This was the day many people had been waiting and hoping years for… Google takes up the Open Source / Linux code base and enters into full competition with Microsoft in the operating system market. Now it is official, as Google announced on their blog yesterday. The “Chrome OS” will be, like Android, based on the Linux kernel and essentially a Google-sponsored re-write of the user interface over that to build a next-generation, cloud OS geared to run web apps. The most important point here is “browser” based vs. “desktop” based, because with that comes all of the potentialities of cloud applications, remote hosted drives, distributed computing, SaaS, etc. Since the Chrome OS is being specifically targeted at netbooks, many are also pointing to Adobe Air applications vs. traditional desktop apps as future standards. The last point though highlights the main asterisk to the announcement: the Chrome OS will be optimized for netbooks first, rather than desktop PCs, which most users and virtually all professionals & business users rely on.
Consider then a very methodical development cycle where Google moves from search, search advertising, apps & code / cloud offerings to launching 1) a mobile phone OS based on open source Linux code base, “Android” 2) a netbook OS based on Linux & browser, “Chrome OS”, to…. 3) full desktop OS (based on Linux) that is integrated with Google products and a direct competitor to Apple / OSX & Microsoft / Windows, (unfinished, but reportedly also pending as a next phase extension of the Chrome OS). The long range significance is that the leading IT company in the world is launching, progressively the open source movement into mainstream computing, and at every level providing free, open source software alternatives for both business and personal users to the proprietary offerings by Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, & other old school software companies. Again, this is great news for independent developers of web based applications, as it levels the playing field and allows for direct entry into the marketplace on the open source foundation following Google.
It can be argued that this is no big deal, Linux has been around for years, and still has only 1% desktop market share. But Google has 80% market share in search. If, by the law of averages, they can pull a 40% market share away from Microsoft & Apple in the next 10 years they can totally transform the popular foundation of computing a second time. Given the momentum behind Open Source at this time, changing consumer habits, and worldwide consumer trust in Google, I think there is a strong possibility in this.
The following posts include the initial announcement from the Google blog and the media reaction to the announcement:
7/07/2009 09:37:00 PM
“It’s been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.”
“Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.”
“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.”
“When Google (GOOG) launched Android, the open-source operating system designed to power mobile Internet devices, industry analysts were surprised to discover that PC manufacturers had begun to use it to power netbooks, the cheap, low-power laptops that have become among the biggest sellers in a dismal market. Now, Google has thrown itself fully into the netbook market with the release of Chrome OS, a new operating system based on its Web browser and designed to directly challenge Microsoft (MSFT) for the future of the personal computer. The search giant had originally planned to announce the release today but bumped it up to yesterday after the New York Times got wind of it.”
“In the end, Google’s strike may not cut deep into enemy territory. Chrome, the web browser, is still stuck at a tiny market share of 1.2%. Android is available on just two or three phones, not enough to really make an impact. Google Apps – productivity software to handle spreadsheets and word documents – has just come out of its “beta” test phase, but look around you and you will find most people still using Microsoft Office. The one field where Chrome OS may make a difference is the market for the open source Linux operating system. Chrome OS will use bits of the Linux kernel, the link between the computer hardware and the Chrome browser running on it. Google is bound to make Chrome OS much more user-friendly than most “distros” or versions of Linux available right now. Instead of slaying Microsoft, Chrome OS might corner the segment of the consumer space that might have been Linux’s. No doubt, Google’s charge with Chrome OS will needle Microsoft. But we won’t know for years whether it will deliver a mere pinprick, or is the fine point of the dagger at the heart of Microsoft.”
“Fast forward to today. The Chrome browser now has 30 million active users, says Google, and tracking services say it has 6% or so market share. Not bad for a browser that’s less than a year old. And now, WOW. Google just bolted a big ol’ bag of drivers (also known as the Linux kernel) to Chrome and are calling it the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s going to be hard for people to continue to deny its operating systemness now. The new OS will focus entirely on the web: ‘The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform.’ Now, finally, even the tech purists can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Windows is hardware management plus an application platform, and we call that an OS. Chrome OS is hardware management plus an application platform (the browser), and we call that an OS, too.”
“Google really can challenge Microsoft, because the proliferation of Web-based applications makes the operating system much less important,” said Zeus Kerravala, analyst at Yankee Group. “As we pave the way towards real Web 2.0, there will be less of a real tie-in to Windows.”
