Google Gears

Dare Obasanjo writes:

It consists of three components

* LocalServer: Allows you to cache and serve application resources such as HTML pages, scripts, stylesheets and images from a local web server.
* Database: A relational database where the application can store data locally. The database supports both full-text and SQL queries.
* WorkerPool: Allows applications to perform I/O expensive tasks in the background and thus not lock up the browser. A necessary evil.

At first, this seemed like a lot to functionality being offered by Google Gears until I started trying to design how I’d take some of my favorite Web applications offline.

Online Sales Growth Slowing

The New York Times writes:

In the last year, growth has slowed sharply in major sectors like books, tickets and office supplies.

Growth in online sales has also dropped dramatically in diverse categories like health and beauty products, computer peripherals and pet supplies. Analysts say it is a turning point and growth will continue to slow through the decade.

Facebook and AOL

Michael Parekh writes:

Facebook today feels like a web-based AOL.

You log in to do anything.

You keep logging in because you get logged out if there are big periods of inactivity.

You log in to keep in touch with your friends, just like today’s net natives did in AOL’s chat rooms and IM sessions.

You exchange emails back and forth with them using Facebook’s walled, proprietary, email system.

There are a lot of differences of course is a vis AOL, key among them being that one’s identity is crystal clear in Facebook, while on AOL, one could be interacting with anybody and their dog.

While the net natives may not be yearning to re-create a newspaper, TV or magazine in this new “Web 2.0” realm, they may be sub-consciously trying to re-create an AOL of sorts.

Digital Baseball Business

Newsweek writes about Major League Baseball Advanced Media and how it is transforming the economics of ths sport:

Growing at a rate of roughly 30 percent a year, BAM now takes in about $400 million in revenue. Going by its logs, it entertains more than 50 million visitors a month, putting it close to the top 100 sites of any kind. By the end of the season, more than a million subscribers will pay for its media offerings, including video content of all out-of-market games at $99 to $120 a season and audio broadcasts for $20 a season. More than a billion minutes of baseball will flow from its servers. It sells more than $80 million in merchandise, ranging from hats and jerseys to authenticated relics like signed baseballs and bases. (In the 24 hours after Boston became champs in 2004, the site sold $5 million worth of Red Sox gear.) BAM processes a third of the 75 million tickets sold for major-league parks, and resells at premium prices the ducats that season-ticket holders want to offload. It also employs a team of journalists who cover each team”we had to make sure our reporters were independent,” says BAM’s content czar Dinn Mannand hosts hundreds of blogs written by players, celebrities and fans. One of the fastest-growing revenue streams is advertising, now bringing in 15 percent of the total. And more than a million wireless subscribers get mobile updates, ringtones and cell-phone wallpaper.

BAM’s successas well as the egalitarian structure of its ownership schemehas deep implications for the sport’s future.

Think of what can be done with cricket.

Opening up Social Networking

Dave Winer writes:

Closed systems are fine in the early stages of a new technology. They’re the training wheels for a new layer of users and uses. But, as we always see, the training wheels eventually come off, explosively, creating new systems that throw out the assumptions of the old. Oddly, I think this is what’s really behind the Fred Wilson thread, it has little to do with the age of the people, and has more to do with the age of the technology. (The personal computer was “invented” by a group of people, with wide ranging ages. Bill Gates was a teen, but many of the other people were adults. How old were Chuck Geschke, John Warnock and Paul Brainerd when Desktop Publishing came online? Tim Berners-Lee was in his 30s when he created the web.) Permalink to this paragraph

Eventually, soon I think, we’ll see an explosive unbundling of the services that make up social networks. What was centralized in the form of Facebook, Linked-in, even YouTube, is going to blow up and reconstitute itself. How exactly it will happen is something the historians can argue about 25 years from now. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will, unless the rules of technology evolution have been repealed (and they haven’t, trust me).

