Resistance is Futile: We Will Be Assimilated – by Google.

Two seemingly unrelated items:

Today Hitwise reported on how Google Maps is catching up on Mapquest, which once was the king of online mapping.

Perhaps more important than just the numbers is the source of traffic:  61% of Google Maps traffic comes from links placed in organic Google Search results.  Contrast that to Mapquest, where 8 out of 10 hits come from searches on the Mapquest brand itself.  Translation: Mapquest is only used by its already dwindling user base, while Google Maps gains steadily, since Google owns Search.  The writing is clearly on the wall.

The second story: Google Gmail Within Striking Distance Of Hotmail – reported Information Week a few days ago.  Wait, wasn’t Gmail supposed to be email for the geeks only, lagging behind the masses of Yahoo and Hotmail users?

Between September 2007 and September 2008, Gmail’s visitor total grew 39%, from 18.8 million to 26 million, ComScore figures indicate. Windows Live Hotmail during this period saw its visitor share decline 4%, from 46.2 million to 44.6 million.

If Google’s Gmail growth rate rises to, say, 46% over 2009, it could reach approximately 43 million unique U.S. visitors by the end of the year. And if Windows Live Hotmail continues to bleed visitors at a rate of, say, 3%, it will finish the year with around 42 million unique visitors per month.

So Gmail may overtake Hotmail by the end of this year, and if the trend continues, it might overtake Yahoo by the end of 2011, concludes Information Week.  Note, these are site visits, not account numbers, but account numbers include all the throw-away, long forgotten dormant accounts that both Yahoo and Hotmail has in abundance.  All these email systems being web-based, visitor stats are a better representation of actual usage.

The third story (yes, I promised two, but can’t stop now):  The Google Power Meter., currently being tested by Google employees.  These are smart devices you plug in all around the house, they will report back to the mothership and you get a nice dashboard aimed at helping you making the right energy choices.

I would certainly like to know just how “smart” they can be – any chance of bi-directional communication?  I can’t help but remember the mail campaign from PG&E, my utility company.  They are handing out $25 to anyone who allows them to install a smart thermostat free of charge.  The catch?  At times when consumption reaches peak levels, the utility company can remotely throttle back your air conditioner.  So now you see why I’m hesitant about these Google electricity meters.  Could they be switched from passive reporting to regulating one day?

The fourth story (gee, I really have to stop soon): An opinion piece on Bloomberg discusses how the health provisions slipped into the stimulus bill will effect every one of us in the US:

Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.  But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).

Ouch. I’m all for electronic medical records, but I don’t want them to be turned into a Big Brother function.  And I don’t want a computer program to decide on my medical treatment.  But I’ve just complained about the Sorry State of Health 2.0: neither Google Health nor Microsoft HealthVault are up to the job yet.  I want them to get there, and I trust they will (at least one of them).  I don’t want them to run my health care, just help me and my providers manage it – but fear of potential misuse won’t stop my desire for progrees.

Do you see the trend here?  Google is unstoppable.  They want to manage all data, but our life is increasingly all about data and what we do with it.  The former Borg in Redmond is now a toothless veteran, slowly dwindling away – Google is the New Borg.  Resistance is futile.  We’re being assimilated.  And we like it.  Enjoy the video: (better quality if you click through)

Related posts:

(This post originally appeared @ CloudAve.  To stay abreast of Clod Computing, SaaS news and analysis, grab the CloudAve feed here.)


Facebook Runs a Sweatshop – Literally

Facebook runs a sweatshop – literally. The evidence is in the yellow circle on this Valleywag-supplied photo of their Palo Alto office space.

While employees are struggling with the heat, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clearly wearing shoes instead of his trademark Adidas flip-flops at the D6 conference in Carlsbad (photo by Dan Farber):

Therein lies the solution: bring the flip-flops back. But don’t stop there: mandate beach-wear in the office. An amazingly simple solution to many of Facebooks problems:

  • – No more heat problem
  • – Increased employee morale, probably enough for them to forget about revoked housing subsidy
  • – Additional incentive to stay in the office longer
  • – Reduced energy bill
  • – Going Green is trendy, there’s another $5B added to their valuation.

