free html hit counter February 2009 - Page 2 of 3 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Patch Funded by Google Exec

By - February 23, 2009

With all the conversation recently (see here and here) around Google’s role in either destroying or underwriting newspapers, this news was interesting:

Tim Armstrong, Google’s president of advertising for North America and Latin America, is underwriting a new startup called Patch, which plans to put small teams of journalists in communities all over the country to produce hyper-local news content

Patch describes itself thusly:

Simply put, Patch is a new way to find out about, and participate in, what’s going on near you.

We’re a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities.

We want to make your life better by giving you quick access to the information that’s most relevant to you. Patch makes it easy to:

* Keep up with news and events

* Look at photos and videos from around town

* Learn about local businesses

* Participate in discussions

* Submit your own announcements, photos, and reviews

This is an entirely old idea, one that has been tried dozens of times by dozens of startups and newspaper companies alike. Heck, I suggested exactly this in a speech to the newspaper industry back in 2000. But then again, it’s very rarely the first that wins, its usually the one with a slightly better execution who shows up at the right time. After all, Google wasn’t the first search engine, was it?

The site has this to say about Tim Armstrong’s role in the company:

Polar Capital Group, Tim Armstrong’s private investment company, is an investor in Patch. Polar invested in Patch because Tim believes that Patch should be in every community in America, and wants Patch in his town. He wants to read local news stories done by journalists, make sure that local government is transparent and accountable, see all the ways he can give back to his community, and have his town be as interesting and alive online as it is offline. Tim is also a believer in American ingenuity and knows that products like Patch will help deliver a commercially viable way for communities to support the important work of local journalists, institutions, governments, and businesses. Tim works at Google and his family lives in a Connecticut patch.

More on Polar here.

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Notable – Varney on Google

By - February 21, 2009

I’ve been gone a week and most likely there is a lot of chatter on this, but this article is worth keeping in mind as the new administration gets non economic emergency work started (which could be years, I suppose.)

Antitrust Pick Varney Saw Google as Next Microsoft (Update2)

By James Rowley

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) — Christine A. Varney, nominated by President Barack Obama to be the U.S.’s next antitrust chief, has described Google Inc. as a monopolist that will dominate online computing services the way Microsoft Corp. ruled software.

“For me, Microsoft is so last century. They are not the problem,” Varney said at a June 19 panel discussion sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute. The U.S. economy will “continually see a problem — potentially with Google” because it already “has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising,” she said.


By - February 20, 2009

Oops, went on vacation and forgot to put up a note! See you all next week….

Help Me With A Poll?

By - February 14, 2009

I’m testing out a new poll widget, and to do so FM has asked me to help with some internal research we’re doing to understand an industry (mobile carriers). If you are so inclined, might you take a minute to take the poll?

NOTE: We’re not asking which one you HAVE, but which you PREFER, IE, think is the best.


<a href="">Which mobile carrier do you prefer?</a> | <a href="">BuzzDash polls</a>

Yahoo Joins Twitter

By - February 13, 2009

And folks keep speculating that Google will buy Twitter (Facebook tried, didn’t work out). I think Yahoo might see Twitter as a way to get back to the days of Flickr …making smart moves that help the company keep its mojo and grow data and community rich services. Not sure how folks at Twitter feel about that. I do know Yahoo has cash, which is better than Facebook stock right about now (see this story as to why).

Yahoo on getting aTwitter account.

Twitter: 11%

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Ars covers a Pew report that says 11% of American’s have used Twitter or a similar service. I find that hard to believe.

What I don’t find difficult to believe is how mobile Twitter users are:

Overall, Pew observes that Twitter users engage news and technology at roughly the same rates as everyone else, “but the ways in which they use the technology—to communicate, gather and share information—reveals their affinity for mobile, untethered and social opportunities for interaction.”

More on the study from Pew:

As of December 2008, 11% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others.

This might mean Facebook status as well, which makes more sense (and then seems a bit low!).

Slight Setback In Seas Simmered

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I’ve given Google a bit of grief for boiling too many oceans, today comes news that another of their many bodies of water will be allowed to cool:

(Bloomberg) Google Inc., owner of the world’s most popular search engine, announced plans to shut its three- year-old radio-advertising business and cut as many as 40 jobs, saying the investment didn’t provide enough of a payoff.