Dave Winer on New Technologies

BBC features an article by Dave Winer on technologies he would like to see in existence one day. Among them:

Improving podcasting

I love podcasting, both listening to podcasts and creating them. But today’s podcast players are too awkward, they weren’t designed to subscribe to shows, instead they were designed to listen to collections of music (which is great too).

In order to really work for podcasting, I think a new kind of player needs to have built-in wi-fi, and when you come within range of a signal, a light comes on and you can press a button to have it automatically connect to the internet and download the latest episodes of shows you’re subscribed to.

It would work much the way a Blackberry gets e-mail, without you having to do anything.

Facebook in India

Ramesh Jain writes:

In this trip, however, I got a chance to hear some young people (three 19 year old girls) talk about what they like and dislike on Internet. Their excitement about Facebook was something to be experienced. It appears that Facebook has become the most important medium for social communication among them. They love everything about Facebook and they are ecstatic about the new application environment. They think now they have everything that they need to remain in touch with all their friends. They repeatedly mentioned that they are on Facebook all the time. When asked what is missing on Facebook, the only thing they mentioned was that it would be great if it were available on mobile phones.

Of course, these people are not your average Indian young people; they are from upper socio-economic tier of Mumbai. But one thing is clear, there is a revolution brewing in the Internet space. Environments like Facebook and Myspace offer easy publishing tools, powerful communication mechanisms using multimedia experience, and automatically created personal activity reports that are of interest to people in their social life. By putting these things in an environment that allows people to know interesting happenings (yes, I am avoiding the term event intentionally) in their friend-circle, these systems are becoming the most dominant software used by young people around the globe. And by opening their system and becoming platform, Facebook has indeed brought in a major revolution in social networking.

Truemors Numbers

Guy Kawasaki writes how he created a Web 2.0 sites for just over $12,000.

$4,500. The total software development cost was $4,500. The guys at Electric Pulp did the work. Honestly, I wasnt a believer in remote teams trying to work together on version 1 of a product, but Electric Pulp changed my mind.

$4,824.14. The total cost of the legal fees was $4,824.14. I could have used my uncle the divorce lawyer and saved a few bucks, but that would have been short sighted if Truemors ever becomes worth something.

$399. I paid LogoWorks $399 to design the logo. Of course, this was before HP bought the company. Not sure what it would charge now. 🙂

$1,115.05. I spent $1,115.05 registering domains. I could have used GoDaddy and done it a lot cheaper, but I was too stupid and lazy.

Palm’s Foleo

From Charlie’s Diary:

This is Palm’s play for the corporate network. Docs to Go and Versamail aren’t the real office apps intended for this platform; they’re just the local offline editing tools for when you’re not plugged in. If I’m right, expect to see Palm announce a service not unlike Apple’s .Mac, only with added business services and more storage. Dot Mac is aimed at home users who want email, webspace, and easy synchronisation; I’d expect Palm to be preparing to deploy CRM applications, relational databases, and possibly office tools like Thinkfree Online. It’s possible that they’re going to try to negotiate uncapped access to this service via some of the bigger cellcos’ business accounts. If they go this route, they’re also likely to offer toolkits and SDKs to help corporate customers plug their business software straight into Palm’s service and push it out to their employees’ Foleos. A clear sign of this thinking would be the appearance of VNC, Citrix, or other thin client software on the platform.

The Foleo is light, simple, cheap to replace, and doesn’t store any critical data if it’s stolen, unlike an employee laptop. It lets a company keep critical data under lock and key, but makes accessing it relatively straightforward using existing Web 2.0 tech. If Palm manage to fill in the dotted line at the web services level, they can offer big clients something that PC laptops don’t simplicity and security, combined with lower cost.

Facebook Platform

Marc Andressen writes:

The new Facebook Platform is a dramatic leap forward for the Internet industry.

What Facebook is now doing is a lot more sophisticated than simply MySpace-style embedding: Facebook is providing a full suite of APIs — including a network protocol, a database query language, and a text markup language — that allow third party applications to integrate tightly with the Facebook user experience and database of user and activity information.

