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Mar 16 2006
Thursday Miscellany
Leslie Walker of the Washington Post writes up an investigation by ClickFacts that estimates approximately 35 percent of a single advertiser's paid search clicks from Google were "bogus." According to Walker's piece, 17% of the leads that came from Yahoo! were similarly dubious.

According to this N.Y. Times piece, Google is going use Base as a channel to deliver traffic and e-commerce to large European retailers. It's not entirely clear but it appears this is a version of what Amazon has done in hosting certain retailer Web sites. It's not a hosting deal per se. It's a way to display product information and presumably provide e-commerce to these retailers. As the article points out, there are those retailers that already have an online presence and won't necessarily need that kind of support, but who currently do heavy paid search marketing at Google.

Base and its uses are very much still evolving. Shopping/product information is one of the primary consumer interests online. With Froogle in the U.S., Google has adopted an "agnostic" approach to shopping, using partnerships with retailer aggregators StepUp.com and ShopLocal to provide offline retail/product information in addition to the customary e-commerce. (Remember e-commerce is only 2.5 percent of U.S. retail.)

More to come ...
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  12:10 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 16 2006
Round and Round: Bubble 2.0?
At last year's ILM:05 event in Reston, Virginia � by all accounts the best ILM conference to date (that is, until the upcoming one :) � the final panel "The Local Landscape: A Coming Bonanza or Bubble 2.0?" featured a very thoughtful group of VCs:

  • Randy Haykin, Managing Director, Outlook Ventures
  • David Horowitz, Principal, Comcast Interactive Capital
  • Isaac Kato, Principal, General Catalyst Partners
  • Warren Lee, Principal, Canaan Partners
  • Mike Orsak, General Partner, Worldview Technology Partners
While local was the starting point, the entire Internet and investment climate was the broader theme. Since that conference only 3 1/2 months ago, things have continued to speed up (if that's possible). More and more money is flowing into funds looking for a return. Om Malik and SiliconBeat tonight have posts about how Silicon Valley is awash in money. (If there's anyone out there who would like to send me a check, you know where to find me. :)

I spoke not long ago with a very smart managing partner at a high-profile VC firm who said he was almost compelled to invest "in anything that moves" because of the logic and economics of these funds and the marketplace now. I'm not by implication disparaging any of the investments described in the mentioned posts. I'm merely observing from the sidelines that it does seem that money is very easy to come by and there are more funders than there are takers � people are more skeptical and resistant to VC funding these days.

Round and round it goes and where it stops ... ?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  01:15 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 16 2006
$100 Laptop + Writely + GDrive = Now I Get It!
Ever since it was announced, I have been fascinated by the potential appeal of the $100 laptop developed by MIT, with the backing of Google and AMD among others. It's now in production. I've written about it a bunch in the past and won't reproduce all those comments (or links) here. I said originally this is the realization or "second coming" of Oracle's Larry Ellison's "network PC" idea, which was a response largely to Microsoft's market position and power. Google cofounder Larry Page in his CES Keynote mentioned the low-cost machine as a way to overcome the first-world, third-world digital divide.

Bill Gates doesn't like the idea for several obvious reasons (neither does AMD rival Intel). But more importantly he doesn't think consumers will like it. In a somewhat related vein, Microsoft has touted Origami as a response to the size/power/functionality challenges of mobile computing (the price range is $799 to $999).

I do think consumers will be interested in the $100 computer (there's already considerable evidence). The current "hand-crank" design may have less appeal to certain consumer segments than it could, but design elements can be changed over time. Alternatively it may indeed turn out to be a product for emerging markets (I don't think exclusively so). That's still millions upon millions of potential customers.

The thing that struck me tonight about all this was that a kind of global vision for Google comes into focus. People have been speculating for the past couple of years about a GoogleOS or a GooglePC. There's no GoogleOS, per se � although there is GooglePack and the deal with Sun regarding OpenOffice. And now there's the Google acquisition of Writely. And then there's GDrive.

Let's put aside the major, major privacy issues that may prevent GDrive from really hatching into a full-grown butterfly. Having made that very important qualification, let's step back and look at the really big picture here:
  1. Low-cost computers that don't have big hard drives (say, the $100 laptop or a similar device)
  2. Ubiquitous high-speed access (see GoogleNet or FON)
  3. Web-based consumer software apps (e.g., GMail or Writely)
  4. Virtually unlimited personal online storage (GDrive)
Now you see where I'm going.

This is not to say it's the same place Google is going. But from one point of view it's certainly a compelling roadmap. Google thus would be the network and host most of the necessary software. Google and its allies would replace Microsoft as the primary computing platform � swapping the Internet for client-side applications. Microsoft sees the storm clouds on the horizon and that's why I among others believe it's pushing Live (in addition to the market segmentation value there).

The supreme irony of all this is that while Google genuinely wants to offer value to consumer-users it doesn't as clearly recognize how the realization of its vast ambitions would effectively turn the company into Microsoft (maybe it does), in terms of market domination and corresponding suspicion (which already exists). Microsoft, for its part, is now cast as the underdog and "good guy" when it comes to the Internet. That is an amazing turn of events � and not lost on the people in Redmond.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  00:09 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [1]










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