The Mobile Dilemma
In December we talked about Targeting Small Screens and took a look at Douglas Bowmans ecellent essay on The Status Quo of Mobile Browsers. As a follow up to that, those interested in targeting mobile should take a look at this post by Steven from a browser vendors perspective. Sorry, i couldn't find any details on him but have asked in the comments on the post.
Among other things he lists some of the common problems associated with web content on mobiles:
There are, however, some problems that plague us, and probably all of our competitors:
bandwidth is awful - even on so-called 3G networks, the browsing experience is reminiscent of dial-up.
screen is small - 480x640 pixel VGA screens are on the horizon, but currently the high-end is 240x320 pixel QVGA screens.
screen orientation is “wrong” - most cell phones and PDAs have “portrait” screens that are taller than they are wide, while most desktop computers have “landscape” screens.
poor user input devices
low power CPU, too little RAM
legacy WAP sites
And a small ray of hope for the future:
The small screen is a huge problem for everybody, and nobody really has a solution that is enviable. This means that we generally don’t have space for sidebars and wide navigation bars, which happen to be two web design mainstays. The “wrong” orientation makes the problem even worse. However, there is hope on this front. As VGA screens become mainstream over the next few years, a rotated display will have 640px across, which should be within reason for web developers to just adapt their desktop-oriented design rather than throw everything away.
Checking through my feeds this morning in Bloglines i notice that there is no record of how many subscribers there are to each blog anymore. When you click the link that says "subscribers" (it would normally have the number next to it) it just tells you that there are no subscribers with public profiles for this blog...
Why is this important? Well, it's not earth shatteringly imporant heh.. but i do (and i assume many others do) take a great interest in the number of people subscribed to the Threadwatch feed - it's a silly way of keeping score and i just can't resist stuff like that :-)
What is it that makes people link to just about any old shite an SEO/SEM company throw up? - For a good example just think about how many shoddy, gimmicky PR checkers and backlink checkers there are out there...
WTF is all that about?
Aaron Wall just posted a cracking piece on this subject:
I have been getting links for a few friends recently and have noticed some pretty solid links pointing at some pretty shoddy / worthless SEO services (such as free automated Search Engine Submission services).
Many of these links are from well themed .edu pages that have not been updated for years. Some of these less than stellar services are being clustered with the like of authoritative search sites such as SearchEngineWatch and major search engines.
He goes on to list some less than honorable, tongue in cheek suggestions of how to use this for fun and profit :-)
We talked a litte recently about gaining links creatively - just scroll down till you hit chrisgarrett and mikkels conversation...
So, what other dastardly schemes are there that you can add to your site to garner a bit of link love?
Yahoo to acquire Six Apart?
There's been some very compelling arguments posted as to why Yahoo! should (or will) buy Six Apart, the company behind hosted blogging solution TypePad and blog software MovableType - and now LiveJournal which was recently aquired by Six Apart taking it's user base to an estimated 6.5M users. thanks rss blog
This is why it's so remarkable that Yahoo! has no blogging platform. Yahoo! owns Overture, the main competitor to Google's keyword ad business. Ad inventory is in short supply, Web content is the greatest source of untapped inventory, and blogs are the fastest growing area of Web content. Google owns Blogger, Microsoft quietly announced recently that its blogging platform, MSN Spaces, just passed the 1.5 million user mark, and Yahoo! has... nothing.
But here's the truth: the user-dependent, sticky, time-consuming application that these companies are driving towards isn't one of these, it's all of them together: an integrated suite of Web-based personal tools. It will encompass Web email, instant messaging, an address book, a page of RSS-driven content like My Yahoo!, a set of online bookmarks like del.icio.us, perhaps online management of music or other content, and... a blog for photo sharing and one-to-many communication.
I was about to do another quote but i think that's enough for fair use :-) do check it out it's a cracker of a read and makes a lot of sense.
I dont know whether Yahoo would necessarily buy a company like Six but i cant see any good reason why they shouldn't be involved in blogging given all their other user-sticky activities and i can certainly think of (with a little help from the post linked above) a whole bunch of reasons why they should...
