My two cents

This is a great piece of analysis on how tweets very closely reflect the collective feelings of consumers during the day, during a week, during a year - etc. Our tweets follow seasonal patters, economic changes, current events — along with the simplest ups and downs in the cultural norms around us. Pretty interesting study results - and raises an interesting question about how Twitter will get used to pulse consumer moods, reactions, and spending potential going forward … 

Google + Motorola = something special must be brewing …

The news on Google’s acquisition of Motorola hit the airwaves yesterday, and its all CNBC, CNN, the FT, and NY Times could talk about it. Is Google trying to be a handset manufacturer? Are they really going to take on their own partners in the hardware market - and risk their existing OS contracts? Was the deal about the hardware or about the patents? Is this why Google ran up the price on Nortel’s patents not two months ago - finally bowing out to the Microsoft/Apple/RIM/Sony/EMC/Ericsson combo’s higher bid? Or was that part of the plan? What does Google know about the evolution of mobile computing / shopping / marketing / cloud integration / etc that we don’t know? Or better yet, what is Google planning for mobile computing / shopping / marketing / cloud integration / etc that we don’t know yet? The possibilities are virtually endless…!

A few good reads and POVs on the news are here —

i) Google and Microsoft in a Tit or Tat over Google patents - read it here

ii) Google to Acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5B - read it here and watch it here

iii) The Ripple Effects of Google’s Motorola Deal - read it here

iv) Nortel Patent Sale Gets Court Approval - read it here

 

It feels like a few things are going on - 

1) It’s not likely Google bought Motorola for the handset business - it would be highly un-strategic for them to pursue a position which directly competed with other hardware partners (namely Samsung and HTC) who have invested in the Android platform and helped it grow tremendously in the last 5 years. And Google is not known for being un-strategic.

2) The patents Google has now acquired represent some of the most forward looking tech innovations consumers have ever seen - and say what you will about Motorola, their engineers are smart and they know smartphones better than almost anyone. Their problem was foresight into consumer needs and how to translate those patents into revenue and market-building value for the mobile-information industry, and for Motorola as a company. Enter Google with exactly the foresight Motorola needs.

3) The consortium which bought shared rights to Nortel’s patents last month scored quite the patent repository also - but nowhere near the same scale. They paid $4.5B for more than 6,000 patent assets (~$750k/patent) across all things data, wireless and networking technology, and semiconductors. Most of this will be useful to all of them - the key being ALL of them. There is very little competitive advantage gained for any one of them since they share ownership, and the value will really be seen in who innovates ‘on top of’ these patents first. The break-even any of them has to reach is significant - but all things equal, I put my money on Apple getting there first.

4) Google, in yesterday’s deal, acquired more than 25,000 patents for $12.5B (~$500k/patent) related to networking, computer, mobile technology, and mobile communications. And they are the sole owner - no sharing, no race to innovate - and a lesser break-even to demonstrate new value. This creates a clear competitive advantage for Google once they leverage and integrate this tremendous IP into their internal development engine.

5) For other players in the space - RIM and Nokia in particular - the markets were bullish on their stocks yesterday pushing them up by 3.3% and 10.3% respectively. The intrinsic value of these companies didn’t change overnight (esp given RIM’s continued growth and revenue problems), but the intrinsic value of their patents DID increase. The market is likely expecting more deals like this to come, the targets of which could be RIM and Nokia.

So what’s the bottom line? —> Google bought Motorola for the IP value and “smarts” of their business, not for the easy entree into the hardware business. They bought it to secure the future of Android against those who would prefer it failed (all noted above), or those who want to own it themselves (Oracle’s name emerges here). Within the next 6 months we may very likely see a) the handset business spun-off or potentially sold to an HTC or Samsung, b) a slew of new mobile, network, and cloud computing solutions/innovations from Google which (as usual) will integrate seamlessly with their other products and solutions, or c) mobile computing/information sharing solutions we, as consumers, don’t know we need yet.

There is definitely something brewing here - and in typical Google style, we won’t know exactly what is it until Google’s ready to launch it far and wide.

Stay tuned …

Can Amazon be a force in online advertising?

