Feed Search vs Site Search

Jeremy Zawodny writes that “today’s leading search engines weren’t designed to work in a world with millions of feeds.

In the old web, most content never changes. The only exceptions seem to be traditional news outlets (CNN, New York Times, and so on). That means search engines can crawl most sites infrequently and nobody really notices. Missing the last few days worth of stuff isn’t that big a deal as long as you crawl those “news” sites regularly. Also, there’s no way to find out which pages have changed without crawling the whole site, and that’s quite expensive.

In the new world, feeds update frequently. Blogs start to look a like like “news” sites to search engine crawlers. But the updates are contained within the feed, so there’s no need to crawl every link on the site looking for the new stuff. In other words, the cost of staying current on site changes is much lower when feeds are available.

Once this feed stuff hits the tipping point (I think we’re close), things will get really, really interesting. Suddenly these feed sources will be the thing people care about. The model of “search and find” or “browse and read” will turn into “search, find, and subscribe” for a growing segment of Internet users and it will really change how they deal with information on the web.

Rich Skrenta calls it “The Daily Internet.”

The proliferation of incremental content sources, all pumping out new material on a regular basis, is what the mainstream Internet user will consume. It’s the difference between doing research or reading a magazine. At Topix.net we believe that editorial automation is necessary to manage this massive, growing content stream. Other startups like Feedster and Technorati are also focused on improving access to the incremental Internet. This is the future of audience on the net, as well as the next online advertising frontier.

John Battelle adds: “Content is king, search is the king’s phonebook (or index…). I certainly agree, but the two are entirely intertwingled. Google et al do well when content does well, otherwise, what is there to index? The big question, however, is whether Google wants to start playing in the content aggregation space – the new model of ‘search, find, subscribe’ that Jeremy discusses. Yahoo has already decided it does (and the buzz is that more is coming…). So has MSN and AOL. But at the end of the day, the tail is far too big on this beast, and no one place can own the conversation.”

Microsoft and Linux

Forbes has a story about Microsoft’s new tune on Linux:

Microsoft has finally met its match against software that is largely downloadable for free. Investors discount it into the stock price. In a private meeting with executives in May, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer griped that Microsoft’s profits have more than doubled in the past six years, but the stock, at $29, is right where it was back then.

“Linux creates a cloud of uncertainty over Microsoft. Every time Red Hat reports earnings, Microsoft seems to take a hit,” says Goldman Sachs software analyst Richard Sherlund.

The reality is a bit less dire. Microsoft’s revenue climbed 14% this year to $36.84 billion. What Linux is doing is taking away greater opportunities. Few companies running Windows are switching to Linux; most of the converts come from Unix systems supplied by Sun, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

But Linux is doing well in server software and threatens serious inroads into Microsoft’s desktop monopoly. In the next two years Linux server revenue will grow $2.2 billion, while Microsoft’s will grow $2.5 billion, according to research firm Gartner. Linux at some point could be good enough to run home PCs. It has just a 3% market share for desktop software, mostly in schools and overseas (that’s more than Apple’s). Linux vendor Novell is now rolling out Linux for its own employees’ PCs and has 18 customers signed up for trial runs.

Google Browser?

Jason Kottke writes:

Google is investing heavily in JavaScript-powered desktop-like web apps like Gmail and Blogger (the posting inferface is now WYSIWYG). Google could use their JavaScript expertise (in the form of Gmail ubercoder Chris Wetherell) to build Mozilla applications. Built-in blogging tools. Built-in Gmail tools. Built-in search tools. A search pane that watches what you’re browsing and suggests related pages and search queries or watches what you’re blogging and suggests related pages, news items, or emails you’ve written. Google Toolbar++.

A Google Browser is a no-brainer for them and they have to be thinking about it. It’s been obvious for awhile now that Google isn’t a search company, nor are they an advertising company, despite what the experts have to say. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but I’m convinced they’re building an operating system (of sorts) from which they will dispense all sorts of applications and data (as well as allow other people/companies to do the same in this fashion). What we could see is the next generation of office suite. Not Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook of Microsoft’s Office or iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, iTunes, and Garageband of Apple’s iLife suite, but Google search, Gmail, Google Browser, Blogger, and perhaps even GIM.

Lenovo Group CEO Interview

Lenovo (formerly, Legend) is China’s largest PC company, with $3 billion in revenues. Excerpts from a Knowledge@Wharton interview with Lenovo chairman, Liu Chuanzhi:

Regarding the domestic market, we have seen that recently Legend’s market share has been declining. The main reason is that our strategy for the past three years was not so well set up. Three years ago, Legend’s market share was about 30%. In order to keep growing, the company decided to diversify into multiple sectors. I don’t think the top management team was well prepared for that. Their attention was distracted from the PC business, which is our core business.

In addition, the domestic market has been changing. Many small- and medium-sized companies have come up in the computer industry. Customers’ behavior has also changed. In the past, most of our orders were large orders that came from government institutions but now there are many orders from small companies and also from private individuals. We also have more foreign competitors that have come into the Chinese market. Their marketing and sales practices were more attuned to this changed customer behavior.

In view of these developments, this year Legend carried out a thorough and careful review of our plans in the past three years. We have decided to retreat from diversification and refocus on the PC business.

