Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Technology Update: Yahoo, Google, Gates and Cerf 

There's been a lot of action in the technology sector the past week, besides E-bay's acquisition of Skype. Yahoo just announced it's decision to dip into the world of serious journalism by hiring freelance journalist, Kevin Sites. Sites shot to prominence with dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan on his well-read blog. The last I heard of him, he was forced to shut his blog down by his then employer, CNN. In his new avatar at Yahoo's Hotzone, Sites will provide multimedia coverage from some of the world's hotspots, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chad and more. Wonder how Krishna Bharat and Google News will respond to Yahoo's new initiative in the media space?

In the meanwhile, Google provides the perfect panacea for all of us who have been cribbing about Technorati's dreadful performance over the past year: Google Blogsearch. IMHO, this is yet another piece of software from Google that brings back the 'wow' factor that was missing the last time around. A simple search revealed 640 results in 0.09 seconds, which was way, way, faster than a similar search on Technorati.

I suppose some of you have also read about Google hiring Vinton Cerf as Chief Internet Evangelist. This is on top of Google hiring Adam Bosworth, Louis Monier and Mark Lucovsky. I, for one, would give an arm and a leg to find out what Google is planning at the big-picture level and where they see themselves 10 years from now. For the time being though, I'll just have to satisfy myself reading John Battelle's new book. In the meantime, you can head over to CNet, which features Vint Cerf musing about his new role at Google.

Finally, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer has an interview with Bill Gates, in which he lays out what all of the above means to the software industry's 800-pound gorilla. For starts, he admits Google, Apple etc are better than MSFT at what they do. But then, he delivers notice.
At any point in our history, we've had competitors who were better at doing something. Novell was the best at file servers. Lotus was the best at spreadsheets. WordPerfect was the best at word processing.Right now, because of the breadth of what we do, we have that in many areas. Nokia is way ahead of us in phones; we're closing the gap. Sony is ahead of us in video games. We're just on the verge of something (the Xbox 360) that will help us close the gap there. In Web search, Google is the far-away leader. Big honeymoon for them. Even if they do "me, too" type stuff, people think, "wow." And Apple in music has done a fantastic job.

In those areas where somebody else has done well, that's great. We'll match what they do, we'll bring new things to it, do it better and integrate it in with other things. And so it's very healthy for the consumer. We see that in search, we see it in music. It's not new at all that that's out there.