Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Google-Sina in China

Google has teamed up with Sina, one of China’s largest portals. Google will now power Sina's search features in return for integrating its famed AdSense technology on to Sina’s pages. Also Sina's search traffic will be directed to Google and search ad revenues will be shared.

This may help both companies counter Baidu which has a commanding 55% search market share in China in opposition to Google's 21.7%. Both Google and Baidu are competing to sign up smaller websites for their traffic. Advertisers may be less willing to pay a higher keyword price at Baidu now that Google is a more creditable competitor.

The deal with Sina is Google’s largest in China and will increase Google’s market share in search traffic and search revenues.Google’s has so far has made a $5 million investment in China in P2P video site Xunlei.

China has the world's second-largest population of Internet users, with 137 million people online, and is on track to surpass the United States as the largest online population in two years. Though Google and Yahoo have been making inroads into China, domestic operators such as Sohu.com, Baidu and Alibaba held an obvious cultural and first-mover edge.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ask gets a makeover

Ask has launched a new interface and a few cool new features for its search engine, which it's calling Ask3D.

The first thing users will notice is a very attractive new home page, with pretty buttons to narrow a search into a silo, such as images, maps, or blogs. Users can select one of several photos as a background image on the main search interface. In the future, you'll be able to use your own image. When you begin to type in a query, a drop-down box gives you suggestions to fill it out.

The new interface splits up search result pages into three panes. In the middle, you get ads and your main links. Many results have a spyglass icon, which will display a snapshot of the search result when you hover over it as well as displaying useful stats like the page size and load time.

On the left of the main pane, you get links related to your search. These links do a very good job of conveying the context of the search you're looking at.

On the right of the main pain there are related links from different search silos. On different searches you get different clumps of content. For example, search for a famous musucian and you'll get links to audio previews. You can play the clips in the search page, which is pretty slick.The new Ask.com results page also uses your IP address to locate you, roughly, and can display results related to your location.

One thing that isn't radically different in Ask3D: Ask's core search engine. As far as I could tell from my usage experiecence, the search results that Ask3D returns were the same as Ask.com previously. When compared to Google, I did not get consistently good results with Ask.com.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Google gears up for offline web

Gears, an open source technology allowing browsers to support offline web applications has been released by Google to coincide with the company's annual Developer Day.

Gears provides three main JavaScript APIs. LocalServer stores and accesses application pages offline, Database stores and accesses application data on the user's computer, and WorkerPool performs long-running tasks such as synchronising data between the user's computer and the server.

One thing mentionable about Gears is that web applications must be rewritten to take advantage of its facilities. A Gears-enabled version of Google Reader has been released to demonstrate what's possible.

Support for the project has been voiced by Adobe, Mozilla and Opera. The Google Gears beta is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and requires Firefox 1.5 or later, or Internet Explorer 6 or 7. Safari will be supported in a later release

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Computing on a coffee table

Microsoft has taken the wraps off "Surface", a coffee-table shaped computer that responds to touch and to special barcodes attached to everyday objects.

People who have had a look at the Surface say that it is essentially a Windows Vista PC tucked inside a shiny black table base, topped with a touch screen in a clear acrylic frame. Five cameras that can sense nearby objects are mounted beneath the screen. Users can interact with the machine by touching or dragging their fingertips and objects such as paintbrushes across the screen, or by setting real-world items tagged with special barcode labels on top of it.

Unlike most touch screens, Surface can respond to more than one touch at a time. It has a price tag between $5 000 and $10 000 per unit and the company says it expects prices to drop enough to make consumer versions feasible in three to five years.

Some of the first Surface models are planned to help customers pick out new cellphones at T-Mobile stores. When customers plop a phone down on the screen, Surface will read its barcode and display information about the handset. Customers can also select calling plans and ringtones by dragging icons towards the phone. Also guests sitting in some hotel lobbies will be able to cluster around the Surface to play music, then buy songs using a credit card or rewards card tagged with a barcode. In some hotel restaurants, customers will be able to order food and drinks, then split the bill by setting down a card or a room key and dragging their menu items "onto" the card. Surface also indulges users with interactive maps,which will allow them to book,show tickets or make dinner reservations.