Growth of online ads hits high speed
Demand for online video ads by Ford Motor, Colgate-Palmolive and others will contribute to a breakout year for online advertising in 2005 — and spell trouble for newspapers and TV, financial analysts say.
A surge in text ads on search sites Google and Yahoo — combined with more high-speed Internet users — also will help push online ad spending over $10 billion for the first time, analysts say.
This is all well and good, but where's the interactivity?
Newspaper circulation woes will continue in 2005, says a Merrill Lynch report. And cuts at major advertisers Sears and Kmart "could take their toll."
Mobile Web Development, Kissing Cousins
Threadwatch member Earle Flynn has some thought inspiring commentary on the possible future of apps for mobile:
Another issue is that web developers have not yet conceptualized this new 2 inch mobile Internet. Previously web developers had 17 inches of screen. Any web dev tricks they knew before are now gone. To get web developers thinking of this new small interface I propose a Mobile Web Development KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Mobile KISS would be to think of mobile Internet applications in terms of yes and no, on and off, up and down, left and right, buy and sell, add funds and withdraw funds, and send and receive.
There's a lot in the post so do follow the threadlink above - He also talks about the mobile being keyboardless and the agony of text input on a mobile phone - Im sure this can be overcome and disagree to a small extent with Earle's assumption that yes/no questions and similar on/off switches are the best way to go - well, okay: They are for now.. but im sure we will see usable interfaces for mobile based on standard keyboards before too long.
One idea that struck me was to have a fold away, thin keypad that could just be flipped out of the phone and laid on a flat surface - does that sound stupid? :)
Earle talks about the phone as a destination, and Russell B mentions that here:
Mobile phones still need that killer app which takes out the need for context. They need to get to the point where they are less devices that you use while out and about, and considered more destinations in their own right. In other words, the current crop of apps are mostly created with that "mobile context" in mind. So you could say I haven't looked at my phone lately because I haven't been moving much. This is wrong. It's limiting a platform which can potentially do anything that a small computer with broadband access can do. The person who comes up with the app that compels a person to use their phone without considering the fact that it's a phone is going to have a killer app on their hand. One could argue the opposite, that mobile phone apps *should* only be used in the mobile context, but I think that's too narrow minded.
Yahoo Portal on Verizon customers PCs
Yahoo and Verizon Communications on Monday announced a multi-year agreement to package the Web portal into the nation's largest phone company's broadband Internet services
The deal represents a competitive win for Yahoo because it essentially bumps Microsoft's MSN as the default Web portal for new Verizon customers. Yahoo will package its Web portal and online services into Verizon's DSL and its upcoming fiber-to-the-home offering called Fios.
The tie-in with Verizon mirrors Yahoo's current agreement with SBC Communications, which was recently renewed by the two companies. Like the SBC deal, Yahoo will receive a cut of revenue for every new Verizon DSL or Fios subscriber, as well as any current subscriber using the MSN service who switches to Yahoo
Craigslist Circles the Globe With Online Classifieds, One City at a Time
Craigslist, of which eBay bought a 25% stake in last year is in the middle of some major expansion - it's already estimated to be costing the Bay Area newspapers $65M a year in lost revenue and looks to be making a bid for world domination. Go Craig! heh..
Craigslist was started 10 years ago by Craig Newmark, an Internet pioneer in San Francisco, as a way of keeping friends up to date on events in the Bay Area. It spread through the United States before going international in 2003, with sites in London and Toronto. The expansion accelerated in late 2004 with a flurry of sites, including ones for Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and Sydney. About a dozen other international start-ups are planned in the next few months.
Though the international Craigslist sites are available only in English for now, the formula seems to be catching on, if more modestly than in the United States. The London site attracts more than 150,000 unique visitors each month, Mr. Buckmaster said. The Paris site, begun in November, already draws 50,000 unique visitors monthly. Other recently added sites, including Amsterdam, Dublin, São Paulo, Brazil, and Bangalore, India, have drawn slightly less traffic.
This would be closely tied in the the discussion on how newspapers can survive online...
