Tag Archives: google

My Detailed Review of Google Keep

I see that right on the heels of killing my beloved Google Reader, Google has launched Keep, a note taking service.

So I gave it a try.  Here’s my considered analysis, in the form of my one and only Google Keep note.

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Is the Demise of iGoogle an Opportunity for Yahoo?

I’ve been a proponent and user of internet start pages for a long, long time. My primary start page is a handmade one here. All of my desktop browsers are set to start and open new tabs there. I even have a mobile version, which I rarely use, simply because almost all mobile computing is done via apps (no one surfs the web on a phone; those who claim to are kidding, confused or lying).

I also use a third party start page for news, weather, sports, stocks, etc., because it is much easier to add widgets to third party start pages than to write them yourself. I used My Yahoo for years. Eventually, Yahoo’s neglect of My Yahoo (as a part of its apparent overall policy of neglecting every useful part of its web-based assets) and my growing dependence on Google, led me to largely abandon My Yahoo for iGoogle. Just in time for Google to announce the discontinuance of iGoogle, in what I interpret to be another doomed attempt at forcing users to embrace Google+.

Is this an opportunity for Yahoo?

There are a few alternatives out there. Netvibes is one that people are talking about. I’ve had a Netvibes account since the early beta, but I had to recover my credentials to see what my page looks like (e.g., I never use it).

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Netvibes

That page screams 5 years ago, but with a little effort I could make it look and work OK. But My Yahoo could be so much better, if Yahoo would spend a fraction of the time nurturing it that it spends hiring and firing CEOs.

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My Yahoo

My biggest criteria for a third party start page used to be which one was better. Now, it’s which one will likely exist longer. On the one hand, any start page could be trashed or bought or ignored into complete obsolescence at any moment. On the other, sometimes a market that everyone is abandoning is an opportunity in disguise.

Particularly if you have a built-in advantage.

Neither Google nor Netvibes is a content producer. Thus, most content they serve up is third party content. Yahoo, on the other hand, seems- at least at the moment- to be interested in producing content:

Levinsohn also will expand Yahoo’s effort to create its own news coverage of big events, such as the Olympics and national elections.

That fact, combined with the ad-serving potential and stickiness of an online home-base, sounds like an opportunity. Create a place people will actually want to use.  Fill it up with your content and that of your content partners, sell some ads. Make some money. Reclaim your mojo. And so on.

For this to work, Yahoo has to (a) be paying attention, (b) recognize this opportunity, (c) seize the opportunity now, not months from now, and (d) allocate the resources to make it awesome. Sounds like a long shot, but that’s better than no shot. I hope Yahoo gives it a try. I’d love to love My Yahoo.

Again.

I Love Me Some Apple, But About this iCloud Business

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I can’t decide which inflated statistic is more meaningless: that Google+ has 90 million users or that 100 million people use iCloud.  What I do know is that it comes down to how you define the verb use.  Here’s how I define it:

1. To put into service or apply for a purpose; employ.

2. To avail oneself of; practice.

That implies a commitment on the user’s part and a reliable satisfactory result.  If merely having an account means using then I am a user of probably a hundred Web 2.0 apps that I can’t even remember.  If the devil isn’t in the definition of user, it’s in the definition of active user.

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Let’s get Google+ out of the way first.  It is a beautifully designed platform.    With no one in it.  It’s like this mansion some cat built in my hometown, where there are no mansions, right before he went to jail.  It’s pretty, but it’s empty.  Sure, Scoble can get a zillion followers.  But Scoble would have a zillion followers if he jumped off a cliff.  Which he will only do if some nitwit builds a cliff jumping app and convinces Scoble that it’s the new big thing.  For the rest of us, there’s simply nothing to be had at Google+.  I’m pretty active on the internets, and I have been added to exactly 21 circles.  And at least some of those are spammers.  I had four times that many friend requests a day or two after I signed up for Facebook.  Why?  Because the non-geeks are on Facebook.   And, I suspect, because the desire for two-way communication on Facebook is geometrically higher than on Google+.  It doesn’t matter that Google+ is designed better.  Unless you are a celebrity (of one sort or another) or happy to be merely a one-way consumer of content, Google+ is an empty experience.

So while there may be 90 million people with Google+ accounts, if you net out those who signed up but aren’t truly active, the broadcasters who only want another billboard to self-promote with, those who are there only to try to sell you something and the spammers/scammers, I bet the number is a small fraction of that.

