Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Apple iPhone 4 Antennas... - AntennaSys Blog - AntennaSys, Inc. - antenna design, integration and consulting.
Well that didn't take long. Halfway into their big 15 importers in 15 days campaign, Posterous has managed to make one of its competitors very angry. Twitpic is so angry, in fact, that they're blocking the service and threatening legal action.
This morning, Posterous introduced its new "Rescue your photos from TwitPic" tool — a one-click way to import your photos from Twitpic over to your Posterous blog. This is the same type of importer Posterous has already made for Ning, Vox, Tumblr and a host of other services — as I said, they're about halfway through the 15 of these tools they intend to make.
The idea, of course, is that if they make it easy enough to get your existing content on to Posterous, they think you'll like their service so much that you'll permanently switch. Twitpic, doesn't like that idea one bit.
According to Posterous, Twitpic had some idea such a tool might be coming and sent a letter last Thursday threatening to sue the company if they launched it. "Their claims are completely bogus," Posterous co-founder Sachin Agarwal tells us. "Posterous is simply acting as an agent to the user who owns the photos. We authenticate the user's Twitter credentials and then download the images on their behalf," he continues.
"Our lawyer sent a response to TwitPic this morning indicating that we aren't breaking any laws here, but simply giving users a way to access their own photos and then decide which service they like best. Nevertheless, TwitPic banned our servers within a couple hours of the importer launch," Agarwal says.
Twitpic has since responded to that letter from Posterous. We've had a chance to see them all. Twitpic seems most concerned about Posterous' methods for accessing this data. The user privacy issue is brought up a number of times — and they also wonder if Posterous isn't access Twitpic "trade secrets" with this importer.
"We are simply using their public RSS feed to pull images on the user's behalf. There are no privacy violations here," Agarwal says.
Twitpic says they're not going to stop users from exporting their data, but prefer users do so manually, rather than with the use of this tool. Of course, if this really is just pulling the pictures through users' RSS feeds, it's hard to argue that this tool is anymore more than useful for people who are looking to switch. Plenty of other blogging sites offer similar import tools.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Small companies clone big companies all the time. And by clone I don't just mean steal a basic idea. I mean clone almost literally – they just plain rip off every single feature and hope for the best. It certainly saves time on user testing.
Big companies, particularly big tech companies, don't do this as much. Pride and ethics come into play at an individual and team level. Pure copying just isn't how things are done.
Instead they tweak a little here, add a little there, and launch it as a variation of the original. That's evolution, not stealing.
And most of the time it doesn't work very well. Facebook's users just don't seem to want to behave like Twitter users, for example, no matter how hard Facebook tried to get them to change. And Google Buzz, besides the privacy snafus in the beginning, is just a little too complicated to get people using it wildly. Plus, I'm not convinced that people want all that junk in their email inbox.
But pure clones work well. Microsoft crushed Netscape in the 90s by simply building their own web browser and giving it away for free. Webmail and instant messaging services across Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and AOL are all largely the same, and that market is fragmented among all of those companies. If there's a better way to do mail and messaging, no one has figured it out yet and gotten all the users to switch to them.
And that's why it's time for Google to just plain clone Facebook. Enough with the fancy pants Google Buzz Twitter-Facebook-Yelp killer. They need to raise the white flag and just copy Facebook right down to the details. Otherwise the war is over before Google even got to the battlefield.
So I'm not surprised to see that Google appears to be working on exactly that – a new social network that isn't Orkut and isn't Buzz but that will be 100% focused on being as good as or better than Facebook.
Why do they need to do this? Google is, after all, firing on all cylinders. Google continues to grow fast and has $24 billion a year in revenue. They dominate search marketing, possibly the most profitable business in the history of our species if you don't include taxes, drugs or prostitution. Facebook has a long way to go to catch up.
Or do they? Facebook's self serve ad business is exploding, say our sources, and may be significantly more robust than even the most favorable third party forecasts predict. Google let's self serve users target ads based on search queries, and that works extremely well. But Facebook knows much, much more about its users than Google does, and allows self serve ads targeted to extremely relevant and timely user information. And with Facebook's strategy of organizing the Internet through Facebook Platform has created a big open door for them to later insert ads on those sites, too. Facebook could be challenging Google's revenue lead much sooner than people think. It's not outrageous to think that the two companies could be in a dead heat by 2015, for example. See The Age Of Facebook for more of my thoughts on the rise of Facebook and why I think they'll dominate the next decade.
Facebook is already bigger than Google in many ways. Not in total unique visitors per month – Facebook's 550 million is still a lot less than Google's 900 million. But Facebook has more page views: 250 billion v. 165 billion per month. And total minutes spent on Facebook is more than 2x Google: 150 billion v. 73 billion. (All stats are Comscore worldwide, May 2010).
Google needs a horse in the social networking race to be able to defend itself against Facebook over the long run. And the only way they're going to be able to compete effectively is to just clone the darn thing. Original? No. Honorable? nope. But people have very short memories, sadly, and it'll all blow over shortly.
There is one area where Google can gain a quick advantage – in truly open data with simple export tools and easy to understand privacy settings. I'd recommend going with the Twitter model on privacy – it's all public or it's all private (for approved friends only). It's not hard to understand, and very few people actually choose the private option.
What Google shouldn't do – must not do – is try to tie the service to other Google products for the wrong reasons. Microsoft's web properties are constantly hobbled by the strategic decisions of a parent company that must protect an aging Windows and Office revenue stream, for example. Google must avoid that pitfall. And Facebook's Twitter experiments, as well as Google bolting Buzz onto Gmail, show that users don't like having the fundamental way they use products change very much. They need to flock to Google Me, or whatever it's called, simply because they like the service.
This will be the great battle in consumer Internet over the next few years if Google does it right. And while I don't like seeing clones, there's really no other choice for Google. And at least the users will win – one thing Facebook needs right now is a little competition.
ps – Next up would be the Google Twitter clone. An exact copy, except with an open protocol that would let anyone run the service on their own server. They should call it Glitter.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Google has recently made a slew of changes to their Docs office and productivity suite live for all users and all new documents. From now on, when you create a new spreadsheet, drawing, presentation or text document in Docs, you'll be using the snazzy new interface and collaboration features as the default.
Two months ago, Google announced some major new features for Google Docs. Users were able to preview these upgrades, which included completely group chat, real-time collaboration tools, and completely redesigned editors for documents, spreadsheets, and drawings.
From now on, anytime you create a new document, you'll be doing so from the new version of Google Docs. Documents already created using the older editor will remain in that interface, and you'll soon be able to move those older documents to the new version of Docs, too.
Here's a little video that highlights some of Docs' new features:
Enterprise-level users of Google Apps will also see the new default interface soon.
Here's what the rebuilt Docs looks like, in case you haven't been testing it out over the past couple months:
This upgraded version becoming Docs' new default interface comes at just the right time; Microsoft recently announced a Google Docs competitor in Office Web Apps, a web-based suite that includes a text editor/word processor, spreadsheet editor and presentation software.
Which company do you think has rolled out the better product for online document editing, collaboration and storage? And do you approve of the changes to Google Docs?
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