Instant Messaging and Trashing Google

It would help if Google Talk was available all the time. Quite often in the last month I have been seeing “server error” messages in the gtalk box in gmail. Seems like Google may have overestimated their ability to deliver a compelling IM service, which is actually kind of staggering when you consider the 3 major IM platforms today are pretty mature. In addition to that, Yahoo and MSN both have new clients in beta that are take IM in entirely new direction with regard to media content, everything from videos to RSS feeds. But this really just highlights the one thing that Google is especially bad at, product management. Google engineers are very good at coming up with cool new products, they suck at broadening existing products to capture new opportunities or drive deeper in their core markets… Google’s own Monica Marissa Mayer said as much just today.

UPDATE: (via Jasmine) Here’s Yahoo’s gallery for IM plugins, impressive.

Techcrunch » Blog Archive » Instant Messaging and Trashing Google:

The user numbers coming out on Google Talk are staggeringly terrible. Comscore usage numbers show that nearly a year after launch Google is a distant, distant 4th after MSN, Yahoo and AIM. They hold a pitiful 1% of total instant messaging market share, with 3.4 million unique users in May 2006.

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AOL founder says he is ‘sorry’ for Time Warner merger

Steve Case says he’s sorry… is promptly sent to his room with no dinner.

AOL founder says he is ‘sorry’ for Time Warner merger | Tech&Sci | Internet | Reuters.com:

In an interview broadcast on Friday, Case, who was shoved aside as chairman in 2003 and who left the board entirely in 2005, said, “Yes, I’m sorry I did it,” referring to the 2001 merger of Time Warner and AOL. The deal, known as one of the worst corporate mergers in history, destroyed some $200 billion in shareholder value.

SAP Israel Update

When the current round of troubles between terrorists and the Israelis broke out I remembered back a few years ago when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Haifa and I asked one of my colleagues, who is Israeli, here in Palo Alto about that city. He looked at me and in a rather somber and unemotional way said “you know I used to live in an apartment just above that cafe”. Not only did his stoicism make an impression on me if nothing for the fortitude but it also made me sad that someone I knew could be accustomed to violence as to be just as disconnected from it as those who thankfully never had to experience it. Such is the reality in that part of the world and hopefully the current actions will finally deal with the root of the problem rather than the just the effects.

My second thought in response to the current wave of violence was to wonder how my Israeli colleagues were managing their day-to-day activities while a war is raging and their cities are under attack. SAP Labs Israel is located in the Ra’anana, a northern suburb of Tel Aviv, is if the news reports are accurate, could be within the radius of potential missile attacks. SAP operates a truly global development organization and that means that any disruption in one part is felt around the world, but at this point it appears that has not been the case.

The northern part of Israel is home to Technion University and many multinational companies, including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and KLA-Tencor, with R&D and manufacturing facilities. According to news reports, Microsoft and Intel have moved their employees to shelter locations and many companies are temporarily relocating to other parts of the country.

Not being on the ground I can only offer you what I have read in e-mails and inquired about, but it appears that SAP is taking 2 courses of action in Israel at the moment. The first is ensuring business continuity by backing up our core data center and then backing up the backup location. The more important part is ensuring the safety of our employees, and to that end SAP is, predictably, discouraging travel to the north, ensuring that all our people are up-to-speed on safety regulations and in touch with local government officials.

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AppExchange-ing Ideas with the Irregulars…

The week before last the Irregulars hosted a call to discuss AppExchange. I was on vacation that week and despite my intention to participate in the call I ended up missing it, but judging by the commentary on our Google group it would appear that it was a very interesting call. Fortunately, Jason Wood stepped up and has provided an in-depth post devoted to the call in which he offers some good insights to what AppExchange really is and what the trajectory is likely to be.

The Ponderings of Woodrow: AppExchange-ing Ideas with the Irregulars…:

Last week, I took part in a discussion with some fellow Irregulars regarding salesforce.com’s AppExchange. One of the great things about our motley band of enterprise-focused bloggers is that we bring many different lenses to the conversation, and this 90-minute chat proved no different.

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Newsgator

I just spent 2 hours with J.B. Holsten and Greg Reinacker, CEO and CTO of Newsgator. As many of you know, I really admire this company and use both their online service and Feeddemon and NetNewsWire respectively on my Windows and Mac machines. I think their strategy of pursuing best-of-breed on the desktop, and mobiles devices, and using their online service to tie everything together is smart and certainly something I have literally bought into.

What was interesting to learn more about was Newsgator’s private label business and how they are using RSS to facilitate community building initiatives. The personalized site at USA Today is a great example of how this works, enabling visitors to compile a personalized collection of feeds on top of the feeds that USA Today is pushing through the service, whether they be from USA Today properties or not. All of this is powered by Newsgator and enables USA Today to offer a service that competes with My Yahoo or any of the other personalized portal vendors without undertaking a large technology infrastructure initiative themselves, which translates into a service that dramatically lowers risk for the company.

Analytics is clearly a big topic in the blogosphere and Newsgator is evidently aware of the value of their aggregate feed and click through statistics. My immediate reaction was to think about the value of integrating their analytics data with services we are already using, Buzzmetrics and Umbria. The ability to offer “discovery and refinement” services is also an outgrowth of their analytics data, for example, being able to recommend blogs based on subscription and reading patterns. The subject of authority also came up in the discussion because current services that attempt to determine authority use trackback links as a proxy for attention. This is not invalid but it’s just one methodology, whereas Newsgator could in fact offer not just keywords but also actual clickthroughs, which reminded my of what MyBlogLog is doing with communities.

Lastly, while looking at their clipping features in the enterprise server product I was struck by how much this is really an enterprise bookmarking service, otherwise referred to as “del.icio.us behind the firewall”. The major shortcoming in that ambition would be the lack of keyword tags, however users can add comments to clippings so tags should not be a challenge. Again, being able to aggregate this across an enterprise and then apply authority algorithms would result in a service without equal. This reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write a review of Cogenz and Connectbeam, need to get on that.

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Socialtext updates their UI

One of the complaints that is often heard about Socialtext is that the user interface is not well designed. I’m not going to disagree with this sentiment, in fact I have said as much to Ross, but at the same time I want to recognize that the company has not been sitting idle. Beginning next month you will see some significant updates to Socialtext, both the hosted service and the enterprise version.

It is also important to dig into the “UI sucks” complaint to understand what exactly people are referring to when they refer to user experience. Let’s be clear about one thing, Socialtext arguably has the broadest feature set of any of the major wiki platforms, enabling blogging, e-mail integration, security, embedded feeds, and much more; it’s a challenge to design a user interface for an application with a deep feature set. From my own experience I would say that the text editor is the center of any frustration I have, I would like to see wikiwyg enhanced in many ways, including more predictability in the “simple” mode, support for inline attachments, better image support, and a customizable toolbar that enables the user to select what editor features they want displayed.

The planned integration of Wikicalc into Socialtext will also provide a significant boost in capabilities in one other area that the editor is currently weak in, tables. Needless to say, a true spreadsheet capability in a wiki will also represent a major advance on their competitors.

One exciting new capability that will go a long way to quenching user interface complaints is the ability to do custom CSS templates. Quite often complaints about any user interface are really complaints about the way it looks, having a template capability and library will definitely cover that concern. Here’s a couple of screenshots of some templates that Socialtext has already developed.

UPDATE: I was remiss in not pointing out that Socialtext also released a open source version of their software today.

St Sshot 1-1

St Sshot2

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