I’m a genius. Sending Zuck a $10K consulting invoice. island

Update: Why can’t WordPress 2.5 dislay bulletpoints properly?


The Green Fight: Solar Panels vs. Trees

We’re supposed to save trees – not only because there are laws against cutting them, but it’s the right thing to do. So Sunnyvale couple Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett were doing a good deed by planting a bunch of redwood trees between 1997 and 99.

Their neighbor, Mark Vargas must also be environmentally conscious, as he installed solar panels on his roofs in 2001.  There’s only one small (actually large) problem: solar panels don’t work without exposure to the sun.

The redwood trees grew to be giants, some reaching 400 feet, and they cast a shadow on the solar panels.  The neighbors have been fighting for years and finally Vargas filed a lawsuit.  Last December a judge ordered the couple to remove the trees. They won’t appeal, as after spending $37,000 in legal bills and can’t afford the lawsuit anymore, so they will abide. 

The lawsuit, and decision was based on California’s Solar Shade Control Act, which requires homeowners to keep their trees or shrubs from shading more than 10 percent of a neighbor’s solar panels.

Now, here comes the controversial part:

Existing trees that cast shadows when the panels are installed are exempt, but new growth is subject to the law.

CA state Sen. Joe Simitian (D) of Palo Alto plans to change it.  The bill he introduced this week would protect trees that were planted before the installation of solar panels. Those planted next to already existing solar panels would still be subject to removal.

Here’s the NBC11 video.

Update:  2009-10 will be the perfect time to install solar, as supply is expected to exceed demand.


Is Going Green Good Marketing?

I’ve received an email from European SaaS All-in-One SMB provider 24SevenOffice (wow, that’s a mouthful, basically NetSuite+Office for really small businesses, see my earlier coverage):

2008 must be the year when we all act against the serious environmental threat that the world is facing. 24SevenOffice has developed “The Go Green Game”, a Flash-game that puts focus on the pollution caused by the millions of unnecessary server rooms and servers located in all companies.

In addition, 24SevenOffice will plant trees based on the number of players, in co-operation with Nobel Peace Prize winner Maathai’s Green Belt Movement. If you wish to make a direct contribution to the society, let yourself entertain at or forward this e-mail to friends, colleagues and business partners who are committed to the environmental battle.

Thank you for showing responsibility for the environment! The game can be found here:

I had mixed thoughts at first reading: Obviously environmental consciousness is becoming fashionable. Companies rush to launch their green initiatives in order to look “responsible corporate citizens”. OK, that’s the cynical view, but after all, these are often useful initiatives, and I’ve already said you don’t have to be purely altruistic to do good.

Whatever this game may be, it’s just a “save the earth” message, it’s not a vehicle to push 24SevenOffice products…

But wait! Like Columbo, when you think he’s gone, but comes back and drops the gist of the conversation, there’s a footnote here:

NB! The products mentioned in this e-mail are not the environmental sinners in themselves.
The environmental problem is based on the fact that most businesses, unnecessarily, have their own
servers and server rooms. This is the issue that 24SevenOffice is addressing.

Ahh…so it is advertising after all. Oh, well, it still delivers a correct message .. let’s check out the game itself:

I need to practice my swing, I could barely smash a few servers, look how much they’ve already racked up! Even worse, I’m not good in reading instructions, totally missed option#2, which is…no, I can’t tell you, it’s too violent.smile_devil

Joke apart, 24SevenOffice clearly has a point: maintaining millions of servers for (small) businesses is wasteful, switching to Cloud Computing allows central servers to be more efficiently utilized, we’re all saving energy.

As a side-note, I’ve just looked at a web-based service that allows us, as individual consumers “go green” – will report about it when they are ready.