TECH TALK: Two 2.0 Events: Web 2.0 Highlights

Read/Write Web had extensive coverage of the various sessions at the Web 2.0 Summit. I have summarised some of the highlights.

Mary Meeker presented a data-filled presentation with some key insights:

– It’s tough to succeed on the Web – around 2% of tech companies create close to 100% of the wealth.
– International markets are becoming crucial, as US share of world internet users falls from 37% to around 20% in 2007. China obviously, but also India and Russia are noted by Mary.
– Mobile – entering the “adoption sweet spot” in 2007.
– Growth is still going up – especially outside the US.
– Just as Apple monetized online music, the market for online video is poised for similar growth
– Momentum for online video continues to build
– Effective editing of video will become more important – e.g. Yahoo’s The 9.
– Audio search will become more popular
– Only 13% of top 15 online retailers are pure internet plays (Amazon is #1)
– Watch where the younger generation goes

There was a discussion between Ask CEO Jim Lanzone and former and ex-CEO and now senior vice president of the Online Services Group at Microsoft Steve Berkowitz (moderated by John Battelle):

John asks: where is Google vulnerable? Jim says that there hasn’t been much competition for Google, until now. He says Google’s challenge is to grow “beyond search”, which brings the risk that they won’t innovate so much in search as they used to. Steve says that backwards compatibility will be Google’s greatest challenge. He also mentions that Google expanding their footprint is a risk – as it’s a big task and discipline to make sure the focus stays right. Also he says being a public company is a challenge.

Jim points out that the whole search industry will continue to grow – he says Ask is the 7th biggest web property in the US, ahead of Amazon for example.
Steve says that in search “the product is the marketing” – and he thinks Google is in a great position in that respect.

A question from the audience for Steve about, what is his vision for it. Steve says his vision is for “search plus”, that will be the way to get to Microsoft’s services. He says that search will be center to their product range.

John Battelle spoke with Microsofts Ray Ozzie:

John asks if the current web services and online advertising business model is as big a deal as the mid-90’s Gates memo on the Internet. Ray said it’s as big a deal business-wise. He says they ask themselves what is the best way to deliver value – which John notes is called ‘scenario-based design’. He says his message in the memo was: for the experience being delivered via the Internet, which piece will be on PC and which via the browser? So it’s an evolution of thinking from the PC era, then the server era.

John asks what Ray thinks of Google. Ray praises Google and says they stay focused on the user. John says Google is proving the advertising model for web services, so he asks Ray what’s the zeitgeist on the Microsoft campus. John mentions the office suite. Ray says there are half a billion odd users in the office market, so he says they already have the audience – so his question is how they deliver value to this audience in this era. John asks when Word will be completely web native? Ray says it depends on the scenario of the usage – he doesn’t see that it’s the right thing to do to take the PC interface and functionality, and port it up to the Web. Ray says the Web is good at universal access, sharing scenarios, etc – and the PC is good at flexible and fast UI, is reliable. He says we’re going to a world where we’re dropping media items into our documents, but the PC was designed for media editing.

Question from the audience: what will be the theme for software in next generation? (3-5 years). Ray said that on the office side, he thinks the biggest opportunity is mobile devices, smart phones – so a lot of opportunity with those different types of productivity scenarios.

John Battelle spoke with Yahoo co-founder David Filo:

John asks David if they think a lot about Google. David says yes, as Google started out in one area and now they cover a lot of things. He says 12 years ago it was about competing with AOL, Time Warner, etc. So there has never been a shortage of competitors, but they change over time. He says “the next thing” is just as much a threat – MySpace, YouTube etc. He says that in 5 years time things will be very different again, so may be another startup that gets big.

Tomorrow: Web 2.0 Highlights (continued)

TECH TALK Two 2.0 Events+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.