AT&T "Pogo's" into browser war

You’ve read about it on TechCrunch. But I wanted to see it for myself, so I’m sitting in AT&T’s offices and bring you video with AT&T Vice President, David Grantz and Vizible’s Executive Vice President Jeff Rushton.

Here’s the live video I filmed seconds ago. Heheh, the video is done on AT&T’s 3G network. I think I just sold three more Nokia phones! (Don’t tell Steve Jobs!)

I see some stuff here that really takes browsers further, but early adopters won’t like it. No Firefox plugin capability yet, for instance.

But the video is worth checking out just to see what AT&T is thinking about here.

The real roadblocks to data portability on social networks

I see that Yahoo has joined up with Google’s Open Social. That’s cool because it will let developers build gadgets, widgets, social networking applications, or whatever we’re calling these things that are like Facebook apps, twice, instead of dozens of times. Once for Facebook and once for everyone else. That’s really great, because it’ll encourage developers to build a bunch of new stuff and get the promise of a lot of reach. At least once the platform is done and it all works as advertised (devs tell me it’s not there yet, but coming along).

But I, and many of my friends, care much more about true data portability. Here’s a few things we want to do:

1. Many of us are on more than a dozen social networks. I’m on Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Upcoming.org, FriendFeed, SocialThing, Profilactic, FastCompany.com, Twitter, Pownce, WordPress.com, Disqus, and many more. You didn’t think each of those is a social network, did you? They are. The problem? Well, this year I wanted to change my email from robertscoble@hotmail.com to scobleizer@gmail.com. Doing just that simple action is a pain in the behind. If we had true dataportability we’d just change it in one place and the change would ripple through all other social networks.

2. When a Facebook user friends you and gives you his/her email address it’d be nice to have that automatically placed into your favorite email client so you could actually use it without having to type it in again.

3. When a new social network comes along (say your company turns one on this morning) I’d love it if it noticed that 15 of my friends who join up there are also on Twitter, etc. Why is that important? Because if there were some way to bind these social networks together they could do a lot more for you. For instance, I know that Scott Beale is on almost all of my social networks listed above. Why don’t the systems know that? If they did, we wouldn’t have a need for FriendFeed, or Profilactic, or SocialThing (those systems are attempting to glue all those social networks together).

So, what’s the problem, beyond the politics of some of this stuff (will Facebook join the Dataportability.org? Who cares? Has the Dataportability.org actually shipped anything yet beyond PR?)

WHAT IS THE HOLDUP?

It’s not easy to do any of this stuff. On Saturday I talked with Dave Morin, head of Facebook’s application platform.

He brought up use case after use case that I hadn’t really thought through.

For instance, what if a user wants to delete his or her info off of Facebook. Today that’s possible. But what about in a really data portable world? After all, in such a world Facebook might have sprayed your email and other data to other social networks. What if those other social networks don’t want to delete your data after you asked Facebook to?

Another case? How do you define spam? Based on my experiences lately lots of people define it differently. I don’t mind “noisy” systems, but some people really are bothered by that. So, if you’re over on Facebook and you give friends your email address and then that opens you up to “noisy” systems, how do you feel about Facebook?

Another case: you want your closest Facebook friends to know your birthday, but not everyone else. How do you make your social network data portable, but make sure that your privacy is secured?

Another case? Which of your data is yours? Which belongs to your friends? And, which belongs to the social network itself? For instance, we can say that my photos that I put on Facebook are mine and that they should also be shared with, say, Flickr or SmugMug, right? How about the comments under those photos? The tags? The privacy data that was entered about them? The voting data? And other stuff that other users might have put onto those photos? Is all of that stuff supposed to be portable? (I’d argue no, cause how would a comment left by a Facebook user on Facebook be good on Flickr?) So, if you argue no, where is the line? And, even if we can all agree on where the line is, how do we get both Facebook and Flickr to build the APIs needed to make that happen?