“Google, which already offers a suite of e-mail, Web and other software products that compete with Microsoft, said on Tuesday it would launch a new operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks.”
“Called the Google Chrome Operating System, the new software will be in netbooks for consumers in the second half of 2010, Google said in a blog post, adding that it was working with multiple manufacturers.”
“The effort marks the latest attack by Google on Microsoft, which dominates the market for operating system software that powers computer applications. The Mountain View, Calif., company, which makes 97% of its revenue from online advertising, has been trying to compete with Microsoft and other software makers by offering more software that runs in a Web browser and isn’t downloaded directly to computers. Now it appears to be broadening its approach, in a move that could give it greater distribution of its own online software services, including word-processing and email software.”
“But whether it can chip away at Microsoft’s dominance in the market remains unclear. In the months since its launch, Chrome has done little to challenge Microsoft’s lead in the browser software. And some hardware companies have been slow to adopt Google software — like its Android operating system, which is targeted at running applications on mobile phones — arguing it isn’t robust enough to handle many tasks.”
“The announcement contained a thesis statement that is a bit more significant than it might appear at first: ‘It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.’ That statement has both strategic and practical implications, which we’ll consider in turn.”
“From a strategic perspective, ‘what operating systems should be’ clearly involves a heavy dose of Google-driven Web apps, from e-mail to spreadsheets. The entire OS will be focused on getting users into a Web browser as quickly as possible; any other applications will be secondary and probably not provided by Google. Instead, once the browser launches, users can do their computing via online applications, saving their data in the cloud (think of all those “gDrive” rumors from the last few years)…”
“From a technological perspective, there appear to be some interesting aspects to rethinking the operating system. For one, by having an extremely narrow focus—bringing up a networking stack and browser as quickly as possible—Chrome OS has the ability to cut down on the hassles related to restarting and hibernating computers. And, aside from the browser, all of the key applications will reside online, security and other software updates won’t happen on the computer itself, which should also improve the user experience.”
“But let’s be clear on what this really is. This is Google dropping the mother of bombs on its chief rival, Microsoft. It even says as much in the first paragraph of its post, ‘However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web.’ Yeah, who do you think they mean by that?”
“And it’s a genius play. So many people are buying netbooks right now, but are running WIndows XP on them. Windows XP is 8 years old. It was built to run on Pentium IIIs and Pentium 4s. Google Chrome OS is built to run on both x86 architecture chips and ARM chips, like the ones increasingly found in netbooks. It is also working with multiple OEMs to get the new OS up and running next year.”
“Obviously, this Chrome OS will be lightweight and fast just like the browser itself. But also just like the browser, it will be open-sourced. Think Microsoft will be open-sourcing Windows anytime soon?”
“I also suspect that some at Google were not entirely happy with the the direction that its Android mobile OS project is taking. Numerous netbook makers have made plans to install Android on small laptops. But Android was designed for handsets and a move to bigger devices is problematic. At a minimum, porting Android to larger screens would require major modifications in the user interface and possible some deeper components, such as the file system. This would lead to what computer scientists call ‘forking,’ the splitting of an operating system into branches that have serious incompatibilities between them. The push for Android on netbooks was being driven by manufacturers’ dissatisfaction with both Microsoft and current Linux distributions. In some cases, the computer makers wanted to build netbooks based on the ARM processor, such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform, rather than an Intel or AMD x86 processor, and Android is designed for ARM. Done right, Chrome would satisfy those desires while helping Google protect the integrity of Android.”