On Friday we reported on a strange post at Dave Winers site that said:
Last night I got an email from someone I've been wanting to hear from for a long time. There's a problem on the Internet, a big one, that only one entity can solve. The email outlined the solution and asked what I thought of it, and asked me not to say what it is publicly.
He went on to say that he had implemented the idea on one of his sites. Well, Simon Willison thinks he may have discovered what this is...
Google to Quash Comment Spam
Originally i had followed Todd at GeekCentral's surmise that the mystery email was from either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates - but Simon has spotted this on Dave's Bloggercon site. Check out the comments link and view the source!
<a href="someblogsite.com" rel="nofollow">
Which, if Simon is correct in saying:
Google are soon to announce that they won't be calculating PageRank for links with a rel="nofollow" attribute. Finally, an official way of fighting the economics of comment spam by denying PageRank on user-submitted link content.
would eventually have some effect on comment spam as a technique for rankings.
If true, would it solve the comment spam issue?
I think not. There are many reasons why this would not work. In fact, we have talked about the solutions available a lot in recent months and i hold to my original point: You need to stop automated commenting - not deincentivize it!
Andrew Goodman has this to say on his SEM2 Google Groups list
"Be it resolved that the SEO tactic of pursuing a linking 'campaign'
ain't what it used to be. Be it further resolved that if I were asked
to undertake such a campaign for a client, I'd opt for having Itchy
lower me into a bath of acid, followed by playing 80's electropop on my
prone skeleton like it were an electric xylophone, before I took on
The list thread goes on to talk about how it is pointless and/or damaging because of "reciprocal link filters" in Google and how they fall into deminishing returns.
As far as I can see getting lots of great links are paramount? The only ranking I can manage with on page factors alone are ones where nobody else have links either, but even then I never launch a site without at least one link from one of my existing sites to get the bugger indexed. In a competitive market there can't be enough directories to submit to compete with sites that don't care where they get their links and I can't see him doing the blog comment thing .. so how does he rank?
How much weight do you give the alleged "recip link filter"? Outside of directories and wiki/blog comments, where do you get your links?
On a slightly related note, the only advice or recommendation I have been given regarding the "google sandbox" (or what WMW seem to call the "deep freeze" or "non-existant mythical filter" depending on who you read ) is to get a link from an authority. If your site is purely to sell a product, how can you do identify an authority and get a link off them without some sort of payment or reciprocal arrangement?
It seems to me reciprocal linking is what TBL had in mind for the web before Google was thought of, it would seem a shame to me if they penalised sites that do so :O(
Why I Have Asked Bloglines To Remove My Site From Its 'Service'
Scoble points out a row brewing over RSS aggregator Bloglines and Russ Beattie widens the debate into search engines aswell.
Lawyer gets Shirty over Bloglines
Martin Schwimmer, a lawyer who runs Trademark Blog said on Friday:
It was brought to my attention that a website named Bloglines was reproducing the Trademark Blog, surrounding it with its own frame, stripping the page of my contact info. It identifies itself as a news aggregator. It is not authorized to reproduce my content nor to change the appearance of my pages, which it does.
I create content in part to promote my law firm, which I cannot do effectively if my contact info is removed. I do not participate in targeted advertising programs because the majority of advertisers that target the keyword 'trademark' are competitors. I cannot prevent such advertising when my page is reproduced and 'framed' by a third party.
Martins site was (it does not say this now) licensed under the Creative Commons which essentially means that you can quote from it or copy the posts for non commercial use provided attribution is given.
This to me seems like a fair point. Not one I'd feel necessary to follow or support but a fair point nonetheless. Russ Beattie disagrees:
So yeah, I think this guy Martin Schwimmer is a anal-retentive pinhead
The Gillmor Gang with guest Adam Bosworth
Dust off your headphones and settle back for a pretty interesting listen from the Gilmor Gang with special Guest Adam Bosworth of recent open source scandal fame. See the threadlink above for the mp3 stream. He's an interestin fella...
Adam Bosworth, now Google's VP of Engineering, joins The Gang this week to discuss his vision for the future of search architecture. "How do you handle data that's much less known up front and where the query is by relevance?" Adam asks. Most of today's databases are built on the relational model, but most of today's queries are not. Instead they're looking for keyword precision, location and semantic context -- not a textual or numeric match. The relational model is designed for use when both the data and the queries can be anticipated, but in today's world, neither are typically known in advance.
