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A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Google v Bing: it’s about brains and money

Posted Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

When Google accuses Microsoft’s Bing search engine of plagiarism, we get a glimpse of how commerce now needs academia more than ever

Google’s Search Fellow Amit Singhal complained via Twitter that Bing was copying Google’s results. That should tell you everything you need to know about the scale of this dispute: serious accusations of theft of intellectual property, even in Silicon Valley, are made in court.

But it would be wrong to suggest Google’s merely orchestrating a publicity stunt; rather this is a warning shot across the bows of rivals at Microsoft and beyond. Every web company stands on the shoulders of preceding giants, but that can be taken too far.

But the nature of search – still the core of Google’s business – is a monopoly business. Nobody wants to search the web and then have to search it again: the site that provides the best answers first time is the one that you’ll make your homepage. So it’s natural that Bing should look at what the dominant player is doing. The most academic aspect of computer science – the advancement of search – is meeting commercial reality head on. Microsoft’s blog response say they’ll keep focused on the customers. Most customers, still, are focused on Google.


Facebook ramps up Google rivalry with messaging service

Posted Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Facebook has ramped up competition with AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google with a product to rival their e-mail services.

Facebook Messages aims to tie users more closely to the social networking site at a time when everyone is battling for their attention.

The product will merge texts, online chats, and e-mails into one central hub.

Facebook says traditional e-mail is too slow and cumbersome and needs to step into the modern world of messaging.

“This is not an e-mail killer,” Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg told reporters and analysts at an event in San Francisco.

“Maybe we can help push the way people do messaging more towards this simple, real-time, immediate personal experience. E-mail is still really important to a lot of people. We think this simple messaging is how people will shift their communication.”

‘Killer app’

In a case of bad timing, reports surfaced hours after the Facebook launch that Gmail suffered an outage.

The new service is seen as offering an alternative to Gmail, the fastest growing web service in the past year with over 193 million users according to data tracker ComScore.

The irony was that ahead of the announcement, speculation was rife that Facebook’s new product would be most crippling for Gmail. Mr Zuckerberg said he did not see it that way.

“In reality they have a great product.

“We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘I’m going to shut down my Yahoo Mail or Gmail account’.

“Maybe one day, six months, a year, two years out people will start to say this is how the future should work,” said Mr Zuckerberg.

AOL, which at the weekend previewed changes to its once popular web mail service, disagreed that e-mail was doomed.

“E-mail remains one of the killer apps on the internet,” said Brad Garlinghouse, AOL’s senior vice president of consumer products.

Industry analyst Augie Ray of Forrester agreed.

“Research we have done shows we know that in the US 90% of adults check their mail at least once a month and 59% of adults say they maintain a profile on a social networking site.

“There is a big gap between the reach social media has and the reach e-mail has.”

Ease of use

At the heart of Facebook Messages is an effort to ensure users “see the messages that matter”.

The new feature will simplify how people communicate whether it be via text, instant messages, online chat or e-mail. All these messages will come into one feed known as a social inbox allowing users to reply in any way they want.

Facebook said around 70% of users regularly used it to send messages to friends and that a total of four billion messages passed across the site every day.

“We really want to enable people to have conversations with the people they care about,” Facebook’s director of engineering Andrew Bosworth told BBC News.

“It sounds so simple. We have all this technology that should be enabling that but it’s not. It’s fragmenting that. So I have one conversation on e-mail with my grandfather and another with my cousin on SMS and all these things don’t work the same way.

“I shouldn’t have to worry about the technology. I should just have to worry about the person and the message. Everything else is just getting in the way,” added Mr Bosworth.

The new system will be modelled more on chat than traditional e-mail which means there will be no subject lines, cc or bcc fields.

Liz Gannes of technology blog AllThingsD said she believed users would have a bit of a learning curve on their hands.

“I think the product is just different enough from what people are used to that it will feel really weird to users for a while.

“The lack of subject lines will get people upset at first and then of course they will probably realise they never wanted them anyway.”

‘Game over?’

Other features include being able to store conversations so users can have a complete archive of communications with friends and family. Mr Bosworth likened this to a modern-day treasure trove of letters stored in a box.