TechMeme – List of Blogs Discussing Google Chrome OS:
“Discussion: Google Watch, MediaPost, Mark Evans, Fast Company, Between the Lines, TheNextWeb.com, ZDNET.com.au, Computerworld Blogs, TechCrunch, MediaMemo, Wall Street Journal, Open Gardens, Silicon Alley Insider, Mashable!, Google Operating System, CNET News, Computerworld, Bloomberg, Hardware 2.0, PC World, Network World, p2pnet, VentureBeat, Financial Times, blogs.chron.com, OStatic blogs, Tech Beat, pasmith’s blog, Ajaxian, Gadget Lab, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, 9 to 5 Mac, Lifehacker, ClickZ, Android Central, Electricpig, Search Engine Journal, GottaBeMobile.com, Liliputing, SEO and Tech Daily, the Econsultancy blog, Gadgetell, jkOnTheRun, Guardian, Search Engine Roundtable, MacRumors, Music Ally, eWeek, TechFlash, CloudAve, Churbuck.com, PSFK, Neowin.net, Irregular Enterprise, AnandTech, Mobile Opportunity, DailyTech, Softpedia News, All things Indian Startups …, The Mobile Gadgeteer, AppScout, DailyFinance, Netbook Choice, T3.com News, Electronic Pulp, Gizmodo, Deep Jive Interests, Text Technologies, TECH.BLORGE.com, ReadWriteWeb, I4U News, Techgeist, SlashGear, istartedsomething, Blogation, Epicenter, HackingCough, louisgray.com, ithinkdifferent, paidContent, OhGizmo!, bit-tech.net, InformationWeek, Tim Anderson’s ITWriting, Microsoft News Tracker, Zoho Blogs, CellPassion, Intuitive.com, TeleRead, Tech Trader Daily, MobileContentToday, Download Squad, Engadget, TUAW and Raph’s Website”
Recently, I have been looking into personal productivity and communication tools to upgrade our office network to be more “cloud” based and remote-hosted for inter-office flexibility & backup security. Last year, I researched quite a bit into Zimbra and IP-PBX based phone systems like trixbox and asterisk, but for whatever reason, did not feel these engaging enough to warrant the time & investment for a platform shift. This year there are two new products that have emerged as really “game changing” options for mobile professionals who frequently travel, work out of multiple offices, and need to maintain an integrated channel of communication for international business clients. The first is “Earth Class Mail” a eco-friendly mail service that will aggregate all of your snail mail to one business address, where you can choose which ones to shred, scan, or forward. The second is Google Voice, still unreleased, which will allow you to forward all of your telephone numbers to one number, voice mail, & inbox, and also to create email text transcriptions from conversations & messages.
Earth Class Mail:
“Earth Class Mail is changing how postal mail is delivered, for the betterment of individuals, businesses, national post offices, and the planet. Instead of making physical postal deliveries that are so dependent on fuel for planes and trucks, we deliver postal mail online, where people can manage it instantly, anywhere in the world. No matter where our customers are, they simply log in to their secure Earth Class Mail account to view scanned images of their mail envelopes. They then decide which items to have opened and securely scanned so they can read the contents online, and which items should be recycled, shredded, archived, or forward-shipped to them wherever they’re located – all with a few clicks of a mouse.”
Earth Class Mail has personal and small business accounts that look basically identical. The standard charge is going to be around $250 per year for a basic account, where you will have to pay extra (around $1.50) for every piece of mail scanned, and an additional charge for the mail forwarding or extra volume. For $500 per year, you get a bit higher of a limit on the details, around 50 included scans, etc. but still also have to pay for the mail forwarding based on location. This service is much more cost efficient for local delivery, and ECM gives you a choice of addresses to register for your inbox. Digging deeper into Earth Class Mail, I found they are doing some advanced research into automating all of this with robotics and have already inked a deal with the Swiss National Post to offer the service at a governmental level. With the rise of Googlers to the Obama cabinet, and the tech innovators working there from other sources, this may be a very visible and doable “IT upgrade” of the US infrastructure that gets implemented officially at the Post Office level soon.
The main worry I would have with this system is its stability, as they say the Post service is the bedrock of reliability as far as governmental utilities go, and an alliance with Earth Class Mail on this level takes most of that worry away. Nevertheless, I have heard that they are closing offices and selling operations during the downturn, and obviously that is the critical issue along with security for a business looking to commit to this system. From what I can gather, it is more of an interest of the start-up investors to “sell out” to a large company like Fed Ex or UPS who can take the service to the next level of popularity, rather than a dissolution issue, that is driving the sale. The service is fairly reasonably priced for entry level users, but there is really no other comparable communication package that can so completely transform the snail mail inbox as Earth Class Mail.
“Google Voice is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more.”
One number for all your calls and SMS
- Call screening – Announce and screen callers
- Listen in – Listen before taking a call
- Block calls – Keep unwanted callers at bay
- SMS – Send, receive, and store SMS
- Place calls – Call US numbers for free
- Taking calls – Answer on any of your phones
- Phone routing – Phones ring based on who calls
- Forwarding phones – Add phones and decide which ring
Voicemail as easy as email, with transcripts
- Voicemail transcripts – Read what your voicemail says
- Listen to voicemail – Check online or from your phone
- Notifications – Receive voicemails via email or SMS
- Personalize greeting – Vary greetings by caller
- Share voicemail – Forward or download voicemails
More cool things you can do with Google Voice
- Conference calling – Join people into a single call
- Call record – Record calls and store them online
- Call switch – Switch phones during a call
- Mobile site – View your inbox from your mobile
- GOOG-411 – Check directory assistance
- Manage groups – Set preferences by group
Google Voice looks to be about as good of a digital service for telephone use as Earth Class Mail is for snail mail, bringing it all into a web interface for easy management and extension. Both are perfect illustrations of the arguments put out by Marshall McLuhan in chapter one of “Understanding Media”. Snail mail and telephone management are still hold-outs from most people’s digital toolbox. I see these both as “game changers,” like the smart grid, because of the innovative way they remix the old content into cloud applications functioning remotely on the web (“sky-net“).
