Google 2015: what will it look like?

I worked at post-DOJ-spanked Microsoft. I saw firsthand how wimpy Bill Gates got (I had a lunch with him and Mike Arrington where we talked about whether Microsoft would let us acquire interesting new companies. “No way” was the basic answer. Funny that back then they could have purchased Skype for $2 billion, not listening cost them $6.5 billion).

Today Jason Calacanis is taking Google to task for being naughty.

It’s worse than that Jason. Google is behaving like Microsoft. It isn’t buying the most interesting new startups (VMware is, having purchased SocialCast today, after SlideRocket and Mozy). It has done pretty sizable harm to its first service, search, and Microsoft is even kicking ass on its mapping technology.

So, what could Google in 2015 look like?

Jason lays out one vision of what Google could look like in four years: a nice company that helps the entire industry grow together.

Let’s be honest. Big companies don’t do what’s right (translation: I don’t think Google will listen to Jason). Why not?

Go into the heads of a big-company employee. Do they want to do the hard work of starting a new initiative? No. Do they want to take the personal risk to go into Larry Page and ask him to do something he isn’t already doing? No. Do they want to go into Larry and say “hey, Larry, we’ve screwed up in social and we’re screwing up in search, we need to do some small things to addict people to our services?” No. In fact, does anyone want to pitch Larry in doing something small, like it seemed Instagram was when we all first saw it? Or Foursquare? Or Twitter? Come on, how many of you, when you first saw those things, said to someone else “that’s gonna be a big company some day?” I didn’t even though I was in the first 15,000 to have a Twitter account. Even if I had, it’s one thing to be a tech blogger or a geek in Palo Alto and it’s a whole nother thing to go and pitch Larry Page and say those things.

Even worse, will the average employee at a big company tell the lawyers to sit down and shut up? Nope, not in my experience.

What’s small today? Here’s a list over on Quora (I’m seeing Ashton Kutcher soon, so asked for startups to pitch me their stuff). Quick, any of these gonna be big companies someday? How do you know? Who made you an expert? I hang out with experts and even they really don’t know. Quick, what was Facebook when it first came out? “A way to meet girls at Harvard.” You really were gonna fund that? Even Ron Conway got involved after it went to other colleges.

Anyway, what will Google look like in 2015?

First, what will the trends be for the next four years?

1. Mobile will get bigger screens, more capabilities, and many more users will have more than 100 apps (today only the weirdos like me do, the industry even has a name for us, they call us “heavy app users”).
2. Home entertainment systems will increasingly go completely Internet connected and many people will unplug their cable systems.
3. All media will be streamed, very few users will have downloadable files anymore.
4. There will be “apps of apps.” In other words, there will be apps that join many apps together. Already that’s happening. When I take photos with Instagram I can send those photos over to Foodspotting, Trey Ratcliffe’s photo app, amongst others. Om Malik wrote about that trend yesterday.
5. Social networking will be far more nuanced than it is today. I saw one startup, coming soon, that figured out who people I worked with 10 years ago were. All by just looking at Facebook. How? Artificial Intelligence from a lab at Stanford University.
6. We’re going to know EVERYTHING about ourselves, if we put the data in. Just this past weekend there was a Quantified Self conference with hundreds of attendees (held just a couple of miles from Google’s headquarters).
7. Automobiles will have more interactivity and more “assisted driving technology” than today, but the fully automatic self-driven car will still be years away for the average person due to cost.
8. 3DTV will continue to struggle, due to lack of content and the continued requirement to wear glasses on most screens.
9. Our social graphs will bring us much richer experiences. Going to Sonoma? You’ll know exactly where your friends have visited in the past and you’ll be able to see where celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg or Ashton Kutcher have visited.
10. News has shifted very heavily toward socially-influenced real time displays like Zite, Flipboard, Feedly, etc, on tablets.

So, which ones is Google doing well at today in 2011?

Mobile? Oh, yeah, Google is doing pretty well here. They aren’t the thought leaders, but are the market share leaders.
Home entertainment? Nope. Xbox rules here and Apple TV is the up and comer. Google’s efforts are too expensive and too geeky to use.
Media streaming? Nope. Google isn’t a major player yet. Netflix, Spotify, etc prove that Google hasn’t made major inroads here yet and Apple is about to really demonstrate how lame Google’s efforts in music have been so far. Even Amazon is making Google look bad.
Apps of apps? Nope, I don’t see Google leading anything here. If anything the startups are making it happen. Heck, even Twilio and Simple Geo are showing innovation in areas where Google should be dominant.
Nuanced social networks? Um, Google isn’t even in the game in social yet, not to mention making social networks that are letting us do something Facebook isn’t.
Quantified self services? Richer social graphs? Google hasn’t even figured that out, even though Google was an early leader here with its health efforts.
Automobiles? Google has the self-driving cars, which are good for PR, but, who has been putting units INTO today’s cars? Microsoft and RIM. Not Google.
3DTV. Google is actually a leader here, with YouTube enabling new kinds of content. But, is this an area that really will matter? It sure doesn’t look like it will anytime soon.
New news displays. Google isn’t a player here yet.

