API Importance

March 14, 2006 by

Martin Geddes writes:

Marc Canter has an unmissable statistic: Did you know that 45% of all of eBay’s listings come in through their APIs?

As you might remember, at Sprint we were trying to open up the wireless side into an open technology and business platform. It failed, mostly for lack of a cultural imperative to drive in that direction.

Ebay’s business comprises two stages: someone lists an item (eBay gets paid for this), and someone buys the item (eBay gets paid for this too). They’ve taken all the friction out of the first half of their business. No human necessary! Only the actual purchase still requires a human click, and it can’t be too long until the shop-bots start to change that too. (Although we’re part-way there already.)

Now think about the traditional telephony business. I have to dial, you may have to answer. Voicemail part-automates the answering, generating more metered minutes. But you have to ask yourself: is it really the best you can do? Is it impossible to broaden the business model – temporary buddies, address book access, directory, etc.? Can’t you deepen it too, and automate previously manual business transactions via APIs?

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Mobile Web 2.0 Service Example

March 14, 2006 by

Ajit Jaokar elaborates on a specific example as part of his ongoing series:

The service we are considering here is a `mobile’ version of a combination of del.icio.us and flickr.

As you probably know, both del.icio.us and flickr are based on tags. However, note that in a mobile context, a `tag’ would have a different meaning to the term on the web. People do not like to enter a lot of information on a mobile device. Thus, a tag in a mobile sense, would be explicit information entered by the user(i.e. a `web’ tag) but more importantly information captured implicitly when the image was captured(for example the user’s location).

The service would enable you to
a) Search related images and get more information about a `camera phone image’ using historical analysis of metadata (including tags) from other users. This bit works like del.icio.us i.e. searching via tags BUT with a mobile element because the `tag’ could include many data elements that are unique to mobility(such as location)
b) `Share’ your images with others (either nominated friends or the general public similar to flickr but as a mobile service)

From a user perspective, the user would be able to
a) Capture an image using a camera phone alongwith metadata related to that image
b) Gain more information about that image from an analysis of historical data (either a missing element in the image or identifying the image itself)
c) Search related images based on tags
d) Share her image with others – either nominated friends or the general public

Google’s Internet Plans

March 14, 2006 by

The Times writes:

Google is working on a project to create its own global internet protocol (IP) network, a private alternative to the internet controlled by the search giant, according to sources who are in commercial negotiation with the company.

Google has long been rumoured to be planning to launch a PC to retail for less than $100. The Google computers are likely to be low-grade machines that require a connection to Google to be able to perform functions such as word processing and spreadsheet manipulations. While using the computers, it is understood that consumers will be shown personalised advertising from the company’s AdWords network.

Blog Analytics

March 8, 2006 by

Brad Feld recommends tools for bloggers:

* FeedBurner: Core RSS feed, page view metrics, item views, reach, and email stats
* BlogBeat: Core page view metrics (plus feed data via integration with FeedBurner API)
* Google Analytics: Page views
* Amazon: Online purchase metrics
* MyBlogLog: Outbound link tracking
* Technorati: More link tracking

Mobile Web Pages

March 8, 2006 by

Mike writes:

“Most mobile sites split their content across multiple short pages. I think in a lot of cases it’s a bad approach. In case of a small-to-medium size mobile web page it takes a cell phone much longer to start downloading the page than to actually download it. That’s why my philosophy has always been to make mobile pages as long as possible. A good example of an app that I designed with that in mind is Windows Live Mail for mobile, where we first try to determine whether the device can handle large pages, and then generate as large page as possible (with an upper limit). This improves the user experience by reducing the time that the device spends connecting and locating each page. It also lowers the amount of data that gets transferred to the user’s phone, because downloading each page has an overhead of downloading its header and footer sections.”

P2P for Media Distribution

March 8, 2006 by

Robert Cringely writes about Peer Networks:

The merging Big Kahuna in commercial peer-to-peer seems to be Wurld Media’s Peer Impact, which has similar technology to Grid Networks (though Windows-only), but where Grid is a networking company, Peer Impact is a media company and actually has a pretty compelling business model.

