Microsoft Embraces Firefox

OK, so maybe Microsoft has not exactly “embraced” Firefox, but they have invited Mozilla developers to visit Microsoft’s Open Source Software Lab as part of the Windows Vista Readiness Efforts. From Sam Ramji:

I am the Director of the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft, and I’m writing to see if you are open to some 1:1 support in getting Firefox and Thunderbird to run on Vista.

As part of my mission as an advocate for open source applications on Windows, I’ve gotten spaces set aside at the Windows Vista Readiness ISV Lab. In the past the company has only invited commercial software developers to these labs. I’m committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open source projects, so I went to the non-trivial effort of getting slots for non-commercial open source projects. (Quote from: Mozilla.dev.planning post from Sam Ramji)

Matt Mondok thinks this is a positive step in the right direction:

it’s great to see that Microsoft is concerned about projects like Firefox and Thunderbird. Sure, this could be viewed as a publicity stunt since Ramjii posted in a public forum, but that doesn’t make the offer worthless. If this is what needs to happen for Firefox to run unhindered on Vista, then I’m all for it. (Quote from: ars technica)

I am withholding judgment until I see more. I think that we have seen this before with Mono. Miguel de Icaza had a good relationship with the .NET engineers for a while, but more recently has struggled with the PDC group at Microsoft and has been unable to get a Mono BOF at PDC despite great demand for the gathering. The invitation from the Microsoft Open Source Software Lab was probably offered with good intentions; however, any impact (positive or negative) resulting from Mozilla’s involvement may depend on the response from other groups at Microsoft.

Social Networking Research

Danah Boyd is currently compiling a list of social networking research articles and researchers. This is a great resource for those of us looking for numbers and research on web 2.0. Here is her request:

I want to track down everyone who is actively doing research on social network sites. (Clarification: i’m looking for folks that are publishing in peer-reviewed spaces, not just researching for their company or blog.) Nicole Ellison and i are plotting to bring ways to bring everyone together. I’m also looking to create a list of all known publications. I know there’s more than what i’m listing so i need your help. Please! (Quote from apophenia)

If you know of any additional research please drop a comment on her blog.

Del.icio.us Gets New Look and Ads

It took a few minutes to adjust, but so far I like the new del.icio.us home page. The “HOT NOW” section distracted me from blogging with a bit of serendipitous web surfing to reminisce about my favorite comic strip (Calvin and Hobbes), create a blacklist in Gmail, and even “How to Get Six Pack Abs”.

The ad-supported model seems to be the business model of choice for most web 2.0 companies, and Yahoo is no exception. Yahoo has decided to finally make some money on del.icio.us through advertisements. The ads only seem to be appearing on search pages, which is probably a good way to introduce ads with minimal impact to the overall user experience. I am a fan of the advertising model for web 2.0 companies: companies with cool technologies make enough money to stay in business, and the service stays free or low cost for the consumers. The advertising model works well as long as it stays fairly unobtrusive. Steve Rubel suggests that Yahoo will may also start monetizing other del.icio.us pages. I plan to keep watching to see how the advertising supported model evolves for del.icio.us.

Biz Dev in the Web 2.0 World

AKA Biz Dev 2.0.

Web 2.0 is starting to change the nature of business development in the online world. Not long ago, the business development process for joint efforts between companies looked something like this:

  • Step 1: A brilliant idea for a joint effort between your product and company X’s product.
  • Step 2: Find contact information for company X.
  • Step 3: Continue to pester contact at company X trying to get them to return your voice mail / email.
  • Step 3a: This step will likely involve a rousing game of ping pong as you are passed back and forth between several people at company X before finding the “right”person.
  • Step 4: Possibility 1 – Both of you agree that it is a great idea and want to start immediately or
  • Step 4: Possibility 2 – Company X laughs at you. … Return to step 1 with company X’s biggest competitor, company Y.
  • Step 5: The lawyers enter the room. Negotiations, paperwork, and legal matters suck all of the coolness out of the idea along with a year out of your life (and possibly resulting in more gray / less hair in the process).
  • Step 6: Build something slightly less cool than what you envisioned before the lawyers entered the room.

