Strategies to Approach Google’s Social Service Challenge

Google’s effort into social services where many consider being critical to its future growth has produced less than remarkable results. This month, its returning CEO Larry Page is putting all employees on notice. According to Business Insider:

“Last Friday, new Google CEO Larry Page announced that all Google employees will have their 2011 bonuses either go up or go down as much as 25% depending on how well Google “perform[s] against our strategy to integrate relationships, sharing and identity across our products.””*

Larry don’t just want Google to be social, he wants to integrate identities. I will explain the concept of online “identity”, why Larry’s goal is an incredible challenge and offer three strategic approaches to it. Continue reading

An idea for Google: Google Hike!

Wouldn’t it be nice if on top of navigating you to where you want to go, Google Maps Navigation also match you safely with people whos traveling the same way to split the fuel cost? Its easily doable. Let me show you how it could work: Continue reading

The Social Network, movie of the year and reflecting on the last decade.

The Social Network is the movie of the year or the decade perhaps. For, while its direction masterful, it was the subtext of the story of Facebook so reflective of the last decade that enticed me

“They dont want you, they want your idea”
The rise of Facebook symbolise the pinnacle prominence of idea, over shadowing everything else. Dont get me wrong, ideas has always been prized since Schumpeter wrote Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy and popularise the term creative destruction. But, never before has the value of ideas so convincingly trumps all other factors of production. In the information age where Facebook inhibits, credit are plenty, labor are cheap, land are irrelevant and raw material unneeded. Karl Marx will be rolling in his grave. With the Facebook idea, Mark Zuckerberg was able to attract troves of talent and cash. Google had the same quality, but Facebook surpass it. It took about a year for google to receive their first hundred thousand dollar from an angel investor, but for Faceoobk it only took four months before it was showered with five hundred thousand cold cold cash. Facebook was worth 15 billion in 2007, two years before it could even turn a profit. Google was worth 23 billion in 2004 after it 3 years of continuous profitability. How time have changed in such short notice.

“A million dollar isn’t cool, do you know what’s cool, its a billion dollar”
Cash, and lots of it. For the majority of 2000s, Americans were swimming in pool of cash fill by the low Federal Reserve interest rate and Asian savings. Without all this cheap money, Facebook would probably never have raise finance the way it did. The decade was an bubble economy, people and banks were over-leveraging, buying houses and making financial bets that they cant afford. The mountain of wealth built on a house of cards came crushing down and drove us to near depression in 2008. We survive the crush to live with the consequence.

“Relationship status: it’s complicated”
Google Earth, Wikipedia, Second Life, Four Square, Wikileaks and a lot of last ten years was about the digitalization of our reality. Our reality because its base on our perspective. With social media like Facebook we even digitalize our social relationships. In a sense, this should not alarm us, because it bough us back to where we were for most of human existence until the the mass urbanization during the industrial age. We were people of small villages of hundreds rather than mega-cities of hundreds of millions. Everybody knows everybody in small villages, reputation were important. No as much so in mega-cities, you can hook-up with a different girl every night in New York without any of them ever knowing each other. Social media, Facebook in particular reverse that trend. Now people fear getting tagged on Facebook in places or people they dont want to be seen with, and receiving friend request from their mothers. Employer check you up before you are hired. Now, internet reputation is as important as village reputation was.

In summation
In the decade of 2001~2010, the world (Asian countries mostly) worked hard and saved while the Americans rack up mountain of debt and pool their talents to develop the idea of Facebook so that we can know each other better. It  has been fun. The party, of course had to end in the fall of 2008. Good times.

My other post on The Social Network.

On Google’s proposed wireless non-neutrality proposal

If you have read Google’s policy proposal for open internet you might be wondering why is Google proposing not too enforce net neutrality on wireless broadband.

Well. My hunch is that Google fears that the trend towards eliminated unlimited data planes by wireless carriers will discourage users from clicking on Google ads.
To counter this, Google will want to subsidize the cost of using bandwidth to display ads and visiting advertiser’s site on mobile devices.
This will allow the price of wireless internet to drop.
Subsidizing certain use of the bandwidth over other is against some principle of net neutrality. Hence Google’s proposal.

If this is in fact the intention, I dont see a major problem, as long as these conditions are also met:
1. carriers manipulation of wireless bandwidth are perfectly transparent (part of googles proposal).
2. neutral wireless data plans are also made available (without artificially inflated price).
3. wired broadband remain a completely neutral alternative (part of googles proposal).

We all should know by now, that so many of the “free” stuff that we enjoy are subsidize by ads, and its ok.
without ads none of the email, search, facebook, blog and news service that we take for granted will be free.
Not just the internet, TV programs, magazine and news papers are either cheap or free because they are ad supported.

Android vs. iPhone

iPhone’s announcement to allow software developers outside of Apple to develop application for iPhone will hurt Google’s Android. But I think the damage is limited, simply because Android is more open, it allow any company to make phones base on it, anyone to modify the operating system and anyone to write for it. People all over the global will be able to create customized version of Android for different users, this is an advantage the Apple’s limited niche appeal do not have. Which will in turn generate a broader users base and more developers. Apple will properly continue to hold the premium niche if Steven Jobs stay around.

Google’s destructive innovation: world’s largest content searchable digital library

Google’s new project to digitize books from five of the worlds largest library is an important step for the digitization of society and the biggest beneficiaries are the world’s poor.

If the primary function of traditional libraries is to store and distribute knowledge, then Google Print Library Project is on enhancing these function rather than competing with it.

Google Print are taking stored knowledge from Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan, as well as Oxford University and the New York Public Library and giving all internet users access to it regardless of geographical barriers.

This is good news for the world’s poorest countries who’s limited access to knowledge has hampered their  development effort. As demonstrated by the catch-up development of all countries that industrialized after the Second World War, foreign knowledge is not an advantage, its is an absolute necessity.

Currently Google’s endeavor is being delayed by book copyright holder’s protest on the bases that Google’s storage of their copyright protected books is a violation of their rights. Even though Google’s plan for protected books is to “displays only a snippet of several lines of text, plus bibliographic information and, if the book is still in print, giving links to where it might be available for purchase” according to New York Times. Google is in effect offering free publicity for these publishers. Why are they still complaining? According to one the publishers they are not happy because they will not be able to share the revenue gain from advertisement Google display with the search results of copyright protected material.

Get over it!