Peer Impact is up and running right now, though most of what the network has available isn’t TV or music, but video games. About 1,100 video games from most major publishers except Electronic Arts are available through Peer Impact. The network has also announced it is adding video content and movies from NBC/Universal, and says it will have all major film studios and all major record companies onboard by the end of this year.

Peer Impact is similar to iTunes in that Apple sets the price ($0.99 per song and $1.99 per show). Where Peer Impact is different is in its use of Microsoft DRM, Windows client software, and a peer-to-peer distribution scheme. But where the company is REALLY different is in its relationship to participating nodes: Peer Impact pays users.

Advertising 2.0

March 8, 2006 by

Rudy De Waele points to a paper by advertising specialist Paul Beelen who writes:

This type of Internet is far more dangerous to the advertising industry than the previous one. This new type of Internet undermines the very principals advertising has relied on for decades, such as information-asymmetry and top-down content delivery.

Google: “No constraints”

March 8, 2006 by

Greg Glinden writes about the presentation at Google’s Analyst Day and interal notes while were leaked to the public:

Slide 31 says that Google’s philosophy to new product development is “no constraints” and that they initially ignore “CPU power, storage, bandwidth, and monetization.”

Slide 20 says (in the notes) that Google plans to “get all the worlds information, not just some.”

Derrick made the full notes for slide 19 available:

In a world with infinite storage, bandwidth, and CPU power, here’s what we could do with consumer products…
Theme 1: Speed
Seems simple, but should not be overlooked because impact is huge. Users don’t realize how slow things are until they get something faster.
Users assume it takes time for a webpage to load, but the experience should really be instantaneous.
Gmail started to do this for webmail, but that’s just a small first step. Infinite bandwidth will make this a reality for all applications.
Theme 2: Store 100% of User Data
With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc).
We already have efforts in this direction in terms of GDrive, GDS, Lighthouse, but all of them face bandwidth and storage constraints today. For example: Firefox team is working on server side stored state but they want to store only URLs rather than complete web pages for storage reasons. This theme will help us make the client less important (thin client, thick server model) which suits our strength vis-a-vis Microsoft and is also of great value to the user.
As we move toward the “Store 100%” reality, the online copy of your data will become your Golden Copy and your local-machine copy serves more like a cache. An important implication of this theme is that we can make your online copy more secure than it would be on your own machine.
Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user’s data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications. For example: a user’s Orkut profile has more value when it’s accessible from Gmail (as addressbook), Lighthouse (as access list), etc.
Theme 3: Transparent Personalization
The more data, access, and processing Google can handle for the user, the greater our ability to use that data to transparently optimize the user’s experience.
Google Desktop w/ RSS Feeds is a good first example: the user should not have to tell us which RSS feeds they want to subscribe to. We should be able to determine this implicitly.
Other potential examples: User should not have to specify the “From” address in Google Maps; user should not have to specify which currency they want to see Froogle prices in; user should not have to manually enter their buddy list into Google Talk.

Business Model Scalability

March 6, 2006 by

Nicholas Carr writes about companies Google, eBay and Dell who ‘want to have it all’:

these companies have a faith in the “scalability” of their “business model.” It used to be you’d beat your competitors by achieving greater scale in your operations, enabling you to spread your costs over more products and thus push down the cost of producing each product. Scale was tangible, a manifestation of plant and equipment and other real assets. Today, you strive to beat your competitors by creating an idea or a model that can scale without constraint, expanding easily and flexibly to handle ever more business. Scalability is intangible.

Box.Net: Online Storage

March 6, 2006 by

Paul Stamatiou writes:

A relatively new and revamped web service called Box.net plans to make online storage as easy as possible without skimping on the features. With 1GB of storage for free and up to 5GBs for a small fee, you can easily safekeep files and share them with contacts.

Online storage is a volatile industry. Server space is at a premium these days. The only way Gmail is even able to cope with their outrageous offerings and large user base is by compressing their data. Assuming each person uses their ~2.5gigs of storage (not that anyone ever uses the entire thing, attachment size is limited to 10MB) with text, Google can compress that space to only a few hundred megabytes. However, with Box.net users are encouraged to store all types of data and media. Nothing will be compressed and that is a secret to why the service is so fast. New users can get 1GB of box space for free with paying users getting 5GB for $4.99 a month.