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Feb 7 2006
GMail Integrates 'Talk'
Google is integrating its Google Talk/IM functionality into GMail. It doesn't replace Google Talk (because there's no VoIP yet). But it does:


  • Potentially differentiate GMail
  • Offer the first (that I know of) browser access to IM/chat
  • Potentially expose more GMail users to Google Talk functionality and thus, longer term, potentially boost the Google Talk user base.

Chat "transcripts" are archived like mail and will be scanned like mail and contextually relevant ads will be served against them. More GMail usage = more page views, more ads and more clicks.

The presence awareness feature is a nice aspect of all this, as is the browser-based IM functionality. Here are the official FAQs.

According to Nielsen traffic data cited by MediaPost (reg. req'd):

Google's e-mail service is the fourth most popular on the Web, but lags far behind the three market leaders � Yahoo, AOL, and MSN Hotmail ... Gmail last month had 6.7 million users, compared to Yahoo Mail's 50.7 million, AOL's 34.3 million, and MSN's 31.3 million. AOL's instant messenger was the most popular IM service, wtih 52.8 million users � followed by MSN Messenger, with 27.2 million, and Yahoo Messenger, with 21.8 million.

Now that it's live in my GMail account and I've had a bit of a chance to use it, I can say that the integration is very convenient and seems to work well. (Although it takes a little getting used to.)

Here's a full write-up from The N.Y. Times today (reg. req'd) and more from Chris Sherman at Search Engine Watch.

________________

Google's running its own version of the "switch" campaign for e-mail.

Update: I was corrected by a reader that Yahoo! has had browser-based chat for some time, though not yet integrated into e-mail.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  00:33 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 6 2006
Hearsay Dept: 'Googster'
Just because it's fun to speculate about such things � and there's a history here � I'm repeating hearsay. SiliconBeat discusses an unsubstantiated rumor about a possible Google acquisition of now tainted "social networking" (read: dating) site Friendster.

Back in 2003 Google reportedly made an offer for Friendster (in the $30 million range � also unsubstantiated). Friendster, riding high at the time, spurned the offer, according to hearsay.

Yahoo! has been gobbling up every new social/"Web 2.0" site in sight. But Google has made few forays into this realm. It's own Orkut has enjoyed limited success.

Highly unlikely, but we'll see what happens. And, by the way, "googster.com" is taken.

___________

One longtime "industry observer" I casually mentioned this to suggested that such rumors are usually started by the companies seeking to be acquired themselves as a last-ditch effort to create buzz.



Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:26 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 6 2006
Mobile Content in SB Ads
While I didn't actually watch the Super Bowl, I did of course watch the commercials here. (You can also watch and vote for favorites at AOL.)

I counted at least three ads touting mobile content: Motorola/Verizon, Sprint and ESPN; in other words, trying to promote mobile data usage and the phone as something other than a phone.

The Motorola RAZR ad in particular was striking for its "meta communication." It showed a paperboy on a bike, delivering the newspaper and a homeowner (male) focused on his phone. When the newspaper flies into his yard the man picks it up and, without even considering it, heaves the paper back at the boy. The "tag" on the commercial was a promotion for Verizon content services (including "news and weather").

The clear message of the commercial was: "you don't need the newspaper anymore now that you have mobile content on your phone." Ouch! � literally, as the paper hit the kid in the head.

Next year will we see an ad for Google or Yahoo! Maps and other mobile local services?

___________

Here's more on the commercials from Search Engine Journal and from the WSJ (sub. req'd).

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 6 2006
Google, Skype Invest in FON
What is FON? No it's not a Spanish dessert � that's flan � although it is based in Spain.

FON is an effort to build a global Wi-Fi network of hotspots with existing broadband connectivity � "members" are referred to as "Foneros" (Arriba!). These can be established ISPs as well as individuals. Google, eBay/Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures invested $22 million in the effort.

Here's an AP article explaining FON, as well as identifying some of the potential challenges to the realization of FON's objectives.

Here are the FAQs and here are some of the interesting people (scroll) behind FON.

Both Google and Skype have a keen interest in seeing Wi-Fi/broadband proliferate. Whether FON ultimately takes the place of the hypothetical GoogleNet initiative is unclear. And whether FON ultimately succeeds or fails, the development of low-cost or free-access broadband networks will undoubtedly continue.

In terms of the local angle, obviously a Wi-Fi hotspot provides precise location information and would allow for more geographically relevant organic or paid search results (without a user inputting location information).

Broadband is of critical importance to anyone whose business model is tied to the Internet. And we�ll be examining the state of and outlook for continued broadband growth on the panel �The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?� on day 1 of Drilling Down.

Here's Om Malik's post on the investment (he'll be speaking on the broadband panel mentioned above BTW).

And here's more from SiliconBeat.

Here's the latest on the Google "dark fiber" rumors.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:19 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 3 2006
Navigators Wanted
This piece in Reuters discusses the VW-Google partnership to develop a "prototype vehicle which features Google Inc.'s satellite mapping software to give drivers a bird's eye view of the road ahead." Nvidia is also part of the deal.

There's lots to say about the long-term potential here: personalization, routing with brands and advertising on the map, click-to-call/PPCall and so on.

Without too much imagination, one can imagine a range of interesting local and local advertising possibilities.

Let's see if it makes it to market.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  18:53 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 3 2006
NBC Reaches Locally for Online Content
Yesterday we wrote about network-affiliated local television stations using their Web sites as distribution points for network content. NBC Universal has announced it will redesign all of its local station Web sites to handle multimedia content such as video and podcasts.

Each new site will feature a predominantly placed video player for news clips, as well as daily webcasts by station anchors. Each station will also create original health, entertainment, sports and consumer news content, and share it across the network.

They will also have access to NBC�s programming, weather forecasts from NBC�s digital weather service and downloadable coupons from Coupons Inc. Other local advertising will likely play a part, although little has been revealed.

The move gives NBC Universal better local penetration online, and each local station benefits from additional content and branding. We�ll see how it works.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  16:44 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Feb 3 2006
Mini Directories March On
One of the more controversial issues in the Yellow Pages business is the subject of companion directories. At last year�s Directory Driven Commerce event, Joe Walsh spoke adamantly against the increasing number of mini directories and their impact on the industry. He said the industry faces a companion directory backlash.

While some of these companions are indeed poor replicas of the real thing, particularly when a normal-size phonebook is simply shrunk by about 25 percent, others can be much more pleasing to the end user. The primary way to accomplish this is by avoiding type that is unreadable.

According to eLink, R.H. Donnelley will begin to introduce companion directories in Trumbull, Ohio; Sussex, New Jersey; and Citrus, Florida. My view is that while these are not RHD's first mini directories, they are the first ones it is building specifically as companions. More are likely to follow, but I was unable to reach anyone who would comment.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  John Kelsey at  16:38 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 3 2006
Online News Gets Some Respect
With online newspaper revenues and traffic on the rise, newspapers are increasingly putting more emphasis on their online news production. More specifically we're seeing an overhaul of many newspaper operations to change the mind-set that online is an afterthought. Its importance is gaining steam among users, and newspapers are trying to reflect that importance internally, starting with the news production.

Editor & Publisher takes a look at The Sacramento Bee's "continuous news desk," which was recently created to update its Web site 24 hours a day. The change showed immediate improvements in content and a mind-set change across the organization about how to cover and publish breaking news. An interesting read.

This is similar to changes we're seeing across the industry, such as The New York Times' and USA Today's (among other papers) moves to merge their online and print newsrooms. We expect to see more of this in the future.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  16:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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