The battlefield continues in the war of ecosystems

Today Google announced to acquire Motorola Mobile division. Superficially a strange move; why would Google danger its position as open platform maker by creating his own devices that compete his partners? The explanation can be found in the battlefields in the war of the ecosystems that definitely has started and will come to new heights the second half of this year as Apple will go for even more market share with their iCloud offer and Nokia and Microsoft will finally introduce their integrated products. Google is clearly focusing on more control too with the open platform philosophy as a marketing story mainly.

There are two aspects to it. Google will have discovered that there is a crucial role for controlling all aspects of the ecosystem getting to the next step in user loyalty. Rumors on 30% returns by clients of their Android phones underlines this. With full control over all touch points, there is a better chance to be a serious competitor to Apple. This goes also for Google+ and all services that have more design focus than ever. It helps to build a better ecosystem and create trust for the clients, also those with devices from other manufacturers. And they would be more capable of controlling the quality of the apps, the success factor of the new operating system.
It would not easy to challenge Apple in this of course, but Google will have more chance together with an experienced player.

Another more hidden aspect can be find in the dungeons of lawsuits and patent wars. In this article it is extended described what is happening. On the background a fierce battle is going on fighting each others patents.
All in all a clear sign that the control on the ecosystems is crucial in the next phase of the Internet and the war is severe. And is not over yet for sure.

Setting of the social layer

A lot is said on the possible future of Google+. It seems hard to add a lot to it. On the other hand, we can now see the dust come down a bit and see where it could heading. Possibly it will turn out to be rather different, but well, lets share some thoughts here, based on some deeper drivers that emerges.

Social is becoming a natural part of all services and products that are designed now and in the coming future. In that sense I agree on the views of Roger McNamee. The talk is highly quoted as “social is over”, but that is not the right sentiment. Social is not over, social is not a separate entity anymore, it has become part of everything. That is exactly what we see in the business context happening; social as mean to get in touch with your clients and build on trust and activation is now becoming running business.

We mature in our use of online relations. We see that people, youngsters up front, are becoming professional in the dividing our sharing habits to different levels of online relations. We understand that not everyone is attached the same and it to trust. The rise of private networks is a clear sign, as is the use of private functions in existing networks like groups of closed accounts in Twitter.

The way we communicate is also going to a new phase. We are more selective in sending out and receiving anonymous messages, and we have built a layered messaging habit with private chats in realtime, private messaging to people in our own network and publishing opinions to shape our personal brand.

These three elements are happening for some time now. The existing social platforms (Twitter and Facebook as most important ones) are continuous trying to redesign and introducing new functions to address this developments. And you see that Google+ is using its advantage to start from scratch building up this new social layer and revamping the existing services.

In that, Google could really leverage from the existing fundaments. The hardest part will be to keep focus on the essence of these elements in rolling out the new Google of the second decade, always the hardest part to migrate from existing products.
But the other platforms have even a harder job there of course. Facebook will try to catch up with an enhanced friend listing system. Twitter will bring more coherence in the lists and private accounts.

The coming year, or maybe better; half a year, the different platforms will stand next to each other and creating somewhat sharper profiles. Facebook will be (stay) the private friends network for the masses to share thoughts with friends and find nice stuff for your day to day life. The messaging center will be better organized and extended, maybe even with a simple calendar for instance, to fit all the needs for your private communications.
Twitter will remain and become even more the platform for the latest news, realtime sharing of events with impact, from incidents to big live events in real or on TV for instance. It will be more and more the platform for ad hoc and topic related communications and losing the day to day hangout function.
Google+ will become the serious and professional thoughts-sharing platform. What Twitter was the first years. But also integrating services like Quora. If you are looking for information and advice on stuff Google+ will be your source. It will take that role from Twitter, and it will also take a part of the hangout function dividing it with Facebook.

In the meanwhile the battlefield of the platforms is going on, on the deeper level. Who will be building the best functioning social layer. Facebook have an advantage with the Like and Connect system, but Google has its search-profiles and can grow easily in a social backbone too. If Twitter can team up with Apple it will be a serious competitor in that field too.

When the platforms are closing by creating their dominant profile platforms the challenge (still) will be for businesses to get in touch with the customers. Be part of the conversation is essential for a modern organization, and they have to be present on different platforms. The way the platforms will service that need in respect of the user, will define the shape of the social layer in the coming years.

Closing the circles to build conscious communities

Tons of reviews and thoughts on Google+ are published already, positive and negative, believing in its success as much as believing it will not succeed. Hard to predict. I’m not gonna review the service or predict the future for now. But one aspect is interesting to pinpoint. Google+ is really leveraging on the trend towards more closed communities, or maybe better put as the new conscious communities.

At Reboot 2008 I presented some thoughts on ‘virtual gated communities‘. I was thinking at that moment we would transform the new communities to more closed groups based on shared values, and was thinking how to connect to these more closed communities. In the end it took some more time to move into this more closed circles. In facebook lists it is possible, and in Twitter lists and private accounts are signs people feel the need sometime to talk more privately. Services like Path and Instagram are more private by default, based on the concept of ‘strong bonds’. And now we have Google+ of course.

It looks like this presentation of a year ago is directly linked to the design of the new service of Google. It is a great exploration on the models of making different layers of social friendships, just like real life. Google did choose with Plus to make a different approach. It is remarkable how fast the service is adapted by the users.

There are still a lot of user interface issues to solve in Google+. The whole process to create the circles should be more smart and fluent. And the mental model from invisible circles in the stream have to be plain intuitive and transparent. Than we can build the conscious communities we want to use to communicate. And of course it need more integration with other services. I have stated here before that the message center function of Facebook will be more important in the competition with Google. As we hangout more and more in the social networks messaging will be more in our known circles. If Google+ will succeed in a fluid creation of the circles and integrating this with the other services, they can leap the new landscape of the platform Internet. We will see if a kind of BondRank will be the new EdgeRank and PageRank.

