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Archive for the ‘social networking’ Category

I just noticed now. Why has Google removed ads on Orkut? What are they up to?

One of my thoughts when ads first appeared on orkut, dated 15th November 2006 on my exclusive community:

My first thoughts on Ads appearing on orkut

I was not very happy to see text ads on orkut.
Why should Google make money from our creativity!?
The community owners and members should get a share of the profit Google will be making by these Ads..

Seeing the number of visitors to my profile everyday, i got a great idea!
wouldn’t it be nice to place a few text ad links on my profile and make a few bucks from it??

Hey Orkut are u listening??

As I mentioned, i was not happy. Did Google heed to my thought? :P

When did they actually remove those ads? I didn’t notice. What is Google planning to do next? With OpenSocial up its sleeve Google is not going to miss the revenues from Ads on these social networking sites. Are they coming up with a strategy to share profits with the third party application developers? Will Google ads going to appear on all OpenSocial compatible sites like MySpace, and others?

If that ever happens, Google would virtually become the undisputed king of social networking sites, with a dominant control over the revenues these ads would generate with OpenSocial. Third party developers would still be the losers as i mentioned in this post, and so would be the community builders who essentially are these site users, as i mentioned in my community post.

Will have to wait and watch the next step of Google.

 

UPDATE, 11:44 PM: Seems like Google has removed ads after complaints from Brazilian nonprofit group, SafeNet alleged that Orkut contained illegal content on some users pages. Some had views that social networking was not generating much revenues, which i doubt, but lack of revenue isn’t the direct cause of the ads being pulled.

Google said advertising appeared on only 1% of Orkut pages and represented a “test” of online marketing on the social-networking site, which is especially popular in Brazil and India. WSJ reports so.

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Microsoft finally bought a stake of 1.6% in Facebook for $240 million taking the worth of facebook to $15 billion. Some say Google tricked Microsoft in the deal. Did Google really trick Microsoft in this or is it just that there are many Google admirers who over speculate Google’s strategies? After all Microsoft is not run by a bunch of idiots!

The launch of OpenSocial, a common API platform for an array of Social networks, in just a week after Microsoft bought a stake in Facebook upholds ‘Google tricked Microsoft’ story. I’d like to explore the flip side.

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Microsoft had earlier bid for 5% stake, still over priced, for net worth of Facebook to $10billion. But they just bought 1.6% in the end. Why could they have done that? Why not buy 5% or more?

Bill Gates

With a small stake in facebook, for an exorbitant price, Microsoft could keep off other interested parties like Cisco, and Yahoo. Remember Yahoo had bid for facebook at $1.6 billion sometime last year, and was turned down by Zuckerberg? If you are wondering what’s Cisco has got to do with social networking, you will be surprised to know that Cisco recently bought a social networking company based in San Francisco.

Yahoo is losing out it’s dominance in the Internet to social networking without facebook or any other new features in the horizon, also with its shares going down it shows signs of being acquired by some company in future, this could as well be Microsoft.

Still as the quest for the social network continues, the bigger loser in future, as i see, could be Mark Zuckerberg. How could this happen?

With Microsoft having 1.6% share, Yahoo and others are off in contention to buy stake in facebook, for Zuckerberg would not be interested in anything less than $15 billion, and none of them would be willing to shell out this much. Google obviously are not interested, and are trying hard to increase Orkut’s popularity, than what it already is, in US and other places. With OpenSocial, they have got this Facebook v/s all other social networking sites battle, which facebook may lose.
Now, at this stage even if Zuckerberg wants to sell off stake in facebook, who would, other than Microsoft, buy that? And obviously they would not be shelling out billions for this at a later stage. This leaves Zuckerberg to compromise for not-so-exorbitant price. Finally Zuckerberg may get only about $500 million for his 30% stake in Facebook, he had initially turned down when yahoo offered, which shot him to fame.

