As it’s halfway through 2007, let’s take a look back on the highlights of the first
half of the year. How is 2007 shaping up in terms of web technology trends and activity?
Which companies have shined from January – June 2007?
Well so far in 2007, there are two Web companies that in our opinion have really stood
out – Google and Facebook. Google has been furiously buying companies and refining its
product range this year, while Facebook has broken through in 2007 as a BigCo and is now
a true threat to other big companies like Yahoo and Fox/MySpace.
Google: The PaceSetter in 2007
Google has been on an acquisition romp
since at least October 2006, when they acquired YouTube
for $1.65B and wiki company
JotSpot at the end of that month. Since that time, Google has not only kept acquiring
companies at a rapid rate – but they’ve become the trailblazer for other companies to
follow. Google’s $3.1B
acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick was quickly followed by similar
acquisitions from rival companies (notably Microsoft’s $6B
purchase of aQuantive). Other significant acqusitions by Google this year include Feedburner,
online presentations company), and just recently GrandCentral.
As well as the outright purchases of other companies, Google has continued to refine
their product line so far in 2007. They’ve
integrated Gmail and Docs&Spreadsheets, launched Google Apps
Premier, ramped up its
personalization efforts (
more info here), made moves
towards CPA advertising, planned Adsense for Maps,
built up its
Gadget ecosystem, and launched voice
Gears, Street View
Universal Search and more.
While it might be too early to declare that Google has taken
over the world, it is clear from all the activities listed above that Google is well
and truly setting the pace among the big Internet companies. Plus they continue to
compete very well with the hundreds of
alternative search engines.
By comparison, 90’s Internet star Yahoo has this year gotten caught up in sticky peanut
butter, missed out on buying Facebook, seen its stock price fall, and dismissed its
CEO. While it’s not all bad
news for Yahoo, they’ve had a lot of challenges so far in 2007 – and with a new CEO
(co-founder Jerry Yang), now is a time of re-thinking and refining for Yahoo. Also they face a new challenger in
Facebook (more on that below). As for Microsoft, it has been ‘steady as she goes’ in
Redmond – with the next
generation of Windows Live launched, interesting new products like Surface, and
other efforts to compete with
Google and Adobe (Silverlight) in
Facebook: The Rising Star of the Web
Apart from Google, the other
company to impress in the first half of 2007 has unquestionably been Facebook. They have
come into their own by doing precisely what many have called for in social networks –
open up. In Read/WriteWeb’s 2007 Web
Predictions, published in December 2006, we predicted that “social networks will
probably […] become more open – and data portability will start to occur.” Facebook
first signaled moves towards this in September 2006, when they expanded registration
beyond its core user base of American college students.
But it wasn’t until May 2007 that the full nature of their plans was unveiled, when Facebook announced an
open platform at an event in San Francisco. Named “The Platform”, it is a system
enabling 3rd party companies to integrate their services inside of Facebook user pages.
Almost overnight, this made Facebook much more of a threat not only to MySpace –
but to Yahoo
too. Also, it perhaps signaled the next
Big IPO (after Google’s).
Facebook has its competitors – e.g. the start
pages and other social networks like
LinkedIn. But there’s no question Facebook has set its sights on being a big,
influential Internet company. Already many startups have integrated their products into
the Facebook platform, so over the rest of 2007 it’ll be interesting to see how the
platform continues to grow and how many more mainstream users Facebook attracts.
Our analysis over the past 6 months suggests that Google and Facebook have been
leading the way in Web Technology, at least among the big companies. Do you agree? But
also, which small web companies have caught your eye in 2007 so far?