The company, which expanded into the market with the 2006 purchase of DMarc Broadcasting Inc., is seeking a buyer for software that arranges ads on radio programs. Google will stop selling radio ads by May 31 and focus instead on online streaming audio, according to a blog posting today.

Google blog post here. The blog, which I’ve monitored for sometime, is called “Let’s Take It Offline” and covers Google’s efforts in boiling the ad market ocean in Print, Radio, and TV. Google cancelled its Print program already, and now with radio “offline,” the title is starting to read with a bit of irony.

However, I do think what Google was trying to do has merit. I was a big defender of the Print efforts, but the program was not supposed to be a savior, rather it was (potentially) a way to cut operating costs and increase sold pages. Radio, I don’t know the market well enough to have an opinion, but I do know the folks who sold Google its radio play (dMarc), are none too pleased with how Google managed it. Navigating the waters of “old media” is not an algorithmic chess game. That much I do know.

TV, I predict, will stick around, because of all traditional media, TV is poised to more fluidly adapt its model to the web. Plus, Google owns YouTube. I think it’s time for a name change on the blog, GOOG. TV ain’t really offline, and in a few years, it’ll be as online as any other electronic medium.

Update: Wow, as I wrote this, the radio icon literally disappeared from the logo on Google’s blog. That was fast!!!

Wondering Out Loud: The AT&T Network

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I love my Blackberry Bold. I’ve had it for two months now and it’s a very good phone. My only gripe is the battery life is a bit sparse, but hey, I’ve had Macs for years, I can live with that. But I have to say, much as I’ve been impressed with the Bold’s speed and features, I’ve been equally unimpressed with the 3G network it came with.

The pitch was that the Bold’s network partner – AT&T – was way faster, allowing me to do stuff like download large files, watch videos, and stream data even while on the phone. In nearly every use case I’ve had so far, I’ve found this not to be the case. Half the time, in fact, I am not even on AT&T’s 3G network, but rather am kicked over to Edge, AT&T’s lower bandwidth older sibling (which is actually more stable, but I digress).

Now my initial reaction to all of this was to complain about how terrible AT&T’s 3G network is, but then again, that complaint is pretty uninteresting – seems everyone complains about their network, right? But a funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago. I found myself at a conference having dinner with a group of colleagues. The fellow next to me had an iPhone on the very same network as me – the AT&T 3G network (in fact, that’s the only network you can get for the iPhone…a fact that makes me suspicious about what was about to happen. But I get ahead of myself….).

The dinner conversation turned to music, and we all got stuck trying to name an 80s soft rock ballad that the restaurant’s rather hapless piano player was busy slaughtering. Someone across the table, who also had an iPhone, loaded up Shazam, an iPhone music app, and pegged the song on the second try (that’s pretty damn cool, but not the point of this story.) Once we had the song, folks started trying to recall the lyrics (thankfully, the piano man was not singing). As the table kept guessing, the fellow next to me was busy on his iPhone. Within about ten seconds, he raised his phone up and silenced the table. There on his screen was a YouTube video of the original singer, belting out the tune.

It was a very cool search-meets-media-meets-popular-culture-meets-dinner-conversation moment, and there’s a ton to be said just about that, but here’s where the story gets irksome, at least to me. “Hey!” I thought to myself as the fellow next to me enjoyed the social capital of being first to find and stream the YouTube video. “I’ve got the cool new Bold, and I have the same 3G network! I wonder if I can do what he just did?”

The answer: A very decided no. It took so long for the video to load I finally just gave up. And no, it was not a javascript, data plan, or browser issue. It was simply speed (at least, that’s how it seemed to me). Meantime, the other guy with an iPhone (Mr. Shazam) replicated my seatmate’s success, streaming the same video on his iPhone within seconds.

I’ve tried now a few times to get YouTube videos to work, in various parts of the country, and I’ve come to a hypothesis: The AT&T network discriminates packets and prioritizes them for iPhones. Am I nuts here, or is something wrong with my phone?

SMX West Thursday Morning

By - February 11, 2009

I’ll be at the other end of the interview schtick Thursday morning when Danny Sullivan puts me on the hot seat in a keynote interview at his SMX West event.

Danny and I want to know: What should we talk about? What do you want to hear me opine upon? I’ll write up the interview here afterwards.