Who Will Rule the New Internet?

Came across this article on the TIME website, its about “Who Will Rule the New Internet?”

Its def. worth a read….

According to Josh Quittner, Apple, Google & Facebook are the technology standard-bearers of todays age. Google- with its “open” web, Facebook- with its huge user base and “walled” off approach & Apple- with the highly controlled “experience.”

The article goes on to explain the success & strategies of three companies, one of the interesting points he raises with regards to Googles “Open” Web strategy VS Facebook is:

Social networks are a threat to that business; users tend to stay within their network and communicate among themselves or simply fool around with apps. When Facebook’s users are playing Scrabulous or tagging photos, for example, they’re not using Google. Indeed, they’re more likely to discover new things via friends or in-network applications such as iLike, a service that matches your friends’ musical tastes to your own.

The flaw in this theory is, facebook may be the biggest thing today, what happens when users get bored and start moving on to the next big site? It was MySpace yesterday, today its Facebook, tomorrow its going to be twitter? Or a microblogging site similar to it? The life cycle on a specific social networking site is still to be decided. Users are like sheep, and who is to say next year we wont see a mass migration to something completely new that has not even been developed yet?

According to Josh, Apple doesnt really care who wins the online war- as long as we use an Apple device to access the content. He quotes Matt Murphy (a venture capitalist) as saying:

He claims that the iPhone will “absolutely be the driver of the post-PC world.” Murphy points out that the kit needed by developers to build iPhone apps has been downloaded more than 200,000 times, and he estimates that about 1,000 applications will be available to consumers when the iPhone-apps store launches with the phone. “If you look at so many of the constraints that have held back the mobile ecosystem, Apple basically takes all of those away and provides an open platform, a great device and a user base that’s rabid for these new kinds of applications,” he says.

The best part of this article, is that Josh did not forget to mention Android. Googles open mobile platform that is due to hit the market place later this year. Andy Rubin, Googles Director of mobile platforms says:

Developers have so far written more than 1,800 applications, which could be distributed on a Google site arranged according to popularity, as YouTube is. “There’s some pretty innovative stuff there,” Rubin explains. “This is merging the handset and the Web and coming up with something completely new.

We’re in for an exciting second half of the year, with the iPhone 2 coming out in a couple of days & Android later in the year, its going to be very interesting to see which company will take the market by storm. Two companies, with very different go-to-market strategies. The problem Google may have, will be the actual device Android is running on… They have already signed deals with many companies (Moto, LG, HTC etc.), but if these companies are not able to provide a compelling UI like the iPhone, this would most likely see users moving towards the iPhone.

Nokia are also due to launch the N96 later this year, i’m sure Nokia will sell the most handsets, but their market share will be sure to take a bit of a knock with some serious competition from Android & Apple. For myself, this is the first year that is a seriously tough decision on which handset to buy? Will Nokia be able to come up with a device that provides a compelling user experience like what we have seen so far from Android and Apple? I doubt it. Regardless of who wins, its great to finally have some quality devices coming to market.

I suppose Google still has a 1 up on Apple & everyone else in the market- anyone who lands up buying an iPhone/Nokia will in the end, still be using Google/Youtube on their handset.

As for the battle of the internet, if Google actually own the platform on which you’re accessing facebook or the next big thing on your mobile, they dont have much to be worried out. At least in the short term…

Lets wait and see how this plays out in the coming months….


Googles Mobile Ambitions

Last week we saw an announcement from Google that they had purchased the mobile social networking platform Zingku. Everyone seems to be guessing as to what exactly it is that Google has up its sleeve in the mobile space. One thing is for sure though, they are serious about getting into mobile. If the news coming out over the past few months is anything to go by, i’m sure the Google mobile offering will be one to revolutionalise the mobile world (no, not like how the iPhone promised to do so).

Why do I say this? Well as Steve Jobs said in his speech at Standford “You can not connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward”. So lets start connecting the dots….

First things first, lets look at all the things that people in the industry seem to complain about as to what is holding the mobile revolution back:

1. Operators – cant live with them, cant live without them. They control your access to information. “Walled Gardens”, Data charges and the like are really holding people back from utilising all the cool things that can be done on your mobile phone.

2. Discovery- We have heard this many times, if people can not find your content in an easy way- you’re not going to be successful. Remember the 3 click rule? Anything more than 3 clicks to get to what you’re looking for on a mobile device and you have lost your consumer. Its all about top of the deck status

3. Data Charges- linked to point 1. but this is pretty annoying. I for one do not use my GPRS/3G connection in Qatar for serious mobile browsing because its way too expensive. Back in South Africa though, where I was paying much less I was quite an active user.

4. Not enough compelling content out there- Many companies have entered the market, made their money and left. We saw content aggregators doing well for a while, but it seems that power is now shifting to a branded mobile strategy. Where brands are controlling their own mobile portals and going direct to consumers.

5. Cost of content- Users are very willing to use content if its free of charge. Having to to pay both for content & data is just not on.

6. Lack of successful integration of a Web 2.0 type strategy extended to mobile-With the new wave of web 2.0, I have not seen any successful integration of web 2.0 type service on mobile. We have seen MySpace announcing a new application under development, this could be interesting.

Alright those are all the limitations that I can think of now of the top of my head, if I think of anything else I’ll update the list or feel free to add to the list.

Now lets start connecting the dots and see how Google are dealing with the above limitations…

1. Rumours are going around about Google looking into getting the 700mhz spectrum both in the US & UK. Fantastic idea- If the telco’s are going to be a barrier to market, who needs them? We will just create our own network. Assuming the stories are true- this is a great move. Don’t forget Wifi, however to rely only on Wifi (like the iPhone in the UK) is not the best of strategies.

2. Google are developing something. Is it a new mobile platform to be loaded on existing devices or is it the gPhone? Either way, this is a great way to deal with discovery of your services. With a brand as big as Google, this makes sense. Google have also been working on their mobile search service, to help with the content discovery.

3. Again, linked back to point number 1. Needless to say if Google have their own network and own handset the sky is the limit as to the possibilities. Another interesting thing is the launch of AdSense for mobile recently by google and the filing of a patent for mobile advertising. This could lead to subsidised costs for end user.

4. Google have been working hard at getting their mobile search functionality going. This added to the mobile version of YouTube that will be coming out. Will really help users in getting & finding some compelling content.

5. With the launch of AdSense for mobile & Google filing a patent for mobile advertising. This could pave the way for free content in exchange for advertising. Maybe or maybe not?

6. Lastly we have just seen Google acquiring Zingku, the new mobile social network platform. Zingku is supposed to allow users to “zing” content between their handsets and PC’s. Built around community this could be a good extension of the web 2.0 model of community to a mobile device. Google after all to have a pretty big community to build on.

That all said and done, if you connect all of these dots together its pretty clear that Google are looking at coming to market with something that should shake up the entire industry. I’m sure in the coming weeks and months we will see many more announcements coming out of Google. Now all we have to do is wait in anticipation to see the final image these dots will reveal once completely joined and coloured in.