Archive for July, 2007

Is Facebook Replacing E-mail?

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Facebook new logoMany of my friends and colleagues are now using the internal Facebook messaging system more than e-mail. It has almost become an e-mail substitute. Having said that, they still check their e-mail as it is essential to daily life on the Internet. Nonetheless, messaging between Facebook members is usually accomplished within the social network rather than e-mail.

Why is this?

My guess is that people consider the Facebook system and layout much easier and intuitive than e-mail. Once a dialogue is initiated, participants can quickly and easily track the evolution of the discussion via a simple threaded interface. Time and date are displayed in a prominent manner. Even the wording is intuitive, maximizing the user experience and minimizing frustrations.

The inbox is ingenious as well. Instead of cluttering the space with individuals messages, the threaded system allows for a discussion to be grouped into one message. Little icons beside the messages indicate different conversation statuses. A blue dot indicates a new message, while an arrow indicates that you have replied. I won’t even begin to touch on all the small AJAX features that ensure a satisfying experience.

The recent launch of Facebook Mobile has also been a huge factor. Facebook members who sign up for Mobile can now receive wall post, messages, and pokes as text messages. In essence, this is like receiving e-mail to your phone for free (assuming you are registered under a plan with unlimited text messages). This can’t quite be classified as a Blackberry substitute. However, it cannot be ignored either, as cost plays a huge role for many.

The viral growth of Facebook and exploding user base further encourage such behaviour as more and more friends, family members, and colleagues join the network. It is my prediction that the success of the Facebook messaging system will only grow from here. It may only be a matter of time before the system becomes a full-blown, web-based e-mail and you can e-mail me at _____ @

Official Read/WriteWeb Writer

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Read/Write Web logoReaders of MappingTheWeb will now be seeing me elsewhere in the blogosphere from time to time. I have just accepted a part-time writing position at Read/WriteWeb, one of the web’s biggest web 2.0/technology blogs. It is ranked 28th by Technorati out of all blogs and has 80,000+ RSS subscribers.

I will be posting 2+ times per week, starting Friday. I encourage everyone to check out my posts on R/WW, as well as those of the other publishers. The team is led by well-known blogger Richard MacManus and newcomer Josh Catone. The content is very high quality and a pleasure to read.

Having said all this, nothing changes around here. I will still be posting on MappingTheWeb on most weekdays (at least once), as well as the odd time on weekends.

For more information on the position, read this Read/WriteWeb article.

Cash or Trash: LinkedIn

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Today’s “Cash or Trash” company is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn logo

In every post, I will name a well-known web 2.0 company. Readers will then have to decide whether the company is worth investing in or whether it’s doomed for bankruptcy. In other words, would you invest cash in the company or do you think it should be thrown in the trash?

Provide a brief argument as to why or why not you would invest in the company in the comments. Debating and arguing is highly recommended and encouraged, as long as arguments are well sought-out and thorough.

A couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Determine whether you would invest at TODAY’S valuation. Forget past growth. In other words, do you still think the company has a lot of upside potential?
  • Don’t treat your ‘cash’ like play money. Would you actually see yourself investing in the company if given the opportunity to purchase shares?
  • If you are not familiar with the company or service, refrain from posting until you try the service.

For previous “Cash or Trash” companies, visit the Cash or Trash category.

The Proliferation of Verticals

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Over the years, major players have emerged from specific spaces: Google in search; YouTube in video; Amazon in books/e-commerce; eBay in auctions; Facebook in social networks, etc… These giants are very hard to compete against for all kinds of reasons. Firstly, they benefit from economies of scale. Secondly, their resources are vast - not only in terms of financial, but also human. For these reasons, start-ups are refusing to compete head on, but rather choose a smaller vertical or niche to compete for.

We’ve already seen this trend occur in at least two of the biggest spaces: search and social networking. There are now search engines and social networks tailored for nearly every group. These narrow, highly-specific offerings provide huge value to the target audience, as well as lucrative revenue opportunities for the company due to the targeted nature of the group.

My guess is that we will continue to see this process occur over and over again. Once a given niche begins to fill out, we will started to see micro-niches - and the cycle continues… In other words, there will always be opportunities to compete against the big guys. Extracting a small subset of their user base and providing a more tailored offering is the key. If a new company is able to do this, expect satisfied users and financial success for the founders.

So what is next for verticals? Which industries will they invade? What trends and strategies will emerge?

Pownce Isn’t Twitter - It’s a Personalized Digg!

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Pownce logoEveryone is comparing newcomer Pownce to various existing services. Names such as Jaiku, Tumblr, and keep arising. In particular, Twitter has been mentioned the most. Furthermore, comparisons are being made to IM clients, e-mail applications, and P2P programs. None of these seem to fit the bill for me. After some hard thinking and due diligence, it became abundantly clear to me that Pownce is more like Digg than anything else. This should have been obvious from the start, as Kevin Rose is the mastermind behind both operations.

When you think about it, Digg is nothing more than a link-sharing network. Users are encouraged to share links that they think the community and other users will find useful and valuable. Pownce is no different. However it takes the concept a couple steps further.

Firstly, Pownce enables sharing with a select group of people that you have control over. You can share with one individual, a group, or your entire contact list. With Digg, you are forced to share with everyone. Taking this concept one step further, one could say that Pownce is a Digg-like social network - the main difference being that stories (i.e. links) are not voted to the front page, but rather viewed by a select group of individuals.

Secondly, Pownce further expands upon what you can share using Digg. The service allows you to share links like Digg, but also messages, files, and events. These cannot and will not be shared using Digg for several important reasons:

  • Messages often provide little value unless you know the author;
  • Files may be corrupt or copyrighted;
  • Events are only relevant to certain people and regions.

Furthermore, these three categories do not bode as well as stories and links for creating hype and buzz. This is the very basis for Digg.

My guess is that Kevin Rose an his team recognized these downfalls and wanted to create a more personalized method of sharing. Hence, Pownce was born. Instead of sharing a generic link with the world, you are now able to share more meaningful, relevant content with a select group. The core idea of sharing remains the same. However, the target group and item of interest have changed.

Is this a reasonable comparison or are there other services that Pownce is more closely related to that I have overlooked?