Microsoft is working on a limited number of programs to ship with Surface, including one for sharing digital photographs.

Historically, Microsoft has focused on creating new software, giving computer programmers tools to build applications on its platforms, and left hardware manufacturing to others.For now, Microsoft is making the Surface hardware itself, and has only given six outside software development firms the tools they need to make Surface applications.

But overall, people who have seen it themselves seem to be wowed by Surface.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When Gates meets Jobs

The theme for the Gates-Jobs meet, which is scheduled this week is the future, and as of today they are both approaching it from different angles, and increasingly, competing in the same market segments, from PC’s to operating systems, music and video players, mobile phones and mobile operating systems, media centers, interface design, physical design and other IP.

Both are highly successful and intelligent men, and although the event is billed as unscripted, they would naturally have thought about what they would say when facing each other on stage, being simultaneously interviewed before an audience of tech-savvy, influential people, all keen to hear what two of the IT industry’s most powerful players have to say on the future of the information technology we all use and mostly love every day.

I certainly hope for and expect a riveting discussion, guided by two of the industry’s most seasoned technology journalists. Whatever happens, there’s high anticipation that the interview will be powerful and memorable.

The rest of the conference will also be feature packed. Steve Jobs will also host his own session during the conference, where he could talk about the iPhone, Mac OS X 10.5, DRM, convergence, the future and more, setting a precedent for something special.

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer will also have his own session, where he will talk about Windows, Office, the Xbox, Zune, and other topics.

Given that the next 20 to 30 years is supposed to see more technological advance than the last 2000 years put together, as long as we don’t blow ourselves up through nuclear or environmental catastrophe first, let’s hope there are some more solid signs of that future at the conference that promises all things digital.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Google to buy feedburner

Finally, the rumour is confirmed. Google is buying Feed burner. It makes perfect sense. FeedBurner is known as the RSS Management service that many, many sites use, as well as an advertising service that’s held its own. TechCrunch just reported that in fact, the deal is confirmed and FeedBurner will be receiving a $100 Million Dollar paycheck.

Its surpirsing it’s taken this long as it has for a big company to come and sweep FeedBurner off its feet, and the first thought that comes to my mind is that the $100 million sounds a bit on the low side considering these facts and statistics (source):

* Total feeds managed: 721,000
* Podcasts and videocasts: 111,383
* Number of publishers: 422,717
* According to Nielsen/Net Ratings, FeedBurner is growing faster than MySpace and Digg with 385% traffic growth.

There’s lots of things that Google could do with FeedBurner, but one thought is that they could integrate RSS statistics into Google Analytics, making Google Analytics the hub for every statistic you would ever want or need.

Any other thoughts on what Google will potentially do with FeedBurner and how they could incorporate it with existing services?

For now, Congratulations to FeedBurner!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Webaroo Offers Group Messaging

Webaroo has announced the launch of a new group messaging service in India, called "SMS GupShup".

The company says "SMS GupShup" is a free service that offers users a chance to create groups of any size, and communicate within them. The messages sent by the creator of the group are forwarded by Webaroo, at no charge, to all members of the group.

Using a single SMS message, users can join any group they want. Once a part of the group, the members will then automatically receive messages posted to the group as an SMS on their phone. Besides, users can use SMS messages to create their own groups, and also to invite friends, and post messages to the group.

Moreover, users can also run a poll, rating, and quiz within their group. The groups and their messages are available online at www.smsgupshup.com as an archive, except for private groups.Talking about the service, Beerud Sheth, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Webaroo, said, "SMS Gupshup is a fun, new, and powerful SMS service for users of any mobile phone. It is an ideal tool for connecting with friends, building new relationships, and forming mobile communities."

According to Webaroo, this free service can be used to stay connected with friends, to receive alerts and notifications, as well as to stay updated with news and current events. In addition, users can also receive weather updates or sports scores from their favorite sources.