Then today, the newly crowned King of my beloved says 100 million people are using iCloud.  Maybe, if by use you mean signed up.   But upgrading your iOS and clicking Yes on the iCloud button that gets tossed in your face does not make you a user.  I guess I use iCloud to update my apps automatically and without that scourge that is iTunes.  But do I really use it?  Nope.  For one thing, it doesn’t do what I need it to do.  Apple should have nutted up and bought Dropbox, which does.  For another, no sync program is going to be truly useful until and unless it supports Word documents.  Even if you’re one of the two people in Enterprise lucky enough to have a Mac, literally every corporate document is created in Word.  Pages? Ha!  That’s funny.  I love my iMac, but I still slog away on a bloated 5 year old XP box at work. With Word.  Oh yeah, and Outlook.  Sucks, but that’s life.

I could go on and talk about how iCloud doesn’t work (easily) with Google Calendar or Contacts, but you get the point.

So keep tossing those numbers out there guys.  But those of us in the non-geek, real world know better.

And don’t even get me started on Match.  It is a honking mess.  The only thing keeping Match in the game is Google’s boneheaded decision to limit Google Music to 20,000 songs.

Hopefully there is a silver lining somewhere in this Cloud business.  But right now, it’s so unfinished people have to inflate the numbers to make us believe it’s as good as it should be.

Google+ Isn’t the New Facebook, It’s the New Blogosphere

I’ve been reasonably active on Google+ since Google Apps users were finally allowed into the party.  So far, I am very impressed with the technology, particularly the way it seems to be improving on a Chrome-like pace.

google_plusBut it’s not going to replace Facebook, for me or anyone else.  Mainly because, as far as I can tell, there are no non-geeks on there.  I have asked quite a few of my IRL friends if they use or have heard of Google+.  Roughly half say they have heard of it.  None of them- that’s right, zero- use it.  That may change a little over time, but not in any meaningful way. There’s nothing compelling enough about Google+ to cause the non-geek herd to migrate from the familiar confines of Facebook.

We geeks can fawn over Google+ as much as we like, but until it gets traction with the non-geek crowd, it will be just a side show on the path to the big blue tent.

Google+ is replacing something, though.  Sadly, not Twitter.  Nothing would improve the quality of life on earth quite as much as if we could go back in time and prevent Twitter from being created.  Maybe that’s how Terra Nova will end. 

So, Google+ is not the new Facebook.  Or the new Twitter.  It’s the new blogosphere.

Fear not, this is not another Gatekeeper thing.  Granted, it could be, inasmuch as most folks on Google+ seem to have their circles populated on a slope (in the circles of those down the tech/popularity/whatever slope and having circles populated by those up the slope).  But no one cares about that sort of thing anymore.  We’re more into shares and retweets and asking Siri if she can open the pod bay doors.

With Google+ brand pages now enabled, there is a mad rush to set up shop in this new blogosphere.  There are some limitations that prevent the digital land barons from collaborative empire building, but many of those limitations will likely get worked out over time.  It’s sort of like when early web developers had to grind out websites with Front Page Express and whatnot.

The hope for Google+, as the new blogosphere, is that it becomes such a good platform that it attracts the sort of content that gets it past the realm of slide rules and pocket protectors and into the realm of college buddies and teenagers.  In other words, lots of big media sites operate on a blogging platform, but are much more like CNN than some nerdy online diary.

First the nerds, and then the soccer moms.

But limitations, challenges and good intentions aside, the boundaries of Google+ are being determined right now.  Google+ users, much like early bloggers, are busy staking out their territory.  Circles are both the new Bookmarks and the new RSS.  Selective sharing and privacy settings are the fences of this digital frontier.

Mostly, it’s just chaos at the moment.  Which isn’t always such a bad thing.  The tale will be told when we see how (and whether) things come together into some semblance of a coherent social network.  And whether Google makes the correct, but hard, choice to keep Google+ from turning into another digital Tupperware party where sellers in friends’ clothing create thinly disguised ads in the hope of selling goods and services to the theoretical consumer.  Twitter is a brilliant business because it legitimizes spam and takes a cut for the house (by monetizing the page views as it is delivered and consumed).  Twitter is also boring for those who aren’t drunk on the Kool-Aid, for the same reason.

I hope Google+ becomes better than Twitter and the blogosphere.  Only time will tell.

It’s always interesting to watch a new platform and technology that supports it evolve.  There’s a lot to like about Google+.  And there are some issues- many of which seem familiar to long-time bloggers.

Meet the new blogosphere.  Hopefully not the same as the old blogosphere.

