Tag Archives: Google

Half an hour of mobile goodness

Last Friday I had Sumit Agarwal, product manager on Google’s mobile team on my show, which is about how the Internet is changing work, WorkFastTV. Damn, that guy knows his mobile!

In half an hour we run through dozens of things you can do with your cell phone. This is my favorite WorkFast show so far, because I learned a ton of stuff that I could do with my cell phone that I didn’t know about. How many of these things are you using?

We didn’t just talk about Google stuff, either. What else do you do with your cell phone that we didn’t talk about?

First hour with Google's new browser

I’m playing with Google’s new Chrome browser. So far, damn, this is nice.

Pros.

1. Uses less memory. I still need to do some tests on a clean machine, but it looks like it uses dramatically less memory than Firefox or IE8 beta2.
2. Faster. Both on startup and scrolling around. On my tests with Google Reader it’s dramatically faster in places.
3. Simplistic UI. It’s uncluttered. Simple. No links to Google stuff. Great for beginners, but truth be told I love using it too.
4. Larger viewport. I can see more content. Fewer toolbars and taskbars.

Cons.

1. No Firefox extensions. I’ve been playing a lot lately with Greasemonkey and other extensions from Firefox.
2. Unclear compatibility. I’m seeing some reports over on FriendFeed that there’s some Web sites that don’t work with it.

Anyway, it’s being discussed all over the blogosphere right now, so I’m sure there’s a ton of articles about it on TechMeme (I haven’t looked, I just got home from one interview and am headed back out to another one).

But, after first hour? I’m definitely coming back to use it for a second hour. We’ll see if it survives a week. How about for you?

Where Google and Facebook are fighting the next monetization battle

Think about something you’ve purchased recently. How did you decide to buy that thing?

In my buying behavior I find that I can split it up into three phases:

1. Need generation. This is what happens when someone shows you something you didn’t know you wanted, but that you immediately get interested in. It might be a TV show (how many people will visit China over the next few years because of what they are seeing on TV at the Olympics. I bet a ton).
2. Research. You’ve decided to buy something, say a new car, but now you need to figure out which one is best for you. Some of the things you do here are to ask your friends, look online for reviews, read Consumer Reports, etc etc.
3. Purchase. You’ve decided what you want, now you go looking for the best place to complete the transaction.

Think through to the best businesses on the Internet. Most that I can think of fit into one or several of these three phases.

Google, for instance, makes billions of dollars from advertisers who want to help you complete a transaction. Do a search for digital cameras, for instance, and there you’ll see ads.

But competing with Google is not really possible, even for a huge multi-billion dollar company like Microsoft.

So, since Google has pretty much locked up the last phase, where is the next Internet monetization battle taking place?

Both Facebook and Google are beating each other up to lock up the next phase: social recommendation and participation.

Google calls this FriendConnect.

Facebook calls this “Facebook Connect.”

Yesterday I visited Facebook to get an up close look at Facebook Connect. I had previously attended the Google FriendConnect launch and even videoed that with my cell phone.

It’s interesting, though, that both of these systems haven’t gotten widespread use yet. It’s also interesting that the teams both struggle to explain why a normal business would use these technologies in their own business’ sites. At least in language that a normal person who isn’t a Facebook addict would understand.

So, let me simplify into a single sentence. Adding social networking features to your corporate sites helps your users through the research phase of the buying process.

These will get widespread use over the next few years as stories come out about successes.

But let’s look at one site that’s very close to what I’m talking about.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library.TV.

Now, Gary owns a wine store in New Jersey that is selling about $50 million per year in wine. That means he has the third phase of the buying process nailed down. He’s the Google of the New Jersey wine market.

So, how is he changing his business? (He calls it bringing thunder to the wine industry).

His website and show are TOTALLY about extending his reach into the other phases of the buying process.

His video show creates the need in your head to try more wine. Today’s show gets me to try out some Italian sparkling wine. I had no idea before I watched that show that I needed to try that wine.

