Microsoft Strong.

    Technology Marketing

    Google+ is no Facebook or Twitter killer.

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    There’s has been a lot of talk in the ether the last couple of weeks about Google+ and whether or not it will be a Facebook or Twitter killer. (Google Steve Rubel for some smart analysis.) I have an invite to Google+ and added a couple of friends — figuring out the difference between friends, acquaintances, family and even created a circle called Business Peeps.  The fact is, though, thanks to Facebook, I’m not always sure who’s an acquaintance and who’s a friend.  I love the promise of multipoint video chat and think it will be a big deal for Google+.  Also circles is cool, but streaming to circles I haven’t given much thought to. I like Twitter too much.

    Here’s my initial take.  If you can’t tell which website app Google+ is going to “kill” then perhaps it won’t kill either.  Google+ is probably over-built – because it wants to take on both Facebook (the stream page looks exactly like Facebook) and Twitter – and when you try to do too much you often fall short.  That’s not to say Google+ will fail; I suspect there is enough cool stuff there for something really great to stick.  I just don’t think it’s going to bang Facebook or Twitter off their perches.

    There’s no doubt that Google knows, thanks to research and the algorithm, people want all the features and functions it has devised for Plus. But putting them in one candy bar, is going to be a little hard to chew.  There is no killer here. Just a lot of cool stuff bouncing off itself. Peace.

     

    FUE. webOS. Lessons from Zude.

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    I worked for two years at an amazing Web start-up.  The technology had a hink or two but was truly transformational. Imagine being able to go to a website and move the pictures, text and video around, simply by dragging them.  Not your website, someone else’s. Imagine right clicking on just about any object on the web copying and pasting it to your site.  Then, having the ability to move, resize and add text to it.

    It’s what the Gods imagined before an earthling invented HTML; a drag and drop, copy and paste web publishing world.  That world was called Zude.com.

    I was reading about the new HP webOS (via Rachel King at ZDNet) today and one tester of the cool interface on the Touchpad tablet found closing apps by dragging them to the top of the screen not intuitive.  (Close the window perhaps?) The person said he would not have figured it out on his own.

    This brings up something very important in market these days, especially in the area of innovative web technology.  First User Experience.  For Zude, there were 3 unintuitive user behaviors that needed to be taught for first-timers to get the awesomeness:  Drag and Drop From Anywhere, Everything Moves, and When in Doubt Right Click.  Simple tutorials would have launched this product into the stratosphere.  The product was complicated and revolutionary. The promise was “the fastest easiest way to build a website.” The promise laid their like a lox without the proof.

    When webOS launches, if it is as revolutionary as HP says, they need to not publish a 60-page manual. And they don’t need to offer 6 tabs of intuitive help.  HP should find the 3 most exciting, transfixing features and celebrate them. If they are big enough, we will find the rest. 3 and out. Peace.

    PS.  By the way, Micorosoft Windows 7 or Mango, or whatever it is going to be called, should be named Tiles.

    Apple and the Untouchables.

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    The cloud is the cloud.  Apps are the software we all use. Many apps are free, others are pay-for. What the cloud and apps have in common is the internet.  Apple was always a wonderful design company. First and foremost the designs were physical – about the device.  Also the designs were logical – about the software and usability. But physical design is the tangible evidence of what makes Apple graet..

    As Apple moves its center, its core, away from the wonderful designs it has created over the last 8 years towards more cloud-based designs (read iCloud) will the luster come off?  Clouds are pretty to watch, but don’t offer the luster of slim, shiny touchables.  I would almost prefer to see Apple go into the car or refrigerator business than the cloud business. But that’s moi. Peace!

    Ballmer’s Next Laugh.

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    I don’t know what’s more exciting, the democratization of much of the Muslim world or the technology end game about to be played by Microsoft, Skype and Google. Exciting times, these. Telecom minutes have always been a discrete part of the technology business but if Microsoft buys Skype – not so much.  We always knew voice calls were data calls…ones and zeros flying over T1s, Cat 5 and through the stanky air we breathe, but Microsoft is about to make a bold move by merging these different revenue streams and it ‘s going to change the leader board.  Welcome back Larry Page. Dive. Dive. Dive.

    I would love to hear what the shmarty pants Gillmor Gang has to say about this one. (Go ahead, pick a side.)

