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Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Google Waves goodbye to email (and Microsoft)

Google revealed its stealth Wave project, with the announcement timed, by the way, within minutes after Microsoft Bing’s coming out.

Wave is an attempt to redefine and merge communication media, possibly replacing email, IM and others.

The demo looked really cool. Sadly Wave is not available yet – but I am really eager to check it out when it opens.

Demo lasted more than an hour, the video is available at project’s homepage.

Briefly, Wave aims to replace exchanging messages back and forth, which is the current practice, with single threads, called waves.

Different stuff can be added to waves – messages, but also photos and instant messaging.

In fact they implemented IM in a way that allows to follow each keystroke of the counterpart – like in good old days of Talk sessions on unix systems.

Meanwhile, Microsoft rebranded its search engine to “Bing” and tries to promote it as a “decision engine”, tailoring search results layout depending on the recognized query context (e.g. travel related search) and presenting structured information on its own page, rather than rely on user to go to any of the results.

I like the direction Microsoft is taking, but at this point I would be more excited about Wave’s ability to change my daily routing rather than Bing.

Bing is at most evolutionary step in the right direction, while Wave has more revolutionary feeling to it.

Note: this doesn’t bode well for Microsoft, which is an underdog compared to Google. In this position it should be Microsoft coming up with revolutionary ideas, not Google. Microsoft fails to show real innovation for all the dollars it sinks into search (for years already).

Another note: Wave makes me think of tremendous advantage Google has thanks to it capabilities in mass scale, real time processing. Building a system like this would be a challenge for a small startup.

Search getting fragmented, verticals most likely to fall to… Google

I’m reading an interesting post by John Borthwick.

Search is fragmenting into verticals. In the past year two meaningful verticals have emerged – one is video – the other is real time search.

It’s interesting and for me well, personally encouraging, because one can think of what I do with Ogito as going into vertical search. Kind of real time, too (time sensitive, at least).

There is also a funny episode from a while ago, when AOL thought of itself as an ultimate disruptor (natural-born disruptor?).

It was an interesting argument – heart felt and in the early days of the Internet cycle it seemed credible. The Internet leaders would have the creative DNA and organizational fortitude to withstand further cycles of disruption. Christensen didn’t buy it. He said time and time again disruptive business confuse adjacent innovation for disruptive innovation. They think they are still disrupting when they are just innovating on the same theme that they began with. As a consequence they miss the grass roots challenger – the real disruptor to their business. The company who is disrupting their business doesn’t look relevant to the billion dollar franchise, its often scrappy and unpolished, it looks like a sideline business, and often its business model is TBD.

Rest of the post serves to prove that “real time web” is the next disruptive wave (especially for Google). I though real time web is another Robert Scoble bullshit, because for some time he was the only one that I read hypeing up this theme, but maybe there is something to it after all.

I’m not convinced that there any major reasons for Google not to dominate the new niche, though. They did it with video. And with the blog search, earlier. Real time search companies may still end up like Technorati.

Back from Google Day 2008 [Poland]

I came back from Google Day 2008, organized for the second time in Poland by Google.

The scale of the event was quite impressive, even though there were some organizational deficiencies (like, everything was running late).

Just before event the started, the light-spirited Google’s logos beamed on huge screens accompanied by pompous music, reminding of the strength and confidence of today’s corporation, made peculiar impression on me (like that of seeing a child suddenly grown into a giant but still looking like a child only a very big one).

Anyway setting was nice.

But the content I saw was rather uninspiring. At least from my perspective. Maybe the idea of the event was more community/brand building, than showcasing something truly new.

First there was a video message from Cerf who told us that innovation is important, then Mario Queiroz (Google Labs) presentation from which I remember only that Google will keep on innovating if only for the reason that Internet is growing larger and that there are still some difficult problems in search, like understanding context of the query. And reminder what is the strategic idea of Chrome, for those who missed it.

Then I endured one session structured around screenshots from Google Trends and went back to do some real work today.

Still I think Google didn’t need to satisfy itself with such boilerplate content – certainly there is no lack of opportunities to say something new. Say, display Android phones (instead there were labs of… Google Maps and Youtube). Or provide insight into details of cooperation terms for startup mashups (ok, this is self-interest).