Incoming message will be placed in one of three folders – one for friends, another for things like bank statements and a junk folder for messages people do not want to see.

The product will also represent a challenge to Yahoo, with over 273 million users, and Microsoft, which has nearly 362 million.

“For me today represents the day when Facebook truly becomes a portal on the level of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL,” Charlene Li, social media analyst with the Altimeter Group, told BBC News.

“They now have to start making their inboxes more social. Friends are the new priority as opposed to the conversation. This makes Facebook so much more functional.”

Robert Scoble, technology writer and founder of Scobleizer.com, said this product gave everyone something to aim for.

“This is a new kind of communications system but it’s not game over for Yahoo and Gmail and all the others because it will take decades to get people to stop doing traditional e-mails.

“However this is something new and very powerful because Facebook can tap into my social graph and ensure that only my friends are there and I won’t get spammed.”

Facebook said this product was the biggest the social networking giant had worked on to date.

The company will also offer an @facebook.com e-mail address to every one of its more than 500 million users.


ITV to charge £250,000 for X-Factor final ads

Posted Friday, November 12th, 2010

 ITV could rake in more than £25 million in ad revenue from the final weekend of The X Factor, with media agencies claiming that 30-second spots are being priced at up to £250,000.
Although ITV has not yet confirmed how the show will be scheduled, it is expected that it will run two two-hour long shows, on 11 and 12 December, to decide the winner of this year’s contest.

With viewing figures up on last year agencies are expecting the final to at least perform in line with last year; 12.8 million on Saturday 12 and 15.6 million on Sunday 13 December.

ITV is quoting a 50 per cent premium on its usual station price with further charges for those advertisers wanting to buy either the first or last position in a break.

While The X Factor is being sold as a “special”, prices will vary with some advertisers paying less depending on their agency’s deal with ITV.
 
Advertisers understood to be in talks with ITV about appearing include Microsoft, BSkyB, Pizza Hut and Hallmark.


How Social Search Will Transform the SEO Industry

Posted Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Facebook and Bing announced last week an agreement that would allow Microsoft’s search engine to return results based on the FacebookLikes” of the searcher’s friends. Additionally, Google recently began including Twitter updates in its search returns. It’s a natural innovation that fits into the business models of both companies and takes the trend of individualized search results to its next logical level: results tailored to the searcher’s existing social footprint.

SEO insiders have wondered whether this new search innovation would affect placement strategies. And the simple answer is: yes. Yes, there will be changes to the way SEO professionals run their clients’ campaigns. Yes, this will affect the industry as a whole. And yes, we believe SEO professionals will have to adapt to meet ever-evolving needs.

Changing the Method, Not the Mission

But to think that this development is rocking the SEO world is to misunderstand the realities of the industry. In its roughly 15 years of existence, SEO has grown from being a small wildcat operation run by webmasters and content services to being one of the most dynamic, fast-growing sectors of the tech market. The reason for this rapid growth is because — not in spite –- of the constantly evolving nature of search engines.

Of course, as with any complex question about a dynamically evolving industry, there is a caveat. While the Bing-Facebook agreement and the recent updates to Google will change elements of how we do our business, the fundamentals will remain the same. As much as innovation shapes the day-to-day processes of optimization, the core foundations of the industry remain unchanged. The goal was — and still is — putting clients at the top of results pages, whether this is through organic search, paid search or social media.

Social media is nothing new in the world of online marketing. Facebook alone has 500 million users. We have already seen certain Twitter feeds included in Google search results. Before long, results may integrate other social networking sites, like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and myriad other sites that haven’t even been developed yet. For SEO professionals, this change highlights the need to integrate social networking if they haven’t already.

The Bing-Facebook agreement is indicative of the many changes that have taken SEO from a small-time game to a major, innovative industry. SEO is not about counter-punching, and it’s not about simply reacting to the changing search-engine landscape. Instead, it is about growing alongside search engines. It is about evolving with them to ensure that searchers get the results they need.