For those who are starting their careers and their own business at the startup stage, one word I would say to them is “perseverance.” They should know that everyone faces setbacks and failures — that this is part of everyone’s experience — and that they must stick to their goals and keep trying all the time.

For executives at large companies of Legend’s size, my advice is that they remember that in order to keep the company going over a long time, one success or one setback is not that important. The most important thing is to establish a solid management base. This needs three things. First, you have to find the right people and bring them to your team. Second, you have to decide the right strategy and plan. And third, you have to have strong execution power. With these three points a strong base can be established for the company.

Korean Broadband Miracle

WSJ has a commentary by Thomas Hazlett, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who formerly served as chief economist of the Federal Communications Commission:

78% of Korean households subscribe to broadband, the highest penetration rate in the world and well over twice that of the U.S. While broadband via standard cable modems and digital subscriber line (DSL) services are available for about $27 a month, households paying about $52 a month receive lightning fast 20 mbps VDSL service — connections sufficient to receive live high-definition TV. In short, the apartment dweller in Korea enjoys the same level of Internet service as the largest corporate customers in the U.S. All this in a country of 48 million which, in 1979, had just 240,000 phone subscribers.

Circle back to the government’s original goal: introducing local phone competition. It flopped, at least in the way regulators expected. While minutes of use on KT’s phone network declined by a stunning 12% last year, the primary reason is intermodal competition as consumers switch to mobile phones (with 36 million subscribers) and Internet substitutes. Given ubiquitous broadband, voice traffic is migrating to “Voice over Internet protocol” (VOIP) and e-mail.

Sang-Seung Yi, an economist at Seoul National University, explains that the “Korean broadband market succeeded because of fierce facilities-based competition among Hanaro, Thrunet and KT. This took place not because of ‘smart’ government regulation such as unbundling, but because of the absence of regulation.” Other factors feed the broadband miracle, of course. Koreans live in close proximity to one another, so the cost of building networks tends to be low. The Korean government has subsidized certain applications and invested public monies in broadband and wireless. And the fabled Korean demand for online gaming suggests a hunger for broadband applications.

Will India learn and do the right things?

TECH TALK: An American Journey: Road Warrior

I experienced Wi-Fi for the first time in my life on this trip. In India, there really arent too many hotpots thanks to our governments policy of controlling access to the spectrum for public use. (There are indications now that Wi-Fi may finally be delicenced.) I also bought a notebook which had in-built Wi-Fi support. [I bought the Fujitsu Lifebook S6000 for about $1800 from Frys in Palo Alto. I realised that I had grown addicted to the keyboard of the Fujitsu notebook I had bought more than four years ago. Given the writing that I do, the keyboard was one of the most essential features for me.]

So, armed with a new notebook, I could try out the Wi-Fi connectivity. I didnt have to worry much in California all the hotels that we stayed at had DSL in the rooms. Then, I reached New York. In my wisdom of picking one of the more reasonably priced Manhattan hotels, I picked one which (a) did not have DSL (b) did not have Wi-Fi (c) charged 40 cents a minute for outgoing hotels. I thought this breed of hotels had long vanished!

Luckily, I was in the US. I quick visit to a nearby Starbucks got me a free one day account via T-mobile. [As an alternative, Kinkos is also there for the ones who find themselves in a situation similar to mine.] The next day, I took full advantage of the Wi-Fi at Columbia University (where I had gone for a meeting) which blankets much of the neighbourhood. Sitting on the lawn where I spent many an afternoon 16 years ago brought back old memories.

Wi-Fi is definitely both productivity-enhancing and addicting. The ability to open up a notebook, get connected within seconds to a network (for free or for a fee), and check ones email and browse the Internet is cool! I can only imagine how life will be once WiMax blankets entire geographical areas. In India, of course, we have another interesting option: Reliance Infocomms service allows Internet access from most towns and cities for 40 paise (less than 1 cent) a minute.

On the phone front, I had my India cellphone (Orange account) with international roaming. I had finally gotten rid of my 40-month-old Motorola cellphone for a Nokia 6600. The triband feature worked just fine. Switch it on and it would automatically get a GSM network. (I had to manually select the frequency band in my old Motorola phone.) Of course, the roaming charges are killing this is one place where the cellcos still rip you off. I had an alternative which I did not take I could have bought a local GSM prepaid account (since I had given my India cell number to most of the people I was meeting). On my next trip, I think I will carry an extra cellphone which I can use with a local prepaid card for local calls. I am already looking forward to the next generation of cellphones which have Wi-Fi built-in.

In addition, I have one of those prepaid calling cards in the US which allow me to make calls for a few cents a minute in the US from any landline phone. This way, I dont have to pay the usurious charges of hotel phones.

Taken together, these are the basics that a road warrior needs: hotels with DSL/Wi-Fi access, Wi-Fi enabled notebook, GSM cellphone with triband support and international roaming, and a local calling card/prepaid account for in-country calls. As a backup, I also have a CompuServ dial-up Internet account and a GRIC account (but didnt have to use either of them on this trip). Being connected is critical thats the only way we could have ensured that we did as many meetings as we did!

Tomorrow: Travel Vignettes

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