Maybe I missed some good stuff in the other workshop sessions, but judging from the agenda, I do not think so.

The best thing to do was probably networking, but for this purpose I was poorly prepared due to lack of business cards (note to myself: need business cards). But one person turned out so relevant to my current work that meeting her just like that seemed an amazing luck (and a justification for the time spent).

Google News comes to Poland, go28days goes global

I neglected to post lately because of my ongoing adventure with Rails (apparently rails 2.0 made the book I have next to obsolete, doesn’t make life easier). Nevertheless there were some interesting things last week:

First – Google News finally launched Polish site. I use the global version all the time (parallel to Techmeme for geek news) and I’m curious if it will change the landscape here in Poland. My feeling was that we have still quite a limited set of web news sources for GN to make serious impact – even though some very rich sources have such a crappy web presence (I mean rzeczpospolita), that having GN figuring their updates instead of us might increase the readership significantly.

Second – go28days opened an English version of their site and even got covered by techcrunch.

I would love to see more companies go global. Given how few of them do, go28days might deserve more praise than they got (was there actually a Polish company covered by techcrunch before…?)

Tomorrow, actually today, Google Day 2008 (if I manage not to oversleep it).

Google solved 90% of search: Microsoft has a problem

Microsoft believes that search is still far from maturity. Steve Ballmer emphasized how much search sucks currently at recent analyst day presentation. “It’s still 10 blue links on a white page”. “50% of searches don’t solve the problem”. And so on.

It’s important for Microsoft to believe that search is still a space for radical innovation, because to say otherwise would be to admit that the game is over and that Google won it. Customers are unlikely to switch from Google, unless other vendor presents a serious advantage over Google’s search.

On the other hand, Marissa Mayer just described a slightly different view on future of search, a future of incremental (and laborious) improvements rather than disruptive innovations:

(afterward she softens this point somehow – guess the original message might have not resonated well with Google’s investors)

Search is a 90-10 problem. Today, we have a 90% solution: I could answer all of my unanswered Saturday questions, not ideally or easily, but I could get it done with today?s search tool. (If you?re curious, the answers are below.) However, that remaining 10% of the problem really represents 90% (in fact, more than 90%) of the work.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, it is Google who is best positioned to use its critical mass to slowly but surely improve search.

Google might be actually right in its view of the market, but search (information retrieval) is not the end of the story, right…

Search in CEE: Google is an underdog in some countries

Antyweb quoted the Next web article about search in Russia. What’s interesting in Russian search? It is not dominated by Google:

Most European search markets are dominated by Google and there seem to be no real local competitors. In Russia however, a fierce battle for the search query’s of the consumers is going on. Yakov Sadchikov from Quintura even mailed me that “the Russian search engines are coming.”

Reasons? Commenters point at different character set and language peculiarities (for example different grammatical cases).

Thanks to friends at Gemius I had an opportunity to read some interesting stuff about Internet markets in other CEE countries.. and Russian case is not the only one, even though in most countries Google rules the market.

In Czech Republic, for example, Seznam.cz has approximately 60% share in search. But, Google search is gaining share there.

“Other” search engines have also significant share in Ukraine, Slovenia and Estonia.

In Poland, on the other hand, Google has 90% of the market, grammatical cases notwithstanding.

Google Sites promising but slooow

Google Sites is a wiki service derived from Jotspot, which Google acquired some time ago. It really does feel that Sites fill a gap in Google Apps. Now they combine knowledge organization tool in a shape of this wiki, online office tools, email and a calendar.

Such combination seems promising for my numerous side projects and I wanted to give it a try, even though, as far as wiki goes, I had good experience with Wikispaces before.

On a positive side, Google Sites does have a feeling of simplicity that I will always appreciate. Even though, it is surprising that it misses some seemingly no-brainer functionalities at the moment, like closer integration with Google Docs.

But the other key advantage of Google products is traditionally their responsiveness. On this account Google Sites is, so far, a disappointment. It’s not just slow, it simply hangs the browser at times (I’m using Firefox). I mean the whole thing goes “not responding”.

