The Offline Wars about to heat up?

Ryan Stewart (who works at Adobe) wonders if Microsoft is bringing an offline version of Silverlight out this week at Mix.

I’m hearing that Google is about to ship something major offline too.

So, for the next month we might hear “go offline” from all three camps (Adobe already shot their big guns in this war at last week’s “Engage” event).

Microsoft should have the best offline technology, because it’s king of applications on your desktop, but I think that answers the wrong question.

I’m trying to get everything I do online because I want freedom from my computer.

What do I mean about that?

Well, what if my computer gets stolen? I don’t want any data on it.

What happens if Linux comes out with a Macintosh killer? Or if I decide to get a Windows computer again (I’m currently using a Dell Tablet PC because they sent me one to try out) I want to just load one thing: Firefox and go to work. Right now I’m switching between my Dell and my Mac without any problems at all because almost everything I do now is in the browser.

The thing about Microsoft is that they’ll do some killer offline technology but it won’t work on the Symbian cell phone or iPhones that I’m currently using. It won’t work on Android, which is the Google cell phone OS that’s soon to make an impact on the market. It won’t work on Linux (which is getting a LOT better on the desktop, so I might try that again this year). And it won’t work well on Firefox or Opera or other new, non-IE browsers. (Channel 9 doesn’t work well with Silverlight on my new Dell when I use Firefox 3.0beta3, while Flash and AIR work just fine).

So, I guess the question is: can Microsoft keep the world as it is (IE, one that mostly runs on Windows and Office) or will the world follow bleeding-edge users like me into a more online world?

Has Microsoft caught up to Google in search?

Barney Pell, CEO of Powerset (a company that’s building a new kind of search engine) tells me that Microsoft has caught up to Google in search relevancy (he was at the Bil conference yesterday). There are companies that are paid to track such things and he’s been watching their reports.

That made me realize that I haven’t tried a search over on Microsoft’s lately.

It also might explain why Microsoft wants to purchase Yahoo.

After all, let’s say that it’s correct that Microsoft is about to pass Google in relevancy. Would anyone switch? No. Not until they demonstrate that Microsoft is dramatically better than Google.

But, what if they combined Yahoo and Microsoft’s search result quality? And put Yahoo’s brand name on it?

Now I am starting to understand a little why this merger makes Google nervous (at least publicly).

I just don’t believe the relevancy reports, though. I did a single search on something I know about, CERN, and Google’s list is more useful and more relevant than Microsoft’s. Plus, I know how to pull things back out of Google that I’ve written on my blog. In my experience Microsoft’s engine isn’t nearly as good at that task, which will keep any blogger from singing Microsoft’s praises.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it? Google is just so embedded in my brain that I don’t know what Microsoft could do.

Of course then I look at Mahalo and Wikipedia and I see exactly what I’d do if I were running the search team at Microsoft.

But, instead, Microsoft is going to waste billions of dollars trying to buy a better brand name than it already has.

Maybe Microsoft should just fire its marketing department and start rebuilding its brands from the ground up. Take a 10-year approach. That’d STILL be cheaper than $40 billion.

Oh, well. Yet another thing to ask Microsoft executives at Mix this week.

Microsoft=Success; Google Docs=Fail?

I’m usually on the lookout for new shiny objects. New ways of doing things that turn out to be better than the old way. A post on ReadWriteWeb demonstrates why Google’s online word processor and spreadsheets aren’t as good as Microsoft’s stuff. Richard MacManus said it brought about one of the funniest quotes on a blog comment ever: “Google docs is chock full of FAIL.” I can see where Karim, the guy who made that comment, is coming from.

On the other hand, I’m moving my stuff online increasingly. Why? First of all I have several computers. Second of all I erase their drives frequently and installing stuff just is a pain in the behind. Heck, just finding the DVDs for installing is a pain (I’m not that organized).

Also, I need to work with people all over the world now. Some of my editors are in New York. Others are in San Francisco. Rocky is an hour away in Pacifica. Shel is an hour the other way.

So, sending more docs and spreadsheets via email is just not going to do. Yeah, I know that Microsoft has online collaborative stuff, but it requires installing Office and pretty much having Windows (half my computers are Macs, which makes going back and forth even tougher).

Is Google’s stuff chock full of FAIL? Absolutely! Hope they are listening to Karim, cause if Google made all that stuff better it’d certainly be a shiny object worthy of our attention.

What you all are missing about Google

I’m surprised that even Kara Swisher has missed this. The bloggers are going nuts, once again, over the email that a Google lawyer sent to Microsoft regarding Microsoft’s proposed purchase of Yahoo.

