Thursday, November 30, 2006

Google Answers Closes Shop

The comparisons between the booming Yahoo Answers and the shuttering Google Answers (see our initial reporters’ log post from last night) are pretty stark. Google Answers wasn’t bad — it was an extremely cheap way to outsource random research questions and get a trustworthy result — but it never really took off.

On the other hand ... Yahoo PR just emailed to remind us Answers has accumulated 60 million users worldwide (14.4 million uniques in October according to comScore) and 160 million answers.

Yahoo has a community based answering system, based on "points".
"When you ask a question you lose points. In order to get points back you need to answer questions. Someone couldn’t only ask questions and stay in the system long. Plus, the real addicting part of Y! Answers is the question answering. Some of our top users who have more than 100,000 pts have only asked a few questions.”

In contrast, Google had a core of about 500 approved experts (800 total answerers over the product’s 4-year lifespan) who provided detailed, thoughtful responses to users’ questions.

The common wisdom will tell you Yahoo is much better at creating community, and the common wisdom is right. At the same time, Google Answers had value that had nothing to do with community.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Web Page Performance Research

Interesting article on YUI blog about web site performance:

Popular web sites spend between 5% and 38% of the time downloading the HTML document. The other 62% to 95% of the time is spent making HTTP requests to fetch all the components in that HTML document (i.e. images, scripts, and stylesheets). The impact of having many components in the page is exacerbated by the fact that browsers download only two or four components in parallel per hostname, depending on the HTTP version of the response and the user’s browser.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tricks to Viral Web Marketing

Excellent post by Thomas Baekdal:
Viral marketing (word-of-mouth marketing) is a really cool thing. Just think about it... instead of spending an insane amount of money on newspapers ads, TV commercials or banner ads, you spent nothing - and let your fans do all the work for you.

1: Make people feel something
The most important trick of all is to create a very strong emotion. You need to have an opinion, to express an idea with commitment and dedication. You want people's blood to be pumping of excitement. Forget neutral, trying to please everyone, supporting several target groups or any of the many ways to be unbiased. Viral marketing is 100% about emotions.

2: Do something unexpected

This one explains itself. If you want people to notice you campaign, you have to do something different - something unexpected. Forget about trying to promote your products as just being great - everybody does that. Forget about trying to make it look cool - everyone else has "been there, done that".

5: Allow Sharing, downloading and embedding´

You need allow people to:
  • Download the content, in a usable format (videos in MPG, pictures in JPG etc.)
  • Allowing them to easily embed the content on their own sites (Note: remember bandwidth issues)
  • Sending it to friends, either using a link or by sending the content directly.
  • Publishing it on varies social networks - Digg, YouTube etc.
  • Allow people to add it the bookmarking sites
7: Never restrict access!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Talent, Startups and Large Corporations

Sadagopan writes:
Increasingly the startup magic is definitely reaching a larger number of professionals around the world. Auren Hoffman writes that big companies are losing their “A” players and they’re struggling to attract “B” players. In an industry where everything is about people, large tech companies are in trouble because they are losing the talent war. And keep in mind, an “A” player in an organization can usually produce the same results as three “B” players. He asks, Why would you want to join a big high tech company (Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, HP, Oracle, or Cisco) when you can join a cool startup? At a big company you’re stuck with corporate politics, paralysis decision making, and a lack of getting things done. At a small company you’re having fun, pursuing your dream, and actually getting things done. I can neither agree nor disagree with Auren. Kathy Sierra points out the differences between startups vs big established concerns.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mobile Marketing Turns Hi-Tech: Lee Debuts BlueCasting In India

Sahad reports on contentsutra:
BlueCasting is becoming a trend. The latest is that apparel maker Lee is doing promotions via Bluecasting (proximity marketing in a bluetooth environment) in India. The campaign is managed by for Maxus Interaction, the digital media arm of Maxus. It’s conducting bluecasting campaign in Mumbai and Bangalore retail malls to start with. Those customers who own bluetooth-enabled phones will be asked if they want to accept some exclusive Lee content and mobile coupons in a bluecasting zone.
The agency claims that there has been over 28 per cent conversion of people accepting the Lee content and have interacted with the brand (either by downloading wallpaper, collection catalogue and TVC.) There are also contests to get people in.
BlueCasting is a good idea to reach out to a set of people in a particular environment - for instance, a multiplex or a mall. But if the messages are irrelevant and bombarded (like the way telesales happen currently), then that can piss off the customer too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Online travel portals: Economies analyzed

Anurag Gupta has analyzed the economics of the online travel services sector, some excerpts follow (via ventureintelligence):
I estimate that close to 1,00,000 Air tickets are being sold every day in India. Out of this nearly 20,000 are being sold online. Online tickets are sold by Online Travel Portals / Agents & Directly by the Airlines Websites. Out of this 20,000 I believe that Online Travel portals are selling around 4-5000 tickets per day.