ZDnet blogger Dennis Howlett posted similar remarks, even though his focus was on gadgets.

That’s it for my first impressions. I’m curious about opinion of my project collaborator. I’m really optimistic about future of such offerings for teams, anyway.

PS. speaking of performance, now Google blog returns 502 server error, heh.


Technorati : , ,

In the East, Google is already well into corporates

I don’t know why, but corporate email in Russia and Ukraine apparently leaves a lot to desire and lots of people are using gmail as semi-official secondary email.

Zakopane on Google Maps

Google just added “terrain” view to its maps, Warsaw is flat so not much to see, but look at Zakopane:

Zakopane on Google Maps

Pretty nice, even though resolution seems to be lower than in the US.

Adsense performance on blogs: 0.02% CTR, eCPM 0.06$?

Found this post accidentally: Blog Tip: Do NOT Put Adsense on Your Blog.

Its point is that Adsense brings so little revenue on a blog, that it is not worth bother to use it.

Quotes numbers which give 0.02% CTR (mine is 0.13%), and 0.06$ eCPM (mine is 0.$19). Hey I’m not so bad – relatively:)

Still it’s clear that ad performance on non-targeted blogs is very low.

Google market cap at $199b

Short of $85b to catch Microsoft at $284b.

Google hires in Wroclaw

See here on Google Poland blog.

They say new “innovation center” is just opening.

Job list includes following positions in Wroclaw:

  • Director, Online Sales and Operations
  • IT Field Technician
  • Online Customer Support Specialist – New Graduate
  • Online Sales and Operations Coordinator (Czech/Slovak)
  • Online Sales and Operations Coordinator (German market)
  • Online Sales and Operations Coordinator (Hungarian)
  • Online Sales and Operations Coordinator (Russian)
  • Online Sales and Operations Manager
  • Team Lead, Online Sales and Operations

From the list it looks more like an operations and customer service center, with some local testing, rather than anything related to innovation. More of that in Krakow. But maybe it will change with time.

I couldn’t help but notice that there is also the following position on the list:

Emerging Markets Strategy Associate – Europe

Position based in London or Warsaw or Budapest or Istanbul or Prague.

(…)

The Emerging Markets Associate will work with the emerging markets team to lead strategic and operational initiatives that are critical to the ongoing growth of the company. Initiatives that the Associate may help drive include: projects to enter new markets; projects to implement our new sales channel strategy in those markets; and projects to build and train new teams in those new markets. The Associate’s role will be to provide the project management skills, analytic “horsepower” and business judgment to drive such initiatives.

Our ideal candidate will have demonstrated top quartile performance in a consulting, investment banking or line management role, and have graduated at or near the top of their class from a leading graduate academic institution. We are looking for self-starters who can work in a rapidly changing industry, tolerate ambiguity and demonstrate problem-solving leadership with limited oversight. Experience in a technology-driven industry is required, and fluency in an Eastern European language is required.

Sounds like interesting job indeed.

Google surpasses Technorati

Nothing against Technorati, but Google’s blog search is clean, fast, and usually works.

Whatever happened to Google

On the weekend – slow search, and redirection to the results likewise, even with occassional server errors.

Now gmail chat not working.

Really, I should diversify my internet experience provider.

Google docs make a nice first impression

I only took a brief look at the word processor. The spreadsheets I left aside for now.

I won?t go into the topic whether the online office will replace desktop suites and when, and how do you manage to work on the airplane, and all the others. But from the brief tour that I took, and the first document I created, and the one invitation that I sent to collaborate it, the toy has Google?s charm to it.

The interface meets expectations of elegant simplicity, the ones that you usually have in case of Google.

It was fun to poke around and observe how they manage to pack the features into the browser environment. Table editing, for example. Inserting an image. And inviting collaborators, which feels like sending an email from gmail, through the similar auto-suggest box.

Google docs

I?m sure you hit the limits eventually, if you try to go too far with the tool. I would be surprised if it was already fit for complex reports or other heavy duty work.

But I look forward to having a practical opportunity to give it a real world test.

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