Thursday, May 31, 2007

Call It a Niche Bubble

Interesting article from Business Week which talks about the parallels between Web 2.0 and the dotcom stuff that went on in the 90's.

Don’t Call It a Bubble

I see his point. I, too, recall that in the not-too-distant past—before Google (GOOG) shelled out $1.65 billion for YouTube in 2006—people were starting companies because they thought they had cool ideas—not just to flip a startup to Yahoo! (YHOO) or Google. There was less talk of "exit strategy" and more emphasis on fun projects put together with friends on a shoestring budget.

I agree with some of the things the author says in the article. The 90's was really the start of the commercial web for lack of a better term. During that time, the web was basically a blank slate or an operating system where applications still had to be written for it. Hence you had an explosion of applications like web mail, online shopping, and so on. There was definitely more diversity back then than there is today. The Web 2.0 term is really a phenomenon that pertains to a certain niche of web applications such as social networking and blogs.

As for startups opting to flip, I think it may have something to do with the difficulty of making money on the web. The web today is a crowded space with lots of things invented already. It is harder to come up with a new idea today that it was in the 90's. I think an IPO is also more difficult today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Google Gears

Juicy stuff from Google. They recently unveiled Google Gears. From their website:

Google Gears is an open source browser extension that lets developers create web applications that can run offline. Gears provides three key features:

- A local server, to cache and serve application resources (HTML, JavaScript, images, etc.) without needing to contact a server
- A database, to store and access data from within the browser
- A worker thread pool, to make web applications more responsive by performing expensive operations in the background

I see lots of applications for this technology. In essence, it lets you do offline work or when a connection to the web isn't available. For example, someone who does disaster claims can still perform work (via the browser) while in a remote stricken area. The person can just sync the offline data with a central database at a later time soon as a connection is available.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Google's Flaw

Just finished reading this article on The Final Days of Google by Robert Cringley. The article talks about a flaw inside the company that stifles innovation.

The flaw is simple and is composed of three parts. First there are those thousands of ideas and technologies that are being developed by Google employees in the 20 percent of their week devoted specifically for that purpose. That number of new ideas is far too high to be practical and too high even to be considered safe.

I’m not exactly sure what kind of internal selection process they have inside Google that makes them decide what ideas are viable enough to pursue. The last “strategy” I heard from them was their mantra “Search, Ads and Apps”. The statement seems indicative of the general direction they want to go so any ideas along those lines should get more consideration I suppose. But then the “Apps” part is pretty broad. Does Google want to be in social networking? Or enterprise computing? Without a definitive scope, the possibility does exist that they’re suffering from idea overload or some great ones are being missed.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Open Facebook

Lots of talk about Facebook this week. As some of you may have heard, they’re opening their application as a platform for development. One blogger summed it as “a social networking operating system”. I guess the question is why? Does it really help to promote Facebook or would resources just be better served by doing something else? Just how scalable is the Facebook architecture to begin with? Can their webservices handle multiple/simultaneous requests for instance? What about privacy issues? What kinds of user data are they exposing?