To Twitter or just copy Twitter?

In technology there are few more important questions than “What’s going to happen with Twitter”.    As with many early adopter issues, only the digerati and a few smart marketers understand how profoundly and importantly Twitter is reshaping the online landscape, giving a voice to millions who want to interact casually and superficially with … millions more.

This spinoff effort will be very interesting to watch as it’s a successful niche website that is  establishing a Twitter like interface:

The challenge here is that if every website you go to has it’s *own* chatting interface you’ll either 1) get ticked off or 2) spend the rest of your life interacting with people at all these sites.

The answer is not individual site chat areas, rather we need to integrate the real Twitter with websites.  (or some other chat standard,  but Twitter seems to be the right choice given it’s ease of use and exploding subscriber base)

Open ID, Facebook connect and Google Friend Connect and open social and Disqus (for blog questions) and many other applications  have the right general idea but nobody seems to be able to integrate all this across the board.   We need to be able to seamlessly move from site to site, carrying our identity along with us so we can comment and interact easily.

Google to buy Sprint? Only if Sprint gets really “gets lucky”.

Rumors that Google might buy Sprint appear to be mostly just that – silly rumors to catch a headline.    Not so much that it would be a bad idea – for Sprint it would be the rescue they can only dream about as shifts in subscribers and the mobile landscape do not appear to favor Sprint right now.   As a Sprint customer with 4 phones on the plan you’d think I’d be rooting for them, but my misadventures with bad coverage here in Oregon and back east, the overhyped Treo 650, and a ringtone scam I had to *remind* them remove too often has basically soured this customer.    

If Google buys Sprint the Champagne should be popping – but probably not at Google though the economics of a deal like this are well beyond my expertise – probably anybody’s for that matter.

Google clearly wants to enter and effectively destabilize and reinvent the mobile market and they’ve already taken a major first step in the direction with the Mobile Handset Alliance.    Also true that Google can keep a secret as the recent Myspace “Open Social” partnership made very clear.    But I have a hunch they’ll do this more indirectly than managing their own mobile network.   Cleverly, Google is poising themselves to be the keeping of most mobile advertising which is where the “extra” cash is now laying on the table.    Open Handset Alliance phones will combine with mobile services and ads to bring a lot more advertising revenue into this market fairly fast, and Google is making sure a Google mobile OS, or something very compatible, is waiting there to scoop up the bucks.

Why buy the cow when you can get all that milk … for free? 

Google to everybody: Open up and say “Google”

Matt Ingram  has it right again – Google sees Openness as a competitive advantage, but Google is also correct that Open Social networking and open cellular software and hardware are in the best long term interests of the internet community.

The tech blogosphere has been abuzz for several days now with Google’s message of Open Social Networking (Open Social) and Google’s gPhone / Google Phone / Android / Open Handset Alliance.   Open Social will bring a very open architecture to websites and networking while  Android will craete very open software and presumably unlockable and open hardware for the mobile market.

Is Google being generous?    Not really – they correctly see this as a path to even greater Google profits from advertising.    Google scoops up some 50% of all online advertising revenue now, and this is likely to continue until Yahoo and Microsoft get their advert-asses in gear, which does not appear to be happening anytime soon.    So, while the long term consequences of openness are very unclear the short term benefits are going to go to … Open up and say it loud … GOOGLE!*

* No, I would not recommend buying GOOG at $700 per share.   This pretty much anticipates a smooth transition to a Google world, which seems unlikely.  The internet, after all, is not driven by rocket science … it is driven by … advertising.

Open Social challenge – Guilt by Open-Social-Association ?