So, will Google take the “bad door” and continue doing things that are anti-competitive and anti-consumer, which will invite even more government scrutiny of our industry or will they take the “good door” and actually start innovating in these areas?

Can someone call me and tell me what Google of 2015 will look like?

I so want Google to be innovative again, but it sure doesn’t look like it will be. What do you think?

Will Sony Bloggie 3D bring mainstream to 3D?

New toy just arrived: 3D Sony Bloggie. Will try it out as soon as it is charged.

I bought a Sony Bloggie 3D last week because I am researching 3D. Vizio gave me a 65-inch 3D TV to help in this research and to give me a screen for the studio I’m building, too, but that will be the point of a future look at 3D.

Yesterday I shot video at a six-year-old kid’s birthday party. You’ll need 3D glasses and you’ll need to setup YouTube on first play to view this video.

Most people I talk with on Twitter hate 3D. Most of them complain about glasses and headaches, but a good chunk complain about no content. My brother-in-law returned a 3DTV because there wasn’t any content, so he thought he’d save the hundreds of dollars it cost extra.

I just upgraded my Comcast line to the latest cable box. Not even one channel is in 3D right now.

The folks who run TV stations tell me they aren’t about to buy 3DTV cameras and broadcast equipment. They say the move to HD nearly bankrupted them.

So, what is the Sony Bloggie 3D? And, will home movies be enough content to get people excited by 3DTV (at least the part of the market that doesn’t care about wearing glasses or doesn’t get headaches watching?)

It’s a small video and still camera that looks a bit like the FlipCam. Except it takes still and videos in 3D and has on its back a new 3D screen that doesn’t require glasses.

Will being able to shoot your baby in 3D save 3D?

Not yet, is my review.

Why not?

Because the software sucks. I still can’t figure out how to use it to do 3D photos on my computer (they work great when you hook the camera up to your TV screen via an HDMI cable). Editing is a major pain in the behind, although I figured out how to do it that was only because GoPro’s team (another 3D camera I’m testing) showed me how to do it and how to upload it to YouTube properly. Even there, you’ve got to add a special tag to enable the 3D player and you’d only know that if you when looking.

Also, does it really add much? Actually it does. I love seeing my kids in 3D and my family loves watching them. But is that enough to spend several hundred dollars more on a 3DTV? And then $250 on the Sony Bloggie 3D? And then potentially even more on 3D glasses (the Vizio came with four sets of glasses, which isn’t enough if you are throwing a 3D viewing party, which you most certainly will if you have the only 3D TV in the neighborhood).

Some other things to pay attention to:

1. The screen on the back of the Bloggie isn’t all that good. The screen on other cameras I’ve seen is better. It’s hard to see, and the 3D effect on that screen isn’t very pronounced. Don’t worry, on a good 3DTV the effect is much better.

2. The menus aren’t all that good and aren’t consistent.

3. Battery life is pretty short. I was at one bar after not shooting very long at the birthday party yesterday. I’m used to getting a lot more out of my video cameras.

4. Focus isn’t all that good and it’s nearly impossible to see on the screen whether something is in focus or not. So, you just have to shoot and pray it came out.

5. Editing tools aren’t setup for 3D. iMovie or FinalCutPro doesn’t know how to do 3D titles, or other effects. So, trying to edit is very frustrating. I have some tools from GoPro (they bought another startup that does 3D editing software, but it’s woefully incomplete and hard to use too).

That said, for $249 I’m happy, but I’m an early adopter who likes nearly every shiny new thing that I get my hands on (the video I shot at a friend’s six-year-old kid’s birthday party yesterday is pretty good). I sure wouldn’t recommend this for a normal user. Not yet.

So, 2D lives on to see another day.

You can order one and look at customer reviews on Amazon.

A visit to Silicon Valley's hot new hardware company: hyper energy-efficient microserver maker SeaMicro

1/4 the power. 1/4 the space. 4x the compute. Server of the future. SeaMicro. Wild.