Now, does Microsoft buying the stake at $15 billion makes some sense, doesn’t it? :-)

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Got access to OpenSocial application development for Orkut. Just going through the APIs, and some sample gadgets.

‘Hello, World! ‘ gadget to begin with, for someone with relatively lesser knowledge of XML, and Javascripting. Plus i got to complete stuff on IDCT for h.264 by the end of this short week. More on this only if i feel like writing about it. :)

P.S.: Just trying out to learn stuff, not serious about developing applications for these sites, which would otherwise contradict my opinion. For more on this, check this post of mine.

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Facebook’s 3rd party applications, orkut’s incremental approach to this, and recently the launch of Google’s OpenSocial to provide APIs to third party application developers to develops ‘social applications’ for social networking sites like LinkedIn, Friendster, Plaxo, MySpace and many more. These social networking sites are amassing millions of net users providing the features enjoyed by a collective group of users, and networking them. This essentially is the essence of these sites, but they have developed the tendency to kill the startup websites wanting to cater to a specific set of users.

If one wishes to start a website providing a platform for netizens of a particular interest, these social networking sites form a roadblock by giving out these privileges. This would curtail the opportunity for web 2.0 application developers, and other budding entrepreneurs. The roadblock is in the from of a mind set of the users in going for another site, when you can get similar stuff all at one place, even though the ‘other’ site may cater your need better.

facebook event

The pic shows Facebook’s press/developer event in San Francisco. Orkut, and MySpace may be excused for it’s not using 3rd party developers (until now) to develop its features but facebook to me is the real culprit, using some smart ebullient web developers to develop the site for its advantage. Zuckerberg, CEO of facebook, says his move is similar to what Microsoft did decades ago. Rightly so. Who was benefited with that? Microsoft or the 3rd party developers? The answer is evident. Bill Gates move propelled him as the world’s richest man for many years. The Sybase story is evident in the development of SQL, now a Microsoft product. Looks like Mark’s the new one in the making.

Google being the dark horse, looks to have tricked Microsoft in their foray to social networking site. Microsoft finally bought 1.6% stake in facebook for an exorbitant sum of $240 million, taking the net worth of facebook to $15 billion. Did Google have any hand in bluffing Microsoft to overpay for facebook? Read it here.

Google’s launch of OpenSocial is to lessen the dent facebook is making with the third party application development strategy in social networking site space. MySpace which initially was reluctant to open its ‘space’ to third party developers has now accepted OpenSocial with open arms, probably realizing it may soon lose out to others if it doesn’t. Google has the strategy of providing a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites with OpenSocial. This would attract developers to use these APIs to develop application for any website or blog. Also, an interesting thing Google has come up with is not to make it mandatory to use a server of the application developer, unlike facebook. LinkedIn, Plaxo, Hi5, Ning, and few others have already accepted to allow third party applications in their sites using these common APIs. OpenSocial blog is here.

I agree that the base of over 50 million users, now over a 100 millions users with the use of OpenSocial, is an invaluable asset facebook, or Google provides, which is hard to reach otherwise. But i think the probability of reaching this user base is only a tad bit lesser if you weren’t on facebook, being just another site in the abysmal Internet. No doubt marketing would be easier on facebook or any of these sites but the price one pays for it is not worth. Just by providing a platform, one should not make a fortune over the one who is actually providing the entertainment to the people coming there. You are there because of the entertainer, not the stage, ain’t it?

Social networking sites seems to become a sub-www within the Internet. But unlike ‘nobody owns the Internet’, these sites are owned, and run (if you can say that in real sense) by some ‘one’. The major benefactors of the growth of these sites is only that group of individuals who have a share in the firm, not the third party application developers. This also deprives the third party developers a sense of ‘Identity’. Now, who would know the person starting FSX(Fantasy Stock Exchange) on facebook? But many would know Mark Zuckerberg, and he would be the billionaire, not these application developers.