Now, notice what happens next. Look at the comments. 136 of them when I wrote this post. You can see the research phase of the buying process happening there. People are recommending different wines than Gary did, or backing up what Gary said, etc.

Now, Gary is WAY AHEAD of most other wine stores. I went to Google and searched for “Wine store” and found wine.com.

But notice that they don’t even get close to creating the need in my head for different kinds of wine that Gary does. Video is unparalleled for creating need for new things.

And, also notice that if you wanted to research Wine that they don’t have the same kind of research community that Gary is building.

Now, could wine.com go past winelibrary.tv in the research phase? Yes. They already are tracking top contributors to their reviews. But using Facebook’s Connect they could go way further: they could tie their contributors into Facebook itself and add all sorts of interesting interactive features. I know that if a friend of mine, like Loic Le Meur, CEO of Seesmic, buys a paticular wine that it’ll be good (Loic has great taste in wine).

By making the site more personal and bringing my friend’s choices into a site like this it’ll convert me to more wine sales at a far higher rate than it does today.

But imagine if Gary’s site did that. He already is 90% there (he’s always on Twitter interacting with people and his video show is just so much more of a personal experience than reading the reviews on wine.com).

If I were a marketer I’d be trying to figure out how to stay up with Gary. Why? Well, do you think his viewers are going to price shop Gary? Hell no. How do you stay up with Gary’s concept? Google and Facebook’s new APIs are the way to do that.

What do you think? Are you thinking of using more social features on your website?

The most important Google Tool for businesses (that you probably have never used)

Yesterday, when I spoke at the New Media Expo I showed off the Google AdWords Keyword tool. Then I asked how many people had used this tool before. At least 1/3rd of the audience didn’t raise their hands. Now this is an audience of professional online content developers. People who SHOULD know how to use tools to find better ways to market their content.

If 1/3rd of this audience isn’t using this tool, the chances that most businesses are using it are between zero and none.

What does this tool do? It helps you see the searches that people are actually doing on Google. Let’s say you had a quilting store. Do you really know what searches people are actually doing to find information about quilting? If you haven’t used this tool, no, you don’t.

This tool also is important to figure out how many people are searching for a particular topic. This helps you test your assumptions of how many people are really searching for something. This will help you choose your title tags, and, even, your content.

It’s not the only tool that online marketers should be using, either. In this video Avinash Kaushik, who is one of the world’s top analytics experts, and now works at Google, gives you other tips for how to use tools like this one, along with measurement tools to refactor your Web site’s content.

Are you doing this stuff? Why/why not?

For those of you who do use this tool, do you have any advice for people who are discovering what this tool does for the first time?

Analytics expert on WorkFast.tv today

Avinash Kaushik is one of the world’s top authorities on Web Analytics (his new book, Web Analytics: An Hour a Day is already getting critical acclaim and when I first met Avinash he had quite a crowd around him at the eMetrics conference. Now he’s working on Google’s Analytics team and this morning he’ll be on WorkFast.TV at 10 a.m. Pacific Time today. Join us live to watch the show (the recording will be up next Monday if you miss it). After the show we’ll have an interactive “after show party” on my Kyte channel at 10:35 a.m. Join us there if you want to ask Avinash a question, or leave a question here and I’ll ask the best ones on air.

Even if you miss all that you should read his blog, really is a great place to learn more about analytics.

A new search engine appears: will you use it?

Tonight a new search engine showed up. Techcrunch has the details. So do tons of other blogs. Search engine guru Danny Sullivan has a great post about the new engine, Cuil, (pronounced “cool”). I wasn’t pre-briefed or anything. Like I said last week I’m trying to get out of the PR game and try to get back to what made me like blogging: sharing information with other users.

So, has anyone figured out a good way to quickly test search engines? I haven’t. Everyone has their own search terms that they use to judge whether or not an engine is interesting.

I remember when I was trying to convince my dad to move from Alta Vista to Google he had a bunch of very specific scientific searches he’d do. He used to love showing me that Alta Vista had more and better results. I kept at it. After about two years he switched to Google too.

