Bill Gates on the second “digital decade”

Tonight at CES Bill Gates delivered his final CES (and perhaps final in the industry) keynote. The key announcements included a partnership with NBC to deliver video online for *every single sport* at the Olympics – some 3600 hours in total and I think he indicated close to real time. Also impressive was Microsoft’s work with partner “Tellme” and MS mapping to bring powerful voice and map navigation capabilities to the mobile space. They noted that mobile advertising will be some (11 billion?) by 2011, and that although they feel PCs will remain very important it’s clearly the mobile phone space where a lot of key innovation will be seen.

Back at MIX06 I noted that Microsoft had not yet embraced the social media revolution that clearly was going to dominate the online experience. I think they have now done so, but they may be too late. The demos of something called “Zune Social” were neat, but I noted the key feature was the ability to integrated with a Facebook profile. I’d argue that Open Social (or some variation on that theme), that is very largely company agnostic, will ultimately prevail. I didn’t get the idea Zune Social would be a big winner over time, but …

(posted from the CES Bloghaus! Thanks Seagate and Podtech!)

Update:  Engadget will have an interview up soon 

Samsung Q1 looks pretty cool

Samsung launched the Samsung Q1 tablet PC today. I’ve paid virtually no attention to this market since attending MIX06 last year in Las Vegas and playing around with some of what were then the latest and greatest ultra mobile PC devices. I’m beginning to think Scoble is right – the tablet PC will eventually become a key device for most of us – it just has not got the respect it deserves, perhaps because early models were too far ahead of their time.

My Treo 650 was the best phone last year but I’ve never been happy with the tiny screen that makes browsing problematic at best.   I’d be happy to carry around a somewhat larger gadget if it gave me decent browsing capabilities.    I think the Apple iPhone is on to something with it’s relatively large touchscreen interface.

Press Release on Samsung Q1

BarCamp USA 2007

Wow, if BarCamp USA <<too bad… it’s been cancelled >>really pulls in 5000 technology enthusiasts it could be the best conference of the year, and in Wisconsin no less. At a cost of $50 it’ll also be close to the cheapest.

What? You don’t know what a BarCamp is?

I love the unconference formats. After attending about ten computer conferences over the past 18 months including Microsoft’s MIX06 and WebmasterWorld’s in Las Vegas and Boston, my favorite conference was MashupCamp 1, a dynamic gathering of startups and mashup developers down in Silicon Valley at the Computer Science Museum. Dave Berlind, Doug Gold, and supporters did a fantastic job with these Mashup Camps and I’m sorry I missed the one just held in Boston and will miss Mashup Camp IV in July because I’ll be in Pennsylvania for our family reunion.

Organizers of the BarCamp USA say they expect 5000 but could handle up to 20,000. I sure hope this approach prevails in the conference space rather than the expensive and exclusive conferences that are tailored primarily to support existing large companies and sales efforts. I should say that Brett and his crew do a fine job making WebmasterWorld an inexpensive and great conference compared to the alternatives.

Fancy Las Vegas parties at nightclubs like TAO and PURE are really fun and neat, but the really profound changes in technology are only partly happening over cocktails in Las Vegas. They are ALSO happening inside laptops plastered with goofy stickers, handled by young geeks who haven’t even learned how to do laundry. BarCamps cater to that crowd, and that’s a crowd you want to pay attention to if you want to better understand where tech is headed … and headed fast.

Bill Gates and the Bloggers

James Kim Search Discussion – Click here | Mount Hood Climber Search

Some very high profile and clever folks in the blogging community got to head up to Microsoft HQ and meet with Bill Gates yesterday to discuss the future of the internet, especially ways to make the upcoming MIX07 conference relevant to the needs of those attending.

I missed meeting Gates at MIX06 earlier this year but I know several of the bloggers that were invited so I’ll have to settle for one degree of separation. I’m a huge fan of Bill Gates’ superb global health initiatives though not at all a fan of many of his “old style” ideas about computing and the internet. I think he, and MS at large, continues to view the internet as primarily a technological rather than a sociological development (clue: it’s 80% sociological, 19% technical and 1% electrical)

The reports are starting to come in:

Mike Arrington

Steve Rubel

Ryan Stewart

Niall Kennedy

Liz Gannes

Todd Bishop

Should Blogging ban Conferences?

Nielsen banned blogging at a recent conference leading Steve Rubel to ask “Should Conferences Ban Blogging?” I think a much better question is this:

Should Blogging ban Conferences?

