Tag Archives: google

It might not be your competitors who steal your lunch

Who will eat your lunch? - Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr

In the software world, it might not be your competitors who steal your lunch. It might be a company who doesn’t even compete for the same customers and revenue, who provides a free product so you end up losing out.


Imagine you are a mapping company and which means you create, update and sell maps – like the Ordnance Survey.  But look out – see who is now eating your lunch and providing maps for free:

Bing provides maps for free – that’s because Microsoft makes its money on desktop software and increasingly enterprise software.

Google provides maps for free – that’s because its primary revenue model is ads on search results

TheAA provides maps for free – it’s primary revenue model is roadside assistance insurance.

So, wow, my old revenue model just got shot to pieces but not by direct competitors undercutting me, but by indirect competitors.

So, in the software market, where feature copying is rife, (check out this discussion on Playfish v Zynga) everybody who is not my friend… is my enemy?

Open Graph Explained

Could the web be better? That’s a question we technology people keep asking.
The answer is invariably yes.
For each tech company “better” means something different.
If you’re Google then knowing where you are (“geolocation”) will allow them to give you better search results – “Pizza” for example brings you your local Pizza shop rather than Domino’s in San Francisco.

The Open Graph uses Facebook to connect you to more than just people

If you’re Apple then a better form factor to view web pages might help – so they bring us the Ipad.
And if you’re Facebook then the web might be better if it were more like Facebook… which brings us to “Open Graph“.
Graph is the term Facebook uses to describe our connections with each other – my relationship with you is one link in the “social graph”. But social relationships aren’t the only interesting links – what about between me and the companies I like (“brand graph”) or me and the films I like “movie graph” or even me and news articles “news graph” – in fact you could put just about any object in front of the word graph and it might be worth recording.
Of course this is something companies have been doing for a while – lovefilm tracks what films I like, Digg records the news articles I like. However what is new is Facebook’s centralisation of this information.
Any “open graph” information is centralised in your Facebook account. And this is why the Facebook privacy debate just got hotter – it’s becoming more than just my social life at stake when someone looks at my Facebook account data.
Each time I “like” a movie at IMDB, like a restaurant on Yelp, or even like a news article on the Nudge blog a consequent story appears on my Facebook wall. Toby just liked Iron Man 2 for example.

Open graph Likes appear on your Facebook wall for friends to see

Friends will see the story in their news feeds and click on the link will be taken to the web page I was just on, whether it be IMDB, LoveFilm or the Iron Man website.
So for each of us, figuring out how to use open graph in our business should be an item at the top of our  agenda – what services or products will make good objects on the open graph? What will customers like to like? What does it mean for our objects to be connected to the graph? What messaging do we want to push to people who like our objects?
And what’s the end game for Facebook in all this – why all this bother in mapping the whole graph, not just the social one? I think it’s all about search.  Because, as Facebook have discovered, we’re more interested in what our friends think than what an arbitrary authority (eg. Yahoo’s web directory ) or other web pages (Google’s page rank) think would be the right answer.
Now when my friends search for the best film to see on Facebook they’ll discover that I liked Iron Man 2 and that might be all they need to tip them to go and see it.

Why Microsoft really wants to buy Facebook

If you’ve been following Web 2 you can’t help but notice, plastered on the front cover of the FT this morning, the $15bn valuation Bill Gates just handed to fresh faced Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) and his Facebook.

This doesn’t make sense if you think of Facebook as just another social network. The potential earning from display advertising alone doesn’t really stack up to $15bn does it?

However, since June, Facebook is now two things – first it’s a social network that lets you find old friends and share photos but second, and much much more interestingly, it’s an application platform.

You know the applications, those added extras you can play with friends like SuperPoke, My Aquarium, and Scrabulous. For now they are just for fun but the more serious apps are coming.

Why the Platform

The platform cuts “adoption friction” for new software because users start with having a password and being logged in, familiarity with how the user interface works and they’ve got their friends around them. With traditional web apps it could take 6 months for an ordinary non-technical user to get to this stage – with Facebook it’s 6 seconds.

The other serious application platform is Microsoft Windows. Mac and Linux/Unix are its only competitors left. There was a time when there were many, I had a summer job working for IBM selling OS/2 Warp (a Windows competitor at the time) and I can remember enviously watching the swarm around the Windows presentation stand in Gleneagles back in 1994…

The only swarm now is around Facebook and Microsoft knows it. The new platform war is for the social web platform. The competitors are Google (Orkut), MySpace, Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, and Linked In.

This $240m investment is a bit about advertising but I think it’s more about platform. The race to be the number one web application platform has begun and Facebook has a very big head start.

Sorry – your login failed

Are you fed up getting the message that the computer can’t log you in? I know I am.

Too many web sites are still in the web 1.0 world.

These web systems are puffed up with their own importance: they expect their customers to remember a username and password to access their site, even if the customer only visits once or twice a year.

You know the problem, you try to log on but get a message back like “Either your email address or your password was incorrect. Please go back to try again” – and in most cases we don’t bother. For the loyal, we persist and try the “Lost your password?” button which then sends an untelligible password back like “xwwgys@!$$!” and hey off we go to play football….there’s more to life than typing these ridiculous unmemorable passwords in. Especially when after two or three attempts we still can’t log in.

Yes this problem happens even to technically literate people like me – in fact it’s even worse as I don’t just have to remember several passwords but also several email addresses – as a freelance Facebook developer I change companies and email addresses more often than cutting my hair.

Surely you cry, Web 2.0 should present a solution. And the good news is, yes it does. In tech parlance this problem is known as “the Single Sign On problem” which means that people sign on once and then they have access to all their normal applications and services.

There are three main ways you can solve Single Sign On on your website:
1. Integrate into one of the major “single sign on” providers like Yahoo’s BBA or Google’s SAML .
2. Make your application work on Facebook Platform so users just log in to Facebook and then add your web system.
3. Build in the OpenID standard into your authentication platform.

Whichever you choose the news will be good for your users – only one or two logins to remember every morning. For businesses on the web you need to start planning to implement one of the above three approaches today or be left behind to face the angry mob.

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