Along with Google Voice, I am also considering the upgrade to Google Apps Premium: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html
At only $50 per year for a single user, it is reasonably priced but doesn’t seem to include too much more than the already available and free tools like gmail, gchat, video chat, calendar, documents, etc. etc. from Google. The problem is that the free version of gmail limits the addition of external POP accounts to 5. If you are managing multiple domains, with multiple email accounts per domain, it is unlikely that gmail is going to be sufficient to manage all of the email accounts unless you upgrade to Premium. I currently use a combination of Outlook, Thunderbird, and gmail for POP mail, so an upgrade + Google Voice would be a powerful integrated solution that should cover most of the business communication needs of our outsourcing business.
Google Voice should be released publicly within a couple of weeks.
Google seems to finally approved Wave Sandbox access for some developers who did not attend the I/o. We are publishing a few screenshots and background information on the Google Wave platform below. It is interesting that we are running Disqus comments on the TypeHost site and there are quite a few similarities between Disqus & Google Wave, as well as some major differences. XMPP is doing really well over all in keeping the messaging instant – you can see people typing updates as it happens on the screen.
For those interested in Google Wave development, here are some screenshots and documentation of the Google Wave sandbox:
Getting Started with Wave
This wave should help you get started in using Wave.
NOTE: This wave is shared with all wave-users, so we only allow a limited set of admins to edit it. If you try to edit or respond to it, your Wave Client will crash. Don’t worry, we’re working on a better UI for that!
As you are currently seeing, Wave is laid out in Panels, let me go through each of them to give you a flavor for Wave:
You might periodically see a green bar at the top of the screen that says “Uploading Waves”. This bar indicates that there is data queued up to be sent to the server, so, if you see this, don’t close you browser until it goes away!
The Nav Panel is where you will find shortcuts to get to various lists of Wave. It is also where you can manage Folders (yes, there are Folders!) and Saved Searches. Try out some cool things like:
All links in the Nav Panel are actually Searches, look for what they populate in the Search box!
The Contact Panel shows all contacts that are currently stored in your account. Try out some cool things like:
Click on your own Avatar in the contact Panel, click on “Change Photo” and it will take you to a settings page allowing you to set up your Avatar picture. Make sure to make it available to everyone in the domain!
the Search box will allow you to find the specific contact you’re looking for.
Clicking on a user’s Avatar will show their information and allow you to create a Wave with them.
You can set your “cool line” by clicking on your own profile at the top of the panel. This won’t be the same as your Gmail IM status, so feel free to set a unique wavy status here.
Make sure any contacts you want to use in Wave are in your contacts (accessible from https://www.google.com/contacts/a/wavesandbox.com).
The Search Panel will allow you to find all of your various Waves. Try out some cool things like:
Cmd+Click (on Mac) or Ctrl+Click (on Windows) to open the Wave in a new Panel
Select a Wave, then click Folders to move a Wave to a Folder
Shift click on Multiple Waves to apply and then choose and Action
This Panel is where your Waves will open. Try out some cool things like:
shift+enter while editing will end your edit, shift+enter while not editing will create a new message!
