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Thursday, September 27, 2007

MSN Working Hard To Improve Keyword Search System

MSN Live Search Goes Through Upgrade.

Microsoft has been quite busy rolling out new updates on the MSN search engine as they try to better compete with Google and Yahoo.

Microsoft is now searching deeper and gathering more urls, in fact the MSN search databases have recently quadrupled in size, and the core algortihm of the msnbot spiders that power MSN Live search results have undergone an overhaul according to corporate vice president for Microsoft’s search and advertising group, Satya Nadella.

MSN keyword search updates will be pushed 'live' in stages as the 4th quarter progresses. MSN Live Search will be improved to interpret misspellings, and variations from the original word structure. Nadella also claims that Live Search will be better at detecting “stop words” which are phrases or keywords that are not considered unless they are in a specific context or combination.

Microsoft continues to place at a distant third in the battle for keyword search share.

The Most Recent Keyword Search Share Numbers Are:

# 1 Google 70+%
# 2 Yahoo 19%
# 3 MSN 9%

Microsoft hopes to increase their share of search by improving local searches, maps, health, shopping and entertainment, while they revamp and clean up the look of MSN search results pages.

Some of the fun new gadgets on Live search include: products ratings with links to products, improvements to b2b business search, maps, a health search site (move over webMD) called MedStory, and many new interactive entertainment features designed to hook searchers and spice up keyword search.

General Manager of Microsoft’s search business group, Brad Goldberg said that the company is first focusing on the 70 million users that already go to Live Search as opposed to the users who usually search on Yahoo and Google, creating incentive programs for loyal customers.

The task to dethrone Google is substantial, and MSN is preparing for a long battle. Rumors of a Yahoo acquistion/merger are still very hot in Sunnyvale as Microsoft continues to work towards pulling Yahoo into the "Redmond Realm" and instantly secure 30+% of the lucrative keyword search pie.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Google GPHONE. Google set to release the gphone a new wireless cell phone.

The GPhone

New Google Wireless Cell Phone in the cue.

The latest on gphone developments & Google Mobile Search Optimization from The Economist and Peak Positions.

Silicon Valley is abuzz with excitement around rumours that Google, the web-search giant that is Apple's neighbour in Silicon Valley, could enter the market with its own “gPhone”. Google's boss, Eric Schmidt (a veteran of the telecom industry), has already said that the firm plans to bid for a prime slice of American wireless spectrum in a forthcoming auction, something Apple is also said to be considering. In short, both mobile operators and handset-makers could soon be confronted with two of the world's sexiest brands as direct rivals.

Publicly, Apple and Google are being diplomatic so far. The industry is a stool with three legs—network service, devices, and the software and content that goes on them—and “I don't think any player in the ecosystem trying to glue it all together will be very successful,” says Dipchand Nishar, who leads Google's mobile-phone strategy. By this he may simply be conceding the obvious, which is that Google would not build hardware, even if it made the other two legs.

But Google seems to be up to something when it comes to wireless phones and wireless mobile search applications. It bought a company called Android in 2005 that specialises in mobile-phone software. It has Google Talk, a free internet-calling service. In July it bought GrandCentral Communications, a firm that gives users one single phone number for life. And it recently filed a patent application for a new google checkout expansion & mobile-payment technology.

It would certainly be tempting to tie all these bits together into a new software “platform” for mobile phones and offer it to handset-makers as an alternative to existing smart-phone operating systems such as Symbian, Palm or Microsoft's Windows Mobile. Naturally, Google's search, e-mail and document services would be tightly integrated, along with its advertising technologies, which might pave the way for mobile service that is partly or wholly subsidised by advertising.

As a strategy, this might be just different enough from Apple's to assure harmony with its ally. Mr Schmidt sits on both companies' boards, as does Arthur Levinson, the boss of Genentech, a biotech firm. Google already supplies map and video software for Apple's iPhone. It would suit neither firm to open hostilities. So Google may concentrate on software for mobile ecommerce transactions such as: trips, travel, concert tickets to be made with mass-market wireless phone devices, leaving Apple to make elegant, high-end hardware.

Hardware aside, the more intriguing possibilities concern the spectrum auction. Next year America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecoms and media regulator, will sell a band of radio wavelengths that will become available in 2009 as television broadcasters migrate from analogue to digital technology.

The usual buyers for such spectrum would be America's existing telecoms operators, such as AT&T and Verizon. Their “walled garden” model does not allow consumers to choose among handsets, operators and software applications, or even to roam around the open internet. In July, however, Mr Schmidt sent a letter to the FCC in which he pledged Google's intentions to enter the bidding, provided the FCC forces any winner to open up the new network.

The FCC accepted some but not all of Google's advice, so the winner will have to give consumers the freedom to choose wireless handsets and wireless applications. Mr Schmidt declares himself happy enough and says that Google will “be a player in some form”, either alone or in concert with partners. Such as Apple, perhaps?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Keyword Search Market Share Numbers Released

Yahoo Holds Steady as New Teams Settle in at Headquarters.

Microsoft's Search Gains Fall in August 2007.

Google's Share Now Officially Tops 70%

Here's a Review of the Latest Keyword Search Market Share Numbers.

MSN / Microsoft seemed to some sources, maybe for a day or so, to be making a decade overdue positive advancement in the keyword search space. However the most recent search numbers indicate that MSN has fallen even further in its long race to compete with Google for the coveted keyword search audience. MSN has fallen once again and this time quite hard. After moderate gains in share in 2nd quarter of 2007, MSN and the new MSN Live search engine lost market share in the most recent surveys.

Google, the ever dominant search engine, accounted for just over 70% of all keyword search traffic, its highest level ever .