Yesterday I visited a remarkable new Silicon Valley company that’s getting lots of attention: SeaMicro. What do they do? They build “microservers” for datacenters. Sounds boring, right? But this company is anything but. They got two of the biggest VCs on board, Steve Jurvetson and Vinod Khosla. They have tons of customers who are praising them. Yesterday eHarmony’s CTO told me they are using SeaMicro servers and are extremely happy. And they’ve been all over the business press as being one of the fastest growing hardware companies Silicon Valley has ever seen.

Why is everyone hot and bothered by SeaMicro?

Because its servers give you compute 1/4 the power utilitization and 1/4 the space as other servers. I had to see for myself, and in this video CEO Andrew Feldman shows me around their test datacenters and explains their technology and why they are kicking the behind of Dell, HP, and others. Sorry for the noise, but it’s a bit noisy when you have a room with thousands of servers in it.

California: will how we solve the inequity of sales tax cause jobs to leave?

It’s gotta be tough to be a Californian politician. Every year we’re $15 billion in debt and already we’re seeing that they are firing cops, firefighters, school teachers, and others. Even dangerous criminals are getting put on the street.

So of course politicians are looking at the Internet and its inequitable sales taxes as a solution. Here’s how they are unfair:

I used to help run a camera store in San Jose. If I sold you a Canon 5DMKII for, say, $2,500 I’d have to charge you 9.250 percent sales tax, which comes out to $231.25. But if you bought it off of Amazon or from BH Photo you wouldn’t need to pay that (yeah, I know, you are SUPPOSED to pay sales taxes on pretty much everything you buy, but be honest, how many of us pay that if you buy on the Internet. Almost no one).

So, this system is inequitable and is having HUGE consequences on local stores. Of course, that now means Walmart, Target, and other “big box” retailers. Funny, they didn’t care about the local stores when THEY disrupted the marketplace with their lower overheads (which is why the camera store I worked at is no longer in business) but now that their businesses are being threatened they are caring all of a sudden and spending BIG BUCKS lobbying our politicians.

And they are finding welcome ears. Politicians are sponsoring bills all over the place (they estimate that in California alone taxing Internet businesses could collect more than a billion dollars a year). This morning I listened to what they are doing at both state and national levels and it’s pretty clear we’re going to see rules massively changed so states can enforce their tax rules.

The problem is, as Keith Posehn blogged, this could have devastating consequences for a raft of startups.

Go read Keith’s post. It’s eye opening.

Is Silicon Valley about to see a good chunk of its startups done away with to protect the business models of out-of-state retailers (neither Target, BestBuy, nor WalMart are located here)?

All so California politicans can try to solve our government’s budget crisis?

Who will protect our jobs? Hint: no one.

EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Color has "real time" social camera competition: CoolIris LiveShare preview

One thing that caught my eye (beyond its $41 million in funding) about Color was its “social camera” capabilities. What do I mean by that?

Well, if you use Color, aim it at me in a room, it’ll add my name to your phone. How did it do that? Through the use of all the sensors to figure out we were in the same room, and you were taking a picture of me.

That’s pretty cool, when it works, but I think Color was pitched wrong.

What do I mean by that?

If it were me, I would have solved the problem of syncing photos between iphones and ipads. Just cure that pain and let people discover the other “social stuff” later that Color does.

Well, Cooliris, today, brings LiveShare which does that and more.

It is one of the coolest apps I’ve seen this year, you must watch the demo.

It’s NOT just a social camera, either.

Why did it get me so excited?

Because, say we’re at a wedding. I can have everyone there load up CoolIris Liveshare, and we can all share LIVE onto a single computer, or iPad. This is something I’ve never seen done before. I can’t wait to use this at a conference with a videowall. Photos can “pour” into the app live, from hundreds, or even, thousands of people shooting photos. Now, that isn’t that typical of a use case, but think of a birthday party, with 15 friends and family shooting photos. All showing up on a big screen instantly. All being shared with each other instantly.

This is a big deal and why, today, Color has new competition.

By the way, the system demoed here is not out yet, it will ship between now and August.

Here’s more, from Rackspace’s Building 43, reprinted with permission:


LiveShare: instant photo sharing from Cooliris

Photo sharing on the web has been around for years. Sites like Flickr, Facebook, Picasa and Snapfish provide a wealth of options for uploading images and making them available to friends and family. None of these sites, however, allows instant, real-time sharing across multiple devices. Cooliris is making that possible with its new app called LiveShare.

“Back in 2006, we started Cooliris with the goal to transform the way people experience media on the web,” explains Austin Shoemaker, Co-Founder and CTO of Cooliris. “And that’s brought us to a point where we’re really excited to show you what we’ve been working on—a new product called LiveShare that’s all about visual communication and enabling people to interact around media in a way that’s more natural and really thinking about the context of the message that you’re sending.”

