MediaFile

Is Google+ serving advertisers, users, or Google execs? Yes.

By Marco Arment
The opinions expressed are his own.

Breaking news: a huge advertising company would like you to give them as much of your personal information as possible and encourages you to use their services more frequently, for more reasons, and for longer durations each time so they can show you more ads and make more money from the advertisers.

I like Dave Winer’s take.

It’s not difficult for a company of Google’s size to make a social network. The challenge is getting enough people to use it, and quickly enough, that the early adopters will stick around after the first few days and start habitually using it.

This is an extremely high barrier to entry, even for Google. As with most social phenomena, social-network success tends to happen more organically and unpredictably than anyone is able to artificially create by throwing money at it.

Successful social services at this scale also need constant attention, rapid improvements, and nearly flawless product direction — skills that Google hasn’t been able to consistently deliver to many of their products.

The network effect is extremely high in social networks. It’s absolutely a boil-the-ocean problem. For Google+ to be useful to you, most of your “friends” (in some context) need to be using it on a regular basis. And most people won’t use more than one social network regularly.

Tech wrap: Microsoft reaches for the cloud

Everyone seems to be gabbing about the “cloud” these days. Whether it’s Apple’s much-hyped iCloud service or the Amazon Cloud, the now-popular euphemism for web-based software services has become one of the tech world’s biggest buzz words. Microsoft joined in on the action today by unveiling a revamped web-based version of its popular Office suite of business software. But Microsoft’s main target here is not Apple or Amazon, but Google, which has stolen some of the software maker’s corporate customers in recent years with cheap, web-only alternatives.

With Office 365, customers will be able to access familiar applications such as Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools beyond the desktop on a variety of different devices wherever there is an Internet connection. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touted the service’s online format and built-in conferencing tools as especially good for small and medium-sized businesses looking to save money. Microsoft has offered online versions of some of Outlook and some other applications to corporate clients for years, but increased competition seems to have spurred Microsoft’s latest push into the cloud.

Google is praised for doing many things right, but social networking is not widely regarded as one of them. Co-founder and CEO Larry Page, who took over the helm from now-Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in April, has made it clear that he hopes to change that. The Web giant trotted out its latest and most extensive foray into social networking with Google+, a new social service that aims to compete with Facebook by bundling together all of its its online properties into one platform. Google+ is an attempt to move past former flops such as Google Wave and Google Buzz.

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

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.”

First Look at the Google+ social network: The Top Secret Demo

One thing that’s clear about Google is that they’ve mastered the art of subterfuge.

At a time when leaks about product launches, acquisitions and potential hires are rife, Google resorted to extraordinary measures to ensure that word of its new social network, Google+, did not slip out ahead of Tuesday’s official announcement.

The company reached out to Reuters late on Friday about a special briefing related to some undisclosed YouTube news, even tasking a YouTube PR-man with a curious sartorial style to coordinate the meeting, to complete the red-herring.

Tech wrap: Google probed

U.S. antitrust regulators started a formal investigation into whether Google abuses its market power by favoring its own services over those of rivals in online searches and through other practices. The company has been accused of anticompetitive practices by other companies doing business online. “It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand,” Google said on its official blog. “Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that if we focus on the user all else will follow.”

“Typically less than one out of every 10 investigations lead to enforcement. This investigation faces daunting odds,” said David Balto, a former FTC policy director.”The complaints presented to the FTC are from disgruntled advertisers, not consumers. That is not a strong foundation to an antitrust case.”

Private equity firms KKR and Silver Lake are in talks to buy Internet domain site GoDaddy.com and a deal could be more than $2 billion, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Tech wrap: FTC seen deepening Google probe

Google will receive the civil equivalent of a subpoena from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as part of a probe into the Web giant’s Internet search business, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The FTC plans to send the civil investigative demand with a request for more information, the civil equivalent of a subpoena, within five days, according to the report. U.S. antitrust regulators have been concerned about Google’s dominance of the Web search industry, and the giant Internet company has been under investigation by the European Commission since last November.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop showed images of his company’s first phone running on the Windows phone OS. Codenamed “Sea Ray”, the phone appeared to be a near copy of Nokia’s N9 smartphone, unveiled earlier in the week.

The chairman of Yahoo voiced support for Chief Executive Carol Bartz, who has become a lightning rod for criticism as the company struggles with stagnant revenue growth and a rift with its Chinese partner. Yahoo’s efforts to mount a turnaround remain a work in progress, said Chairman Roy Bostock at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. But he said he was confident that the company was headed in the right direction and that Bartz had put Yahoo on a “clear path forward to accelerated revenue growth.”

Tech wrap: LulzSec hackers seek greener pastures

The LulzSec group of rogue hackers threatened to steal classified information from governments, banks and other high-ranking establishments, teaming up with the Anonymous hacker activist group to cause more serious trouble in an escalation of their cyber attacks.

LulzSec had said last Friday that it hacks to have fun and to warn people that personal information is not safe in the hands of Internet companies. But two days later, Lulz said its top priority was to leak “classified government information, including email spools and documentation.”

The FBI said it is working to bulk up its cyber division as hackers focus on higher-profile targets, but is at the mercy of a Congress struggling to cut the massive budget deficit.

Tech wrap: The Web is about to get some new domains

Brand owners will soon be able to operate their own parts of the Web — such as .apple, .coke or .marlboro — if the biggest shake-up yet in how Internet domains are awarded is approved.

Today, just 22 generic top-level domains exist — .com, .org and .info are a few examples — plus about 250 country-level domains like .uk or .cn.

The move is seen as a big opportunity for brands to gain more control over their online presence and send visitors more directly to parts of their sites — and a danger for those who fail to take advantage.

Tech wrap: Nokia wins big in patent fight with Apple

Nokia is likely to be paid hundreds of millions of dollars by Apple after victory in a legal wrangle over technology used in its arch-rival’s top-selling iPhone. Nokia said the deal would boost second-quarter earnings. Analysts said it was clear the sums involved would be significant, with some experts estimating Apple’s one-off payment at $650 million.

J.C. Penney is bringing in Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, who oversaw the iPad maker’s wildly successful foray into brick and mortar stores as its new chief executive. Johnson will take the reigns November 1, Penney said.

The recent string of sensational hacker attacks is driving companies to seek “cyberinsurance” worth hundreds of millions of dollars, even though many policies can still leave them exposed to claims, writes Ben Berkowitz. Insurers and insurance brokers say demand is soaring, as companies try to protect themselves against civil suits and the potential for fines by governments and regulators, but also as they seek help paying for mundane costs like “sorry letters” to customers.

from Entrepreneurial:

Note to entrepreneurs: Your idea is not special

-- Brad Feld is a managing director at the Boulder, Colorado-based venture capital firm Foundry Group. He also co-founded TechStars and writes the popular blog, Feld Thoughts. The views expressed are his own. --

Every day I get numerous emails from software and Internet entrepreneurs describing their newest ideas.

Often these entrepreneurs think their idea is brand new – that no one has ever thought of it before. Other times they ask me to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their idea. Occasionally the emails mysteriously allude to the idea without really saying what it is.