My solution to this? I would like to see a network of these startups providing a ‘different’ features/services connected together with a common login. The owners of these individual ‘applications’ would get their share depending of the traffic to their application. Obviously the servers would be of the individual developer. Who are game for this? The hype and brand of Google or facebook would make a fortune from these over enthusiastic web developers.

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A great business idea, a cool place to hang out, get in touch with old buddies or make new friends/business contacts. A lot more.

A phenomenon at some US universities, sometime around 2003, for creating a web networking platform for university students, other than the e-mail, a more casual one. Orkut Buyukkokten, a Turkish engineer and Stanford grad, came up with orkut.com while at Google, and Mark Zuckerberg with facebook.com at Harvard. Notably the more popular ones.

Buyukkokten, having developed a similar networking site called InCircle while at Affinity(now called Affinity Cricles) which was only for university students, was accused by Affinity for using the same source code to develop orkut.com while at Google. (some 11 bugs in orkut were same as that in InCircle!!) Google settled the case without disclosing any information.

Zuckerburg is accused of stealing the design, business plan and the source code for developing Facebook from ConnectU.com. Zuckerburg was reportedly hired to do some petty work by the trio Cameron, Tyler Winklevoss, and their business partner Divya Narendra while at Harvard. Zuckerburg, may be having realized the potential of the idea, soon quit that work and in about three months launched Facebook.com. If you’d be thinking Facebook is sued only now because of its popularity, think again! The trio filed a case in as early as august 2004, barely months after facebook’s launch.

Now now now.. Orkut being Google’s own social networking site, Microsoft and Yahoo are struggling to keep with the hot ‘social networking’ era generating millions of dollars in revenues with advertisers going frenzy to put up ads over here. Yahoo! 360 and MSN Spaces failed miserably. Recently Mircosoft bid a whooping 500 million dollars for a mere 5% stake in Facebook. That takes Facebook’s total worth to 10 billion dollars! No wonder Zuckerburg turned down Yahoo’s offer of $1.6bn few months back. Reportedly Zuckerburg turned down Microsoft’s offer as well and seems like he wants to go for an IPO. A billionaire at 23? A cheater? Hacker? Whatever it is, social networking is ‘the thing’ that made him.

From a software developer’s point of view, building a social networking site is not a very hard task. A not so bad, bad server and few good web developers can come up with one. But getting users to it is the trick. Nope, spammers wouldn’t get you there neither will advertising. Well, what gets people is a tough question to answer or probably one with no answer. If there were any conclusive answers Microsoft and Yahoo would not be shelling out billions of dollars, isn’t it? Building a networking site is one thing, getting users to it is another. What’s a social networking site without users, ain’t it?

What’s getting users? A attempt to answer: Ease of use, offers something different, and interesting at the same time (Facebook with 3rd party developers doing this quite well), easier to search your lost friends not just by their mail id (Duh..?). More importantly i think the first one to catch your attention, and the contacts you already have there or the ease of building. That’d need more users! The answer is, Mark is tad luckier than you fellas!

With over 60 million on orkut and something close on facebook, the sites are differentially preferred regionally. More Brazilians and Indians use Orkut, while Americans seem to prefer Myspace and Facebook. What are Chinese on to? Isn’t China the next big market for all the world has to offer? Yeeyoo and Yeskee are a couple of social networking sites making it big in China. Investments in these Chinese social networking sites by VCs are increasing, seeing the global phenomena. Check this out. While Chinese are on Yeeyoo and Yeskee, Japanese seem to prefer Mixi and Koreans are on Cyworld. None of them are happy having users from only a particular region and are looking to expand world over. (with little success huh?)

The concept of networking doesn’t end being social. A-ha.. there’s anti-social networking as well. Check out Isolatr and Snubster for yourself. Then there’s business networking with Ryze and others. This would give you a peek at an ultimate list of social networks.

The concept of social networking is not gonna be ephemeral for sure. Why not soon get these on Mobiles and PDAs? May be soon.

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