Links & News, 09.11.08

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Google and the liberation of mobile phones

Clever, very clever indeed. Google announces the Open Hand Set Alliance and liberates the 33 participating mobile phone operators from the claws of proprietary systems. From the Google Blog:

Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile.

It appears to carry very similar objectives as OpenSocial which was announced only last week. Google seems to favour open standards, so that the web as a plattform and mobile phones as the future personal device for everything will stay open and free. This should enable innovation to the benefit of the user, no doubt about that! But it might also serve Google quite well.

Why? I can only guess: Googles revenue models are still mostly built on advertising. So Google needs scalability in customer reach, which they can only keep increasing with ready access to information and users. As social networks are obviously becoming the dominating platforms for users to interact with, and mobile devices probably being the first choice for going „online“, then Google needs to be able to freely play on these grounds.

In the future, I think the key to revenue will most likely not reside in just delivering content, i.e. producing or transporting it, since there will be soooo much of it. And it is very labour intensive to produce it. Instead, it is much more efficient to

  1. intelligently aggregate and sort content (which Google already does)
  2. adequately aligning this content to the needs, preferences – and most importantly: intentions of the users.

Regarding the second point, I think it is fairly obvious that Google should be way ahead of the competition in gathering the necessary user data. Think about Google Toolbar, Google Analytics and Google AdSense, nevermind the main site, the search engine itself. They should have better tracking data than anybody else, which they can put to work for solving the second point above.

One thing that can stop the (nearly) endless scaling of Google’s model into the long tail of every single social media profile and mobile device is „artificial“ restrictions such as walled gardens and operating systems. So: very clever to launch initiatives to at least partially open up social networks and mobile phone operating systems.

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Links & News, 26.10.07

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The long tail characteristics of a widget economy.

Facebook, Facebook and Facebook again. Seems like you can’t get away from it. O’Reilly now published a report on the widget and application economy of Facebook and the long tail characteristics of which.

The report covers the following:

  • Sizes up the Facebook opportunity–who’s making money, and how?
  • Lays out best practices of marketing with Facebook Applications, aka Social Media Optimization (SMO)
  • Identifies the top 200 Facebook applications and plots their growth rates
  • Goes beyond Facebook, and scopes out the emerging widget economy

Not sure if I want to dish out the $150. But if so, it should be worth at least for finding out about what they say for the last point: scoping out the emerging widget economy. This is definitely a trend worth watching!

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Social media sites and the impact on email marketing

At DMNews, there is a column about the impact of social media on email marketing, which is quite interesting:

Today’s younger generation is the single best predictor of future behaviors. And right now they are leveraging multiple social Web sites: MySpace and Facebook to chat with friends, Evite to send party invitations and LinkedIn to stay front and center for new business relationships. E-mail for these users has become a tool used strictly for the purpose of collecting business information — special offers, promotions and business information.

As we increase our usage of social networks, our use of e-mail will inevitably decline, reducing the success of e-mail marketing campaigns. Marketers need to take the time to understand what sites their users are comfortable in and then evaluate marketing opportunities in those spaces.

I don’t think it’s only that. (But it will be a large factor.) The other email killer is things like skype and other chat tools, mobile phone messaging, and RSS.

For any communication with your contacts, ther is a better way than email. Or at least there will be. With spam still filling most people’s inbox, they will undoubtedly move to other, uninterrupted channels and only open their email accounts to separate the „bacn“ from the spam.

So email marketing is not dead, as people will continue to use it. But in the next 5 years or so, we’ll probably see a shift in usage patterns, decreasing the target audiences attention to email. It is now, that we need to test the alternatives, so that we have working tactics in the future.

Try out producing widgets for facebook, offering RSS feeds (this should already be a no brainer!), sponsor chats and communities (or offer them yourself), and may be start advertising on the long tail of the web…

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Blue Note records starts digital services

This seems so obvious, yet it took some time to realize it. According to this Reuters article, Blue Note records (one of the most famous brands for Jazz Music) has dived into offering a digital experience:

The label is in the process of revamping the site to become a social network and digital music store for fans of jazz and blues — the staples of the Blue Note catalog — rather than a simple promotional Web site for its artists.

They are targetting the age group of the 35 to 55 year olds. It’s not the typical target group for downloading music and/or getting heavily involved in social networks, you might think.

But it is indeed a target group

  • with more money available than the teens (and apparently more willing to spend it on music, too)
  • looking for specialised music – think about the long tail effects of digital music!

There seems to be a trend, as Blue Note is not the first:

Blue Note’s pending Web site is just the latest. Universal Music Group opened a digital jazz and classical music service in the United Kingdom in January, and last December a social networking site aimed at the 35-and-up crowd called Urban Boomer (UBTunes) went live.

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Can you make Money in the Long Tail

Chris Anderson, who wrote “The Long Tail” looks at the question concerning most of the small longtail bloggers: Can you make money in the Long Tail? This post is interesting in itself, as it looks at the different participants of the long tail: producers, aggregators and consumers – and how each one might benefit from the long tail.

But: He also quotes a Valleywag blogpost in which a website owner is cited to complain about Google:

I’m beginning to have my doubts about Chris Anderson’s long tail, the proposition that cultural boutiques can make a living on the Internet. One disgruntled publisher complains she’s owed less than the minimum Google can be bothered to pay her. And, as fast as she makes money, Google lifts the threshold. [She writes:] “When I started with Adsense in late 2004/ early 2005 the minimum was $25. Just when was about to hit the $25 minimum, they raised it to $50. Now that I have $45 in my account, the minimum is $100. Granted, I have a site with very low traffic, but how many website owners are getting screwed by Google? If the long-tail theory holds out, there could be millions of dollars of unpaid Google ads.”

I can see where this website owner is coming from. I wonder, how much money Google earns with the money they centrally collect from advertisers (I assume, there is no threshold) and invest at, well, 5%-10% on any capital market. It will only be a few dollars each, but the sum of all the blogs probably results in big money.

I guess we have no way of imagining the amount of money one can make by deploying the long tail market. But someone at Google knew and implemented the threshold of payments. Very clever.

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