The new process for web 2.0 companies?

  • Step 1: Get a copy of company X’s API.
  • Step 2: Build something cool

According to Caterina, this is exactly what happened with QOOP and Flickr:

Several companies — probably more than a dozen — have approached us to provide printing services for Flickr users, and while we were unable to respond to most of them, given the number of similar requests and other things eating up our time, one company, QOOP, just went ahead and applied for a Commercial API key, which was approved almost immediately, and built a fully-fleshed out service. (Quote from Caterina.net)

Here is a similar take and a few more examples from a VC in New York:

But we have witnessed some interesting things happening in and around open apis, rss, search, crawling, embed code, widgets and mashups that suggests there’s a new way to do business development. Here are but a few of the interesting things we have noticed:

  • YouTube makes it flash video player available via embed code on MySpace and their traffic takes off.

  • TripAdvisor search engine optimizes its service and becomes one of the most popular travel services.

  • Technorati hits delicious’ api for its tags and builds the web’s most succesful tag search service.

  • Indeed crawls the Internet for jobs and builds a popular job service overnight.

  • Kayak crawls the Internet for flights, hotes, and cars, and builds a popular travel service overnight.

  • Qoop takes Flickr’s API and builds a Flickr printing service without ever engaging with Flickr’s team.

  • Netvibes takes a few RSS feeds and builds a start page that looks as complete as MyYahoo overnight.

You get the picture. These days it’s often better to just take what’s already freely available on the Internet to integrate with other web services. (Quote from A VC)

OK, so maybe it is not quite that easy. For every YouTube or Del.icio.us, there are probably a dozen that did not make it. There is an element of luck or buzz or viral promotion that makes it difficult to predict which will make it and which will go down in flames.

Firefox Crop Circle in Oregon

A joint effort between the Oregon State University Linux Users Group, Mozilla, and other volunteers produced this amazing Firefox crop circle near Amity, Oregon. I love these big stunt marketing efforts!

Will Oracle Create a Linux Distribution?

Jeff Nolan is speculating that Oracle will announce the creation of an Oracle Linux distribution based on Red Hat today. He goes on to suggest that Oracle may eventually want to acquire Red Hat:

It’s a rumor, and in all fairness my track record on the last couple has not been good, but according to a number of open source industry insiders, Oracle is going to announce at LinuxWorld tomorrow their own branded version of Linux based on the Red Hat distro. Previous speculation had them announcing something at their analyst meeting in October, but with the penguin festival this week in SF it makes perfect sense.

This is a smart move on their part for a couple of reason. First and foremost, by forking off Red Hat they compete with Red Hat without having to deal with product issues. It’s all about support and the ability to offer a top-to-bottom stack. I think it also sets up the eventuality that Oracle could acquire Red Hat and realize the all important consolidation objective. Either way, this is a problem for Novell.

It’s a problem for SAP as well, although not as severe as Oracle would like to believe. We’re finally turning the corner on open source at a couple of levels, even though we haven’t been publicly talking about much there is in fact a lot going on. (Venture Chronicles)

My take? I think that an Oracle Linux distribution and/or possible acquisition of a Linux distributor are reasonably likely scenarios over the next year (maybe two); however, I doubt that this will happen today.

Browster Gets Friendly with MySpace

I downloaded Browster 2.0 yesterday. For those who are not familiar with Browster, it integrates into Firefox or Internet Explorer allowing you to preview links without leaving the original page. A nifty time-saving feature used to decide whether or not to follow a particular link without having to leave the original page and wait for a new one to load. This is especially handy when looking at search results.

Browster just released a new feature that can be used to preview MySpace pages. Anyone who has spent time on MySpace knows that the graphical backgrounds, music, and all of the other clutter on some MySpace pages can make it painful to load the pages and even difficult to read once the page has loaded due to the graphical backgrounds combined with less than optimal text color choices. Browster 2.0 makes this easier by ignoring the user’s style sheet to display only basic profile information, the about me section and a couple of pictures. It works quite well, and my only issue so far is that the next / previous buttons are still a little buggy. In a Google search, for example, Browster would take you to the next / previous search result on the page; however, in MySpace these buttons seem to display the same profile multiple times or take my to another random profile on the page. Even if you are not a MySpace user, Browster 2.0 is worth a look just for the ability to preview search results alone.

