Thursday, May 28, 2009

Google's Wave Overshadows Microsoft's Bing Release

Steve Ballmer woke up thinking this was going to be a good day...

For those of you wondering why Google hasn't been even more aggressive in its development of the already best-in-show Gmail platform via the integration of its diverse web app suite, the answer appears to lie in a forthcoming product called Google Wave, announced just an hour ago, that takes all-in-one, customizable webapp integration to the next level to consolidate all of your Google-based conversation, collaboration, gaming and geo-spatial interaction into discrete "waves" of information.

In other words, rather than continuing to build onto a focused and already successful email product, potentially 1) overcomplicating it for certain users and 2) remaining stuck in an old product frame, Google Wave will sit atop apps like Gmail, Chat, Status Messages, Docs, Widgets, Friend Connect, Blogger, Calendar, Reader, Maps, Earth and perhaps even Facebook competitor Orkut, allowing you to mix the info flows in one central location.

Here's a snapshot of one version of the potentially revolutionary Wave interface:

It's no accident that Google's Wave announcement was made simultaneous to Microsoft's unveiling of its new Bing search engine, which is getting "nice improvement, but I'll stick with Google" reviews. My bet is that Wave will mark a far more disruptive forward step in the web experience because of its focus on fundamentally better user:info interaction.

Google's message rings loud and clear: "Microsoft, while you're playing catch-up in search, we're utilizing our already massive and debugged app suite to develop entire new products and integrated search data. Spend all the money you want on Bing marketing, it's going to take you years to develop the structured prosumer data necessary to meaningfully compete."

Of course, the message actually posted was far more Googly:

Google: "Wave is a new model for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year. Here's a preview of just some of the aspects of this new tool."

Further adding strength to the oncoming Wave is the fact that it's being released as an open model, similar to mobile phone OS Android (18 different Android phones will be released in 2009, others are using it for netbooks) and Chrome (already superior in speed and function to Internet Explorer), that developers can modify and integrate into their own sites. By keeping its great googly eye on the information prize and relinquishing development sovereignty and near-term income, Google seems to be out-futuring its competitors on most fronts.

Prosumer Takeaways: So what will Wave mean for you?
  1. A next-level conversational experience. Reduced app switch-through time. One-stop shop. Ideal for collaboration. Big time saver.
  2. More organized personal data. Relevant past items will pop up in appropriate new "waves" automatically. Big time saver. Powerful memory aid.
  3. A big improvement in personally relevant search. If you opt in, the social-info graph cobbled together by Wave will increase your Google search efficiency. Time saver. Intelligence amplifier.
  4. A centralized application through which you can monetize your scattered content in a variety of ways via the ever-evolving AdSense. Essentially a better way to monetize prosumer value creation and behavior. Gradually more $$$ in your pocket.
I think it's fair to assume that Steve Ballmer and a host of other social media execs are having a bad day.

Update: Here's a solid description of the philosophy behind the service by Google's Lars Rasmussen.

Update #2: TechCrunch has a great vid interview up featuring the founding Wave developer team.

Update #3: Google founder Sergei Brin, who's working hands-on with Wave, believes the product will do very well, creating a new "benchmark for interactivity". The stickier it is, the better for the Big G.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Micropayments for Memes - Extrapolating Seriosity's Breakthrough Email Token System

Seriosity, a seriously cool company hard at work developing applications for the expanding serious games market, has begun making waves with its "Attent" email token app, thus opening the door to efficient new micropayment systems woven through increasingly popular webware.

Wired: Every employee is given virtual tokens — say, 100 a week, — that they can attach to e-mail they write. If you really want someone to read a message now, you attach a lot of tokens, and the message pops up higher in your correspondent's Outlook inbox.

The early word is that assigning more tokens to more important messages truly does encourage recipients to digest them.

Wired: When a work group at IBM tried out Attent, messages with 20 tokens attached were 52 percent more likely to be quickly opened than normal. E-mail overload ceased to be a problem.

Now, imagine if these tokens represented actual micropayments - small amounts of money or services IOUs - and were expanded to include replies and quality communication feedback scores. My bet is the quality of communication would increase. Employees, students, peers, family would all be far more likely to open and reply to messages, even from advertisers or spammers, that offered them large enough value.

Considering the growing economic pressure to STEM Compress currency units (Second Life's Linden Dollar, PayPal, TipJoy's Micro-Tip system, to name just a few), pegging email tokens to real-deal micropayments seems like the next elegant and logical step toward a more fluid information economy. Furthermore, such a development would also 1) lend support to the steadily rising value of human attention by creating a new means of income pegged to information processing by humans and 2) open wide a new frontier of advertising or "acceptable spamming" that many ad haters have been clammoring for (check out this future prosumer micropayment scenario by Adam Cutsinger).

So, I wonder what Seriosity's next move will be? Will they be the ones to lead the latest, potentially supra-lucrative, charge into micropayments (possibly facing a backlash from the uber-protective SEC / Govt.)? Or will the idea be lifted, perfected and scaled by prosumer gorillaz like Yahoo, Microsoft, Ebay, Amazon, Apple or Google for any number of their respective people applications?

With growing expertise in content monetization and sharing via AdSense, Google sure looks to be the likeliest mega-trailblazer in the prosumer-focused micro-economics domain.