Monday, November 21, 2005

Email, Search, News

That is what most surfers spend time on, in that order. And Google leads Yahoo by a wide margin in search, 46 to 23 per cent. Yahoo still leads on email, but then Gmail is still in beta, and you can't get an account just like that, you have to be invited in by someone who already has one. Both compete on news, although I think Yahoo leads, but I personally prefer Google, although I also use Yahoo heavily. I could not imagine doing my political work without the help of Google News.

As for search, I have always preferred Google. Search is central to the whole idea of the internet itself, and Google is one company organized around search. That is what makes them the premier internet company.

If I were Google, I would closely integrate the top three services. So I sign into my Gmail account and stay signed in while I do other things on or near my computer, and it should feel like I have access to the main Google search page and the Google News page at the same time. And when I am on the Googe News page, it should feel like I am in my Gmail account, it should be that easy to forward stories to others: only the link gets sent, just the web address.

Such integration would spike up the use of all three. Many people would literally never log out. They would stay glued.

I think blogging is going to catch on also. So Google ought to integrate not three, but four of its properties. And within blogging itself, it needs to integrate text, audio and video. Right now they act like three separate properties. And whatever happened to MathML?

Email, search, news, and text-audio-video-MathML blogging. Integrate the four.

Wait, there is a fifth. The idea of offering all books, fiction, non-fiction, and textbooks, free, ad-based. Integrate all five. And Google would zoom off. I think the books idea is very doable. Say you approach people who write college textbooks. And you offer them the option. Boom, they are all going to end up making big bucks. College students would stop buying textbooks. And the rest of the industry would follow.

Email, search, news, blog, books. In one seamless offering.

Search engines dominating use of the Internet PC Pro, UK
Search becomes No. 2 Web activity CNET, United States
Search is now number two web activity, UK
Search engine use is spiking, study reveals San Jose Mercury News, USA
Search Engine Use Edges up on Email, India
Search Overtaking Email as Most Popular Online Activity Search Engine Watch
Search Usage Spikes As A Daily Online Habit ClickZ News, NY
Search engine use, soon to be as popular as e-mail, Romania
Search rivals e-mail as top application, Ireland
Search Closing On Email As Top Activity WebProNews, KY
Search engine use in US increases 23% year on year Telecom Paper (subscription), Netherlands
Search engines rev up Dallas Morning News (subscription), TX
Search Engine Use Shoots Up in Past Year, Edges Towards E-Mail as ... AScribe
Search Engine Use Edges Towards the Primary Internet Application LinuxElectrons, TX

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Memo To Bill Gates

A memo from Gates has been leaked where he says Microsoft is "at risk" from Google. I figured I would respond, so here is me composing a memo to that other Bill from the 1990s.

Mr. Software Architect.

Part of your problem is simply ageing. There was IBM, and then Microsoft came along, and Microsoft eclipsed IBM itself in market capitalization. You might be IBM, and Google might be Microsoft. Empires come and go. So at some level, just make peace.

I am a huge fan of your foundation though. I wish you were 10 times richer, I am so impressed with your work for health care in the poor countries. And of course you are a terribly smart, creative guy. I am easily a fan.

At some point I think a company like Microsoft should just plough in all that extra cash into becoming a venture capitalist firm, or at least growing a wing in that direction, I think. It is young scientists and the entrepreneurs who come up with the cuttinge edge ideas, or at least in most cases.

I think your problem is that you thought you woke up to the internet in 1995, and you did not. Then you thought you did it in 2000, and you did not. Now you think you are doing it in 2005, and you are not. For good or ill, Microsoft remains a Windows company. Microsft never really became a dot com.

But if Microsoft were to reinvent itself, what might it do? Here are some suggestions I offer.
  • You don't have to ditch Windows outright, but shift focus to the online world. That is the present and the future. Down the road, Windows either disappears, or becomes invisible.
  • Could you take word processing online, and could you make it ad-based? Do you even want to?
  • Could you take the lead on becoming a digital publisher? License Google's ad program if you have to, if you can't replicate it. But noone is taking publishing online. Maybe you can take the lead. All books - textbooks, fiction, non-fiction - should go online and be free, as in ad-based. Could you take the lead on that one? You are the leader in word processing offline. Could you go online?
  • You have had some interesting thoughts on speech recognition technology in the past. What is the progress there? Keep working there. Noone seems to be competing with you there. Down the line people should be able to talk to their computer in any language.
  • Put as much work into your browser as you have been putting into your Windows and Office. Because W and O are passe. The browser will go far.
  • You have done good with non-PC devices. Maybe you should work on the software for "free" cellphones that will work in a citywide soup of wireless broadband.
  • The internet and wireless broadband are not one and the same thing, just like webpages and blogs are not one and the same. Don't get too hung up on the internet. Think wireless broadband.
  • Expand your facilities in India. It's not just about cheap, smart engineers. India is going to be a huge market on its own.
  • Google itself has said there is room for more than one player in the search market. Search is the center piece of the Google magic. Get in the action. Keep working at it.
  • See if you can imitate Google. They like to offer web services that are online and ad-based. If those two parameters are too narrow for you, you are not competing with Google. Wean yourself away from the habit of asking people for money directly.
More later.

December 7: Microsoft To Invest $1.7 Billion In India (BusinessWeek)

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Monday, November 07, 2005


WiFi was wireless but not broadband, and not large area. Broadband over power lines was broadband but not wireless. WiMax was both: wireless and broadband. And today I read about xMax. It is wireless broadband without the WiMax hassles, it seems like. It looks like power to the people to the power of x. This is delightful. This is real good news. The basic thrust is towards wireless broadband. For a city in a wireless broadband soup, cellphones should become free. Cellphones that are ad-based. This is a brave, new world.

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