    Here’s what it looks like from the sun porch in Babylon.  Google, already suffering from a “culture of technological obesity,” will now want to get more involved in the minutes of use (telephone) game.  They won’t want to cede it to MSFT.  Google has the algorithms, the servers, money and brain power to do it. They will probably want to continue to build rather than buy. And this effort will take their eye off the search ball.  Microsoft, with its SharePoint software, server farms and communications server experience will have a head start after the purchase of Skype. And let’s not forget the Nokia deal. (Ooh, I can’t stand up.) When the Nokia deal kicks in and Windows for Mobile starts spreading (especially at the lower end of the market), we are going to see a mad redistribution of wealth in tech.

    I have occasionally thought that Steve Ballmer’s fits and start with various devices and side businesses – the ones that failed – were just a learning game preparing him for a huge move against Apple and/or Google. He got some stink on him, no doubt, for that bold game but are we beginning to see a little smirk emerge on his knowing face?  Stay atuned. Peace!

    Smarter Planet?

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    IBM keeps selling solutions for a smarter planet.  Watson, the computer that won Jeopardy, they say, is the way to a smarter planet. I’m not so sure. Is a kid who breaks his front teeth stumbling over a fire hydrant texting “K” a denizen of a smarter planet? Is a gardener who uses the Web to find out Dawn and vinegar gets rid of mites smarter than someone who figures it out on his/her own?

    Is the massive computing power in our pockets and backpacks and on our laps and desktops making us smarter?  “Mom, how long do you boil an egg?” Are social networks forming our “likes” for us?  Is this fingertip world making our bones weak and our sinew stingy? Let’s ask Quora.

    Dude, I’m not going all Ted on you. Ted K, that is.  I’m just pointing out a trend we will all be seeing a lot more of as we leap forward in Moore’s Law chunks of time. It’s called roots. Etsy.com is a good example of the roots phenomenon; people making stuff with their hands.  Gardening. Cooking. Traditional music and art. DIY home improvements. These are all examples of the roots phenomenon.  Any neurologist or physical anthropologist will tell you that the way to exercise the brain is to use it. The way to a smarter planet is not to rely on computers for everything.  That’s a way to sell more computers. Peace.

    Freshies for Google.

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    Here I sit this morning, in a winter wonderland of snow — on this glacial moraine we call Long Island.  And tres beautiful it is.  The storm has cleared, the sun is low casting long sharp shadows. Is there anything prettier than a holly tree branches heavy with freshies? And in the paper paper today, Google has announced Eric Schmidt will step aside come April to be replaced as leader by co-founder Larry Page.

    Talk about freshies?

    The spin in the papers is that Google feels it has lost a step, becoming a bit too corporate and in need of a return to its entrepreneurial roots.  Google longs to move at the speed of Facebook. Mr. Page is thought to be adult enough now to manage Google – being steeped in the fast and furious start-up culture.

    No matter how you spin this thing, it suggests a management problem.  Earnings, announced yesterday, were terrific but the narrative behind the move, not so much.  Something is amiss. I can smell it and it doesn’t waft well. Stay tuned. Peace!

    Solutions for a Smarter Planet. Not.

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    Solutions for a smarter planet is IBM’s ad campaign and has been for couple of years. If you watch the TV the message is clear: Look at data more closely, do something smart with it and we will see a better planet. The TV ads suggest (methinks) more efficient energy consumption in cities, better food prices thanks to global climate monitoring, etc.

    The print, on the other hand, gets much more granular with lots of tech copy with promises of improvements in healthcare, manufacturing, blah, blah.  Half pretty to look at, with buried datapoints to prove the stories, the campaign’s real goal is to seed the “solutions for a smarter planet” idea.

    Earnings Reports

    So (the digerati all start their sentences with “so”), I’m reading the business section today and notice that Oracle and Accenture sales and profits are up. Oracle shares are near a 10-year high. Businesses are spending again the article proclaims. Then I read another story suggesting General Mills profits are down. The culprit?  Higher commodity prices and aggressive discounting. Are those not things a smarter planet is supposed to address? 

    So what’s what? Machines are selling again. Database software is selling again. We are ensconced in datapalooza yet not really affecting the supply chain the way we might. In other words, we’re not doing “something smart” with the data yet. Similarly, Radian6 has built a great business allowing companies to monitor conversations in the ether. But unless listeners do something smart with that info, they won’t have smarter companies. That’s the way to a smarter planet. Even hunter gatherers know to eat what they gather (something smart).  Dial up the machines, dial up the software but let’s invest in some people smarts ya’ll!  Peace!