At an average ticket value of Rs. 3,000 the total revenue (Gross revenue) earned by Online Travel Portals from sale of Airline Tickets would be in the range of Rs 430-540 Crores. The portals would be getting a net commission ranging from 0.5% to 7.5% from various Airlines. At an average commission rate of 3-4%, the net revenue would be between Rs. 13-22 crores.

The Air Tickets business would be forming almost 90% of the total revenues of the online travel portals. 10% revenues would be coming from Hotel bookings, Taxi rentals Packages etc. The margins on these products would be much higher going up to almost 20%. This would give them another Rs 10 crore in net revenues. This makes the total business size around 25-30 crores in net revenues.

Solar-powered cellphone in the works reports:
NTT DoCoMo is working on prototype of a hybrid cellphone that features integrated solar panels. Powered complety by the sun rays, so you will never run out of battery power. No time frame yet for a launch date.

[via Uberphones, Treehuger and T3]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Insight into Future Business Models

Tim O'Reilly has a very interesting post, read on:

Paul Kedrosky points to an amazing analysis of the costs of the PS3 based on a teardown. He notes that "Sony is losing an astounding $306.85 to $241.35 in manufacturing and component costs per PS3, depending on the configuration." He adds: "The size of the loss per unit is, my recollection, the largest in the history of the gaming industry. It is a fairly remarkable demonstration of how the industry has changed, especially when you consider that the PS3 is delivering supercomputer levels of performance."

What I find fascinating is that this is not merely news about the gaming industry. It's potentially news from the future of all information-services-infused hardware.

Just as software is rapidly becoming free, while the services provided by that software are monetized by other means (advertising, subscription, or even, in traditional companies, maintenance), so too may "stuff" of all kinds (not just cell phones and gaming consoles) join the ranks of products supported by new business models.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

System76, Linux Hardware for Everyone

O'Reilly Radar:

Last week at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, I spoke with Carl Ritchell, co-founder of System76. For years I've been seeking the Nirvana of a company that would ship me professional, high-quality, Linux-only hardware.

I had a moment of shock when I first looked at the site, thinking I'd found a Mac reseller. There was the multimedia Mini and the sleek set of black and silver laptops, plus a variety of desktops and servers. Like Apple, they take care to show off the applications available in a practical way: not "here are the 500 text editors available", but "here's how you'll check email, browse the web, edit office documents, watch movies, and manage your music collection". I can send my non-technical friends and relatives to buy computers there without terrifying them.

Each machine ships with the needed drivers already installed and the laptops have power management features configured and tested. They're also working to ensure that major third-party peripherals are supported. And, any modifications they make to support their hardware, they contribute back to Ubuntu so the whole community benefits.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Contact Lens based blood sugar-monitoring

Edgadget reports:

Researchers at the University of Maryland's Biotechnology Institute led by Dr. Chris Geddes seem to have reportedly developed special molecules that can detect glucose at very low levels which, when incorporated into a pair of contact lenses, should be adequate for detecting the amount of glucose in the wearer's tears -- which is about one tenth the amount in blood. What's more, unlike previous versions of the technology -- which required an additional device to read the results -- Geddes' new lenses will be able to simply display the results as a dot in the wearer's field of vision, changing colors to indicate low or high blood sugar levels. A lot more pleasant than the pin prick most diabetics now use to monitor their blood sugar to be sure, although as you can no doubt guess, more testing is needed before the lenses can be released into the wild.

Jack Welch's 6 Commandments

Via Emergic , VC Confidential posts them:

1. Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
2. Be candid with everyone.
3. Don't manage, lead.
4. Change before you have to.
5. If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete.
6. Control your own destiny, or someone else will.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Google CEO sees free mobile phones, funded by ads

Reported on textually.orgby emily:

Web search leader Google Inc's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, sees a future where mobile phones are free to consumers who accept watching targeted forms of advertising. CNN reports.