Google continued to make even more significant gains in market share and overall search volume. The gains are leading to even more control of the search advertising marketplace much to the chagrin of Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, senior executives and the formerly all-knowing internet power tribes in Redmond.

Meanwhile back down in Sunnyvale Yahoo slowed the flow of key resignations and also held steady in keyword search share garnering just over 18%.

Ask remained flat despite a huge national advertising campaign and held just above a flatline according to the most recent keyword search data.

Here are the takeaways from the latest keyword search market share report:

Google market share rose to ts highest level to date, with significant year-over-year gains in keyword search queries.

Yahoo search market share was flat as the Yahooligans continue preparations for a new IIS corporate structure.

MSN search market share retreated back to the pre-live search levels.

Ask has yet to find any users despite (14) months of heavy advertising.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

According to The Economist Google ~ The World's Internet Superpower is Facing Testing Times?

Here's their article, anything to drive newstand sales and print subscriptions these days.

Who's afraid of Google?
From The Economist 2007 print edition

The world's internet superpower faces testing times.

RARELY if ever has a company risen so fast in so many ways as Google, the world's most popular search engine. This is true by just about any measure: the growth in its market value and revenues; the number of people clicking in search of news, the nearest pizza parlour or a satellite image of their neighbour's garden; the volume of its advertisers; or the number of its lawyers and lobbyists.

Such an ascent is enough to evoke concerns—both paranoid and justified. The list of constituencies that hate or fear Google grows by the week. Television networks, book publishers and newspaper owners feel that Google has grown by using their content without paying for it. Telecoms firms such as America's AT&T and Verizon are miffed that Google prospers, in their eyes, by free-riding on the bandwidth that they provide; and it is about to bid against them in a forthcoming auction for radio spectrum. Many small firms hate Google because they relied on exploiting its search formulas to win prime positions in its rankings, but dropped to the internet's equivalent of Hades after Google tweaked these algorithms.

And now come the politicians. Libertarians dislike Google's deal with China's censors. Conservatives moan about its uncensored videos. But the big new fear is to do with the privacy of its users. Google's business model (see article) assumes that people will entrust it with ever more information about their lives, to be stored in the company's “cloud” of remote computers. These data begin with the logs of a user's searches (in effect, a record of his interests) and his responses to advertisements. Often they extend to the user's e-mail, calendar, contacts, documents, spreadsheets, photos and videos. They could soon include even the user's medical records and precise location (determined from his mobile phone).

More JP Morgan than Bill Gates
Google is often compared to Microsoft (another enemy, incidentally); but its evolution is actually closer to that of the banking industry. Just as financial institutions grew to become repositories of people's money, and thus guardians of private information about their finances, Google is now turning into a custodian of a far wider and more intimate range of information about individuals. Yes, this applies also to rivals such as Yahoo! and Microsoft. But Google, through the sheer speed with which it accumulates the treasure of information, will be the one to test the limits of what society can tolerate.

It does not help that Google is often seen as arrogant. Granted, this complaint often comes from sour-grapes rivals. But many others are put off by Google's cocksure assertion of its own holiness, as if it merited unquestioning trust. This after all is the firm that chose “Don't be evil” as its corporate motto and that explicitly intones that its goal is “not to make money”, as its boss, Eric Schmidt, puts it, but “to change the world”. Its ownership structure is set up to protect that vision.

Ironically, there is something rather cloudlike about the multiple complaints surrounding Google. The issues are best parted into two cumuli: a set of “public” arguments about how to regulate Google; and a set of “private” ones for Google's managers, to do with the strategy the firm needs to get through the coming storm. On both counts, Google—contrary to its own propaganda—is much better judged as being just like any other “evil” money-grabbing company.

Grab the money
That is because, from the public point of view, the main contribution of all companies to society comes from making profits, not giving things away. Google is a good example of this. Its “goodness” stems less from all that guff about corporate altruism than from Adam Smith's invisible hand. It provides a service that others find very useful—namely helping people to find information (at no charge) and letting advertisers promote their wares to those people in a finely targeted way.

Given this, the onus of proof is with Google's would-be prosecutors to prove it is doing something wrong. On antitrust, the price that Google charges its advertisers is set by auction, so its monopolistic clout is limited; and it has yet to use its dominance in one market to muscle into others in the way Microsoft did. The same presumption of innocence goes for copyright and privacy. Google's book-search product, for instance, arguably helps rather than hurts publishers and authors by rescuing books from obscurity and encouraging readers to buy copyrighted works. And, despite Big Brotherish talk about knowing what choices people will be making tomorrow, Google has not betrayed the trust of its users over their privacy. If anything, it has been better than its rivals in standing up to prying governments in both America and China.

That said, conflicts of interest will become inevitable—especially with privacy. Google in effect controls a dial that, as it sells ever more services to you, could move in two directions. Set to one side, Google could voluntarily destroy very quickly any user data that it collects. That would assure privacy, but it would limit Google's profits from selling to advertisers information about what you are doing, and make those services less useful. If the dial is set to the other side and Google hangs on to the information, the services will be more useful, but some dreadful intrusions into privacy could occur.

The answer, as with banks in the past, must lie somewhere in the middle; and the right point for the dial is likely to change, as circumstances change. That will be the main public interest in Google. But, as the bankers (and Bill Gates) can attest, public scrutiny also creates a private challenge for Google's managers: how should they present their case?

One obvious strategy is to allay concerns over Google's trustworthiness by becoming more transparent and opening up more of its processes and plans to scrutiny. But it also needs a deeper change of heart. Pretending that, just because your founders are nice young men and you give away lots of services, society has no right to question your motives no longer seems sensible. Google is a capitalist tool—and a useful one. Better, surely, to face the coming storm on that foundation, than on a trite slogan that could be your undoing.