Here’s what’s really going on:

1. Google doesn’t mind this deal going through at all. Google knows they will be able to outrun a “Microhoo.” Why do they know that? Because they’ve been able to outrun them both separately. As I said on Channel 5 news on Friday night: put two turkeys together and you don’t get an eagle.
2. Google stands to gain HUGE by slowing down this deal. Every month longer that this deal takes is tens of millions in Google’s pockets. Why? Well, the real race today isn’t for search. Isn’t for email. Isn’t for IM. It’s for ownership of your mobile phone. I met the guy who runs China’s telecom last week in Davos. He’s seeing six million new people get a cell phone in China every month. So, every month that Microsoft and Yahoo will be stuck in some courtroom arguing out why this is a good deal means money in the bank for Google as they close mobile phone deal after mobile phone deal.
3. Email is not where the money is. Google knows this. So, who cares that Microsoft and Yahoo have a monopoly there? There’s only one way to make money with the 600 million who are on either Microsoft’s Hotmail or Yahoo’s email: get them to join other services where there ARE ways to make money. Danny Sullivan told me that this deal is all about search. He’s right. But you gotta be able to get those 600 million people to not just use your email, but come over and use your search. Google is trying to slow down these teams from doing that. But Google knows that even if Microsoft and Yahoo join email and do a pretty decent job of integrating search into there that Google will still see more growth in both email and search than Microsoft and Yahoo together will see. Why? Have you compared Google’s offerings to the others? I have (I am a Hotmail user). Even though I am locked into Hotmail cause my email address is all over the Web I’d rather be on Gmail and Google’s offerings are better integrated and better designed.
4. IM is harder to monetize than email is. Do we really think Google is concerned about either email or IM? If they were they’d be pouring lots of resources into Gmail and Google Talk. Hint: Google isn’t doing that. Why not? Because they aren’t taking their eye off the mobile ball. They are hoping that everyone else does, though, by sending this note. It sure did work, too. Damn the bloggers all took the bait and either called Google arrogant or hypocritical or annoying. Google is all of those things here, for sure, but they are damn smart and are doing this for their own purposes.

Now, we can argue about whether this deal is good or not, or whether it’ll work out for Microsoft or not, but people, don’t take your eye off of what Google is really up to here. Google is having fun by causing Microsoft to react, not to mention that if its little note is taken seriously this deal will be slowed down by six months or more while government regulators look it over. Even in the best of situations it’s going to take a year for these two huge companies to integrate and figure out how to work with each other. So, every month that this gets delayed is gold in Google’s pockets.

In my day…

I remember back when I was going to West Valley Community College in the 1980s that a few professors at other schools (thankfully not at West Valley) had banned those “newfangled Macintoshes.” They thought that typing on a typewriter made for better thinking processes (seriously, that’s what a few of them thought). Probably so, but I knew then that these folks were stuck in the mud and that we should have, instead, banned the professors from ever setting foot in a classroom again.

I have the same feeling about professors who ban Google and Wikipedia.

If I were a professor and I wanted my students to go deeper than “first level Google searches” I’d just grade tougher. Really, is it any more difficult than that? Geesh.

Google kicking butt on iPhone

My old boss, Vic Gundotra, has been showing off a new iPhone app from Google and also trotting out some numbers we first heard at the iPhone Dev Camp: that people with iPhones are using the Web at a far faster rate than people with other phones.

This data matches what I’ve seen in my own life, too. I have a $750 Nokia N95. It really sucks to surf the Web on, compared to the iPhone. So, why do I carry both an iPhone and the Nokia? The Nokia does video capture and has a much better camera than the iPhone, which doesn’t do video yet. Interesting data, though.

Could Google Reader team have done a better PR job?

Looking back on it I’m wondering if the Google Reader team could have done a few things differently in the PR realm?

Looking at the advice to startups that ReadWriteWeb gave the answer is clear: yes.

Did the Google Reader team show anyone at a conference the new feature? No. Strike @1.
Did the Google Reader team do a video? No. Strike #2.
Did the Google Reader team brief bloggers ahead of time and get their feedback? No. Strike #3.
Did the Google Reader team show its #1 customer/user these features and get feedback? No. Strike #4.
Did the Google Reader team give an interview to a video journalist like Kara Swisher (or me) before release? No. Strike #5.
Did the Google Reader team release on Tuesday-Thursday, like ReadWriteWeb suggests? No. Strike #6.
Did the Google Reader team have a demo to show off? No. Strike #7.

Now, I’m not saying that the community still wouldn’t have reacted the way it did, but at least we would have had a dialog going and we would have had a lot more to go on and talk about than what they did end up doing, which was releasing a short blog post about the new features without even a screen shot.

That, to me, is setting up the team to fail.

It’s amazing to me that the company that owns TWO video services doesn’t get the power of video. Hello, Vic Gundotra, what’s going on here? Where was the campfire for new stuff? If the Google Reader team showed this to a few bloggers over a campfire they might have heard this feedback earlier when they could have done something about it.