SEO Firms Must Become Digital Media Agencies

For years now, successful SEO firms have not been focusing their efforts strictly on organic search results. They’ve been steadily evolving along with changes in search engines: new Google algorithms, the emergence of Bing, the development of Google Local, instant searches, paid search, and searchable Twitter feeds. At mycompany, we believe that to be successful, SEO firms need to become something more advanced: Digital Media Agencies.

A modern DMA resembles an SEO firm from 2002 in the way that a Ferrari resembles a Model T. The basic elements remain the same, but sophistication and complexity have resulted in a better product. DMAs are about handling the many online representation needs of their clients. While top search engine placement remains the major goal, it is just one aspect of what they seek to do. A DMA also seeks to manage a client’s online reputation, create and maintain their social presence, and handle the many other aspects of a client’s online brand.

Will SEO professionals have to change their strategy in reaction to a new social media paradigm? The answer is yes. Their evolution into full-fledged Digital Media Agencies is imperative. And as the social and search industries continue to change, so too will DMAs need to innovate.


Internet Explorer Lost Their Market Share

Posted Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The battle of the browser has been a long one, and shows no sign of relenting just yet.

Internet Explorer, the long-established leader of the browsers has competition for the crown. This month it was revealed that Microsoft is losing its market share, and chief rival Firefox is slowly but surely creeping up the chart. Although it seems not even Firefox is safe, as Google’s offering, Chrome, is rapidly gaining on them.

Microsoft stole the number one spot and killed off Netscape back in the day by illegally leveraging its monopoly over operating systems, and has remained at the top ever since.  Only two-and-half years ago Internet Explorer enjoyed an 80% market share, but over time this has steadily fallen to its current resting place of 49.87%.Firefox now claims over 25% of the market and that isn’t taking in to account last week’s upgrade.

Firefox has currently released 6 versions in order to keep up with the ever-developing war of the browsers. Firefox’s success has been based on its rich feature set and has seen its share steadily growing since November 2004. The next incarnation focuses on speed to counter the threat from the lightning-fast Google Chrome browser.

The steadiest increase has been seen from Chrome, although only with 7.98% of the market, it has gone from strength to strength since its release in December 2008. Initially the program faltered around at the 1% mark on immediate release but soon found its feet and has been increasing ever since.

It seems at this point it is anyone’s game, with Internet Explorer falling and Firefox and Chrome gaining, all bets are on. I suggest we just sit back and enjoy the impending digital tussle.


BEST GLOBAL BRANDS 2010

Posted Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Apple‘s brand value has increased by 37% but it has only charted at 17th place in this year’s annual Best Global Brands survey from Interbrand, way behind IBM, Google and Microsoft.

The company, boosted its brand through controlled messaging and an endless wave of buzz surrounding new product launches, but still failed to make the top 10.

It has recently come under heavy criticism in public perception due to problems with the iPhone 4 reception handset, leading to the offer of a free rubber casing for those who were dissatisfied with their purchase.

The brand barometer placed Coca-Cola as its top global brand, with technology brand IBM taking second place, Microsoft third and Google fourth.
BlackBerry made great gains with a 32% increase in brand value. At 54th place it is the most popular smartphone for business users, despite pressure from Apple as it edges into the corporate world.

The annual survey from the consultancy said that a number of brands had faced extraordinary crises in 2010 resulting in stalled growth and loss of value.

BP fell out of the ranking this year, on the back of the Gulf of Mexico disaster and its poorly received response.
BP‘s disaster and inability to produce results on its brand promise of “Beyond Petroleum” led to it falling off of the list. Worse, it saw competitor Shell emerge as the leading oil industry brand, now ranked number 81, up from number 92 in 2009.
Toyota still ranked a surprising 11th place despite the biggest product recall in its history, which caused the brand to lose 16% of its brand value as its long-standing reputation for reliability, efficiency and innovation took a serious knock.

During a difficult year for the auto industry, Mercedes Benz (12th place) and BMW (15th place) were able to sustain and build their value “through innovative design and a focus on delivering premium value vehicles with luxury features”.

Using customer feedback, largely drawn from YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook to launch the 2009 Fiesta, Ford at 50th place stood out as one of the best example of how to use social media. Award-winning products like the Q5 and rich heritage helped Audi to 63rd place with a 9% increase in its brand value.

