Sunday, November 4, 2007

Google Microsoft and OpenSocial

Finally it was Google. Since the initial days of internet social networking, people, specially developers, had been waiting for someone to do this. Although Facebook has already opened up its interface for the developers to develop applications, the interface was pretty much confined in the Facebook domain. Todays people use multiple social networking sites and want single, uniform interface to all of them. This idea was also a part of the foregoing Web 2.0 potboiler.

I closely follow the blogs of Alexander van Elsas, a very good analyzer and critic of Web 2.0 user requirements. According to his latest blogs, just before Google announced the launch of OpenSocial (Read the Kamla Bhatt blog and the links there, for details on OpenSocial), Google was the only one who could have done this. Google, with all its weaponry, was perfectly placed to make their interfaces open and still make some sense out of it. But the million dollar question here will be - Why?

From a bird's eye view it appears that Google is trying to push Facebook down. Or say trying to capture the social networking market base before Facebook throws its final arrow. But a little look into the size and potential of the two companies current state will tell that Google will never even consider Facebook as a rival. Although Facebook is rating himself in billions of dollars, their self pricing is heavily criticized as overpricing. Facebook rival is MySpace, who has already joined the Google camp by participating in OpenSocial (The other partners are Hi5, Friendster, iLike, LinkedIn etc..).

I believe Google is aiming on the market potential of Microsoft. Recently there was news that Google is approaching a number of big service providers, including Verizon, for pushing their mobile phone software package, gPhone, on their mobile handsets. This is in direct conflict with Microsoft's interest, who also has a huge business in the same domain.

The launch on OpenSocial is also a somewhat direct attack on Microsoft's business. Lately Microsoft has invested heavily on Facebook. It paid $240 million for a stake that values Facebook at an astounding 150 times of it's revenue - $15 billion dollars. Now, with the launch of OpenSocial, Microsoft will definitely reevaluate their Facebook costs and I don't think they will feel very complacent.

Microsoft also struck a deal to provide advertising to Facebook, through adCenter. But this was after loosing to Google for the ad deal with MySpace.

So far it has been cat-n-mouse game for both the companies and the launch of OpenSocial was just a little Google bite on Microsoft's back. Lets wait and see how Microsoft and Facebook respond to it.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mobile broadband : War of the worlds

It looks like a battle field where the battle has just began. Mobile Broadband is the field and no one wants to be left behind. All the big brothers in the telecom world are getting ready for it. No one wants to be left behind. More interestingly, no one wants to follow the other.

Sprint-Clearwire: In my previous blogs I have already covered the Sprint-Clearwire story. Both of them together holds the largest chunk of 2.5 GHz bandwidth on which they will deploy WiMAX, countrywide. If things go fine, by the end of 2008 they will hold around 100 million subscriber base in US. They have shown tremendous tenacity, so far, to go with WiMAX deployment. Specially after the resignation of the main power house behind the deal, Gary Forsee, the ex Sprint CEO. Sprint is also having plans of enhancing it to mobile WiMAX.

AT&T: While AT&T also wants to catch the train, it is not taking the same path. AT&T bought Aloha Partners on this October 9. Aloha Partners was the owner of largest 700 MHz licenses in US. This 700 MHz, also termed as "Beachfront property" for its high propagation and penetration properties, is a interesting spectrum. In a metropolitan area, a transmission site using 700 MHz can replace many 2.5 GHz transmitting sites. Thus, by acquiring Aloha, AT&T assured that it is not going to scratch its head on WiMAX.

Verizon: Qualcomm always has been one of the major infrastructure providers of Verizon Wireless. Qualcomm has its own answer to cheap-cost, high-bandwidth, mobile broadband technologies. Its called Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB). But in today's businessweek I saw "Verizon Wireless is considering switching its technology allegiance." for broadband. Bad luck Qualcomm. Looks like Verizon is interested in the LTE (Long Term Evolution). This is the 4G technology of the European GSM operators.

So that is the story of the ongoing technology battle of the service providers in US.
Who wins it, will also decide which of these technologies proliferates more in years to come.

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