Facebook of course did some strong construction work with the like-ecosystem, and with the huge installed base will be a strong player. But the war of the ecosystems has just started. Google+ will be a serious player, just as Apple with Twitter will be, and Facebook still stay. Combining sharing with no barriers with powerful messaging on different layers will be the key. In that sense it looks like Google chose the right angle.

Why Facebook messaging will be a gmail killer after all

Today Facebook announced a new messaging platform. I see a lot of cynic reviews. All this reviews are blinded by the idea that Facebook was to announce a Gmail killer. I think one aspect is overlooked; the changing messaging behaviour of new generations.

Of course seen by the bare functionalities the messaging platform does not offer new functionality above combinations of Gmail and Google Talk.
But what is really different is the context of messaging. Tnis new platforms sits in a social context, a place where you are communicating in realtime with friends, putting up to speed with the lifes of people you follow. There you need sometimes different levels of communication. Just like DM in Twitter is a strong communiciation channel.

I believe that a Facebook messaging platform can take an important role in our day-to-day communication with friends. It will be therefor more a competitor for DM, chat and ping, text/sms than it will be for gmail.
But if your are honest, do you know how hard it is to reach the millenial with email?

Update: I just watched this video of Facebook explaining the system. With somewhat more focus on the messaging make easy, but I still think the social realtime context is the strongest element.

A new era for search?

Two interesting developments in the world of search reached the news lately. Both connected strongly to the factor of time. Google rolls out the realtime search and becoming a topic based knowledge stream. While Yahoo is experimenting with a search tool with a timeline. Facebook is also busy to enter the search domain focusing on the enhancement of search with the social graph. Question is if this is signaling a new era of search or just an natural evolution.

Continue reading A new era for search?

Can we expect Google Groups?

This week a very interesting presentation by Paul Adams of Google was published on Slideshare called The Real Life Social Network. He nailed some trends in social media on real behavior. It was all over the blogosphere already. It reminds me of my presentation on virtual gated communities at Reboot 11 in 2008. One of the things I was thinking about back then was the way we would create groups with different levels of privacy. It will be very interesting if the presented visions of Adams are translated into a new social approach by Google, just like the rumor that was spread this week by former CTO of Google. Interesting to see how Google are trying to use another angle to confront facebook, with a differentiation in groups. Another thought I had is still valid: can we have interoperability in these groups between different providers?

Continue reading Can we expect Google Groups?

Come to me marketing

I think I did some post before on this topic here, but a new post triggered some quick thoughts; the shift to the so-called come-to-me-marketing is really happening.
We are profiling ourselves all the time if we are using advanced social tools like Facebook and Foursquare. Permission based will get a new dimension. We will use the new emerging context driven use of online media to obtain useful information when we want it. In our Facebook presentations we often use the example where we show that the number of people interested in books on Facebook according their profile (3 mln) is maybe much more interesting to target than the number of searches to kindle (3k/month).
the google mirror principle by 77agency
The same goes for the examples on location aware marketing made possible by the profiling analytics which is added. This will be the next big thing. For commercial messages, but also especially also for services.

2010 the year with new focus and service attitude

It is a tradition on my blog to give some predictions on the coming year. See these for 2009 and 2008 (both in Dutch). I will not look back in detail to see if the predictions came true, in the end it is more a residu of my thinking of that moment, than a serious hitting for the trends to come true. Broader trends are more interesting than one hot wonders, in my opinion, and I’m glad that the predictions of the last two year has started and/or are still developing. As I said last year: the short term developments are always slower, but looking back in a couple of years we will be surprised by the changes.

This said, I will share some thoughts for the coming year; I think this will be a year as a start of a new focus and service attitude.
Continue reading 2010 the year with new focus and service attitude

The end of SEO with an evolution to semantic search

In this post by Robert Scoble, he coined some interesting thoughts ont the developments of SEO and SEM. I especially found the ideas on the evolution of search engines like Google and Bing to search results that are relevant by heart and not by design interesting. It is an evolution to a semantic web in another way than mostly is promoted.

Most of the time the idea of the semantic web is linked to a better understanding of the question, of a smart determination of the question. Do you look for a bank to collect money, or to sit on. In the example of Scoble the semantic part is found in the search results itself. What results do really fit, apart from any influencing designing elements. It may look like just another accent but it is a world of difference.

So this will mean that the current services for search will evolve to semantic systems. Fed by the conversational realtime search and cloud based sensors to the real relevance. Services like Twine will be obsolete. We won’t call them semantic by the way, they are just intuitive and authentic.

Is SEO therefor also obsolete. Not completely. It will stay for some time, and it will be more and more a hygienic factor. A basic requirement you cannot avoid. It is just like the development of usability. Usability is not the discriminator, the experience and persuasion aspects of an interface are. SEO will be part of the basic toolset. The real behavior makes the difference.

Does Google Wave leapfrogs the real-time web?

I proposed a talk for Reboot this year. It accumulates my feelings on a emerging trend on impulse shaped services. In the period heading to the conference I’ll try to connect findings on this topic from others if I ran into them.

Today it was all over the place; the news of the introduction of Google Wave. It is not possible to try it by yourself unless you’re in the developer mode, but the descriptions are very detailed, for instance the Complete Guide on Mashable. Reading this it seems Google has taken a serious step to embrace and reinvent the real-time impulse based online experience we’re growing in. It is however also a overwhelming approach that will need real smartness to make it usable.
Continue reading Does Google Wave leapfrogs the real-time web?