Here is a summary of the week's Web Tech action on Read/WriteWeb. For those of you reading this via our website, note that you can subscribe to the Weekly Wrapups, either via the special RSS feed or by email.
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OpenSocial, a project that will tie together Google, MySpace and numerous other social networking platforms in a common environment that application publishers can publish widgets to with one set of code. The project wasn't officially launched till Friday morning US, but throughout the week there was a lot of discussion about the impending release. When news first surfaced of OpenSocial at the beginning of the week, it was said to be 3 fairly generic API calls; and initial partners were 'second tier' social networks such as Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle. So at that point OpenSocial was viewed as a threat to the big social networks, MySpace and Facebook in particular.This week was dominated by Google
However Google's real coup was announced on Thursday US, when it was revealed that the world's top social network MySpace had joined OpenSocial as a partner. Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace, said that "this is about helping the start-up spend more time building a great product rather than rebuilding it for every social network." This announcement put the pressure squarely on Facebook, whose platform has been criticized in the past for not being open enough.
Our own Marshall Kirkpatrick took a more critical look at OpenSocial in a post entitled OpenSocial: Three Big Concerns. Marshall asked:
- Is Google exercising leadership or control?
- Will one network be able to pull in bio, friend and interest data from another?
- Why couldn't this all be based on microformats and other existing open standards?
At this stage it's not known if Facebook will join OpenSocial. However, the young company isn't standing still. Next week Facebook will launch its "Social Ads" advertising service. This will take Facebook ads outside the social network and enable third party sites to run them. Essentially this is Facebook's answer to Google's Adsense, so it will be watched carefully in the industry!
Also next week we'll hear more details on Facebook's "Project Beacon", an internal project that will allow Facebook to gather buying information about its users on third party ecommerce sites, in exchange for free advertising in the news feed from those third parties.
Hulu, the online video project from Newscorp and NBC/Universal - with participation by Sony, MGM and others - began its highly controlled opening to the public this week. The Hollywood-content-only, wildly over funded project opened up a private beta to a few thousand users. However it is US-only and seems to just be filled with old episodes of TV. As Marshall Kirkpatrick grumbled, you won't likely be able to interact with the Hulu site for months and much of the content is available on other sites, in their video players, now.
Marshall's conclusion: there's nothing courageous or innovative about Hulu - the whole project is quite the opposite in fact. Huge media is exposing its crown jewels to the web because it has to - much as they wish it wasn't, this internet thing is real. The initial offering that Hulu is bringing to market is shamefully uninspiring and woefully inadequate for a new world of media.
Plentyoffish, a site he runs almost single-handedly and earns a great deal of money from. In our post, Markus said that POF will earn $10 Million + next year (which puts it at around $30k per day). He also compared his business favorably to Facebook, noting that per page view, Plentyoffish has 5-10 times the click through rate of Facebook. So by his calculations, POF's 1.2 Billion page views per month is the same as 5-10 Billion Facebook page views per month. Facebook "only" generates 40 billion page views a month and yet it has a $15 Billion valuation. You do the math and see if you agree, but either way Markus Frind is a huge success story on the Web.This week we caught up with Markus Frind, owner of leading online dating site
You can find many other startup profiles in our Startups category.
We all know the term 'Software as a Service (SaaS). The term SaaS was coined in a conference in 2005 and then popularized by Salesforce with its "No Software" motto. Today Google is one of the strongest backers of this approach, with such products as Gmail, Google Reader and Google Docs. And ever since Bill Gates' famous Internet services memo in November 2005, Microsoft has been promoting the concept too.
But today there is a new, similar term: HaaS, for 'Hardware as a Service'. Hardware has always been available as a service through dedicated hosting providers, but it was never so well abstracted until Amazon introduced S3 and EC2. Emre Sokullu explains why in this post, by comparing Amazon's HaaS strategy to Google Adsense.
Continuing the Amazon theme this week, Alex Iskold explored Amazon's highly available storage system called Dynamo. Since early last year, the e-commerce giant has been making forays into becoming a Web OS company. Alex concluded that Amazon is on track to roll out more virtual web services, which will collectively amount to a web operating system. The building blocks that are already in place and the ones to come are going to be remixed to create new web applications that were simply not possible before.
OpenOffice. Yet, even this very compelling move has not been able to make a serious dent in the market.Emre Sokullu's post is a great overview of Web Office and where it's headed. He wrote that over the past 10 years, Corel, Sun, IBM and others have tried to compete with Microsoft in the office software business, but thus far none of them have been able to take a significant chunk of Microsoft's large market share, which generates revenues exceeding $15 billion each year. These companies have tried everything; including Sun open sourcing their StarOffice suite and releasing it as the free
However, with web 2.0 and the rise of Rich Internet Applications there are renewed hopes for entrepreneurs to be able to compete with Microsoft's Office juggernaut. Now these smaller players can leverage the sharing and collaboration capabilities of the Internet, remove installation and maintenance frictions, and provide globally accessible office software.
You can find more R/WW analysis posts here.
R/WW Network Blogs
last100 had a feature post analyzing Google's mobile phone plans. Daniel Langendorf wrote that we’ve been waiting a long time to hear from Google about its mobile plans and the so-called Gphone or Google-powered phones - but that wait may be over soon.This week our Digital Lifestyle blog
Alt Search Engines
AltSearchEngines released the November edition of the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines List this week. ASE Editor Charles Knight says that 2008 will prove that the Future of Search (FoS) is the Vertical Search Engines (VSE) plus (+) a Virtual User Interface (VUI). FoS = VSE + VUI. Check out the list to find out which alts are leading the charge.
Also Charles was featured in a Newsweek article, which asked: Is Google Vulnerable to Alternative Search Engines?.
Sean Ammirati of Read/WriteTalk chatted with David Karp, the CEO and founder of Tumblr. Tumblr is a platform that makes it easy to express yourself on the web. In some ways, it is very similar to Twitter and other services like it. This week Tumblr announced a number of new features, which Karp talked about in the podcast.
There was some blogger discussion during the week about whether there is innovation happening on the Web currently. So in a poll we asked: are there enough startups and initiatives changing the Web? Here are the results:
Yes, there is more Web innovation today than ever 33% (35 votes)
Yes, but not as much as previous years 27% (28 votes)
It's about the same 10% (11 votes)
No, there is not enough Web innovation today 18% (19 votes)
The bubble's going to burst! 8% (8 votes)
Other (please comment below) 4% (4 votes)
70% of respondants think there is still innovation happening; only 26% were pessimistic about this. So that's good to hear! We here at Read/WriteWeb think there is still a lot of innovation on the Web - and we do our best to cover and analyze it all for you each week :-)
That's a wrap for another week! Enjoy your weekend everyone.