Archives for March 2008

Busy week: Calendar sync and Contacts API

Lots of stuff going on this week. There were presidential primaries on Tuesday, and sounds like Apple will have some iPhone SDK news in just a few hours. In addition to that, this week saw:

A bunch of other stuff happened too. The Microsoft blogger that I read the most, Dare Obasanjo, is taking a blogging hiatus. I hope he returns to blogging in some form eventually. Microsoft also had a keynote where they announced a bunch of stuff, including a testable version of IE8. I tried installing this Silverlight thing on my computer and got this dialog box:

Silverlight .exe on a Linux computer = sadness

Does anyone know what to do with this BIN file? (This is on a non-Windows computer.)

Plus Yahoo introduced FireEagle, which is an API to that lets applications send/store/retrieve location information at Yahoo. I can imagine some fun ways to use that. Kudos to Yahoo for a neat idea, and we’ll see how it develops. Lots of stuff going on this week.

Checking my older predictions

It’s been about 1.5 years since I asked a few questions in my Google Lifestyle post:

So the question is, what is waiting a few more years down the line? Maybe I won’t be able to imagine life before my documents sat in a magic Writely cloud where I could get to them from anywhere? Will cell phones evolve straight to internet-connected computers with an always-on broadband connection? Will people record their whole lives, because storage for audio and video will be so cheap?

Let’s break it down:

“Maybe I won’t be able to imagine life before my documents sat in a magic Writely cloud where I could get to them from anywhere?”

The whole notion of storing your data in the cloud is really getting a ton of attention lately. Scoble recently said it better than I could:

I’m trying to get everything I do online because I want freedom from my computer.

What do I mean about that?

Well, what if my computer gets stolen? I don’t want any data on it.

What happens if Linux comes out with a Macintosh killer? Or if I decide to get a Windows computer again (I’m currently using a Dell Tablet PC because they sent me one to try out). I want to just load one thing: Firefox and go to work. Right now I’m switching between my Dell and my Mac without any problems at all because almost everything I do now is in the browser.

Earlier today my Windows XP computer halted with no warning whatsoever. That’s been happening more and more in the last few weeks. I think it’s because my laptop is overheating, but the net result is that I don’t want to store anything important on my laptop. And I don’t really need to. My email, calendar, bookmarks, documents, and feeds are all in the cloud. Of course my blog is too. If my laptop died tomorrow, I’d be a little bit bummed, but I could hop onto any other computer and get a full day’s work done.

“Will cell phones evolve straight to internet-connected computers with an always-on broadband connection?”

Hello, iPhone? The iPhone isn’t as fast as some other phones, but it’s still fast enough for me to consider it a broadband connection. I use my iPhone all the time to browse the web when I’m stuck in a line.

“Will people record their whole lives, because storage for audio and video will be so cheap?”

That post was from September 20th, 2006. Just as an example,, a popular “lifecasting” service, was founded on October 10, 2006. ‘Nuff said. To be fair, the writing has been on the wall about this one since at least the MyLifeBits project. I think lots of people will eventually record everything they hear/see.

So I’ll say that I did okay on these predictions, even though they were fairly straightforward in hindsight.

My 2008 predictions

Danny Sullivan had a big day today. He announced that he’s moving back to California from England this year, and he bought a Mac yesterday. I’m not sure which surprises me more, but it’s probably the Mac thing. I really thought Danny would be the last search/SEO person converted from a PC to a Mac. That also reminded me about a 2008 prediction I made.

I should explain that I love prediction posts. Back at the end of 2007 I wrote a few predictions, and somehow never got around to posting them. Better late than never, although if I waited a few more months I could just recycle them as 2009 predictions. 🙂 Some of these predictions are more far-fetched and aspirational (as in, “I really wish someone would do this”), but I’ll still throw them out here.

One tricky bit is that I didn’t make any big predictions about Google below — some people still don’t get that this is my personal blog, and they might take my (sometimes wishful) predictions as statements as fact, or assume that I have some inside knowledge when I don’t. With that disclaimer, here are my three-month-late predictions.

  • Around February, people will start saying “Holy moly! Apple is grabbing a lot of desktop operating system market share!” In some markets by the end of 2008, Apple’s market share will approach 20%. (By the way, I’m no Apple fanboy; I’m typing this on Windows XP.)
  • 2008 will be the year that hacking and search engine optimization (SEO) collide in a major way. By the end of the year, a nontrivial fraction of blackhat SEO will involve illegally hacking sites for links or landing pages. One webhost will get a significant black eye as hundreds or thousands of customers’ websites are hacked. The growth of illegal-blackhat SEO will leave traditional blackhats with a difficult choice: risk doing something illegal or sit out.
  • The most exciting product/start-up of 2008 will not be a Web 2.0 company. Instead, it will concentrate on improving email productivity. For users, as you receive email, it will suggest canned replies and show previous related emails. It will also suggest experts or mailing lists that you could route incoming emails to.
  • Someone will write a book or ebook about how to run a small start-up or internet business on a shoestring budget. The book will discuss how to squeeze the most value out of Google’s products and will also touch on Amazon’s web services.
  • Someone will launch a “baby startup” that gives advice on baby names, then offers to register a domain named for the baby. For $100, the start-up will power the baby’s domain for several years and will host baby pictures and baby videos. The baby’s domain will be protected by a password, but can be shared with family members.
  • An RSS startup will add the ability to take a normal RSS blog feed and produce a “best of” feed that picks only the most popular/controversial/interesting items. You will be able to say (for example) “I want only about three Valleywag posts per day. Pick the best ones for me.” This new offering will cause some controversy across the blogosphere about fair use and copyright. But most bloggers will ultimately decide that they’d rather have the extra “lazy readers” than not have them at all.
  • Someone will write a “Google Backup” tool that backs up all your data from Google by saving data from Google Calendar, Gmail, Docs, Reader, websearch, and Blogger.
  • A top-level domain (TLD registry) will offer domains for under $4. The result will be another TLD blighted by spammy domain registrations.
  • Over 1000 people will begin recording the audio of their daily life, every day, all day.
  • The 2008 presidential election will capture much more interest in the U.S. than in recent elections. Most election drama will play out on TV and the campaign trail. We’ll see a few tie-ins with search, but internet-related issues won’t play the vital role in the election that the blogosphere would like it to.

Check back in 2009 to see how I did! Do you have 2008 predictions for the tech industry?

SMX West + Interviews

The Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West conference was a blast, and now I’m trying to recover and catch up on the things I missed at work. It was great seeing a bunch of familiar faces, and I met quite a few new folks as well. One of my favorite activities was the “Lunch with a Google Engineer” tables at lunch. For all three days of the conference, we had two tables at lunch, and each table had 1-2 Googlers to chat with conference attendees about anything webmaster-related. It was a great way to connect with new people.

Another favorite event was the SMX Search Bowl, where search engines and SEOs matched wits on search trivia. Google got to take home the trophy this time around, and the trophy looks like this:

SMX Search Bowl Trophy, with my cat Ozzie

(My cat Ozzie volunteered to be in the photo to provide a sense of scale.) Check out the quiz questions to see how you do.

I’ll try to write up some more of my thoughts, but if you’re craving other search-y information, several Googlers have done interviews recently:

I’m really happy that Google reaches out to webmasters in many languages, from our German webmaster blog or our Chinese webmaster blog to our webmaster discussion groups in Hebrew, Russian, and many, many languages in between. I’m proud to work with such a great group of colleagues in webspam and search quality. Google can still continue to ramp up our international communication with webmasters, but when you compare to even a couple years ago, we’ve really come a long way.