March, month of Web Conferences

Whew, everyone seems to want to do a Web Conference in March. There’s SXSW. There’s O’Reilly’s ETech. And now Microsoft enters in with Mix 06.

I’m speaking at SXSW and I’m helping out on the Mix 06 team.

My first question is “will Bill Gates let us put a back channel up during his keynote?”

After watching the interchange at Les Blogs between Mena and Ben, I’d guess not, but you never know. This isn’t going to be a PDC or a TechED.

So, why do another Web conference?

Well, my trip through Europe punctuated why. I kept meeting businesspeople who had bet their businesses on Microsoft’s Web technologies. From Reuters to L’Oreal to Heineken to dozens of other CTO’s and CEOs that I met who told me they are using Microsoft technologies and wanted a way to learn only about those (since most of the other events are heavily LAMP-focused).

Does anyone else find it ironic that the Microsoft conference is the one with both a blog and an RSS button? Next thing you know Microsoft will be adding tags, making deals with Firefox and getting along with the Web Standards Project, and figuring out how to do great maps and great search. Hmmm.

Anyway, what Web conference are you going to in March? Hope to see you there.

Slate shows how Apple can put a hammerlock on digital video

Interesting analysis on Slate today:

“The cable companies have a clear advantage here, as does Microsoft with its Media Center PCs and the enormously popular Xbox. Apple will become a force here on the day when the iPod is expressly designed to plug into your television—not to mention your car stereo and broadband network. If Steve Jobs can make the iPod an entertainment hub, Apple will be the company to beat, a feat it could never accomplish with personal computers.”

Paying attention to the post-memo blogs

In the aftermath of the Ray Ozzie and Bill Gates memos and emails I am seeing a few trends in the reaction. Five blogs in particular got my attention:

1) Steve Gillmor’s Don’t Mention It
2) Joshua Porter’s Why Should I Trust Microsoft with My Attention Metadata?
3) Dion Hinchcliffe’s Microsoft Gets Disrupted.
4) Stowe Boyd’s Scoble on Google.
5) Om Malik’s The Bill and Ozzie Show.

First let’s talk about Gillmor’s post. It made me laugh out loud. The “Top Ten Reasons why Dave Winer doesn’t pay attention to attention,” in particular was pretty funny. It’s my favorite post Steve’s done in a while. Mostly cause I’m friends with both Steve and Dave and it takes potshots at me too. Ahh, if you can’t laugh at yourself then there’s probably something wrong.

But, onto the meat. Joshua Porter asks why should he trust Microsoft? Wrong question: I wouldn’t trust anyone. And, it’s exactly why I’m pushing Microsoft to be more open with ALL of its formats and data. The new world is a mashup world. Mashers won’t play with APIs or formats that have limits. And they won’t play with APIs or formats they don’t trust. Joshua shows we have a LOT of work to do to gain even a basic level of trust. I think we can do it. But it’ll require doing things differently. It requires a new level of transparency and openness. It also requires doing services that you give away for free (and that you don’t try to monetize at every damn opportunity).

Along these lines, Dion has a nice chart that shows the disruption underway. Interesting analysis too. Yes, Dion, the stakes are indeed high. But, that’s not a good way to look at this. Disrupters never look at the stakes. They look at what’s fun to do. Steve Wozniak told me he didn’t build his Apple II to disrupt industries. He did it cause it’s fun and cause he wanted one!

Why did I like Memeorandum so much? Cause I wanted something that’d read through all my feeds and tell me what is important. Gabe built Memeorandum for me. That’s disruptive.

Both Om and Stowe think that Microsoft won’t be able to get its act together. That it won’t be able to morph and “get” the new services world.

Maybe not, but see this is where I have some perspective. I have seen this kind of reaction about companies before. And about Microsoft before. I remember when, in 2001-2003 people said Apple was dead. The stock price was at 12. I didn’t think that. I bought about $1,000 worth at 12 (and sold it shortly after I joined Microsoft at 22 — wish I had held that!)

I see tons of people who all believe in this services world and are just waiting to ship interesting stuff. Not only that, but I look at the research division we have here. There’s a treasure trove there waiting to be delivered as great products and services. And then I look at the cash we have. Oh, the cash! There are many Silicon Valley businesses springing up salivating at the idea that Microsoft would get into the acquisition business in a big way (and that Google would too).

And, new things pop out all the time that are damn interesting. just got turned on. It’s an amazing attention engine. I’m definitely going to trust that with my attention! Joshua talks all about that.

One last thing: Joshua, don’t trust us unless we make it win-win for you to do so. If we don’t, shame on us for not listening!

