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This week: Google vs Skype, BBC puts TV on the Web, New Apps on the Block, Worldwide Web 2.0 Camps, Techie post of the week - Kottke's Web OS.
Google Shakes Up Web - but Skype fights back
On the back of an 18 August announcement that they are raising another $4 billion in funds, this week Google announced a new instant messaging and Internet telephony product called Google Talk. It integrates with Gmail, so Google now has all the primary Internet communications channnels covered. Lots of people had opinions on Google Talk during the week and Download Squad seemed to get the breaking story. But the most interesting angle to me was the competition with Skype. I use (and love) Skype for both its telephony and IM services, similar to how Steve Gillmor uses Skype. Now that Google Talk has arrived on the scene, I and many others will have to choose between the two.
What's Skype doing in response to this huge competitive threat? Nothing short of opening its platform to the web - if this 24 August press release is to be believed. In a move of breathtaking Web 2.0-ness, Skype is "opening up its platform to anyone who wants to integrate Skype’s presence and instant messaging services into their website or application". This statement sums it up:
"By opening up its platform to the web, Skype will instantly be creating the largest open instant messaging platform in the world."
Skype's APIs are an attempt to strike back at Google. And the press release has got some keywords in it that are designed to directly challenge the Mountain View company. For example, "open" is a word that is largely foreign to Google - and I counted 8 instances of "open" in the press release. I also counted 8 instances of the word "platform".
Open platform - gee, does that sound like the only thing that could conceivably stop Google from pinching all of Skype's customers? I believe the phrase is: Game On.
BBC takes TV to the Web
According to the BBC News website:
"A simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two, letting UK viewers see programmes on the web at the same time as they go out on TV, is being planned."
It also plans to beef up tv coverage on mobile phones. The report says the Web simulcast will be restricted to UK viewers only, although how that will work is not explained. PaidContent.org has more details on this development, including pointing to news of the MyBBCPlayer - "which will allow viewers to legally download seven days of programmes".
As TechDirt outlined, this is the latest in a long line of innovative moves by the BBC to open up their content on the Web. I've been a fan of the BBC's Internet efforts since they started their developer network in May 05, BBC Backstage, which lets people remix BBC content.
BBC is in the vanguard of media and television companies in Web 2.0 - let's hope other media companies follow suit.
New Apps on the Block
Time to highlight some new Web 2.0 apps and services:
Spanning Salesforce 2.0 - Charlie Wood releases his RSS-powered Salesforce.com service. "Spanning Salesforce delivers presentations, price lists, collateral, and other documents stored in Salesforce.com right to your laptop, desktop, or PDA."
Personal Bee - I still haven't figured out what it does, but it's described as "a 'discovery engine' that helps you discover information from a collection of RSS feeds". No I don't know what that means either, but it's an interesting app and worth keeping an eye on. TechCrunch profiled it here.
Pandora is "a music listening and discovery service" that "enables users to easily create streaming stations that explore their favorite parts of the music universe." Robert Scoble likes it and has sent it to Bill to check out. It's invitation-only right now, but for a preview listen to Joe Lindsay's Pandora music station that he created - named Steriogram Radio.
LiteFeeds - free mobile RSS service, for Java Phones/SmartPhones, Blackberry, Palm or PocketPC.
SearchFox - a Personalized RSS Reader that "uses machine-learning technology to automatically rank and personalize incoming feeds to reflect each reader’s unique interests."
NewsGator APIs - this week NewsGator announced APIs for both commercial and non-commercial applications.
Talkr - "Letting blogs speak for themselves". This isn't so new and I've mentioned it before. But it's so cool and this week I found out some of my family have been clicking on the Talkr audio links on my blog. They were expecting to hear my voice, but heard the lovely computer woman instead. Talkr rocks!
For more Web 2.0 app profiles, check out TechCrunch. They do this full-time and give a lot of background detail on each profile.
Worldwide Web 2.0 Camps
"Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be as much tech innovation coming from grassroots-tech in Ireland. The US is doing some great work in Web 2.0 and Blogging; having loads of conferences and blogger-dinners; while all we have here is a few very business-like events, and seemingly very few new projects. What's needed is for us to CONNECT and SHARE and maybe a few companies will get started as a result!"
I feel exactly the same way about my own country. Indeed my first thought on reading this was: why doesn't New Zealand do the same? Then a couple of days later I noticed O'Reilly's resident kiwi Nat Torkington bring up the topic on O'Reilly Radar:
"The Maori Haka: learn to do the Maori war dance that the New Zealand rugby team starts all their games with. We'll learn this when I do a New Zealand FOO Camp."
Of course I piped up in the comments: count me in! Although I can't imagine kiwi geeks intimidating anyone with the haka :-)
Actually I think we need these Foo/Bar Camps all over the world. One day maybe there'll be a Live8-type deal, where we have simultaneous Techie Camps happening in different countries - all of them webcast and blogged of course!
Techie Post of the Week: Kottke's WebOS
You've gotta love Jason Kottke - he writes about his personal life as a blogger in New York for most of the year, but every now and then he comes up with a brilliant techie post. His provocatively titled GoogleOS? YahooOS? MozillaOS? WebOS? is well worth a read. Here is my favourite passage, which is on the tantelizing thread of using the open source Mozilla web browser as the base for a Web OS:
That's a wrap for another week!