Monday, April 16, 2007

Microsoft and others' emotional outcry over Google's Win

This was bound to happen. Microsoft lost the DoubleClick battle to Google and is now leading the rally against the deal along with Yahoo and AT&T. The reason: Google's acquisition of Doubleclick will make it a real brutal force in online advertising which is being termed as "Monopoly" by the competitors. The second concern, which seems logical, is related to the usage of personal data which is being collected by DoubleClick.

I anticipated this action from Microsoft and probably others as well and hence waited to write about the same. The surprising fact is that it is coming from companies which in a way are the most dominant players in their own markets or have had a monopolistic history. Microsoft has almost 90% of the consumer OS market share, Yahoo enjoys more than 50% share of personal pages with My Yahoo, and AT&T was a telephony monopoly until 1980s.

Let's first look at the definition of "Monopoly" from Wikepedia:

In economics, a monopoly (from the Latin word monopolium - Greek language monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods.

In no way, this deal can lead to a monopoly as prior to the acquisition, Google and DoubleClick had different products and had their share of competitors. The merger of these two can definitely lead to a new business model in online advertising but monopoly.

This also goes on to proving that all the anticipation about this deal not making sense and Microsoft intentionally losing the deal is not true. The truth is clear; Microsoft/Yahoo wanted to buy DoubleClick but could not.

Microsoft and Yahoo: there is no good in crying over spilled milk. Go ahead, build better products and services which create value for advertisers and publishers. If you can, they will come to you; but if you can't, at least do not be an obstacle for someone who is doing it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

GooTube Rivals Yahoo and Viacom Join Hands

Enemy's Enemy becomes a great friend. This saying has been characterized by the latest deal between Viacom, which filed a $1 Bn lawsuit against YouTube, and Yahoo which is Google's biggest rival in search advertising space.

According to a CNet News, Yahoo and Viacom have signed a multiyear deal in which Yahoo will serve sponsored search and contextual ads on all 33 Viacom sites including MTV Networks' VH1 and Comedy Central. The deal will get real big one once Yahoo gets all the 140 Viacom sites worldwide which is also a possibility.

Yahoo is really hitting hard on its chief competitors i.e. Google and Microsoft with these deals like this and taking away their key executives as in the case of TellMe Networks.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Google Launches Voice Local Search: 800-GOOG-411

Google's Local Search has got voice now. Today, Google has announced the experimental launch of its voice local search 1-800-GOOG-411, a completely automated system without human operators, which can be used to obtain local business information. The service is based on the local business information available through Google Maps. Now you have best of both worlds, Google's information powerhouse coupled with ease of access through any phone; not necessarily mobile phone. And as usual with all the Google services, it is free!! (Please read the fine print as well stating that you might be charged minutes by your carrier)

The best part about the service is its ability to understand the voice input which will bring a relief from keying in those numbers as demanded by most of the automated systems. Although, key input has also been given as an option, if the system refuses to understand your words.

Talking about the importance of this service from Google's product line perspective, its Pay-Per-Call service for advertisers did not set the world on fire, but a hybrid of voice local search and pay-per-call will be a great one to see.

Assume yourself searching for an Italian restaurant's phone number to book a table through voice search and at the end of the search you are given an option of connecting to the restaurant directly without the need to hang up and dial the number yourself. How easy it will be for users and value for money for advertisers.
Let's see how Google plans to use this service if its experiment is successful.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

IBM Building Video Viewer for Blinds

IBM Research Lab Tokyo has developed a multimedia browser for people with visual impairments. The browser codenamed as the Accessibility Browser or A-Browser is a creation of Dr Chieko Asakawa, a blind employee at IBM's research laboratory in Tokyo.

The browser will give the blind and partially sighted people an ability to control the audio and video content in the way normal sighted people do with the help of a mouse.

The browser will be launched later this year. IBM plans to make it an open source software so that maximum number of people can use the same. The number of such people who stand to benefit from this browser are estimated at 160 mn.

IBM has always been doing a lot of work in terms of accessibility and this surely is a big breakthrough. IBM's Accessibility Center is the group dedicated to working on accessibility for people with disabilities, so that more and more people can use IT related products.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

YouTube Troubles Continue, Sued for $20 Mn By Indian Company

YouTube is surrounded by copyright violation suits these days with one or another company coming forward to sue YouTube. The latest comes from an Indian music and entertainment company, T-Series, which has filed a lawsuit for $20 Million for copyright violation. The case has been filed in the New Delhi High Court.

The Business Standard reports that T-Series has accused YouTube for showcasing and making available for download its protected video and audio tracks. According to T-Series, a few video and sound tracks from their latest movies, including Don, are available for download at YouTube.

The uploaded content has enabled people to make illegal copies of the protected videos and sound tracks and sell it for cheaper prices in the domestic market. The financial loss has been estimated at Rs.100 Crore or $20 Million approx which T-Series is asking from YouTube as compensation.