And then, on top of that, Facebook is providing a highly viral distribution engine for applications that plug into its platform. As a user, you get notified when your friends start using an application; you can then start using that same application with one click. At which point, all of your friends become aware that you have started using that application, and the cycle continues. The result is that a successful application on Facebook can grow to a million users or more within a couple of weeks of creation.

Finally, Facebook is promising economic freedom — third-party applications can run ads and sell goods and services to their hearts’ content.

Mobile Email

WSJ writes: “Numerous companies are making it easier for anyone to send and receive email on their cellphones without splurging on a high-end device or a premium data plan. While the services are generally less sophisticated than the wireless email services offered by BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., Microsoft Corp. and other wireless email providers, they are starting to appeal to those who use email more for fun than business.”

Mobile Books

Tomi Ahonen writes:

With mobile books, there is no bottleneck, no overstock, understock. No extra copies printed to be sold at a discount. No lost sales because the book was not available. And MOST importantly, the mobile books cannot be resold by the person who bought the book. So if you want to read the latest Harry Potter or whatever, you cannot borrow it from a friend, you need to buy your own. (oh, obviously you could try to borrow your friend’s phone, ha-ha, but since 60% of married people won’t even share their mobile phone with their husband or wife, its that personal, no chance of someone lending you their phone just so you can read the book you have on the phone)

All this means that the books can be “produced” MUCH cheaper than printing them to paper. The publisher and author can get a fair return on a book that costs MUCH LESS than traditional paper printed books. And the reader, the buying public, gets original, exciting, new content, by their fave authors, first-time released direct to mobile. No waiting in lines, ordering books that are on back-order, etc. And they cost less. Win-Win-Win. Is it any wonder this has taken off?

Computing and Web Software

The New York Times writes:

Many technologists contend that the increasingly ponderous PC-bound operating systems that currently power 750 million computers, products like Microsofts Windows Vista and Apples soon-to-be-released Mac OS X Leopard, will fade in importance.

In this view, software will be a modular collection of Web-based services accessible by an array of hand-held consumer devices and computers and will be designed by companies like Google and Yahoo and quick-moving start-ups.

Faced with that changing dynamic, Apple and Microsoft are expected to develop operating systems that will increasingly reflect the influence of the Web.

Social Features

Bokardo addresses the question: why invest in social features? Four reasons:
1. Amplify Customer Opinion
2. Data, Data, and more Data
3. Reduce Support Costs
4. Engender Trust

MySpace and Facebook

Josh Kopelman writes:

By providing a clear roadmap and business opportunity for the widget makers, Facebook has just increased its virtual R&D budget by over $250 million dollars. By welcoming third-party innovation, Facebook will reap the benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars of venture investment and the Facebook user will have a much richer experience. I’d wager that every widget maker who has previously relied on Myspace for traffic is hard at work this holiday weekend on migrating their application to support the Facebook API.

Facebook has recognized (and embraced) something that Myspace has not that there is more value in owning a web platform then a web property. This brings back memories from the early days of the Internet, when companies like Prodigy and AOL were the only online services in town. Despite the launch of the web browser (which unleashed the creation of millions of web sites), AOL and Prodigy initially focused on maintaining their proprietary online environment and controlling everything on their site. It took a few years, but ultimately they saw that it is impossible for one company — no matter how popular and well-funded — to compete with an unlimited army of motivated (and funded) developers. Even Microsoft recognizes that the true strength of it’s Windows platform comes from the volume of third-party developers building (and profiting from selling) Windows applications.

Internet Ad Exchanges

WSJ writes:

Over the past few years, a host of small companies has started electronic exchanges where advertisers and Web sites can buy and sell online advertising space. The companies, with names like Right Media Inc., AdECN Inc., Turn Inc. and ContextWeb Inc., have been an obscure sideshow to a broader battle over Internet advertising.

That’s changing quickly. The biggest Internet companies, including Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., are focusing attention and money on the emerging business, hoping to be first with the kind of large-scale, dynamic market for the ad industry that the Nasdaq market brought to stocks.