Zvents to announce they are going with Yahoo

Very strange. I went to the Zvents blog a few minutes ago and they had a whole post here about how they are announcing that they are adding a “powered by Yahoo’s Web services” logo to their site and their geocoding API calls will be driving the percentage of “where” searches and user venue creates that our own Tiger/line server can’t handle. Now it says the post will be up at 11 a.m. Well, since I had an early look at the post, I say congrats to Yahoo, now the hard evangelism work starts cause for every one Zvents there will be hundreds more real soon now and for every pro site there will be hundreds of thousands of blogs that will put little Web components like maps or Flickr bars on their page. Oh, and Jeremy Zawodny, if you think I’m looking past Yahoo to Google like you posted on your blog yesterday, think again. Yahoo is doing some scary smart work in this space. But, the truth of the matter is that Google is disrupting both Yahoo and Microsoft. You  have to look no further than this stock price comparison for Yahoo vs. Google for the past year to see how the market thinks so anyway. Here’s one comparing Yahoo to Microsoft. Looks like we’re in a similar boat. Why? Cause Google built an advertising platform — they used their dominance in search to kick into a new world and are trying to use the dominance in AdSense to get dominance in the attention sphere (through patents).

In other words, Jeremy, if we were really smart, we’d start working together with others in the industry to build our own, open, attention API, that we’d agree not to monetize (at least for a decent length of time) and that we’d get everyone to play in. In other words, if we were smart we’d join the Attention Trust. If we could do that then we could disrupt Google.

Remember what Microsoft did with the Office suite? They (er, I guess we, although I didn’t work at Microsoft back then) disrupted Borland, Wordperfect, and others by changing the game. How could they have fought back? By joining forces. But they couldn’t do that cause they didn’t trust each other.

Well, we’re at another juncture in the industry like that. We have maybe a couple of years to do something different and weird. Something that Google isn’t expecting. Can Yahoo trust Microsoft? Can Microsoft trust Yahoo? And, can the two of us trust eBay or AOL? Can eBay or AOL trust Yahoo or Microsoft? Now you know just how hard this will be. Google is building something that’s gonna disrupt all of us. We all individually have advantages. But it’ll take some clear thinking, some good relationship work cross-company (and, internally at Microsoft cross-group, which really is almost as hard as cross-company work anyway).

Oh, and then there’s Steve Jobs saying “think different.” Let’s not forget about him. Or the Washington Post. Or the New York Times. Or ABC TV. Or Starbucks. Or McDonalds. Or CNN. Or or or or. They all have stakes in this game. Ethan wrote that the game he’s playing is one that’s HUGE. Oh, I totally grok that. Google hasn’t even picked off all the low hanging fruit yet from the advertising industry. That’s why their stock just keeps going up and up and up.

Huh? What drugs you doing Scoble? Oh, so you think Google has tapped out the advertising industry, do you? Well, look at Google Maps again. They haven’t started putting ads on that yet. Why not? They don’t need to. But, let’s say their revenues start flattening out. They only need to make two calls: one to Starbucks. One to McDonalds. The call will go something like this: “we’re ready, can you write the check?”

You KNOW Starbucks and McDonalds would love to put time-based advertising on the maps. That’s why this space is so interesting. Imagine doing a search for an address in Seattle. Starbucks could put little logos of where all their coffee stores are. Then, when you mouse over they could say “come in in the next hour and we’ll give you $1 off of a latte, just tell us this code: JXP1.”

Ogilvy Mather tested such a system with cell phones down in Australia with McDonalds and McDonalds saw per-store sales increase by something like $10,000 EACH. Per DAY!!!

So, don’t tell me this thing is done yet. Don’t tell me that ZVents doesn’t matter. Don’t tell me that Yahoo doesn’t see this opportunity. Or Microsoft either.

Oh, and I wish Ethan Stock, CEO of Zvents had asked me what Virtual Earth is up to and why they should bet on Virtual Earth instead of Yahoo or Google. I was talking with the Virtual Earth team yesterday and they have some disruptions of their own up their sleeves that they’ll play out real soon.

Watch the Virtual Earth blog, Chandu Thota’s blog (he’s the guy who did the FeedMap on my blog to the right and he works on the Virtual Earth team), and Via Virtual Earth.

More disruptions ahead!

Zvents CEO says Yahoo to open up its map API


Ethan Stock, CEO of Zvents, says that Yahoo is telling him that tomorrow they’ll take the limitations off of Yahoo’s mapping APIs. If that’s true, I have to really thank Yahoo for doing this.

Why? Well, this puts the ball squarely in our court. Er, in Virtual Earth’s court.


Oh, I like this disruption game a lot! (And, yes, we haven’t heard the last of the disruptions in the mapping and advertising and services businesses. Not by a long shot. The mapping game is just getting started and will be going for years.

Next up on the disruption schedule? Gillmor Gang, tomorrow. I wanted to take the day off of blogging and all this stuff but I keep getting disrupted. Heheh.

Another disruption? Microsoft is starting to do acquisitions again. Alex Barnett covers our acquisition of FolderShare.

More disruption from Google: it’s patenting attention data display

Is your attention important? Google is patenting the display of it, the search engine journal is reporting today.

Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft, we better pay attention to this stuff! Steve Gillmor, we gotta get into and figure out how to deal with attention data and make sure that customers and developers can build attention applications without paying Google.

Why is that important? Well, imagine a world where the map component, the advertising component, and other components on your Web page report back to Google what you are giving your attention to (and they will, I guarantee that!)

Then, who will be able to display the results of where you gave your attention? Only Google.