Another case? You go to Flickr. Change your email address. Then you go to Facebook and change your email address to a different one. Now you head over to Twitter and change it again to yet a third one. Which one is correct? How do these systems, not owned by the same companies, figure this out? Time stamp? What if you actually want the systems to use three separate email addresses?

And we went on and on.

So, the story is, doing the simplest of data portability (for instance, making all systems understand when I changed my email address) is going to take a lot of work and a lot of cooperation between all of the players). Doing the toughest stuff (like sharing of some of the social graph, or making things like photos and videos portable) will take a lot longer.

I’d be surprised if we see some real movement on data portability between a good number of systems by the end of the year.

Do you expect any better?

Google's five-year plan to hit Enterprise continues (Cemaphore helps Google out)

I’m convinced that Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, has a five-year plan to put Google’s foot inside the enterprise door.

Enterprise users aren’t easy to switch over. On the plane to New York I saw a guy using Windows 2000 with an older version of Lotus Notes. I felt sorry for the guy. But his usage is typical of those in many enterprises. CTOs don’t like to invest in new stuff when the old stuff is working just fine.

So, you try being a Google salesperson and trying to get the CTO to rip out old stuff (er, Microsoft Office and all of Microsoft’s servers like Sharepoint and Exchange) and switch to your newer stuff (like Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets, Gmail, and Google Calendar).

I’m going through that move myself and I can tell you it isn’t easy. And I’m one guy who can make up my own mind. Imagine the momentum a big company with, say, 100,000 seats has to go through. Next time you’re at Hertz rental car you can see that momentum in action: they are still using a character-mode app on their front line machines.

But the early adopters have already moved. When I ask audiences what they are using now, I see more and more Google customers.

I can’t think of a situation where the enterprise didn’t eventually follow the early adopter crowd. It might have taken years, but they do follow eventually.

Today we are seeing new signs of life in Google’s strategy and the help didn’t come from within Google itself.

It comes from a small company named Cemaphore. They just announced “MailShadow for Google Apps.”

What does it do? It synchronizes email and calendar items between Microsoft Outlook and Exchange and Gmail/Google Calendar.

Sounds really boring, right? Hey, didn’t Google just ship its own synchronizer?

Yes, and yes.

But Google’s synchronizer sucks compared to Cemaphore’s. It’s slow and buggy. Earlier in the week I got a demo of Cemaphore’s new offering from Tyrone Pike, Cemaphore’s CEO and President.

I saw that, thanks to Cemaphore, when I enter a calendar item in Microsoft Outlook it instantly appeared in Google Calendar.

He repeated the demo with reading and sending email from both Exchange and Gmail. Again, synched within seconds.

My own tests with Google’s sync technology showed that items wouldn’t sync for hours, and sometimes, never, if you screwed up and loaded two separate synching products like I did.

So, why is this important?

Because it lets Enterprises slowly introduce Google’s Enterprise products in.

Enterprises will never move wholesale over to Gmail and Google’s other offerings. Users just don’t like that kind of change. There would be revolt at work, if CTOs tried to force it. But this way a CTO can let his/her employees use whatever systems they want and still have them synchronized. And there ARE major reasons to move to Gmail: Cost, for one. I also am hearing that Gmail’s email servers use far less electricity per mail than Exchange’s do. Environmentalism anyone? You think that’s not important for CTOs? It sure is. Both are going to be major drivers that will get Google’s offerings paid attention to.

Anyway, I’m hearing rumblings that Google will follow this announcement up with several of its own over the next couple of months.

It’ll be interesting to see what CTOs think of this and it’ll be interesting to see if it does, indeed, take five years for Google to make major inroads into the Enterprise like I think it will.

What do you think?

The secret to Twitter

I’ve been talking to lots of people about Twitter. Why is it so addictive? Why do new tools, shipped for it, like Quotably was tonight, get passed around so fast and talked about so much?

