Archive for December, 2006

Facebook Dance

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Facebook logoWill they? Won’t they?

Listening to news about a potential Yahoo-Facebook deal is like watching a ping pong game. A long game at that. Since acquisition rumours started swirling over two months ago, uncertainty still looms. Just when I think the deal is done, new reports surface that tell me otherwise. My neck is starting to get sore.

TechCrunch continues to report on the status of the deal, but progress is slow, if not stagnant. Why is this deal taking so long? My guess is that Yahoo doesn’t want to pay an inflated price for the social network, while Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want to go out without a bang. He’s the man in charge and wants top dollar. Whether Yahoo is willing to offer that, or something comparable, is another story.

The hype and buzz around the story is essentially over. Now, people are just straight up annoyed and simply want to know whether it’s a done-deal or not. Add me to that list.

I think the deal would be a great accomplishment for Yahoo, if indeed it was to be completed at a reasonable price point. My biggest fear, however, is that Yahoo integrates the network into its current offering. This would severely affect the credibility and loyalty of the SN and hamper future growth. A Flickr-ish strategy may be a good path to follow. Stick with the old website and merely insert a small Yahoo logo strategically throughout, thus not taking away from the previous user experience. Piss people off with a new design and obligatory Yahoo log-in credentials, and don’t expect them to return.

As we continue to watch this ceremonial ritual play out, it will be interesting to see if Yahoo can seduce Facebook - or if the latter seems content playing ‘hard to get’ and demanding more from the relationship.


Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Alexa logoJust how accurate are Alexa rankings? Some live by them. Others mock at their very existence. I stand somewhere in between. Probably closer to the ‘mocking’ crowd, however.

This system has become very popular, more specifically within the blogosphere. It provides relative insight into site rankings and traffic statistics. Alexa has long been the household name in the area, but others such as Hitwise, ComScore, and more recently Compete are charging ahead at full speed. But even these new services are inaccurate - on a good day. Skewed is the understatement of the year.

Here are some interesting points to keep in mind about the Alexa system:

  • SEO sites and communities achieve unusually high ALEXA rankings because a large number of their users employ the toolbar on a regular basis. The same can be said for technology sites in general, as compared to traditional web properties.
  • As the rankings increase, they inherently become more accurate. In other words, the top sites are more accurately ranked, than say, the sites with a ranking of 20,000+.

In other words, Alexa ranks are not gospel. Many prospective sites should be ranked much higher than they appeared to be, while others a lot lower. I admire the company for trying to come up a solution to this problem, but it is nearly impossible to estimate traffic rankings without pulling actual site data from the various web properties.

I have to admit that I do use Alexa on an infrequent basis. It provides a ballpark picture of traffic stats and a general overview of where a site ranks. But more importantly, it shows where spikes and dips occurred along the way. These changes can usually be attributed to various marketing tactics and/or PR escapades. Subsequently, an individual can view this information to determine which scenarios worked or didn’t work for the company.

Though Alexa gets beaten down for its inaccuracy, I still do believe it provides some general direction and guidance into the world of traffic stats and ranks.

Dear Microsoft, Get Well Zune

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Microsoft Zune logoWhen Microsoft announced that it was going to enter the MP3 player market with a so-called ‘iPod killer’, nobody held their breath. And rightfully so. The demise launch of Zune has been nothing short of disastrous.

Why did Microsoft decide to enter this market in the first place? It beats me. I can understand that the MP3 player market is large and growing fast, but is there really a solid fit? Microsoft is a software company at heart (I think using the terms ‘Microsoft’ and ‘heart’ in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch). Nonetheless, the company should stick to its core competency and shy away from shiny objects, such as the MP3 player arena.

Although the XBox has been somewhat of a success, the amount of money poured into such a venture has been astonishing. And yes, I know that Microsoft is a cash cow and has tons of capital to throw around. However, I think that there are better projects and ventures to throw money into.

This tech giant just seems to think it can enter any given field, pour a pile of money into R&D and marketing, and expect big things. The world has evolved immensely over the past 10 years and the playing field has opened up. For this reason, even large cap technology companies cannot become overly complacent.

Even with the enormous breadth and reach of this monolith, Microsoft is entering the game a wee bit late. The iPod culture is still running rampant. Add to that a complimentary (some might say monopolistic) MP3 download service, ala iTunes, and Apple has a stranglehold on the market. It will be very hard for Microsoft to break down this culture fortress.

Here are some interesting stats about Zune pulled from a BusinessWeek article:

  • Debuted at #2 in retail sales for music players in first week.
  • Slid to #5 in second week.
  • More recently, the best-selling Zune model was outsold by 13 different iPod models and 5 non-Apple players.

Not exactly a spectacular launch. I don’t think that the Zune is going to keep Apple execs up at night.

As for the product itself, I have yet to delve further into its functionality. But at first glance, it seems nothing more than an iPod rip-off with networking capabilities.

It will be interesting to watch another Microsoft product slowly fade away into the abyss. That is, unless management can scheme up yet another monopolistic strategy to ward off competition and once again declare dominance.

MTW Added to Web++ Category At 9rules

Monday, December 11th, 2006

It’s official. MappingTheWeb has now been added to the Web++ category at 9rules. For those of you not familiar with the network, ‘Web++’ is just another way to say ‘Web 2.0′. I’m not sure why they use the ‘++’, but it’s their own way of branding the term.

I am very honoured to have my link situated beside such prestigious blogs as Mashable, SolutionWatch, and Postbubble. It is very encouraging. It is my hope that I can contribute a high level of quality to the network. With only 12 blogs in the entire Web++ category, I am extremely humbled by the admission. I will do my best to promote 9rules and spread the word about the network.

Furthermore, the front page of 9rules lists the latest posts via a site-wide RSS feed. Seeing an MTW post on the front page was a very inspiring sight. It’s great to know that MappingTheWeb has been so widely embraced and supported in such a short period of time.

Thanks again to all readers for your continued support and words of encouragement.

Zillow Proclaims, “Make Me Move!”

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Zillow logoDo you own a house or condo? Have you ever wondered how much you could get for your property without having to officially list it? Then Zillow may have what you’re looking for.

How did they come up with this idea? Zillow co-founder, Lloyd Frink, pondered the question many home owners often consider. He asked, ”What number would it take for you to call the movers and hand over your keys?” Hence, this is the basis for their new “Make Me Move” service.

This new service is yet another example of cool meets useful. In the new web world, this a sweet but rare occurrence. But when it does come along, watch out.

A downfall of the service is that it is only available in the US. This means that my native Canada and the rest of the world is out of luck for the time being. It is my hope that Zillow eventually expands beyond American borders. My guess is that they are polishing off the system before doing so.

The “Make Me Move” service uses an anonymous e-mail system (similar to that of Craigslist). Therefore, personal details and information do not need to be exposed. In addition, the service is offered free of charge. Company revenues are generated via ad sales.

What do I find most interesting about the whole service? Well, people can passively ‘list’ their homes to see what kind of offers they might receive. Everyone has a threshold. There comes a certain point where no matter how comfortable you are in your current place of residence, you would seriously consider selling for a given monetary amount.

For example, if your house was appraised at $500,000, but someone offered you $950,000, it is my guess that many people would pack up and leave - no matter their attachment to the dwelling. Everyone has this threshold point. For some, it is lower than others. For many, the emotional attachment and memories would suggest a much higher asking price. But eventually, 99% of people would sell were the offer high enough. The higher the offer, the closer to 100% moving we achieve.

So if you live in the US and own a property, try out this new service and explore your threshold. Let me know how it goes…