"Schmidt said Saturday that as mobile phones become more like handheld computers and consumers spend as much as eight to 10 hours a day talking, texting and using the Web on these devices, advertising becomes a viable form of subsidy.

"Your mobile phone should be free," Schmidt told Reuters. "It just makes sense that subsidies should increase" as advertising rises on mobile phones.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Google… the OS for Advertising

has written an interesting article on gigaom, I am reproducing one para from the posting:

So sit back and imagine that for a minute… the development of an operating system for advertising where anyone (from mom-n-pop stores to Fortune 1000 brands) can sit at their computers and slice, dice, & puree all their ad buys across web sites, newspapers & magazines, radio, and TV. Over $500 billion is spent every year advertising on these traditional media markets and Google is using its superior technological advantage to become a media-agnostic advertising platform.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How to Get in TechCrunch

Guy Kawasaki has a great interview of Mike Arrington of TechCrunch posted on his blog. Here is an excerpt:

  • Speaking of bull shiitake, specifically don’t use descriptions such as “revolutionary,” “Web 2.0,” “huge,” “change the way you’ll use the Internet,” and “disruptive.” This is what Mike calls “cheap adjectives,” and they are kisses of death in Michael’s eyes.
  • To describe what you do, you should provide a tangible frame of reference instead of using the usual bull shiitake. For example, one pitch that worked is "YouTube for PowerPoint." Many entrepreneurs are loath to mention other products and prefer cheap adjectives. This is a mistake.
  • Finally, only the first two or three sentences count. If you don’t capture him that quick, you’re hosed.

ConceptShare and Thinkature: Two Approaches to Visual Collaboration

TechCrunch reported:
Collaboration between distributed users online is widely recognized as one of the key next steps in software development. The products available for collaboration are becoming increasingly light weight, powerful and easy to use. Two companies that we’ve found entering into this market with compelling, but markedly different, products are ConceptShare and Thinkature.

I tried Thinkature today. It looks pretty promising.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mobile TV Device, Nokia N92 Hits Asia

Reported on
Nokia will launch its mobile TV phone device, N92 in the Asian market within the next few weeks. The phone manufacturer will initially ship the model to Vietnam and Indonesia and will follow up with launches in other Asian countries soon.

Mobile TV Content provider, Vietnam Multimedia Corporation will launch its commercial service using the DVB-H technology (digital video broadcast—handheld) on November 18 to users of the Nokia N92. It has announced plans to offer eight TV channels, including one channel with a TV-on-demand service, and four radio channels for the particular model.

Success at Panning

I finally had success in "Panning" (what is panning, Wikipedia) . I am attaching the photograph that I took from my Kodak digital point-and-shoot camera. I think it came out really cool. I don't enjoy the luxury of photographing racing cars in Pune; neverthless I took this photograph sitting on my sofa in my living room.

BTW - I would like to point to the this article about why you should buy a DSLR. I think this is a really cool article. I think the biggest benifit of SLR is aperture and exposure control. You can do wonders with those.

Reliance Communications May Launch Mobile Video Streaming Service On Thursday

Reported on ContentSutra:
Here is the latest offering from Reliance Communications. It plans to launch mobile video streaming service on Thursday. The company has made strategic alliance with UTStarcom for this offering. According to DNA, an official announcement will be made on Thursday during the visiting Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote address. Reliance plans to make money by tying up with event organisers and the like by broadcasting events on the mobile phone.
Apparently half of Reliance’s 27 million subscribers has devices supporting video and audio streaming functions. [Via DNA]

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Crowdsourcing News

From Rajesh Jain's blog:

Wired News writes:

According to internal documents provided to Wired News and interviews with key executives, Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, will begin crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened "information centers," and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like "data," "digital" and "community conversation."
The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.

Yahoo given permission to offer internet telephony in India

Reported by on AlooTechie:

Yahoo has received permission from the government of India to offer internet telephony services in the country. The clearance will enable the company to offer internet-based voice services to users of Yahoo Messenger in India, reports CIO.

The US-based company is setting up Yahoo Internet Communications India to offer internet telephony in the country. To begin with the company plans to invest Rs 2 crore in the venture.

The government, while clearing Yahoo’s proposal, has said that the company will have to sell 26 per cent in its wholly owned subsidiary Yahoo Internet Communications India to domestic investors within five years.