Business Week calls it a MySpace for Local Businesses:

Using data obtained from public records and a proprietary Web crawler developed by cofounder Yamamoto, the eight-employee MerchantCircle builds the listings, then relies on merchants finding listings through word-of-mouth and search engines. MerchantCircle optimizes each entry in the directory, so that it gets good placement when it is picked up by major search engines such as Google (GOOG). “We make it easy for people to link to your site, make it easy for merchants to create new content, and tag it in a way the Web loves. Google wants people to be able to find stuff that they’re interested in. For a small-business man to do that himself would be impossible, but we’re applying that [technology] across lots and lots of merchants’ pages,” says Yamamoto.

MerchantCircle also hopes to appeal to small-business owners by aggregating every review and consumer-generated posting about a specific business on the Web in one placein essence, providing a way to manage a business’s online reputation. Whenever a comment is posted anywhere on the Web, the business owner can read about it almost instantaneously on the free online dashboard provided to each of the businesses with entries in the directory. It’s an effective way for the “merchant to understand what’s being said about them anddecide how they want to manage it,” says MerchantCircle cofounder Smith.

Feed Market Overview

FeedBurner provides an overview. One stats: “The top 4 aggregators as measured by clicks – My Yahoo!, Google Reader/Personalized Homepage, Bloglines and Netvibes – account for 95% of all web aggregator clicks to FeedBurner publisher’s content.”

India’s Mobile Revolution

International Herald Tribune has an article by Shashi Tharoor:

By 2010, the government tells us, we will have 500 million Indian telephone users. China will probably still be ahead, but on a per capita basis there will be little to choose between us.

Now to anyone who grew up in pre- liberalization India, that is astonishing. Bureaucratic statism committed a long list of sins against the Indian people, but communications was high up on the list; the woeful state of India’s telephones right up to the 1990s, with only eight million connections and a further 20 million on waiting lists, would have been a joke if it wasn’t also a tragedy and a man-made one at that.

The cellphone revolution is exciting not only as a sign of India’s economic transformation, but as a symptom of something far more important, a change in the attitude of India’s governing classes.

The government is marginal to this success story, since we don’t need it to lay telephone lines across the country any more, and the private sector telecoms companies develop their own connectivity.

Quest for the Perfect Ad

Business 2.0 writes:

unlike the first Internet boom – where dumb, old banner ads were slapped up with zero regard to effectiveness – this time around, the programmers and analysts are taking center stage, helping to create new forms of display ads that not only do a better job of getting your attention but also can be tracked with laserlike precision. The new breed of supersmart, supertargeted display ads, says Usama Fayyad, Yahoo’s head of research and data, is “just so much more powerful than search.”

This is Web advertising 2.0, where machines play as big a role as the copywriters and designers. In the midtown Manhattan offices of Ogilvy North America, co-CEO Carla Hendra and her team run online campaigns for blue-chip clients such as Allstate, American Express, IBM, and TD Ameritrade. The agency’s Interactive division is one of its fastest-growing operations, says Hendra, and most new hires come with a deep understanding of analytics.

TECH TALK: 3GSM 2007: An Operator Perspective

Telco 2.0 wrote about a presentation by Hamid Akhavan, CEO of T-Mobile International:

Hamids presentation talked about the key changes in the mobile industry around three themes:

1.Customer Needs Tailor-made services, Ease of use, Simple and worry-free pricing,
2.Markets Even stronger competitive and regulatory pressure, and market saturation and price erosion, and
3.Technology, specifically: Digitisation of comms and content,
4.Broadband mobile and IP networks,
5.Acceleration of innovation in devices and apps,
6.Delayering of access and services, i.e. apps becoming network-independent, therefore operators losing control.

He described Tomorrows World as being about:
– Multiple devices per person, rather than one converged device.
– Targeted offers for individuals hyper-segmentation needed.
– Overlap with adjacent markets: Operators, handset manufacturers, and service providers stepping on each others toes (e.g. Nokia buying Intellisync for push email).
– Super-broadband mobile networks: wireless 100mbps a reality by 2010 beating Fibre/DSL (!)
– Mobile phone evolving to becoming the personal companion (SMS/IM/Email merging into social networking tools).
– Rich services on the Internet at your fingertips (entertainment, information, transactions, etc).

Weve just scratched the surface in terms of leveraging customer insights, he said. Were not harvesting our existing customers very well today.

He summarised by saying Operators have no choice but to actively take part in new business models – the operator as access provider, enabler, or partner. 2007 is going to be year of business model experimentation.

Tomorrow: Snippets

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