You may want to check out a few complete reviews on Mashable! and TechCrunch.

Web 2.0 Starter Kit

Over a great pizza at Ken’s Artisan Pizza in SE Portland this week, I was talking about how many people are getting excited about the web 2.0 buzz, but are having difficulty really grokking the concept. Todd suggested that I put together a web 2.0 starter kit to help people learn more about web 2.0. I encourage comments on this post to point out the inevitable misses, and I hope to update this post with more ideas as the web 2.0 concept evolves. I encourage you to forward this to people with questions about web 2.0.

The Web 2.0 Starter Kit

Step 1: Read Tim O’Reilly’s essay, What is Web 2.0, and the Wikipedia entry on Web 2.0.

Step 2: Read web 2.0 blogs.

I recommend these:

Extra credit:

Use RSS and subscribe to the above blogs plus five others. If you need more help getting started with RSS, Netvibes has a fairly intuitive interface, and you can even click here to get a copy of my Web 2.0 / technology rss feed tab.

Search for blogs on another topic of personal interest using any of the common blog search engines: Technorati or Google Blog Search, for example.

Step 3: Stop reading and starting participating.

This is the most important step. You will not truly understand web 2.0 unless you participate in it.

Homework:

If do not already have a blog create one! Blogger is an easy place to start. Pick a topic that you are passionate about (technology, photography, wine, beer, cats, dogs, sports, your kids, or anything else) and commit to posting something every other day.

Use these sites every day for one week.

  • Create del.icio.us bookmarks

  • Share some of your photographs on Flickr

  • Join any social networking site. I suggest MySpace for those under 30 or LinkedIn for the over 30 crowd. Add 5 MySpace friends or LinkedIn connections.

  • Participate in Digg by submitting a story and digging a few stories that you find interesting. Extra credit: Add Kevin Rose as your friend.

  • Visit YouTube n> and watch three of the “most viewed” videos of the day. Forward one to a friend (congratulations you are now viral).

  • Add yourself to my Web 2.0 Starter Kit Frappr map with a “shout out” message.

Step 4: Repeat Step 1.

After participating in various web 2.0 activities, you will gain new insights from re-reading the O’Reilly essay and the Wikipedia entry.

Step 5: Continue Learning

Watch the Web 2.0: The 24 Minute Documentary.


Web 2.0 is not something that you can learn once and then stop. Because web 2.0 is still developing and maturing, new ideas and new websites pop up every day. Keep reading the blogs in Step 2 and continue to play with new web 2.0 technologies as they appear.

Growth of Social Networking

According to compete, 2 out of every 3 people online visited a social networking site in June, and the number of people visiting a social networking site has grown 109% since January 2004 (driven mostly by MySpace).

Nielson//NetRatings claims that MySpace has achieved year-over-year growth (July 2005 – July 2006) of 183% compared to 23% for Google and 13% for eBay. MySpace also hit the 100 million account mark on August 9, 2006 at around 7:41 am EST. As I mentioned earlier today, del.icio.us is also showing tremendous growth with Hitwise claiming that Del.icio.us traffic has doubled since January.

The point of this post is not to obsess over exact numbers, many of which tend to contradict each other; however, it does show that social networking sites are continuing to grow at incredible rates. As markets mature, the growth tends to eventually level off as the market becomes more saturated. For example, when DVD players were new, the growth was rapid as people bought their first DVD player, but the growth has leveled off now that everyone owns a player and sales continue mostly in the slower growth replacement / upgrade market. I would expect social networking to level off as social networking moves from the early adopters into the masses; however, it is also possible that it will continue to grow at a rapid pace if early adopters keep moving to the next hot site bring the masses along behind them.

World Wide Web 2.0

Business 2.0 just released a map of web 2.0 companies located outside of the United States, including one of my latest favorites Netvibes.

It would be interesting to see a similar map of web 2.0 companies within the United States. I am curious how many are located outside of the valley.