The LiveShare application allows you to create an event and share photo streams related to that event. Anyone you invite to join the event can view the photos instantly as well as contribute their own photos. The app is currently available for the iPhone and iPad as well as any web browser that supports HTML5, but the company has plans to expand to other devices in the future.

“It’s a cross device, user-centric experience,” says Shoemaker. “When you jump into LiveShare, you can do that from your phone, from your tablet or from your web browser, and it’s the same experience with the same information and media. However you come in, you’ve got your personal world right there. If you’re on your phone, you’re more likely to capture photos and videos, so you could just take pictures and take videos, and those are instantly synced to the cloud. So you go back home, and those photos and videos are available for you to browse, present, and share to groups or social networks. We think this is going to be a great way to really connect all the different parts of your life.”

LiveShare achieves instant syncing by first syncing a low resolution version of the photo, but it follows that initial sync with the full resolution image. “One of the decisions we made,” says Shoemaker, “was we want people to be able to use this as their primary camera, so when you’re taking pictures, you’re not compromising on quality.”

You can also share text messages, videos and links from your browser. Links can be viewed right in the app using a minibrowser, or you can jump out to your full browser. And as location is a big part of the context of any event, the app allows you to geotag all of your messages.

Images and video are just the beginning for LiveShare. “In the first version, we’re only going to support image and video attachments,” explains Shoemaker. “In the future, we’re going to allow any kind of documents. The idea is if you’re sharing say a Photoshop file of a mockup, you should be able to drag and drop that on your group and they should be able to open it on the other side.”

More info:

LiveShare web site:
Cooliris web site:
Cooliris on Twitter:
Cooliris profile on CrunchBase:

First look: CloudFlare Apps make web applications faster and safer (dramatically so in some cases)

Do you own a website or blog, like I do? Is it as fast as it absolutely could be? I thought so, after all, my site is hosted at Rackspace where we have huge datacenters and huge pipes and a great CDN.

Last week CloudFlare visited me and showed me even my site isn’t as fast as it could be. That opened my eyes.

CloudFlare’s CEO, Matthew Prince, and Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder, explained how they make sites faster and showed me a new “CloudFlare Apps” feature. Before this came out web apps require website owners to change code, potentially decreasing performance and increasing security risks (that’s one reason why I don’t have a ton of WordPress plugins on my blog). But with CloudFlare Apps it allows web apps to be activated without requiring code changes and it works with app providers to ensure that they perform as well as possible and don’t create conflicts with other code. Announcing today are these apps:

* VigLink (affiliate links)
* Clicky (real-time website analytics)
* Apture (contextual search)
* Smartling (language translation)
* Monitis (site and server monitoring)
* UserVoice (customer engagement tools)
* Pingdom (website uptime monitoring)
* SnapEngage (live chat)
* ExceptionHub (JavaScript error tracking)
* Zoompf (web performance scanning)
* Typekit (web fonts)
* GlobalSign HackAlert (malware detection)
* WatchMouse (site performance monitoring)
* TRUSTe (privacy seal)
* Haileo (video and image advertising)
* Skimlinks (affiliate links)
* StopTheHacker (malware detection)
* Google Analytics (website analytics)
* Google Webmaster Central (website validation)

We’re evaluating using it here, what do you think? How much faster did it make your site?

In the video they explain how it works, why it protects your databases from crawlers, and how it makes sites much faster.

Twylah lets media brands and celebrities monetize their Twitter stream

I’ve never understood why the world’s media give Twitter so much free PR. You know what I mean? When you’re watching TV and some announcer says “follow us on Twitter.”

I’ve seen this over and over and over. Heck, I’ve done it here on this blog, too. It’s basically a gift of free advertising to Twitter. For me? Not a big deal, after all, my whole life is about telling you about cool new services. But for a brand like ESPN or CNN? That is wasteful and, worse, puts their media distribution in the hands of someone who doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

What’s a better idea? Twylah has it. For instance, instead of me sending you to Twitter, I could say “follow my Tweets on Twylah.”

Why does that make more sense?

1. It helps your SEO on Google and Bing.
2. It presents tweets in a much friendlier format.
3. It presents more monetization opportunities (there’s space for an ad there).
4. It lets you put this on your own domain, so your readers never need to leave your site.
5. You have control of what shows up and they won’t be distracted by other people’s tweets the way they would be if they signed into Twitter.
6. You get great stats about what your readers are clicking on.

Here Twylah founder, Eric Kim, shows you more about this when he visited my house to talk about media brands, Twylah, and Twitter. In the video you can also see what my Twitter stream looks like.