Today isn’t like back in the Alta Vista days. Back then there was porn and spam that was showing up in my result sets. Google doesn’t have those problems and usually works for almost anything I search for. When it doesn’t work, I try some of the other engines, or just refactor my search and it almost always works. I can’t remember the last time I was totally stymied by Google.

But, what’s great about the blogosphere is that everyone gets to participate. Look at TechCrunch’s early searches and the comments that are coming in. I, too, think that Cuil is going to face an uphill battle based on my early searches.

On the other hand, let’s give Cuil the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it actually was a better search engine. I still doubt many people would switch. Why?

Distribution.

Huh?

Well, my Firefox browser has Google built into it. Most people have no idea how to switch it. Most people, on our tests, really don’t understand much of anything except that that little box probably now goes to Google. The Google.

It’s so pervasive of an expectation at this point that many people type URLs into that box. Or, type the word “Yahoo” into that box so they can get to their email and other Yahoo services.

Is Cuil going to be able to get into this game?

No way, no how.

On mobile phones it’s worse. My iPhone has Google built in. No way that Cuil is going to be able to rip out Google and replace that with its own engine.

So, why is Cuil here?

I think it’s a play for Microsoft money. Microsoft needs to get back into the search game, so will continue buying companies to try to get back into the search game. Yahoo, if run by management that’s rational, will probably start doing the same thing.

Look at Powerset. They cashed out early to Microsoft. Cuil probably will do the same thing if it brings enough to the table.

Just for fun, though, and to get back to being a user, let’s try one search:

Barack Obama’s technology policy

I put that into all the search engines without any quotes, just to see which one does the best job. Here’s the result set:

Cuil (gave an error, couldn’t find any results)
Google. (best of the three)
Yahoo. (close to Google, but not quite there)
Microsoft. (by far the worst of the big three, didn’t bring the technology policy up as the first result).

Anyway, I did a bunch of other searches on Cuil and they are trying to be different, that’s for sure, but I didn’t see enough of a need to try it out further.

How about you?

Is FriendFeed going to hire everyone at Google?

Gary Burd (new FriendFeed employee) has lunch with us (he's on right).

FriendFeed has been hiring Google’s superstars. This has got to be worrying for Google.

Who is the latest to get hired? Gary Burd (that’s him wearing the FriendFeed shirt in the photo above). What did he do before joining FriendFeed? Oh, just some little things. He was the guy who opened Google’s Kirkland Office. He ran the Google Talk team. Before Google he worked on several key things at Microsoft, including developing the Trident HTML rendering engine, the core rendering component of Internet Explorer 4.

Over on FriendFeed we discussed some of the other team members (they only have eight employees so far, so haven’t made a major dent into Google, but they are definitely getting some superstars). Here are the ones I remember:

Bret Taylor. During his four years at Google, he led more than 25 successful product launches, including Google Maps, Google Local, Google Web Toolkit, the Google Maps API, and Google’s Developer product group.

Paul Buchheit? He was the creator and lead developer of Gmail, which anticipated many aspects of Web 2.0, including the idea of Ajax, long before that term was coined. He developed the original prototype of Google AdSense as part of his work on Gmail. He also suggested the company’s now-famous motto “Don’t be evil” in a 2001 meeting on company values.

Sanjeev Singh is a former Google engineer, playing a role in both Google Mail and Google Search Appliance. Prior to Google Sanjeev worked at social annotations site Third Voice and a government research lab.

Kevin Fox: from 2003 to January 2008, Kevin Fox worked as a user experience designer at Google, designing such products as Gmail, Google Calendar, and the second version of Google Reader.

Tudor Bosman is another. Is a great developer from Google, and was principal member of technical staff at Oracle.

Back at the end of March (shortly after joining FriendFeed) I interviewed Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit on my cell phone and later I interviewed Kevin Fox, designer, who told me a bit about his design philosophy.

This is a superstar team and is the most interesting startup I follow. Do you have any who have more interesting teams than this?