In the financial sector, Citi (40th place) and UBS (86th place) lost double-digits in brand value, while Santander (68th place), Barclays (74th place) and Credit Suisse (80th place) made their debut on the list for the first time.

Their ability to stay true to brand promises in unsure times, and avoidance of the subprime mortgage crisis, helped them stay the course.

“2010 was the beginning of a long road back towards economic recovery,” said Jez Frampton, group chief executive at Interbrand.

“From real-time customer feedback through social media to increased transparency about corporate citizenship, brands were faced with a profound change in the way they relate to customers and demonstrate their relevance and value.

Despite this new paradigm of brand management, the advantages of building a solid brand remain the same.”

Despite the economic downturn, luxury brands Cartier (77th place), Armani (95th place), Louis Vuitton (16th place), Gucci (44th place), Tiffany & Co (76th place) and Hermes (69th place) all saw the value of their brands increase in 2010 by “continuing to invest in their heritage and legendary status.”

Last year’s survey saw financial brands take a hammering due to the global downturn, with internationally famous names such as Citi and UBS seeing the value of their brand slashed in half.


Google Adds Facebook’s Fan Page Updates to Real-Time Search

Posted Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Inside Facebook, February 24th, 2010

Google said it would be adding public updates from Facebook Pages, last December, and now the integration is live within its real-time search updates, the company says, although we’re not seeing anything yet. To be clear, as of now, only information provided by Page owners will appear. So shared links, status updates, multimedia, etc. but not users’ comments on Pages.

It’s not clear what volume of new material is going from Facebook to Google as a result, although Facebook’s self-reported numbers say that 3 million Pages are currently “active.” Out of that number, half are local businesses, 20 million people become Page fans each day, and more than 5.3 billion fans have been created (this means the total number of fans across all Pages, counting each fan separately for each Page). Given the size of Pages, we can assume Google is parsing billions of updates from the feature.

Google has been making a big push to include more information from other sites in its real-time results, with Facebook rivals Twitter and MySpace already appearing, along with many others. However, as Search Engine Land has confirmed, Facebook investor Microsoft is currently getting more for its Bing search engine: publicly available personal status updates from Facebook users. And yet, those don’t appear to be live yet.


Recession: The Mother of Innovation?

Posted Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Our special report looks at innovative ways businesses can turn the troubled economy to their advantage

BusinessWeek, July 22, 2009

Necessity may be the mother of invention. But could a recession be the mother of innovation? After all, many of the world’s enduring, multibillion-dollar corporations, from Disney (DIS) to Microsoft (MSFT), were founded during economic downturns. Generally speaking, operating costs tend to be cheaper in a recession. Talent is easier to find because of widespread layoffs. And competition is usually less fierce because, frankly, many players are taken out of the game.

Recessions can also help executives figure out how to improve products, services, and processes internally and for customers. Ideally, the creative thinking that’s needed to weather the storm of an economic downturn can lead to new markets and revenue streams. “Innovation originates from challenges,” says Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, a Noida (India)-based global IT services company.

HCL recently partnered with Xerox (XRX) to provide tech support for corporate customers using Xerox systems meant to reduce the amount of wasted paper. The systems themselves were inspired by the dual challenges of helping to save the environment and the need to slash office expenses during the downturn.

Inventing cost-effective and time-saving processes becomes a priority in a downturn, and it’s an area of interest for companies and organizations in a variety of fields, from high tech to health care. “In a recession, you can innovate to be more efficient,” says John Kao, author of the book Innovation Nation and the head of Deloitte’s Institute for Large Scale Innovation.

Lessons to Be Learned
Sure, there have been some signs lately that the economy might be picking up—Apple‘s (AAPL) quarterly profits jumped 15%, for instance. But a recent survey by consulting firm Bain & Co. found that 60% of 1,430 global executives polled expect the current recession to last through 2010.

And smart companies will continue to apply the innovation lessons learned during today’s tough times even when things pick up. The innovative processes, products, and services that hatch now can help executives understand how to curb costs or take risks on fresh ideas when the economy rebounds.


 
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