Business Society

Why Google will never post profits like Apple just did

The Imitation Game was not as good a film as it was made out to be.  Maybe if you know nothing about Turing or the history around it all, or if you enjoy watching whodunnit TV shows.  Some people summarized it as “the story of how a closet gay shortened the war by two years”.  Well that is a terrible summary.  Probably because the film isn’t sure where to focus.  What is much more interesting is that thanks to his invention, the computer, we can quite accurately guess how many gay men in the U.S. are in the closet looking at Google searches.

In the film, the only part I found interesting (but the film just glossed over in a video clip like quick series of shots with music) was after they broke the Enigma code.  They had to use some of the intelligence, but not so much that the Nazis figured out they were eavesdropping.  If they saved every ship from Uboat attacks, the Germans would know they knew how Enigma worked and change the whole coding system thus rendering it uncrackable again.    They had to calculate the impact of every Nazi move on the war effort and decide where they could pass on vital information to the Allies to make a difference.  Only just enough of a difference though…

In that sense, Google is much much worse than Hitler and the entire Nazi empire.  They own the global search market.  They know what we want better than us because not only do they have our individual searches, but the technology to evaluate it too.   And how much do they tell us?  They statistically jiggle, hide, mix up, muddle and do everything they can so we can’t reverse engineer what they know.  Which is a lot.   Google knows what we are looking for.  Google knows what we are thinking.  It is the closest to an omniscient being we have ever had.  Even without their impressive number crunching technology, just looking at the raw data of searches in a country or particular region would spark a million new business ideas in the head of even the most ignorant person.

I am pretty serious when I say that I would willingly cut off a finger in exchange for access to Google big data.  It really would be the closest to playing God I can imagine.  Surely way beyond any previous homo sapiens could even imagine.

So when Apple posts “record profits” I just smile.    Google could easily make ten times as much.  But then everyone would start asking questions.  When Google chooses certain cities for ultra fast access, how are they choosing?  Should we all be focusing on those cities?  When Google buys a company, what do they know that we don’t?  Exactly like Turing’s team in World War II, Google is carefully giving away only just so much so we can’t reverse engineer what they are up to.

Unfortunately my finger is still on my hand and I am none the wiser though…

Business Technology

No Zuckerberg, I don’t think we will ever trust you

Facebook wants us to trust it.  Zuckerberg says they need to change their hacker mentality.  Stop taking advantage of users and start seeing our point of view.  It’s not going to happen.  And he isn’t putting his money where his mouth is.   Facebook is still essentially the same scammy way of thinking he had from the day he ripped off the idea from others and rushed to do it first.

It is also about how businesses react to pressure.  Google is a fine example.   They do the philantthropy angle much more convincingly.  They did from day one.   Purple cow, Project X or anything else you want to call it, they made it part of their branding all along.

But there is more to it;  the whole social network idea is simply not the right message.   Don’t look at youngsters leaving Facebook.  Look at Google starting to phase out the Google Plus logging from other sites.  Why?  Not because Google plus failed.  Because a Google identity either from Gmail or from an Android phone is pretty ubiquitous.  And serious.   Nobody will blink if you tell them you have Gmail.  Tell them you use Facebook and it takes a bit of explanation:  what, how, when, why.

Social networking is not a core life activity.  Communicating is.   Facebook made it’s mission (along the way) sharing the things you care about with the world.  Well, Facebook is not the best way of doing that, is it?  Windows dressing, slogans and reacting to market research won’t save Facebook unless it really, really changes its actions before its words.


Apple Silli and Google Creepy

I have been accused of being a “Google basher”.  This is rather unfair.  It would be hypocritical to use so many of their products and complain.    Google Now might well be called “Google Creepy”.  It draws on my email, calendar, gps, web searches and many many other bits of information I voluntarily hand over to them everyday.   And it gives me better advice.  It knows what I am really looking for.

Anyway you look at it, when you conduct a web search it is well worth sitting back and thinking about it:  “You have just got relevant information from the sum total of human data available on a vast international network in 0.8 seconds“.  That’s not quite how it says it at the bottom of every Google search, but it sure could boast if it wanted to.  Nothing comes close.

Which of course is why Apple bought Cue.  A desperate effort to get Siri slightly more intelligent by using what little social context you are willing to give it plus access to your mailbox.  Much like Apple’s humbling experience with maps, the point is to buy in some  know how.  Just enough new features for them to talk about at the next iPhone or iOs launch.  Enough to keep the fans happy.  But nowhere near as much substance as Google Now.