Interesting read in today’s AdAge about Amazon’s new ad network model which hopes to leverage the deep base of consumer shopping and clicking behaviors (nearly 10 years of data!) to launch an ad network which can serve up highly targeted ads and near-exact behavioral targeting based on what Amazon’ers are looking at or buying on a regular basis.

Having done some work on ad networks in the past, I have been waiting to see when one of the many online retailers finally understood the treasure trove of data they are sitting on. Esp if they can translate these networks into a co-op data sharing “ecosystem” across multiple retail partners, the data becomes even more valuable with each additional purchase.

The crux of this working will be 1) consumer opt-in which will set the bar on how much of Amazon’s data can really be ‘unlocked’ (the article doesn’t mention anything about consumer opt-in for Amazon’s model, so am curious to understand how they have addressed this), and 2) actual cross-sharing of retail data since, for competitive reasons, not all retailers are going to be 100% on board for sharing their consumer’s buying habits, so how Amazon gets their ad partners comfortable with sharing information between them will be somewhat critical to this working. Signing on one big partner think WMT, Macy’s, FedEx, etc. would set the stage for others to follow …

This will be interesting to follow once we start to hear more about it - and will be interesting to see if Amazon’s starts notifying customers of new data/privacy policies along the way …

How does the US-equivalent of Mentos gum enter the US market? Through Facebook of course …

This is pretty great — Perfetti Van Melle, the company behind Mentos gum and those great Mentos commercials we all love, has launched a US-specific product called UP2U. The moniker and colors will look highly familiar, and the marketing tactics will create some deja vu — but the best part is that to enter the US market, Perfetti Van Melle didn’t do the traditional TV ad first - they went with social media. On June 13th, a Facebook page was launched where users could “like” the new gum (95,000 have so far!), could get a sample if they were the first 1000 “like’rs”, and share this new-found gum sensation with their friends. So many US (and now international) firms are realizing the engine that is social media, it’s transforming the marketing plans that used to work so well. Of course, we all know this already - big “so what” huh?

Well, in this case it struck as even more compelling a strategy given the parent company has made a name for itself largely based on gimmicky TV ads — we’ve all seen (and deep down kind of love) the great scene where the jovial teenager eats a Mentos and hops through the back of a cab just in time to catch his bus on the other side of the street (“Mentos - the fresh maker!”). It’s cheesy - but memorable. And that’s what marketers want more than anything.

When Perfetti Van Melle wants to break into the US, they have 2 options — 1) create awareness and consideration by extending the same gimmicky approach to the US (via TV ads), create nastalgia for the parent brand, and watch the buyers stream in, or 2) try something new via social media and recreate the same engagement and consumer appeal the Mentos brand already has - but this time ’digitally’. The latter option is risky as it leaves behind something consumers know so well - but if it works, could be 10x more successful than TV ads alone. In this case, they took the risk.

It should be interesting to see what happens - at the very least, when you see UP2U in your grocery store or at the newstand, your recognition of the brand will be through all the “likes” you saw on Facebook that same morning — you might buy it for the fun of it, and for the story-telling potential on your wall when you describe what it tastes like to all your friends via a status message — and that’s really all Perfetti Van Melle needs.

(Source: The New York Times)

