Catching The Next Wave

April 8, 2008

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Every now and then a set of technologies gets twisted together by a small group of dedicated people, and a new industry is born — a watershed event that demonstrates a new way of thinking about things, and throws out a lot of old rules.

There are a three that are coming together to trigger another watershed.

The first is open, popular, mobile Internet devices.  Think Blackberry, iPhone, or the slew of new MIDs that Intel showed off a few days ago in Shanghai.   These are built around the assumption of ubiquitous access to the Internet, high resolution displays, multimedia capabilities, and a bit of horsepower under the hood.  Any college student can get their hands on the Android or iPhone or Windows Mobile SDKs and build a hot little application in their spare time.

The second is web services.  It doesn’t matter if it’s WS* or REST or XML or JSON — the point is being able to query and manipulate data at a distance, with open protocols across public and private networks.  Pick your web framework of choice … building a web service is almost a drag and drop process today.

The third and final piece is cheap and scalable cloud computing.  The physical infrastructure capable of serving billions of transactions is available to anyone with a credit card and a little spare time on the weekend.  Amazon’s Web Services, Google’s App Engine, and a slew of smaller providers sell scalable computing and bandwidth by the hour and gigabyte.

These three fit together to form a fundamentally different picture of mobile computing:  light weight applications that fit in your pocket that take advantage of the local hardware, but seamlessly tap into “Internet scale” computing power and storage.

I’ve talked with a dozen entrepreneurs in as many months who are exploring these waters.  Streaming media (push and pull), information discovery and analysis, mobile social interactions, and location aware applications all depend on this trinity of capabilities.  I’m just one guy in a groundswell of people who are looking at the landscape and thinking “hot damn!”

What makes this so exciting is how easy it is to do today.  You don’t need a dozen engineers and a multi-million dollar budget.  You don’t need to negotiate with a corporate gatekeeper.  You don’t need to pitch to VCs.  You don’t need to wait.

2009 is going to bring a wave of media rich, location aware, always connected mobile applications to hundreds of millions of people.  I’m confident we’ll see a real forehead slapper by the end of 2008 — a tool or service that is painfully obvious, but fundamentally changes how we think about a day to day task.  It’ll make a millionaire or two, at the very least.

This will be fun.  🙂


Carbon Neutral Google

June 19, 2007

This is encouraging — Google’s energy consumption will be “carbon neutral” by the end of this year. I’m keen to see what else they can do with the world’s largest collection of information about green practices at their finger tips.

They have a Clean Energy page on their site now that details some of their efforts, but it’s a little thin on details. If they want to own up to the efforts they’re making, maybe they can publish some impressive figures about how much they’re spending, and how much they’re saving? It’s an issue that everyone in the computing industry is aware of, so a vague brochure site about Priuses and solar panels isn’t particularly interesting …

Update:  So, there is one fun little page that details how much energy the solar panels are generating:  … turns out it accommodates about 30% of their energy usage on campus.

Google has announced that “Froogle” has been renamed “Google Product Search” … which makes sense, but dangit, now I have a heap of marketing material and synaptic connections to update.  Oh well.

Google Presentations

April 17, 2007

The Google blog has an announcement — they’ve acquired Tonic Systems, and are adding a presentation tool to the Google suite of online apps.  It’s due this summer.  I look forward to it!


April 17, 2007

swim.pngGoogle Maps has some great advice for traveling from Boston to Paris.


March 20, 2007

GMail Message

I like the “Grrr!”

It’s the little things that make applications like GMail such a pleasure to use. There are very few excuses for authoritarian messages and obscure error codes in software.

Internet does not enjoy being anthropomorphised — but people sure do like the human touch.

Google Pay Per Action

March 20, 2007

Alright! Looks like Google is beta testing a pay-per-action advertising system. This is a good thing for online businesses that generate money through visitors actions on their website — checking out a shopping cart, signing up for a mailing list, that sort of thing.

This is the logical next step in online advertising.

We started with pay-per-impression, where an advertiser pays every time their ad is displayed on someone’s web page. This isn’t particularly favorable for advertisers, because they’re paying whether or not someone is paying attention to their ads.

The solution to that problem was pay-per-click, where an advertiser pays every time their ad is clicked on. That pretty much guarantees that the person who clicked found something compelling in the advertisement, which provides advertisers a really great way to figure out what ads were most effective, and ties the cost of their advertising directly to the public’s interest. The downside for advertisers is that click through doesn’t guarantee a conversion, and so a really great ad would end up costing a heap of money if the website didn’t fulfill the user’s hopes and dreams.

Which brings us to pay-per-action, where an advertiser only pays when someone clicks an advertisement AND follows through with a particular action — like checking out a shopping cart, or signing up for a mailing list.

I dig it. Right now is a probably a great time to get into pay-per-action, because there aren’t many businesses competing for keywords and placement, so there’s probably some good deals to be had.