Google Apps Users (Finally) Get Google+

Just when I had all but given up on ever getting invited to the Google+ party, I come home tonight and see that Google has, finally, enabled Google+ for Google Apps users.

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This is great news.  Period.

I happily set up my Profile, and added a few people to my Circles.

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I’m a little concerned that the train may have left the station, and that people already have their Circles filled, but only time will tell.

Here’s my Google+ page, if you’re interested.  I’ll be spending some time this weekend exploring Google+ and trying to create some traction.

We’ll see how it goes.  But either way, it’s good to have the ability to use Google+.

Late, but good nonetheless.

About all that Google+ Traffic

So Mashable reports that Google+ traffic has increased massively since Google opened it up to everyone other than Google Apps users.

Great.  Happy for you.  Hope you’re having a ball.

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But I have three questions.  Actually two and a rant.  Let’s get the rant out of the way.

Can someone explain to me one good reason why Google continues to deny Google Apps users the ability to participate in so many of its offerings?  Because a few companies use Google Apps is not a good reason.  You could make Google+ an option, and let the admins (and ass-backwards corporate IT policy) decide.  I’m really starting to pull against Google, purely out of some combination of anger, sadness and confusion.  Yes, and jealousy.

Now for my questions.

One, how many of the deluge of Google+ users are non-geeks?  Facebook has long held a virtual monopoly on non-geeks.  You know, that 98% of your real world friends who don’t build their own computers or jailbreak their iPhones.  Just about everyone I know uses Facebook to one extent or another- that’s why I ultimately capitulated and started using it.  I don’t know a single non-geek who uses Google+.  Of course, since I’m locked out, there may be a huge group of regular people over there, networking away while I check over and over to see if I can finally join the party.

Two, how sticky is it?  I’m sure tons of people sign up.  But what percentage of those people become regular users?  I really have no idea the answer, but I think the answer would be a good indication of how much of a threat to Facebook Google+ is.  At least so far.

If I ever get to use Google+, I’ll hope it thrives, because nothing is as good for the consumer as competition.  Well, except access.

Access would be pretty good.

The Needless and Inexplicable Flounderization of Google Apps Users

Do you ever feel like there are so many cool and amazing things to do on the net, that you feel overwhelmed?  If so, I have a guaranteed solution for you.  Become a Google Apps user.

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I ranted a few weeks ago about Google’s unwavering policy to deny Google Apps users the ability to use its newest features.  Lots of people reacted sympathetically and emotionally to that post, so I am clearly not the only Google Apps user who is unhappy about this.  In fact, I suspect that a lot of people are wondering why they elected to put themselves at a comparative disadvantage to the rest of the planet by going all-in with Google.

Now comes the (sort of) much anticipated Google+ Project.  It actually looks great.  One of the good things about being a 15-plus year tech blogger is that I know a lot of other technophiles (e.g., geeks).  It’s a rare thing when I don’t get an early invite to new applications.  I’d dearly love love to try Google+.

But I can’t.

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Because like just about everything else Google releases, Google+ requires a Google Profile.  Which Google Apps users still can’t have.

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It gets even worse.

With the release of Google+, Google seems to be opening up more cloud space, in an attempt to attract more loyal Google users.  As Yahoo ignores Flickr to death, it is a good time to start thinking about alternatives.  Google has begun offering almost unlimited space to its loyal Picasa users.  Just not its most loyal users- Google Apps users need not apply.

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When I asked Google why Google Apps users are getting hosed, they gave me an unsatisfactory but completely accurate answer.

This makes no sense.  At first, I thought it was just a matter of the left hand and the right hand operating separately, and at different speeds.  But if we still can’t even use Google Buzz a year and a half after it was “coming soon,” no one should be holding their breath.

It’s hard to come up with any good reason for Google to continuously leave Apps users out in the cold.

Which leaves only bad reasons.  Apathy?  Cluelessness?  Are they just being mean?  Do they hate us?

Someone will inexplicably try to mount a defense for Google by playing the “Apps are for Enterprise” card.  Fine, then make all the cool stuff an option, for the Google Apps Admins to select or not, as they see fit.  There is simply no way that taking choices away can be spun as good for the customer.  We’re not talking about skydiving here.  We’re talking about using web apps.  The same web apps that Google hopes will be the vanguard for its latest assault on the social web.

Come on, Google.  Stop screwing with your most loyal users.  The Flounderization of Google Apps users is bad business.

Do you love irony and social activism?  Then +1 this post so Google will see that Apps users are getting tired of standing in the back of the line.