GOutlook. Gmail Back to Earth… in Search of Revenue.

Image credit: LifeHacker I’ve been long-time Gmail fan, having used it from the very early days, for almost 5 years now. The key reasons why I switched and have stuck with the service ever since were the productivity boosters, first of all:

  • Threaded conversations
  • Labels
  • Search

Google did to email what all new product teams should: throw away all known concepts, start from fresh, figure our what the system should really do, instead of delivering a customary system with minor improvements.  Instant success. Instant Customers.  No, correct that: instant users.  There is a difference.  Apparently not everyone likes “radically new”.

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve » Zoli Erdos)


Universal, Actionable Search: Zoho’s Improved Answer to “Where’s My Stuff?”

zoho search Search, Don’t Organize

– is the Google mantra, meaning we should stop wasting time filing away information in folders, sorting, labeling it for later retrieval, when it’s so much easier to search / find it.

That is, if you know where to search. Did you discuss that project in email?  Or was it a Document?  A Presentation?  A Spreadsheet?  A Wiki?  Was there a meeting on it that’s in your Calendar?

We’ve finally resolved the issue of universal search on the desktop, but not on the Web.  Google’s productivity tools all have their own search facilities (I love Gmail search) but you have to execute search on an app by app basis.  Even my Android-phone fares better, where I can search within a particular app or all my data.

Surprisingly, Zoho came out with Universal Search before the King of Search (although it would be naive to believe Google won’t catch up…)   The Universal, Actionable Search solution announced today is just that:

  • Universal: working across several Zoho applications, e.g. Mail, Docs, Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook, Discussions, Accounts
  • Actionable: depending on the context you can edit a document, respond to / forward an email, IM a contact..etc on a single click, right from the search results, without having to launch the individual application.

A nice step towards contextual integration we’ve just discussed recently.

For now Search is either accessible via or by using the search box in Zoho Business – eventually all Zoho Apps will get the Universal Search box.  (I have no information on how it will be implemented, but once again, context comes first: I’d expect the default to be within the specific app, other apps or “all” selectable, whereas in Business, which is Zoho’s  business portal the “all” setting is more logical)

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(Disclosure:  Zoho is CloudAve’s exclusive Sponsor)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


The Problem With TweetMeme

TweetMeme has become the de facto standard of retweet buttons, it’s hard to find a blog without it.  Little do we know just how slow it is – to be exact, how much it slows down site access.  This might not appear a big deal, until you we realize that Google now considers site speed as a factor in determining Page Rank.

I quickly ran my personal blog through the Web Page Test, and here’s what I got: TweetMeme is about the only killer, slower than anything by a long mile.

load time first

The above chart is the result of initial access – below are the results of repeat access, when a lot of data is already cached:

load time repeat

Not a pretty picture – but for now, I am leaving TweetMeme anyway… hoping for a solution soon.

Update: The animated image of the never-loading button is from a blog post that recommends a solution. I vaguely remember reading about the logic years ago – not just for TweetMeme, but all widgets – but the actual details go beyond my technical grade:   Install the TweetMeme Retweet Button… WITHOUT the Slow Page Loads!

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Why Bing is Gaining on Google

Bing is gaining on Google.  Do you know why?  Check these Google image search results for the keyword Bing. My friend Chris Yeh could come up with all sorts of theories on why she is winning, but I’ll skip the details.

On a serious note (and it’s not even tomorrow) here’s an easy way to experiment yourself: either use Bing vs. Google online, or better yet, add it as a search provider to your browser and observe the results for a few days.


Yotify – an Almost Impressive Personal Alert service

Reading that TechCrunch calls  Yotify  “Google Alerts on Steroids” I had great expectations… that did not last long. For now, it’s a no-go… read my quick review on CloudAve.



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Earthquakes, Google Juice and How Content Beats AdWords

I often find out what’s happening in the world just be looking at the keyword activity in my blog referral log.  Like today, when I received readers looking for news on the earthquake in Japan.  This is actually sad, I feel bad for people looking for real info and getting “hijacked” – I am clearly not an earthquake expert, not even an authority on the subject.  All I did was point out how Twitter had been the first to report on several quakes in China and Japan, long before the major news-wires, and miraculously (and unfortunately) my post became the #1 hit for the Japan earthquake search on Google for a while, even preceding Japan’s Meteorogical Agency, which should be the ultimate source for such information.