Over the last 18 months or so I’ve made a point of attending several internet-related conferences. Some were informative, some fun but one of the most important things I took away was how much more I could have learned by simply spending an equal amount of time in careful online study of new developments.

This was even true at the best conference format from the superb UNconferences held by Dave Berlind and Doug Gold in Mountain View. So, why am I heading down to their latest effort, Startup Camp, next Wednesday and Thursday? … Well, it’s because conferences are a very enjoyable way to meet people and learn a few new tricks and “get out” from the somewhat nonsocial work environments in which many online professionals dwell much of the time, especially independents like me.

But blogging those conferences is really enjoyable, creates highly relevant new content for the web, and most importantly spreads the word to people who can’t attend due to expense or distance or whatever.

The idea of conferences banning blogging is very shortsighted from the conference’s financial success perspective since blogging is free publicity for next year and will encourage the growing legions of citizen journalists to attend.

FAR more importantly, Banning blogging is also turning the internet efficiency on it’s head and suggesting that the goal of conferences is the greedy monetization of the conference itself, rather than the appropriate monetization of the education and social experience.

Hey conferences – if you have something worth saying, it’s worth your attendees blogging about it.

UPDATE:  Max has a thoughtful reply, though I don’t agree:

Max this is a thoughtful argument and correctly separates this case from normal conference blogging as I failed to do in my critical post.
However I remain skeptical of any anti-blogging policy since it defies a new open standard that suggests blogging keeps the online world humming along nicely.  This appears to be too close to asserting that it’s OK to profit from online communities and activities with no obligation to share insights with that same community.

Microsoft Vista – a nice lookin’ blog for a nice looking OS.

Wow, Microsoft Vista has a very slick looking blog up here that mimics the look and feel of the new Vista which, for reasons I don’t understand, really had a great look at MIX06. I think it was simply the use of very appealing full screen pix in a copycat move on the new MAC Operating Systems. Dropping in MS LIVE sidebar gadgets (and hopefully Google and Yahoo gadgetry as well) will allow a user to have a wonderfully customized and functional desktop – looking forward to that.

I also really want to give them kudos for making registration (needed to comment) very simple (name and email). MS registrations tend to be so complex I actually almost left thinking “I’m not going to go through a 5 minute registration just to leave a comment!”.

The Gadget Revolution. Gadgets of the world, UNITE!

A nice ZDnet interview with Google’s Adam Sah suggests the increasing importance gadgets will play in the online landscape. I met a brilliantly enthusiastic Adam at Mashup Camp back in February when all this was just starting to take off and it’s great to see Google is now allowing the gadgets to be used on any website.

In March, at Microsoft’s MIX06, the innovative LIVE team was also very bullish on their LIVE Gadgets which clearly are destined to become a major focus over there as well.

Gadgets create some very interesting complications in terms of website stats and monetization. Google has not focused on monetizing this environment yet and it will be interesting to see how they approach that, though it’s easy to predict they’ll create some revenue share with the gadget publisher to keep everybody happy.

The legal fun may come from compatibility issues with IE7 and Vista. Microsoft would have some incentive to prefer their own sidebar gadgets, which will run on the Vista Desktop, to whatever Google gadgets are developed for that same niche. Yet Google as always is ahead of the marketing curve. Pushing gadgets to be compatible with websites, and not just those with Google desktop installed, may diminish what would have been a big MS advantage with Vista.

Hey – that’s a bit too cynical on my part – I think as they often have done Google is just expanding on a great concept that happens to be a good marketing route as well.

Prediction: Google will buy Facebook for about 1.1 billion

Irrational exuberance in the dot com shopping aisles?

No, it’s a chess game and Google’s winning….again.

I’m really starting to understand what seems like irrational exuberance on the part of Google and the major players. A Google aquisition of Facebook would be consistent with what Robert Scoble suggested is happening: Google is building a moat around it’s advertising business.

Steve Ballmer also suggested this notion in his recent BusinessWeek interview, ironically fretting that Google could monopolize the media business. Yikes, Steve would really run out of chairs then?

I can almost hear Ballmer to Schmidt:
“Hey Cowboy, there’s only enough room in this here internet for ONE monopoly you, you, you dirty monopolistic sonofabitch BASTARDS!”

Schmidt to Ballmer:
“HEY! DROP that chair and step AWAY from the Vista Browser!”

