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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 that 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 [0] | trackbacks [0]



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 co-founder 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 that 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 that 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 all about all this was that a kind of global vision for Google comes into focus. People have been speculating for the last 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 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 that 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 thus 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 [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Ingenio Launches Online Campaign for PPCall
A new banner just appeared on the home page of John Battelle's site touting PPCall as more "cost-effective" than clicks. Here's the landing page.

______

The ad appears now to be down.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  15:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Amazon Implements Click-to-Call
Amazon adopts eStara's click-to-call functionality (written up in today's WSJ [sub. req'd]). The article confuses "click-to-call" and "pay-per-phone-call" (one is infrastructure; the other is revenue model).

eBay has begun to do the same thing in Europe with Skype.

Click-to-call facilitates buyer-seller interaction or can drive leads, which can potentially be monetized on a per-call billing model (PPCall). Regardless of whether calls are individually monetized, click-to-call provides additional value through tracking of the relationship between the Internet and the ultimate offline transaction.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:37 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Local Effective? In a Word: Yes
Confirming what we already knew, research sponsored by CareerBuilder.com, Cars.com, Fathom Online, SuperPages.com and Volkswagen reflect that local online marketing/classifieds are highly effective. Here's a summary of the findings in BtoBOnline.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  14:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
Web Growth to Stall?
On the same day that Nielsen releases its bullish broadband numbers, this Web version of a story to appear in next week's BusinessWeek takes a contrarian view: "Why The Web Is Hitting A Wall. U.S. Internet growth is stalling. And it's not just the old or poor who are living offline."
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  13:53 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
A Different Sort of Local (Paid) Search
John Battelle has an interesting post about a New York public policy group that has taken out ads on Google grading New York state legislators' voting records. Political spending online is an important and growing area of geotargeted paid search (and other local online marketing) that we don't currently cover. But it's an increasingly important area.

These legislators are all public figures and so there is no defamation/libel issue from a reputable organization publicizing their voting records. But like some of the trademark questions on the commercial side, imagine how paid search might be used to disparage or negatively affect the reputation of an individual or local business. We may see a day relatively soon when individuals with any degree of professional or public visibility need to manage themselves just like brands on the Internet and buy their own names as keywords to protect (as well as advance) their reputations.

Think about this scenario: I have a bad experience with a local mechanic or other local contractor and am unable to satisfactorily resolve the dispute. I walk away angry and so I launch a search campaign (supported by a free blog) to tell the world about this corrupt mechanic (in my opinion).

Whenever that mechanic is searched for in a certain geography, my ad comes up telling people not to go there. If I'm skillful I could have a material impact on that business' reputation and outlook. I get sued and � maybe � Google or Yahoo! or MSN gets sued too.

This is the lawyer in me spinning out scenarios that probably won't come to pass. But there would be no way to police this kind of thing on an automated basis. The engine would have to have a grievance procedure � a kind of internal private arbitration where parties complain, ads are brought down pending some sort of resolution, etc.

Anyway (I hope I'm not giving anyone any ideas).

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  13:34 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 15 2006
AOL Begins Streaming 'Vintage' TV Shows
AOL begins streaming free full episodes of "vintage" or "classic" (some might say euphemisms for old) TV shows here. Like Live 8, this could prove an important moment for online video as broadband consumers get accustomed to watching full-length TV shows (as opposed to clips and shorts) on their PCs.

The viral elements (IM and e-mail) as well as the choice (the ability to watch any available episode) are noteworthy and strikingly different from conventional TV viewing. I must say, however, my limited experience with the site this morning was not entirely satisfying, but perhaps that's to be expected with a beta launch.

It's quite easy to see how contextually relevant, behaviorally or location targeted ads can and likely will be built around this, which shows the way for IPTV to some degree. One might argue that AOL is loading up too many distracting graphical ads around the experience already.

What will be important is how the public reacts to the content and uses the site.
_________

Here's more from USA Today and Reuters, with some information about advertiser demand and future plans for a subscription-based download service.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:33 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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