John C. Abell

Google+ — Don’t call it the Facebook killer (for now)

Jun 28, 2011 19:21 UTC

Is four the charm for Google?

The search giant has had little luck breaking into the social network game, and most of it has been bad. Buzz got as many yawns as boos, and Wave was inexplicable — so much so that the company killed it last summer.

Orkut is maybe the most successful social network you’ve never heard of — unless you live in India or Brazil.

Indeed, only this month former Google CEO Eric Schmdt described his failure to fully appreciate Facebook’s thunder as his biggest regret. “I clearly knew I had to do something and I failed to do it,” Schmidt told AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher. “CEOs need to take responsibility. I screwed up.”

Social is where it’s at, even for the most successful internet company ever. Ask any successful entrepreneur: if you aren’t already thinking about re-inventing yourself on day one, you’re headed for the dead pool. If you do, maybe — just maybe — you’re IBM.

Google isn’t calling Google + a Facebook killer, as my Wired colleague Steven Levy reveals in his reporting, based on extraordinary insider access for more than a year as the product was developed. Today’s unveiling of a limited public beta is the culmination of work by hundreds of Google engineers and the focus of a very-determined CEO Larry Page.

ICANN haz .youridentityhere

Jun 21, 2011 16:04 UTC

Manhattan Skyline, by Mario Carvajal. Used with gratitude via a Creative Commons license.

Brother, can you spare $185,000?

It’s web name land rush time again, and this time the stakes are pretty high. Also, unlike most previous attempts by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to expand the nameable Internet universe — and repeat the smashing success of .com — ICANN may be onto something this time.

The global agency which decides these things has tried a couple of times since the web’s Big Bang to create new, desirable web property. ICANN changed the world with the original six top level domains — .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, .org and .arpa. Of these, the only top-level domain (TLD), which was meant for the private sector, still accounts for the overwhelming majority of the web names out there — they don’t call it the dot com revolution for nothing.

The real Twitter tragedy about Weiner

Jun 14, 2011 18:58 UTC

Reaching out,
To touch a stranger
Electric eyes are everywhere

– ‘Human Nature,’ recorded by Michael Jackson

It seems the final act of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s public life, at least for now, is upon us. Weiner’s spectacularly rapid, self-inflicted crash and burn crested Saturday when House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that while she felt the New York representative’s pain, he ought to work things out “without the pressures of being a Member of Congress.” Then, Sunday, more pictures

(Update: Weiner announced his resignation on June 16.)

Even without the week of his media lying tour Weiner might not have survived the basic sexting scandal — and how could he? As a married public official who created and distributed damning evidence of, at best, flirtatious impulses, his behavior toes the line of predatory behavior.

Tech envy: It’s a jungle out there

Jun 6, 2011 18:17 UTC
When the iPad 2 came out, thousands of original iPad owners sold their barely-year-old devices on the secondary market to finance their upgrade. We replace computers every couple of years or so, but seldom because they stop working. You’re probably locked in a two-year phone contract — and itching to upgrade before your exposure to an early termination fee expires.

This isn’t the sort of planned obsolescence perfected by Detroit so that your brand new sedan, perfectly fine under the hood, looks a tad tired in a couple of years.

No. This is tech’s brutal law of the jungle. Call it Sudden Obsolescence Syndrome.

There is one exception to the rule, though: The iCloud. Like Moore’s Law in semi-reverse, “The Cloud” will get bigger and cheaper every 18 months — even though Apple has set the bar quite high (or low, as the case may be) by making iCloud free.

The digital wallet soon to be in every pocket

Jun 1, 2011 13:39 UTC

Will the smartphone do for retailing what it did for photography?

Like a recession, we never quite see a tipping point when it happens. Tech seems to alter behavior in unpredictable ways. But, in fact, tech makes it possible to form the habits we unknowingly crave. We love TV, but we’re walking away from the TV set. We still make calls at home, but have abandoned land lines. You used to carry a point-and-shoot camera, and you still do — but now it’s in your smartphone.

Google’s full-throttled entry into the mobile payments space last week removed any doubt that this is the make-or-break year for the digital wallet. Google is backing a technology called Near Field Communication (NFC), which will require a new chip in smartphones. This tech has been around for a while, deployed in payment dongles and proximity credit cards, but there now seems to be critical mass for handset makers to include it in the next generation of phones. Google’s Android mobile phone software powers about 1/3 of the world’s smartphones, and it’s growing fast. Another quarter comes form Apple, which has been mum on NFC but is expected to get on board. (Apple controls both the hardware and software for the iPhone.)

The reason the credit card hasn’t changed one bit since Diner’s Club invented it 60 years ago (from the consumer’s perspective) is because it hasn’t had to. It does exactly what we want, with minimal friction.