Google, with tons of cash to burn and a staggering market cap, has far less to lose in the high stakes internet poker game than Yahoo, Ebay, or even Microsoft. Microsoft is bigger than Google and theoretically richer, but unlike Google Microsoft has yet to figure out good ways to monetize their (improving) search services and (not improving) content services.

Ballmer’s juggling how to preserve his big ticket MS Office and Vista projects. Yahoo’s worried about plunging valuations and people leaving and the fact that a billion represents a lot more to them than it does to Google.   This is almost certainly complicating the Yahoo Facebook negotiations right now.  Ebay’s pretty fat and happy where they are. Meanwhile, Google can focus in laser-like fashion on keeping Google in the driver’s seat with it’s superb contextual advertising monetization.

The best defense is a good offense, so they are buying up properties to increase their control over the advertising space and keep those hundreds of millions of eyeballs out of the hands of MS and Yahoo.

Will this work? I say probably not for similar reasons it was stupid for Yahoo to buy years ago. Video is junky and won’t monetize well. It’ll be more of an encumbrance to Google’s core competencies than an asset. But … things change, and in the meantime it’s fun to watch this high stakes game of chess unfold.

It’s a show you won’t see on YouTube.

Online News Association to Arrington: Hey, let’s get Mikey!

Poor Mike Arrington. From his blog it sounds like Mike was the token sacrificial lamb at the recent Online News Association conference where his comments were not taken well by the crowd of what sounds like mostly conventional journalists (or conventional *thinkers*) hoping to get a grip on the sea change going on, and going online, right now. They should listen to Mike carefully, because he’s been good at seeing the future. (ummm except Edgeio, which probably won’t fly).

There’s a lot of news in the news business but journalists are often missing the critical factors which include blogs, user interaction, and emphasis on real time reporting in real time from real people who are making that news themselves or direct witness to that news (e.g. who really wants a journalist in the middle when you have webcams on all the parties in the dispute?)

I remember how intense Mike got at Mix06 in his remarks about the future of offline Yellow pages, telling them “You are DEAD!”, and I can only imagine how the ONA folks reacted to his insights about the future of news and media in the online world.

His real sin was to become an expert early on in the Web 2.0 world and to profit from that expertise. Nothing pisses people off like somebody figuring things out early and profiting from that knowledge.

Good for him, but he better stick to events like Yahoo Hack Day or Mashup Camp if he wants a warm reception from like minded folks….folks who also understand that the changes are only beginning and will rock the news world like it’s never been rocked before.

SES San Jose – it’s almost like I’m not … here.

I’m sitting in my San Jose hotel room a few blocks from the Search Engine Strategies conference thinking how much better the information about the conference is … right here on my pc … than at the conference itself.   I’m not knocking SES (yet), just noting that a broadband connection and good website coverage means that even up in my little Oregon town I can “see” the emerging online world as well – in some ways much better – than hanging out in the middle of things here in Silicon Valley.  Microsoft’s MIX06 had more PCs all over the place where SES, like last year, has a long line to check mail unless you want to lug your own pc all over the place.   Also an inconvenience if you want to check up on blogs or conference updates.   The key point?  The virtual 24/7 conference online is rocking, and will only get better over time.

I shouldn’t knock the conference because I’m just an “exhibits only” attendee and SES clearly has emerged as the key search conference.   Also, Danny Sullivan is arguably the sharpest SEO observer in the world and based on comments by some presenters I know he treats his peeps well …

YET …  it sure seems they have the same tired “Our SEO is the best ever” exhibitors and perhaps as many as 60+% of the same presenters show after show, most pretending they are better at or more helpful with PPC and organic optimization results than … a smart high school kid … which is not supported by much evidence I can see, especially on the organic side of SEO.   I do hate to miss Matt Cutts comments and the Eric Schmidt interview but maybe I’ll bump into them at the party at Google tonight.

After going to 3 full Webmasterworld conferences, two SES as exhibits only, and one AD-TECH (where they more-nicely-than-SES allow exhibits people to attend the keynotes which are the best part of that conference), I think Webmasterworld offers the best insights and networking.  One presenter who appeared at both told the WMW crowd he had to dumb down the presentation for SES. Perhaps he says the opposite here, but I think SES, at three times the price, is not even as valuable as a WMW conference for all but a handful of niches such as Vendors, who’ll do better at this venue because they are selling things rather than dispensing quality information.   (Man there are a lot of SEO clueless salespeeps in SEO!)

Of course personal contacts are important, but I know I’ll find some people I know over at the Google Party later this evening.