This isn’t anything new, I’ve seen some of my posts get into top Google positions before – but it’s more understandable when I write about a more obscure subject, or a startup nobody else covers… like Brainkeeper,  where my post was #1 for months, preceding the company’s own site.   Being #2 for the fairly generic search on saas very small business is a bit more surprising, and #1 for Microsoft Outlook Sluggish is certainly rather unexpected.   Yahoo, for a change, lists my fairly old post as #1 for the very generic search term Startup Executives, and how on Earth did I get to dominate the igoogle for google apps search? smile_embaressed

Recently I’ve noticed it almost doesn’t matter what I write about, I can get a premium position for certain relevant keywords. As much as I am enjoying it (hey, who doesn’t like Google Juice), there’s something fundamentally wrong with this system.  I think blogs are somewhat overrated, and perhaps individual posts should be weighted on their own merits, not the Google Juice of the main blog itself.

But there’s another conclusion we should draw here. Content is really king, to the extent that it can compete with advertising. Businesses should take notice: you can pay for AdWords, or get to the top by developing your own content – and organic hits are worth more than paid ads. smile_shades

There’s another side of the coin here: if you don’t develop your own content, someone else will – and you may not be happy with the results.   I’m not sure UPS enjoys seeing my post immediately under their site for the google search  UPS Tracking

So once again: the old adage “Content is King” has got a new meaning.  I’ve been contemplating this for a while, and am getting ready to announce a new initiative in the next few weeks.


Gmail Search is Slowing and Google Knows…

Perhaps the best thing Gmail has going for it is the power of search: the ability to instantly find everything. Except that instant is getting ..well longer and longer. And make no mistake, Google knows it, to the point that there is now a message recognizing the fact:

The Still working message comes up when you are waiting for search, stuck to the point that you can’t move away, stop the search …etc: your options are either wait it out, or close the browser/window. A Windows-like experience? smile_sad

Related posts: Simplified Guide to Importing All Your Archive Email Into Gmail


Facebook Just Ain’t For Business, Get Over It (Business Needs Social Networking in Context)

I’ve stolen the first part of the title: Sam Huleatt’s best contribution to the New York Times article is giving it a new title that says it all. thumbs_up

The Facebook vs LinkedIn debate heated up again today, for the millionth time. The Facebook Fanclub’s recurring theme in comparing LinkedIn to Facebook is just how resume- and jobsearch-oriented LinkedIn is: go there, get what you want, then there’s nothing else to do there.

I’m sorry, but since when is this a complaint? Isn’t business all about having an objective and efficiently reaching it with minimum the time and effort? I suspect most of the LinkedIn “deserters” who switched to Facebook are independent types who have the time to hang around in Facebook, and are striving to enhance their personal brand.

Jeremiah’s Web Strategy Group is thriving which certainly helps boost his own brand. Robert Scoble wants to have more than 5,000 friends:

I think it sucks because it isn’t scalable and falls apart at 5,000 contacts. It pisses me off more and more every day because of that scaling wall.

Robert is a celebrity, and this is his fan-club. For the rest of us, I still believe less is more, (update: Doc Searls feels the same) and our online network should reflect our real-life one, instead of being an inflated collection of data records. We already saw the initial “link-mongering” on LinkedIn, but after a while things settled down, and the majority of LinkedIn users max out with 2-300 contacts, which is about the number of people you really, truly can know well. Now, somehow with Facebook all the netiquette is thrown away: I’m sure I’m not the only one flooded with invitations by people whose name does not even remotely sound familiar, and frankly, it’s frustrating.

I also fail to see the usefulness of seeing when my contacts watch a movie, pack for a trip, make coffee, or go to pee. This is a lot of noise with the sole purpose of gluing us to the screen (it works!), and made sense for on-campus dating, Facebook’s heritage, but let’s be real: how is this relevant to business? I’m not saying Facebook can’t be used for business at all – Jeff Nolan quotes a few examples:

Victoria Secret has a group for their Pink product line, 380k members and great interactivity, downloads, user generated content.

Ernst & Young is recruiting through Facebook and experiencing great results as a result of being connected with their candidates where they live.

So, yes, Facebook can be used for business, but these examples are all about external outreach, marketing, communication, recruiting. The point I’m making is, let’s not, while bringing everything Web 2.0 into the Enterprise 2.0 umbrella try to push Facebook to the corporate market – is has no value there. Let’s not equate Facebook to Social Networking, which is, and will be important for the Enterprise, but it needs context.