What this approach to customization is effectively doing is making it even harder to monitor what Apple and Google are doing with our data.  Like the Hummingbird changes to Google search, they are introducing an even bigger “not provided” category in Google Analytics.  You will not know how visitors got to your website as it is not a simple matter of keywords anymore.  It might be because Google Now algorithmically guessed really well, or it might be influenced by an Ad campaign or it might even be the NSA giving Google instructions to get you to land on a website.   We simply won’t know and there will be no way to reverse engineer it easily either.

So no, I’m not Google bashing.  I am in awe of the company’s ability to walk that fine line.  They persuade us that what they offer is so useful that it really is worth handing over personal data for it.     But Apple?  What exactly are they offering?

Business Technology

MotoX heralds a very quiet revolution

People talk about Google being increasingly being a “hardware company” but they are missing the point.  It’s not about fancy gadgets, not about whether the Nexus has a better screen than an iPhone and definately not about the MotoX stealing market share.  It’s not even about Google knowing the next worldwide development through some fancy algorythm which crunches all our searches, emails and map data.

It’s about processing power.

No, not the CPU or GPU processing power.   Intel would be all over that, guessing when the CPU will be X times more powerful and all that. No, it’s about Google knowing how much stuff Google can process.   Today.   The feature of the MotoX that gave them away was voice recognition.

Do you use Instant Upload or the iCloud to store pictures?  It is wonderful technology, just humming away in the background.  Yet after all this time using it, if you ask me “what were you doing on the 7th of October two years ago?” I can now tell you.  Because my phone has by all chances uploaded a picture from that day.  It might have been the kids, or a funny sign, or the fridge I promised to move for a friend for reference (to see if it will fit through the door) but chances are, I have a picture from that date that will help me remember.

I have long held that our smartphones should constantly record what we are talking about.  It would be legal (as long as it only recorded your own voice) and it would be damn useful.  Imagine using the speed of Google instant search to find when you said what.   That conversation your girlfriend is talking about, accusing you of supporting fascism.   Now you can get the transcript!   That interesting chat with a professor.   You have your half of the talk, you can figure out the rest.   And of course…business meeting notes.  All automatically, silently recorded by your MotoX.

Can’t wait for it to happen.  If they haven’t patented it already, there you go, my gift to the human race for today.

The point is that only Google will know when Google can make this happen.  They own the cloud, in terms of pushing the boundaries.   They are now on the forefront of applied internet connections and speed issues.   With YouTube they have worked the data streaming issues to the bone.   Not on a theoretical level.  On the level of stuff you can use today, with your current connection.  They have millions of smartphone users to experiment with.  They are also on the forefront of supplying massive computing power to us all from their data centers.    So I can write away with all these theories and ideas but …

…only Google can decide when it will become a real product.


Steve Jobs was right to “go thermonuclear” against Android

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

The point isn’t whether he said it or not.   Nor is it whether it is admissable in court (it is).

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.”

The real issue with Apple versus Android is a much more important point about their underlying business model.   Both rely on market dominance.   Some may call it an abuse of a dominant position.   I prefer to call it the “give away” model.

Here is Google’s version:  “we spend millions developing a cutting edge telephone OS.   We give it away to any phone manufacturer that wants to use it.   Guess what?   Android phones are cheaper that way!   We spend billions buying companies and developing Google Maps.   We give it away for free and even include navigation in Android phones.   Who cares if we destroy an entire industry, it’s not our industry!   We spend billions buying, developing and running YouTube, Gmail and loads of other services.   You know what?  You can have them all for free!  And everyone along the chanel can do what they please and make money anyway they see fit.   All we ask of you is that you click on an advert now and then on Google search, YouTube, Gmail or wherever else we put one in front of you.”

And Apple’s version: “We spend millions selectively buying cool companies or those that have developed some technology we need because we don’t really invent anything.   We package them as cool as we can and charge as much as we can.   We squeeze everyone in our supply and distribution channel dry.  We drop prices or add features only when the competition forces us or Steve Jobs isn’t around to persuade Apple fans that whatever we have done is cool.”

Put that way, which phone OS do you think is heading for global dominance?   The philosophy of free with Android extends to apps of course.   Forget Apple style scaremongery about locked devices.   Rooting an Android phone is almost included in the package and applications that unlock any app you find are almost automatic.   Android 5.0 might include a “crack that app” in the OS…

Steve Jobs was right to feel threatened about Android.   Not because they “stole” some iPhone features.   He, of all people, knew very well that the iPhone was never about features.   It is Google’s business model that is the real threat.   If Apple wants to beat Android it should be spending it’s money not on law suites, but on buying more companies with new features to give away.   They have done it before in other sectors when they felt desperate.   Apple’s involvement in the digital video is a good example.   Final Cut came out of nowhere to become the darling of a new movement (it’s always a “revolution” or a “movement” with Apple, isn’t it?) mainly through features they added by buying up companies.   Buy a company that makes a 4000 dollar color management software and throw it in the next version….