Don Dodge has an excellent post today where he suggests the Open Social hype machine has spun out of control.    I don’t really agree with him because I think Open Social is a sincere effort by Google to create the truly open social networking many have been wanting for some time.    At the same time I would say there are a lot of challenges with Open Social, and it certainly was an aggressive move to kick Microsoft in the Face-book and take the winds out of the Microsoft Facebook partnership deal.    Google is remarkably good at being sincere, innovative, brilliant, and ruthless all at the same time.  In fact it’s become a hallmark of their success though they never seem to acknowledge the ruthlessness of some of their decisions – it’s kind of a collective delusion at Google that what’s good for the Google is good for the gander.   This is often true, but not always.

Back to Don’s interesting point:   What happens if a friend of yours – on whose profile you appear as a “friend”, goes over to a porn site which is using Open Social networking.   Does your smiling mug and name wind up appearing next to objectionable material?   Yikes – you could lose your job, wife, and family all in one fell Open Social swoop and you never even did anything !     

Although I can’t say be sure I’m confident this problem has been solved.  Probably via some form of content controls or content ratings for sites that are allowed to participate.  Will there be bugs in this?  Of course, as Don notes Plaxo already had a problem with their Open Social implementation, but on balance I think it’s still reasonable to see this as a social networking sea change, albeit one that will take some time to shake out.

Mark Cuban on Open Social v Facebook: He’s being lazy, not smart.

Mark Cuban generally has great insight about the online landscape but I think he’s just being a lazy social networker to suggest that Google’s Open Social is too late to the social networking party – a party Mark seems to think is going to be run by Facebook regardless of what the other players do.

Don Dodge of Microsoft also seemed to be thinking along these lines when he noted that 50 million users is nothing to scoff at, and suggested the rumors of Facebook’s death have been greatly exaggerated (agree with that).    Mark also correctly points out that those 50 million are mostly “real people” with real profiles, sharing important personal information that would make most advertiser’s drool over the targeting prospects.

But as I noted over at Mark’s place:

Mark I don’t follow why you think Open Social is “too late”. Facebook only has 50 million people. Within a few years there will be billions of people with social profiles and even if Facebook opens up (as they must), a lot will choose to enter this from other social networks or websites that have “socialized” via the Open Social.I don’t see why Facebook should get all the social glory – they weren’t first to the table and they are by no means the last viable way to socially empower yourself online.

Dude…I just think you are lazy and don’t want to set up all those friends again for next year’s Dancing with the Stars.

[Mark has thousands of friends on Facebook and had asked them to vote for him during his recent performances on the TV show “Dancing with the Stars”.    He’s out now which, to me, is yet another tiny indication that social networking is still very much in its infancy.

The Social Network Reality Show: High stakes, big money, false rumors.

The game is social networks.  The stakes are very high, and the news and rumors are flying fast, furiously, and inaccurately.   Here is the latest in the saga of Google’s Social Networking entry which, with Myspace’s participation, is the new Social Networking juggernaut (though it remains to be seen how all the participants will use it). 

More on the Open Social vs Facebook battle for the hearts and minds of developers and, far more importantly, users:

1)  After a 240,000,000 partnership with Microsoft the blogs (including here) lit up soon after suggesting that Facebook recieved another 500 million from two other private groups.   This was false.   It is very conspicuous in my view that the rumor rose and spread so fast, and that Facebook did nothing to quell that rumor.  This news is still shaking out over at TechCrunch which reported the rumor of the 500 million and now reports it was false.   Another example of how news at the speed of real time may not be news at all.

2) Google says Open Social is open to Facebook and all are welcome (I believe them).

3) Facebook says Google was not keeping them in the loop on Open Social (I believe that as well)

4) Facebook says they may join the Open Social movement, but suggest they have their own great stuff coming shortly.    I’m skeptical they can “out open” Google, though they probably could come up with some great new social networking applications quickly.  

However on balance I think Facebook really is in big trouble here.     Much of the recent hype – which was overdone anyway – assumed that Facebook would be the key beneficiary of the boom in social networking.   The reasoning suggested that although Myspace is  bigger than Facebook it was a “closed” environment, favored by a demographic that has far less value to advertisers.    Facebook, that thinking went, will continue to grow explosively, open up gradually, target advertising very directly, and become the dominant social networking platform. 