Search meets Social - finally!
For some time now, we’ve been watching Google and Facebook grow up. Google brought search to the masses, ranking search results based on how often any particular site is referenced by other sites, unlocking credibility and reliability in way not seen before. Facebook, despite resistance when it first hit the scene (Friendster, MySpace, etc all came and went with similar fanfare), is clearly here to stay, bringing our friends closer to us than we thought possible. We actively track the careers, trips, vacations, familiy additions, movie reviews, Farmville scores, online reading, and personal opinions of our friends in a way previously only done through a series of weekend phone calls.
But what does this have to do with search?? » Google’s innovation was  transparency to the internet, and the most nuanced part of what Facebook gave us is a very small “Like’ button. An innovation no doubt developed during one of many overnight hack-athons, and which, at its core, represents a virtual “pat on the back” we can share with anyone, about anything. The more Like’s a post on Facebook gets, the higher it shows in my ‘recent activity’ feed, and the more people read it. Extend this to search, and a virtual “pat on the back” translates into exactly the “credibility” Google wants us to have - the more pat’s on the back, the more reliable the result, and the more effective our search.
(It should be noted, similar innovations originally emerged in restaurant and product reviews allowing us to let the original poster know if their feedback was “useful” - it didn’t take on quite the personality that the little “Like” button did, but represented “credibility” just the same.)
Google introduced a “+1” button today, which can be clicked against every search result it delivers. As users search for and find what they are looking for, they can click the “+1” and acknowledge that the result was relevant and useful (a virtual “pat on the back”). As the “+1” ‘s add-up, the search result’s ranking increases, and our search success increases. We’re now capturing insight from not only Google’s undelrying algorithm, but also the “real time” feedback of anyone using Google search.
The implications are incredible  -
1) Google beat Bing to this innovation, and by extension, beat Facebook to any integration of search into their platform  —> taking back their leader position in the internet / technology space.
2) Google search commands ~65% of search market share, a significant portion of the digital population - any +1 wisdom from this group is going to be far more reliable than anything Microsoft or Facebook would have recreated.
3) Google has recently come under fire for a ‘loophole’ in its indexing methodology which allow sites to index higher just by placement of their weblink on as many other sites as possible (see the JCPenney debacle here) - this innovation solves that problem by combining direct user feedback with analytical algorithm results, eliminating the here-to-unknown margin of error.
If all goes to plan, the “+1” will become as innate to our everyday behavior as the “Like” button, leading search results, internet transparency, and access to knowledge to be even better than before. Google, true to form, will have added even more value to their existing algorithm, and by extension, capture even more revenues. 
Now if Google and Facebook could learn to play in the same sandbox - we’d all be happy campers.

Search meets Social - finally!

For some time now, we’ve been watching Google and Facebook grow up. Google brought search to the masses, ranking search results based on how often any particular site is referenced by other sites, unlocking credibility and reliability in way not seen before. Facebook, despite resistance when it first hit the scene (Friendster, MySpace, etc all came and went with similar fanfare), is clearly here to stay, bringing our friends closer to us than we thought possible. We actively track the careers, trips, vacations, familiy additions, movie reviews, Farmville scores, online reading, and personal opinions of our friends in a way previously only done through a series of weekend phone calls.

But what does this have to do with search?? » Google’s innovation was  transparency to the internet, and the most nuanced part of what Facebook gave us is a very small “Like’ button. An innovation no doubt developed during one of many overnight hack-athons, and which, at its core, represents a virtual “pat on the back” we can share with anyone, about anything. The more Like’s a post on Facebook gets, the higher it shows in my ‘recent activity’ feed, and the more people read it. Extend this to search, and a virtual “pat on the back” translates into exactly the “credibility” Google wants us to have - the more pat’s on the back, the more reliable the result, and the more effective our search.

(It should be noted, similar innovations originally emerged in restaurant and product reviews allowing us to let the original poster know if their feedback was “useful” - it didn’t take on quite the personality that the little “Like” button did, but represented “credibility” just the same.)

Google introduced a “+1” button today, which can be clicked against every search result it delivers. As users search for and find what they are looking for, they can click the “+1” and acknowledge that the result was relevant and useful (a virtual “pat on the back”). As the “+1” ‘s add-up, the search result’s ranking increases, and our search success increases. We’re now capturing insight from not only Google’s undelrying algorithm, but also the “real time” feedback of anyone using Google search.

The implications are incredible  -

1) Google beat Bing to this innovation, and by extension, beat Facebook to any integration of search into their platform  —> taking back their leader position in the internet / technology space.

2) Google search commands ~65% of search market share, a significant portion of the digital population - any +1 wisdom from this group is going to be far more reliable than anything Microsoft or Facebook would have recreated.

3) Google has recently come under fire for a ‘loophole’ in its indexing methodology which allow sites to index higher just by placement of their weblink on as many other sites as possible (see the JCPenney debacle here) - this innovation solves that problem by combining direct user feedback with analytical algorithm results, eliminating the here-to-unknown margin of error.

If all goes to plan, the “+1” will become as innate to our everyday behavior as the “Like” button, leading search results, internet transparency, and access to knowledge to be even better than before. Google, true to form, will have added even more value to their existing algorithm, and by extension, capture even more revenues. 

Now if Google and Facebook could learn to play in the same sandbox - we’d all be happy campers.