The real problem with Google’s threat however for Apple, is that Google hasn’t got to worry about hardware.  Chinese workers killing themselves, the cost of components and copycats will find it hard to beat Google at its game.   Not even Microsoft has managed to mount a credible threat to its search monopoly.   Facebook’s floppy IPO shows just how little anyone really believes that sexy newcomers, no matter how big, can really effect Google.


Facebook screws up on the international business etiquette

“Right now you may only reach 16% of your fans each week.  Reach Generator guarantees that you reach 75% of your fans…”   This is Facebook’s grand plan to show us they know how to make money?  Instead of “connecting people” or “helping us share with the people we love”…  Facebook is openly admitting to allowing advertisers the right to dominate our timelines!

The idea is of course nothing new.   It’s just advertising.   Google has been taking money to tweak search results, make items disappear from autocompletion and promote certain results for years.   But they don’t tell everyone about it!   Not even pretty high ranking Google executives know the whole picture regarding what you can make disappear from Google if you have enough money.   Only people and companies with…well, enough money, know that sort of thing.

It could be some twisted campaign to show that Facebook is opening up regarding privacy.   But no.   This is just inexperience of global corporate rules.     Worse still they are testing out a similar thing for consumers as the “highlight you want to be sure your friends see”.  If I am going to pay 2 New Zealand dollars for that luxury, I might as well make my own website Mark!   People already distrust Facebook big time (not so much Google).

This is not the way to beat Google.  Take a page out of Apple’s book instead.   You don’t like Android?   Go out and buy 2-3 mapping companies and produce a spectacular rival to Google Maps for starters.   Buy a company and throw in a free Siri for people to start relying on that instead of Google search.   Give us freebies so that we use your service.

But maintain appearances please!


20 Social Media Statistics (which are completely imprecise and stupid)

Email going around with the following disinformation:  (In italics my responses.)

“These figures reveal the huge black hole that our time disappears into when we visit Facebook, Twitter or YouTube or other social media sites.

  1. One in every nine people on Earth is on Facebook ( This number is calculated by dividing the planets 6.94 billion people by Facebook’s 750 million users)   No they are not!   About 1 in 5 Facebook “people” is in fact a company or something else other than a real homo sapiens.
  2. People spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.    No they don’t!  Much like television, there is no way to measure when they are spending time on Facebook or watching television while the laptop has Facebook open in some browser window.
  3. Each Facebook user spends on average 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on the site.   No way of knowing!
  4. More than 250 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices.   And what a horrible user experience that is!   What exactly are they doing other than checking up in case ‘something happened’?
  5. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook.   More than 2 million of those are completely automated through various other platforms which are also ‘integrated’ with loads of other services – it doesn’t mean anything.
  6. 30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each month.  And by category that would be…extremely interesting information as opposed to this!  How much is video, how many original posts, how much news, etc.
  7. 300,000 users helped translate Facebook into 70 languages. Yeah right.   It is the beginning of a new type of democracy I presume too…
  8. People on Facebook install 20 million “Apps” every day.  And then never use them again most of the time!
  9. 190 million average  Tweets per day occur on Twitter (May 2011)  Of which most are highly concentrated by region, profession and other demographics which make them a pretty unrepresentative bunch in most countries.
  10. Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day.  And their servers overload on average how many times a day?
  11. Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day.   Rubbish.  Many. Twitter users never actually interact with their Twitter account again.
  12. Google+ has more than 25 million users.  Google+ has as many users as Google wants.   They can just turn all Gmail users into G+ users without asking them, or force you to have G+ to access Google Maps or…many other typically Google “here’s something for “free” approach’…
I skipped the other 8 about YouTube which were fairly accurate (so boring!).   Is it just me or are we experiencing a wave of social media…media mania?

How social networks are improving the whole software industry

Few people realize how important the Google Plus “Real names”policy really is.   Maybe it’s just me having spent so much energy taking advantage of Facebook’s completely chaotic structure over the past years.  Sure, it ran contrary to most Facebook official policies but any business person would be an idiot not too.  What?   You can see all the ‘friends’ of your competitors’ fan page. That is often their customer list.  Damn sure I will take them even it has to be done one by one manually from a user profile.   Facebook has plugged the holes over time but Google Plus in comparison feels like a straight jacket from it’s beginning.   No free lunches here.