I’ve gone through stages with Twitter. At some point I thought it was important to get lots of followers. But lately I’ve been telling people that the secret to Twitter isn’t how many followers you have, but how many people you are following. Tonight Sheryl asked me to explain more: “why is the secret how many people you follow? Why is it important to follow so many people?”

Here’s why:

1. Getting followed just means you’re popular. Yes, that’s cool, but it hardly will make you interesting. Paris Hilton will have more Twitter members than I will, when she joins.
2. Getting followed a lot might mean you’re using it for a publishing system. If all you have is followers what makes that different from owning a newspaper, a radio station, a TV station, or, even, a Web site? Hint: nothing.
3. If you’re just trying to get followed you’re probably just needing attention or you might be Jason Calacanis.

But what does following a lot of people say?

1. You’re trying to learn more.
2. You’re trying to meet more people.
3. You’re trying to be a better listener.
4. You’re communicating to the world that you’d like to be listened to (golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated).
5. You’re trying to find out about more stuff. More events. More stories.

Now, who would you rather hang out with? A person who only talks and doesn’t listen? Or a person who listens to as many people as he can?

I know I’d rather hang out with someone who listens to more people.

Oh, yeah, and many of us on Twitter have been getting messages like what Mike Arrington got tonight. Now, I really don’t care about people who unfollow me anymore. Go ahead. Doesn’t make me feel bad. But the more people I follow, the smarter I get, the more connected I get, the better the experiences I have in life (see previous post).

So, that’s my new story. The secret to Twitter is how many people are you listening to, not how many people are listening to you.

Agree or disagree?

Wine and Web Party, thanks to Twitter and DeLoach winery

Twitter is changing our community interactions in ways that we are just starting to realize. At SXSW parties were formed within an hour, simply because Scott Beale or other people Twittered about them.

We’ve seen a marriage proposal in the last week. Earthquakes reported before CNN does (just tonight there was an earthquake in Tokyo that was being discussed on Twitter). A camera guy in the White House press pool talking with us about what’s going on around the world. And much more.

Last night it came together when a bunch of people who are loosely connected planned, and implemented a wine party in less than 30 hours.

It all started on Friday afternoon. I joined a few guys in Santa Rosa for a wine-tasting weekend: Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four Hour Workweek,” which is near the top of the New York Times best-seller list right now, and Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of a wine store in New Jersey (does $50 million a year in sales) and famous wine videoblogger. Twitter addresses: @kevinrose. @timferriss. @scobleizer. @garyvee.

Anyway, the weekend started out at DeLoach Winery in Santa Rosa, but we had no idea what was waiting for us. DeLoach President and owner, Jean Charles Boisset, served us lunch, launched a new wine, and was showing us around their newly-renovated wine house where they were planning to host events. Here’s part I of the tour that we got. Here’s part II of the tour we got. In part III, Jean shows us some new bottles he’s testing, talks about his marketing philosophy (you might be shocked to learn what “OFS”, which is one of his wine’s names, stands for).

At the time we got these tours this party did not exist. That was Friday afternoon at about 4 p.m. After we filmed those videos, Jean handed the keys to Gary and said “I left 24 cases of wine for you to share with your friends.”

Now, what’s your impulse? I looked at Kevin and Gary and we all three knew we were thinking the same thing: Twitter it! So, we asked Jean “are you sure you want us to invite a few hundred people over here?” He said yes. We asked again, and once more just to be sure. He even said he’d like to host future events for the tech industry. I remember thinking to myself that either Jean was incredibly brave, or maybe he was just not aware of what could happen in today’s Twitter world.

Anyway, Gary had originally planned to have a quiet dinner on Saturday night but now those plans were turned upside down. We thought about just inviting our favorite friends. Nah, that wouldn’t be cool. Too exclusive. So, we just Twittered it and invited everyone to come.

