So, that was quite a week.
I mean, the temperature here in Dublin actually broke the 20 degree barrier. Oh, you mean that other stuff? Well, let’s have a look at the main issues in tech, and what they might mean.
Pop or Flop?
There’s been a huge amount written about the Facebook IPO, and I’m really not sure it needs repeating. That said, this is a fascinating insight into what might have happened. Whatever the case, this move to allow premium ads to be bought through a self-serve system, could start to make up some of that value.
Door. Horse. Bolted
So, whilst Facebook struggles to prove its status as the new giant of the digital world, a couple of former Goliaths are looking to find ways to get back their past glory.
Microsoft, which was famously slow to understand the potential of the web, has been getting very serious for quite a few years now (at least in terms of throwing money at it). And now, despite having a long-term partnership with Facebook (they at least will probably have made money from the IPO), they’ve decided to launch their own social network. I think.
Socl (if nothing else, it proves that Microsoft are just as bad at naming social products as Google) is described as being a way to ‘Share your searches, discover new interests and start a video party’. As Danny Sullivan says over at Marketing Land:
Right there, two out of three of the call-to-actions to use the network seem weak. Share Your Search? Bing itself just pitched that big as a reason to use the relaunched service.
Start A Video Party? You mean like a Google Hangout, which Google has been desperately pitching as a reason to use Google+ over Facebook? Despite that feature, Google still hasn’t been winning marketshare from Facebook.
Discover New Interests? Sounds interesting, perhaps, but will that be enough to make people want to use this in place of or in addition to the many other social networking options out there?
Now, I should say right here that I haven’t spent a lot of time testing it, but from a quick play, and Danny’s excellent overview, my initial feeling is one of meh. It’s another bloody social network.
People only have so much time. Microsoft has had limited success getting people to move from one search engine to another, why does it think this will be different? Obviously that’s not to say that Facebook, Google or anyone else is invincible, but it does seem likely that whatever knocks them down will probably be something entirely different.
And, just weeks after throwing $1 billion at Instagram, Facebook released its own mobile photo sharing app, Camera, complete with filters. A lot like Instagram.
Now, obviously this was in development prior to the Instagram deal, and is a sign of how seriously they were taking the threat of mobile photo apps becoming the new social networks. But even with that, this does seem like a strange move. Just as the Microsoft move adds confusion around which MSN product people should use to search, so this strikes me as a way of blunting the effectiveness of any potential Instagram integration. Unless the Instagram deal falls through, this feels like a very strange move.
Turning On Its Axis
However, Facebook & Microsoft aren’t the only ones looking to try to recapture old ground. Yahoo this week released a new browser add-on/mobile app called Axis. Again, let’s move swiftly past the terrible name (Axis of Evil anyone?) and look at the product.
It actually looks a lot more interesting than Socl or Camera as it’s trying to change the way we do things, rather than just getting us to do what we’re used to, but somewhere different. Essentially it moves search from being about links to sites, to visual previews, whilst also bringing a connected journey across device; from mobile to desktop to tablet. And, as usage figures seem to suggest that this is how devices are being used (mobile in the morning, desktop during the day, tablet in the evening), this is a really smart move.
And whilst people are saying that the odds of this usurping Bing or even Google are low, it does show that they’re looking to beat them in an entirely new game, rather than in the areas where they dominate, the fact that Chrome has almost overtaken Internet Explorer as the world’s most popular browser, in just a couple of years, shows that it is possible. Yahoo even refer to Axis as a browser in the video above, and if it is, it’s a browser for how we use the web now, not how we used to use it.
Stable door by Isabelle Plante on flickr