So point No1:  1. How strict and honest a social network is.

And then today everyone is talking about the “new” Facebook, changing their profiles to “look slick”.   Looks like a waste of prime screen real estate to me.   Hello?  Most people are still on 768 pixel vertical resolution you know…that big picture takes almost all of it up!   And these new fangled timeline adjustments of course will fly over the head of most users who have started whining about the “great old interface” as usual…  Point 2. Simplicity

It sort of reminds me of the WordPress vs Tumblr debate.   Users get used to something simple and figure out how to work around it.   Hash tags and loads of third party developers built the ecosystem that works for million of users.   Then  Twitter added photos, then comes video and…before you know it we have another Facebook like experience on our hands.   And then we will need complex settings and choices explained to get it to do what we want it to.  How our privacy is controlled.   Who sees what.   Point No3 is Control.

As anyone who has worked in the software industry knows, there is no perfect interface.   Every user wants something different and it will depend on their experience, background and …well…their mood really!   Your energy levels at different points in the day even.   What Facebook and Google are getting better at is getting the interface to morph constantly using intelligence, a little user input and a whole lot of bravado.   It takes balls to change a user interface, especially when you are a market leader with everything to lose.   But Facebook is right to do it now while it is still a virtual monopoly.

As users switch from software to online applications and from computers to smartphones, a lot of the old “big boys” in software better pay attention…  HP, if you really want to get into software, don’t go chasing the SAP business model…



This is how to beat Google on search: the way Google+ is beating Facebook!

Like anyone serious about business, I spend time trying to figure out how Google’s search algorythm works.  Because if you are serious about business you care about communication.   And if you care about communication you have to care about the way most of the world now discovers information.

Yesterday I was surprised to notice that my main computer produced absolutely no Greek website results for “champions league” or “Europa league”.   Not even on the twentieth results page!   Both of my reference machines (different setups, not logged in to a Google account, not using Google Chrome) had their first page full of Greek results.   Obviously Google has been tracking the fact that I am not interested in football.   But no matter how hard I search, there is nowhere in my Google customization, preferences or other location where I can untick a box to change this.

At the same time I have been admiring Google+ .   You are much more in control of the experience than Facebook.   It is much, much less prone to scams, false profiles and spam of all sorts.   For anyone who has lived in the uncertain world of trying to do Facebook marketing over the past years it is a breath of fresh air.

And that is exactly how Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine can overtake Google.   Bear open your secret sauce.   Show us the workings of your algorythms and let us tweak them.   Let me, the search users, decide what I want to attach weight to.   We could even swap tweaks, like my “don’t care about football but like outdoor stuff and sport in general” attitude.    It would be something you nurture through time, like a farm on Farmville; your searches and clicks create your own unique version of the search algorythm, your own “magic soup”.   Many users would love it.   At least those who care about what they see, the discerning users who are probably more interesting for advertisers too in the long term.

You can’t beat Google any other way, and we all know how hard you tried…

Communication Technology

Why Google wants to stop me blogging

If you are posting original content on Facebook or Twitter, you’re stupid.  No polite way to put it.   You’re an idiot.   Every day I see great thoughts, photos and other inspiring original content posted on Facebook and it makes me cringe.   It is like cooking an interesting organic and original meal and then giving it away to McDonald’s to sell for you.   It is also inexcusable because there are so many easy ways around it.

When blogging started it was just that.   Blogging.   Horrible aesthetics for web logs= very rough diary like things.   But now you have Tumblr and all sorts of prettier choices.   You can put your stuff in your website and then get it to automatically update Facebook, Twitter or almost anything else you want.   But you control the environment in which your content lives and breathes.   You organise it as you want it presented, not as Facebook deems best in its latest incarnation.

Yeah, even those witty one liners you are posting on Twitter.   Post them in your world and then think where you are distributing them.

There is however a larger picture on this issue.   And that is that even Google is keen to stop you blogging.   The demise of the platform is intentional.   Because if you are controlling a “castle” of a blog with all your information and all it’s unique traffic, they can’t make money out of it as easily.   You might even start to want to sell banners yourself!  Facebook and Google+ or Twitter are in effect using you as slave journalists and content producers.   They make the interface and the media chanel, you provide the content.   Sure, loads of it is rubbish, but even rubbish provides really useful data about how you, and your friends, think.   What they like, what they shop, where they go.

Blogger isn’t one of Google’s failures.   It was useful when it started and now it is purposely being winded down.   They don’t completely cancel the service as it provides useful information.   And WordPress would simply be too powerful if left unchecked.    But now they want most of you to start working for them for free on Google+…