It turned out to be a great party. TeelaJBrown even drove from Los Angeles. Scott Beale got some great photos with his new Ricoh digital camera. I shot two videos of the party itself. BusinessWeek’s Sarah Lacy was there with her husband. So was Dave Morin, head of Facebook’s application platform. Oh, and a whole contingent of French Entrepreneurs who’ll be touring companies in SF and Silicon Valley. They LOVED Gary’s show.

Anyway, if you only watch one video from the party, catch this one of a filming of Gary’s show. Keep in mind this is at about midnight after Gary’s been tasting wine and hanging out with people all day long. The guy is just incredible.

Before I go on more about the party, wanted to thank the other wineries we visited, in addition to DeLoach, which is known for its Pinots.

Shane Winery
. Video. A small microbrewery. I found this one interesting because of the wine maker’s innovative approach. And I love small things. He only makes a couple hundred cases a year.
Forth Winery. You’d never find this on your own. But what a beautiful setting, and even nicer people who made us one of the best meals I’ve ever had. That’s why I shot a ton of video here. Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV.
St. Francis. Video. Known for having some of the oldest vines in Sonoma and is famous for its Merlots. Meet the CEO and the winemaker.
Great business discussion between Gary and Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, with Jean of DeLoach.

Anyway, hope to do more of these kinds of events. What was great about this one is that it quickly became an experience, rather than just another boring conference. The real trick is: how do you limit them to about 200 people? That seems to be the perfect size. Bigger than that and they become impersonal affairs. Smaller and they are just dinner parties. I have a feeling that if Gary starts doing events he’ll have thousands of people at them pretty quickly.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came on such short notice. Thanks again to the DeLoach winery.

VC admits he hates boring PowerPoints

The coolest new product I saw at the Under the Radar conference was SlideRocket. It wasn’t just me, either. They won best of show overall as rated by both the judges as well as the audience. In this video you’ll hear me talking with Mitch Grasso, CEO of SlideRocket.

At one point in his presentation he really got my attention when he put a table on his presentation, just like Microsoft Powerpoint lets you do, but then hooked it up to live data from a Google Spreadsheet and the table filled in with live data. SlideRocket is a presentation system (works both in a browser as well as an Adobe AIR app) that looks a bit like PowerPoint, albeit with some cool new effects and collaboration built in, along with the ability to hook up to Web Services with a click of the mouse. He did the same thing with data from Salesforce. Oh, my. He had me eating out of his hand at that point.

Anyway, this isn’t really why I turned on my cell phone camera. Why did I do that? Well, the investor in SlideRocket was there. Who’s that? Mitchell Kurtzman, now a partner in Hummer Winblad (used to be CEO of Liberate and Powersoft) told me he hates boring PowerPoint slides.

Whoa.

At PodTech the CFO told me to be quiet when I told them that their Powerpoints should look like Steve Jobs did them. He wanted the boring “pack tons of points onto one slide with a boring, conservative background.” You know the type. Bill Gates used those in most of his talks.

I knew VCs wanted a great story and wanted the same thing we all want: to be a little entertained. It’s just that I didn’t have proof until today.

“There’s nothing deadlier than having a lot of text on a slide and then reading every word to us,” he says in the video before giving us more background about what VCs do want to see in their slide decks.

This is a short video, only 3:45 minutes, but here it is. “Tell a story.”

First Look: ZigTag, semantic bookmarking service

I was really tired after my interview of Werner Voegels, CTO of Amazon. CNET filmed it, so that should be up soon.

But after the interview Scott Montgomerie, president of ZigTag, showed me his new service, which is a bookmarking tool. Competes with Del.icio.us. You can hear my voice dragging at the beginning of the video I shot on my cell phone. I just didn’t want to get pitched another thing, especially not a copy of something that’s already pretty successful like del.icio.us.

But over the 12-minute demo you hear me come alive cause this was cool. Why? Because it helps you come up with much better tags, and search for them.