Maximize the Wave to get more real estate for it
Private Reply from the Message Menu to talk to a smaller number of folks on the Wave
Wave InBox – Debug Settings:
Show objects created
Log wavelet shelf
Evict all shelved wavelets
Dump open remote calls
Get current Wave ID
Copy current wave
Show UDW of current wave
Show CC Info
Participants and Profiles
Toggle fine-grained timing
Set Window Size
Still just a few hours into the sandbox, but it is a nice model. Basically set your application up on google-apps and then widgetize it, add it to the wave through the extension API. Same with robots. Google has some templates and examples for Java and Python code extensions and robots online at: http://code.google.com/apis/wave/embed/guide.html
Related: Whitepaper – Using Attachments in Google Wave
Since “Google Wave” was introduced at the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco May 27th to 28th, 2009, there has been a lot of buzz and attention surrounding the new platform. What exactly is Google Wave? According to the development team, it is the biggest upgrade to email since the introduction of the web, a type of combination between email, blog, forum comment section, instant message system, and widget board. Google Wave shows the enormous influence that Facebook is having on the future of the web – in a way, the preview looks as if the majority of Google services were integrated and remixed into an animated Facebook stream. The big differences are in the standards behind the interface: XMPP particularly allows the Wave documents to function like an instantaneous, shared whiteboard in addition to a saved multimedia document with filtered permission levels.
What is a wave?
“A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.
A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.
A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.”
For those that did not attend the I/O conference, the essential resource is the launch video from that day that is viewable at:
Developing For Google Wave:
Google plans to open source much of the code behind the Google Wave platform, and one of the points confirmed is that anyone- ISPs, private groups, individuals, companies, websites, domains, will be able to operate their own Wave server based on the Wave Federation Protocols. Developers who would like to build new applications for the Wave platform should review the draft specifications and white papers available at:
The Google Wave API is intended to enable developers to embed Wave documents in standard web pages as well as to “extend” the platform by embedding widgets within a Wave itself. The Wave extensions allow for the embedding of virtually the entire archive of iGoogle widgets, and allow programmers to develop Java, Python, ActionScript, and other applications to add new functionality to a Wave. For more information on the Wave API, visit: http://code.google.com/apis/wave/
“On May 28th, the second day of Google I/O, we unveiled Google Wave as a developer preview. But, we’d never actually had non-Google developers use it, and we were eager to see how it’d play out… So, on the Friday after I/O, about 60 developers assembled down at Google HQ for the very first Google Wave API hackathon. After five hours of hacking and ad-hoc discussions with members of the Wave APIs team, there were a whopping 17 demos to show off. We were awed by how enthusiastically developers dove in to the APIs that day, and excited to see what they created. Their accomplishments were especially amazing as no one had even used the product prior to the hackathon.”
Embed API – Methods to communicate w/ server:
LoadWave SetUIConfig AddReply Follow
Sample Google Wave Embed Code:
A month after I/O, most developers who did not attend are still waiting for Google to approve sandbox access. There are a couple of good email discussion groups dedicated to working out issues related to development on the platform:
Google Wave API Group: http://groups.google.com/group/google-wave-api
Google Wave Federation Protocol Group:http://groups.google.com/group/wave-protocol
Wave Gallery: http://wave-samples-gallery.appspot.com/
PyGoWave Server also has a type of sandbox set up and some demo projects online:
Drupal.org discussion: http://drupal.org/node/476438
Drupal.org module project: http://drupal.org/project/wave
Drupal.org Google Wave Group: http://groups.drupal.org/google-wave
It may be an understatement to call AOL a tarnished brand – few companies have fallen further or crashed harder in so short a period of time. In the first generation of web development, AOL was a mail order ISP that gave millions of Americans their first dial-up account, and the company rose to essentially take over the media giant Time Warner in a merger that gave AOL a 55% stake in a combined company, with AOL’s market cap at over $220 billion USD. Now, Time Warner has received permission to “spin-off” AOL… and its estimated value is $2.4 billion USD, 8 years later.
“Time Warner Inc said on Thursday its bondholders had agreed to change the terms of their debt contracts, removing restrictions on a sale or spin-off of its beleaguered Internet unit AOL.”
“The media giant asked bondholders earlier this month to change terms on around $12.3 billion in outstanding debt, paving the way for a potential separation of the Internet unit. In exchange for the new agreement Time Warner will pay the bondholders around a total of $61.5 million.”
“Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes has said he is examining options for the future structure of AOL. Last month he lured former Google Inc executive Tim Armstrong to head AOL with the possibility of leading a spin-off.”
eBay recently announced plans to spin-off Skype in 2010 with an IPO, it is unclear at this point whether Time Warner will do similar with AOL. The fact that they recently split their cable holdings from media divisions, and that Time Warner CEO favors the idea suggests the announcement will come in the next couple of months. But is AOL even relevant enough anymore to stand alone as a company after an IPO?
“Time Warner’s chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes announced that the former Senior Vice President of Google would take the helm. AOL is owned by Time Warner, the parent company of CNNMoney.com.”