Then there was Facebook’s refusal to sell to Yahoo for a reported 1+ billion.  This was followed by big negotiations with many key players, culminating a (much overhyped) 240 million deal with Microsoft to cooperate, run MS Live searches, and drive some MS and Facebook advertising.    Then came the false rumor of 500,000,000 more in capital which for many seemed to solidify Facebook’s valuation of 15 billion – a somewhat sloppy projection of the Microsoft partnership price.

So, what is Facebook worth in an Open Social world where even Myspace is a Google partner?   No, the answer is not 15 billion.

Myspace to join Google’s Open Social. Facebook’s value plunges.

It is a mildly risky but potentially brilliant counterstrike against Facebook’s rising popularity.  Myspace will announce shortly that they are joining the Open Social movement spearheaded by Google and which is now officially a social juggernaut of global proportions.    TechCrunch seems to have the latest on this breaking story.

If Facebook was worth 15 billion yesterday I’d suggest it just dropped by more than 50% in value.   Why?   Without Myspace’s hundreds of millions of users Open Social looked like it would be a third player in the field, struggling to catch up with the user bases of Myspace and Facebook and keep up with Facebook development.   But  not any more.  With Myspace, Open Social instantly becomes the key social network, dwarfing Facebook by any reasonable measure of prominence.   Can new Facebook partner Microsoft help sway onliners and developers to stick with Facebook’s “partly open” architecture instead of defecting to what appears to be a very open Google architecture?   No way.

Google Open Social – wazzup?

It seems like the code for Google’s 3 “Open Social” APIs should be at Google Code but I can’t find the Open Social APIs, or even any mention of Open Social, at Google yet.   Maybe it’s been delayed or maybe TechCrunch’s earlier reports of a Nov 5 launch, rather than today, were correct?

It’s a typical internet deal where everybody is talking about something that has not even hit yet. 


Google Social Challenge – users do not follow developers, developers chase users.

Tech is buzzing with Google’s plan to enter the social network space today with Google OpenSocial, a set of APIs that will allow rapid development of social networking applications across several sites that are working with Google now, such as Friendster and LinkedIn.   UPDATE:  and Myspace

At this point it appears Google Social will not allow better convergence of applications with Facebook, and it seems unlikely (let’s assume a zero percent chance) that Facebook and their new partner Microsoft are going to work hard to make the social network space a big, open, happy family run by Google via Google Social.   UPDATE:  Myspace just joined the Google Open Social Network.

Myspace is still the key player here with some 5x as many users as Facebook, depending on which metric you use to figure out traffic, users, subscribers, pageviews, or attention.

This will certainly lead to a surge of initial activity as developers chase the users of those sites – a user base that is substantial – Marc Andreessen says 100,000,000 users which would be more than twice Facebook’s user base.  Update – Google is now accessing far more of the key users than Facebook.   

  Can Google social resurrect Friendster?    Maybe, if the APIs are good enough that we can carry profiles in and out of sites seamlessly. 

I’m speculating here but would guess that the Google move is going to quickly shake up the Social space into three camps:  Two?  One camp?    Facebook+MSN, and Myspace+Google Social which will tie together thousands of existing and new social environments.    

Facebook is obviously the key player to watch.  The stakes are about as high as they can get and I bet Marc Zuckerberg and his brilliant Facebook gang have corked the champagne bottles and deciding how to move ahead.   Prediction:  They’ll stay the course with moderatly openness and will reject Google Social.

Given that many have been looking for a ‘one stop’ social network stop is there room for more players in this space?   Certainly yes given this open approach.    It’s even possible (though I think unlikely) that enough users would insist on the new open standards that they could push Myspace and Facebook to line up with Open Social.   Update: Myspace is on board now.

Here’s a simpy *superb* summary of the emerging landscape by Google partner and web pioneer Marc Andreessen of Netscape and now Ning.