To illustrate my point, I’ll bring an example originally not “labeled” as Social Networking – oh, and the story has a Facebook-y twist, too.

ConnectBeam started their life as for business, but arguably they have developed into a business-focused social networking tool: in context, with purpose. Ironically, it was Facebook that drove ConnectBeam into this market in the first place.

Founder Puneet Gupta launched CourseCafe in 2005, with the intention of becoming for students’ academic life what Facebook has become for their social Life – in fact I called it “The Other Facebook” for a reason: We thought that while Facebook dominated 80% of students’ life, the fun part, there was room for CourseCafe to help organize the remaining 20%, their studies. They had a good product, received good reviews and started to get traction, spreading through several colleges. Ultimately Puneet became worried about potentially clashing with FaceBook, and at the same time he received interest from the corporate world, so he reinvented his business, this time focusing on the Enterprise.

The new business, ConnectBeam is social bookmarking for the Enterprise – but soon they took a new spin, expanding towards social networking. But doing it in the right way, in context. The context is finding co-workers who are likely engaged in similar activities to yours, or at least have similar interests, since they execute similar searches and are using the same tags you do. Their product is tightly integrated with Google’s Enterprise search, showing a combined result of what Google finds, what is tagged by how many people, and the list of users sharing that item or tag.

Tight integration to Google has become their “secret sauce” in terms of sales success, too: just about any large organization has already a Google (or Fast ..etc) appliance, a dedicated person with a mission and budget to spend on Enterprise Search – so in fact what they sell is “search enhancement”. ConnectBeam has only launched recently, but they already have Honeywell, CSC, Booz Allen Hamilton and other big names as paying customers.

They’ve come full circle: driven away from the college market by Facebook, now offering context-specific social networking, beating Facebook to the Enterprise. They will not get 40 million users, and Puneet will not become a billionaire, like Mark Zuckerberg (likely) will. They follow the good old-fashioned model: deliver value to businesses, who pay for it. That’s pretty good in my book. smile_wink

Update: Of course the “LinkedIn vs Facebook” and “Facebook Sucks” stories are all over TechMeme:

TechCrunch, All Facebook, Off the Top, CenterNetworks, Workbench,, Scripting News, /Message, WinExtra, Insider Chatter,, Thomas Hawk’s Digital …, even Mini-Microsoft (wow!), PDA/Guardian,

Update #2: The you-don’t-need-more-friends lobby by Robert Scoble. I still belive he does not have 5,000 “friends” but a 5,000 (or more) strong fan-club. When you have 5,000 contacts, it’s a Rolodex (a term Robert used, too), not “live” contacts. And I suggest you read the comments to my old less is more post – re. the same subject, even though it’s on LinkedIn.

Update #3: Pfizer teams with Sermo, the “doctors’ Facebook” – Nick Carr writes about another contextual social network.

Update (10/15): Getting (Anti-) Social, the Web 2.0 Way – @ Wired & TechCrunch.

Wow! I’ve became Doc Searls’ Quote du jour. I’m honored.

Update (10/26): Naughty “Business” on FaceBook

Update (10/28): Beginner’s 5 Step Guide to Using LinkedIn and Facebook

Facebook Isn’t A Social Network, LinkedIn Is

Aussies as Adults: an Enterprise Facebook Story

The Facebook Fad


Koral Acquired by

Wow, this was fast. I met Koral CEO Mark Suster some time in November, when he gave me a demo of his then pre-beta Content Collaboration system. I instantly liked it, largely for it’s simplicity – hence the title of my review: Koral – Collaborative Content Management without the Hassle of “Management”.

Apparently I was not the only one who liked the productsmile_regular. Koral is no more. has acquired it, launching its new service … hm, SalesforceContent, or Apex Content, or Salesforce ContentExchange – apparently there is a bit confusion over the name, but we’ll know it tomorrow for sure. The logo is from the (former) Koral site:

Update: Clarification from CEO Mark Suster:

“The overall initiative is called Salesforce Content. That consists of the Apex Content platform where developers will be able to build their own content based applications and Salesforce ContentExchange, which is a Web 2.0 application for managing corporate content that sits on top of this platform.
Basically, we took an integrated product, Koral, and split it out into a platform piece for developers and an application piece ready to sell to customers.

TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb and ZDNet has all the details. Congratulations, Mark, Tim and the rest of the team!