” ‘At Google, Armstrong helped build one of the most successful media teams in the history of the Internet – helping to make Google the most popular online search advertising platform in the world for direct and brand marketers,’ said Bewkes in a written statement. ‘He’s an advertising pioneer with a stellar reputation and proven track record.’ ”
“Armstrong worked at Google since 2000, and he opened the first Google branch outside of the Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. Armstrong was the president of Americas Operations and a member of Google’s Operating Committee.”
“One media analyst was very encouraged by the new CEO. ‘We are very surprised that they were able to attract someone of his pedigree,’ said Richard Greenfield, media analyst at Pali Research.”
“ ‘I think investors will be very excited by his potential to reinvigorate AOL,’ said Greenfield.”
I recently (last year) visited the Propeller web site that is related to AOL, otherwise I have never used their services. The company has never had a good reputation among web designers as an ISP, and as a media company it has never really harnessed the integration promised by the partnership with Time Warner. Google apparently invested in a 5% stake in AOL around 2005 valued at $1 billion – the investment is worth less than a quarter of its value today… neverland.
Will Time Warner sell AOL outright to Google? It is hard to see too many other companies willing and able to make the deal at this point. Even with all of its success, Google still lacks a “portal” style site like Yahoo or a gated community like AOL, but it integrates in a new way that surpasses the portal model in scale. Can AOL reinvent itself in the cloud, for example by providing libraries of apps, storage, integrated file management, etc. for cheap netbooks or scaled down desktops that use web servers for processing? Microsoft could conceivably benefit by mass-integration of its media platforms with AOL and using it as a content distribution channel like YouTube for network media.
AOL as an independent, publicly listed & traded company with majority ownership by Time Warner? The announcement could give AOL a bit of energy, followed by a steady stream of new products, innovations, and services from Google’s Armstrong… but is this enough to bring the company back? Based on Armstrong’s background, advertising would be expected to be the growth source for AOL’s income in addition to ISP services, but is unclear what he will do to build the traffic necessary to lead the company to a re-emergence. Nevertheless, these developments and the experience Armstrong brings to the board are significant, and it looks like things are just getting re-started there.
As if there were need for any more proof of the strength of the global economic recession, both Google and Infosys last week posted their first ever quarterly reduction in earnings since their respective companies were founded. Considering that Infosys was founded in 1981, that is an amazing run of expansion. Google’s income, based largely in internet advertising spending, was reduced significantly as AdSense & AdWords sales declined. Infosys, the Bangalore-based software development and BPO company, has reported not only reductions in corporate IT spending, but is also finding existing clients hesitant to commit to extended long term contracts.
Google took a big step forward in solving its problem with copyright music video content on YouTube this week by signing an agreement with Universal that will license all of their media archives for internet distribution via a new site called “Vevo” to be launched next year. Music Videos are some of the most popular content on YouTube, with top videos uploaded by users seeing over 20 million hits per page. However, since the users are simply recording the videos to digital off of television, and in a sense, rebroadcasting them on YouTube without permission (aka “sharing”), the music companies have been vocal in forcing Google to remove this content from individual user accounts. Now, in the new system, all proprietary content from Universal will be hosted on the Vevo site, and wherever it is embedded or shared across the web by users, the content will be monetized to produce ad revenue and royalties. This is a big victory for the music industry, and the other record labels are expected to join in similar agreements with Google for online music video distribution.
Probably no other blog has done so much to fuel the rise and popularity of Twitter than Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch. Currently number 3 on Technorati’s internet top 100 blog list, TechCrunch has posted updates on Twitter multiple times a week since the site’s launch in 2006 and constantly boosted & stirred the hype around the service. This week, TechCrunch published a post reporting from sources located within both the Google and Twitter camps, stating that Google was in late stage negotiations to purchase Twitter. The post quickly swept across the internet and mainstream media, being covered by Reuters, CNN, the Wall St. Journal, and commented upon across the blogosphere. Arrington followed up with a post stating that Twitter likely wouldn’t sell for less than $1 Billion USD.
Facebook was reportedly in similar talks with Twitter last year, but it looks more likely that the two companies are squaring off and developing / evolving the market for real-time, streaming updates of personal & business information in competition. Recent changes to make Facebook’s “Wall” posts more public is seen as a step in Twitter’s direction. The other players in the field are essentially minor in comparison at this point. Some are suggesting Microsoft could step in and make a bid for Twitter as well – they have already been reported to have invested in a large advertising stake in the company.