Adam suggests that the same divide-and-conquer architectures used to make web servers more scalable could be used in search. He envisions data routers that will know which back-end servers have which knowledge and will query servers asynchronously according to the liklihood of getting the best results.
I started listening to this very late last night but missed who the Google guy was heh.. just saw Scoble post this though so thanks!
While the Yahoo Buzz Report isn't my top source for "what's hot" it's interesting enough to be in my RSS feeds. In this weeks article the subject is how "prom" related searches are on the rise. Some of the results I found not lacking were
Cheap Prom Dresses
Hair Up Dos
2005 Prom Dresses
IMHO those results are pretty crappy. Seems to be filled with adsesnse-centric sites, ebay, and a couple crappy directories. If it's a case of the news guys having the intestinal fortitude to show that stuff, in effort to get it fixed it's one thing. However if nobody actually clicks and takes a look, well that's a whole different ballgame.
Linux Kernel To Be Re-Written To Counter Microsoft FUD
Stick that in yer pipe and smoke it Billy boy!
IBM, Intel, the Open Source Development Labs, and other industry lights are planning to announce that a consortium has been created that will rewrite the components in the Linux kernel that have been alleged tread on other people's IP - or at least the 27 Microsoft patents that Linux is supposed to infringe. The aim? To rob Microsoft of the ability to scare customers off of Linux by saying that the operating system is a patent infringer, informed sources say. "Operation Open Gates" as they are calling it is reportedly going to be unveiled on January 25.
Threadwatch member stuntdubl has an interesting take on this clickz article about how Wal-Mart are going after their own bad publicity using Search to counter critics. From the clickz piece:
Wal-Mart is answering critics of its labor policies with an extensive print ad campaign that points people to newly launched Web site walmartfacts.com. The effort is accompanied by a paid search campaign on Yahoo!'s Overture.
"For too long, others have had free rein to say things about our company that just aren't true," said Wal-Mart President and CEO Lee Scott in a statement. "Our associates are tired of it and we've decided it's time to draw our own line in the sand."
It's kind of scary when the corporate folks get a hold of an internet marketing consultant and actually listen to them. Someone must have showed the CEO the horrible publicity that Wal-mart bashing websites are providing them with. So apparantely they are goin' after some of the negative serps with a search engine optimization counter offensive. This makes me want to coin a new phrase - Information arms race. Sounds cool, huh?
Well, yeah it is dude :)
We recently had that knob Ken Lay ex of Enron buying up adwords to whine his story to the world also.
Looks like Search, paid or not, is becoming a PR battleground...
Last night I got an email
Dave Winer is in contact with either Bill Gates or Steve Jobs according to Todd
- he won't say who but the surmise is an understandable one right?
Last night I got an email from someone I've been wanting to hear from for a long time. There's a problem on the Internet, a big one, that only one entity can solve. The email outlined the solution and asked what I thought of it, and asked me not to say what it is publicly. I can live with that. I just want to mark this moment. A milestone. Real cooperation. I immediately implemented the feature on one of my sites. The same message was sent to a bunch of other people by the same person. I hope they did the same. When this is announced users everywhere will smile
Apparently eBay store sellers are going nuts over some increases in fees due to kick in on the Feb 18th
Among other things, the cost of a monthly subscription for a basic eBay Store will go up 60 percent to $15.95. The cost of 10-day listings will double to 40 cents, and final value fees that are assessed when a sale closes also will rise.
Sellers complained that the fee increases will take a bigger chunk of their sales take. Some said it may force them to raise their own prices amid a weak economy, and others asked for feedback on other companies, such as Overstock.com, that may be alternatives to eBay.
There are about 35 Newspapers in the US that currently charge for their content - among them the Wall Street Journal. This strikes me, and from what i read around the web, many many others as a fundamentally wrong approach. The WSJ is a no go zone for me, i wont link to it becuase not everyone here will have a paid subscription and i can find good stuff elsewhere. Follow the title link above for the full post.