting at it? Why not just work with Yahoo and call it a

- Who do you wish you owned that you don’t? Was aQuantive the last big acquisition for a while?

- What do you make of Apple’s recent surge?

- The rap on Microsoft is often that the company is a bit sclerotic – slow to move, stuck in its ways. True?

- In the past five years, your stock has vacillated in a narrow range of 22 to 28 or so, but it’s on the rise lately (to 30). How do you get your stock out of what seems to be a permanent flatline?

- What technology are you stoked about?

I’d also love to do the one word game with Steve. He strikes me as a guy who has a quick wit and a very good sense of humor, and he’s not afraid to say whatever is on his mind. Words I’d toss out include:

o Google

o Facebook

o Privacy

o MySpace

o eBay

o Zimbra

o ATT

o Net Neutrality

o Halo

o Nintendo

o Department of justice

o Doubleclick

o AOL

o Steve Jobs

Microsoft is so vast, so important, I know I’ve missed a ton of stuff. So help me out here – what would you ask Steve Ballmer?

Google Phone Not A Google Phone

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08Google190(Image from NYT.com)

As I expected, The Times reports that Google plans to build a software suite/platform for a new class of phones. I thought so. (My post called “Google Phone-y” is here.)

From the Times piece:

“The essential point is that Google’s strategy is to lead the creation of an open-source competitor to Windows Mobile,” said one industry executive, who did not want his name used because his company has had contacts with Google. “They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.”

Key to the success of this plan? Developers. And undercutting the economics by running Adsense, of course:

“The essential point is that Google’s strategy is to lead the creation of an open-source competitor to Windows Mobile,” said one industry executive, who did not want his name used because his company has had contacts with Google. “They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.”

Google as Video Distributor

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Google’s vast Adsense network has become, as expected, a video content distribution network. Comcast, knock knock, are you paying attention?

More here.

Ballmer's 25% Solution: A $16 Billion Advertising Business

By - October 08, 2007

Steve Ballmer recently got a lot of ink for declaring that Microsoft has the advertising business squarely in its sights. Microsoft would see at least 25% of its revenues from advertising within a few years, he declared.

Let’s put that one in perspective. Microsoft is currently a $51 billion business. Twenty five percent of that is nearly $13 billion. Given that he’s talking about a few years out, with current annual revenue growth rates, one can safely assume that’d be 25% of around $65 billion, or more like $16 billion. That’s two and a half times Yahoo’s current size, and north of where Google will probably end up this year.

The big question is: How? Ads on Office Live? Acquiring new inventory? Developing AdSense 2.0? These are the questions I plan to ask Brian McAndrews, the newly minted chief of Microsoft’s advertising business, at Web 2 next week. Joining him on stage will be James Bilefiled, of OpenAds, Curt Viebranz, the Tacoda chief who was recently named head of AOL’s advertising business, and David Karnstedt, SVP of sales at Yahoo. Each of these leaders see the same opportunity as Ballmer – the half trillion dollar advertising business is going digital – and each are charged with delivering on it.

It promises to be a robust discussion.

So what would you all ask the panel?

Reid Gets Day In Court

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I first spoke to Brian Reid when I was reporting the book, he was clearly not happy about his former employer, Google. He filed an age discrimination lawsuit a few years back, it was dismissed, but it’s back, News.com reports.

While We're on the Topic…

By - October 07, 2007

…sort of, of Health (Adam was the man behind Google Health, which is now in the domain of the restless Marissa Mayer), Microsoft has let loose with more details on its play, HealthVault. More at ars