Tuesday, April 11, 2006

New search engine 'revolutionary'

A 26-year-old PhD student from the University of New South Wales has patented a new way of exploring the web that could revolutionise existing search engines.

Developed by Ori Allon, the Orion© search engine is designed to complement searches conducted on services such as Google, Yahoo or MSN Search.

Search engines find pages on which keywords occur. Sometimes these pages are important to the topic. Other times they are not.

Orion© finds pages where the content is about a topic strongly related to the key word. It then returns a section of the page, and lists other topics related to the key word so the user can pick the most relevant.

"The results to the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving you the relevant information without having to go to the website - although you still have that option if you wish," said Israeli-born Allon, who completed a Bachelor and Masters degree at Monash University in Melbourne before moving to UNSW for his PhD.

"By displaying results to other associated key words directly related to your search topic, you gain additional pertinent information that you might not have originally conceived, thus offering an expert search without having an expert's knowledge.

"Take a search such as the American Revolution as an example of how the system works. Orion© would bring up results with extracts containing this phrase. But it would also give results for American History, George Washington, American Revolutionary War, Declaration of Independence, Boston Tea Party and more. You obtain much more valuable information from every search.

"The idea of finding information without having to click through to websites came from Allon's supervisor, Eric Martin, back in March this year. "I provided the spark. But it is Ori who has developed this through his amazing creativity and sheer hard work over these past months," said Mr Martin.

Andrew Stead of New South Innovations, the technology transfer company within UNSW, says he is confident that Orion© will fill a gap in the market noted by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

"Bill Gates was recently quoted in Forbes magazine as saying that we need to take the search way beyond how people think of it today. We believe that Orion© will do that."

Google exploring new search technique

Google has launched a new search project with an Australian university student, designed to let people view more information per search result without having to click open every link.

Ori Allon, a doctoral student at the University of New South Wales, was recently hired by Google to continue developing his Orion search engine, according to a university representative.

"Ori is an employee of Google, but this is still a university project," the representative noted, adding that Allon works out of the company's California office.

Orion aims to take a keyword and find pages most closely related to the topic and then deliver a portion of that particular page.

"The results to the query are displayed immediately in the form of expanded text extracts, giving you the relevant information without having to go to the Web site--although you still have that option if you wish," Allon said in a previous statement about his technology.

He cited an example of the keyword phrase "American Revolution." The search would not only provide extracts with the phrase, but also additional information on topics such as American history, George Washington and the Declaration of Independence.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Net's New Age

Technology that aims to revolutionize how surfers use the Web is fueling a new wave of Internet investment and challenging established media

In a small deal that signals big changes on the Internet, Google announced Mar. 9 that it has acquired a Silicon Valley sensation called Writely. The online word processor is still in the testing stage, but it's attracting attention as a free alternative to relatively expensive desktop applications like Microsoft (MSFT) Word.

But the transaction stands out for bigger reasons. Writely is one of dozens of companies that are infusing once-static Web pages with the power, speed, and features of sophisticated desktop applications. And by combining these online applications with the new wireless and broadband communications ability of the Web, they are redefining the Internet itself.

With an application like Writely, people can do much more than store documents online. They can also collaborate, often in new and unique ways. Groups can work together on a document, making changes that appear in real time and doing so without the need to reload the Web page.
MAIL MADE EASY. Such innovations are fueling a new Internet boom that rivals the growth of the mid-to-late '90s. Referred to collectively as Web 2.0., the new technologies are drawing a fresh influx of dollars to the Net.

Investors are backing the development of new companies like Writely and social bookmarking site del.icio.us, which was snapped up by Yahoo! (YHOO), giving rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs, such as 31-year-old del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter (see our BW Online slide show). Established Web giants like Google (GOOG) are tapping Web 2.0 to spawn new avenues of growth, create jobs, and usher in an age where the Internet emerges as a credible rival to established media and communications companies. The Web 2.0 designation covers a broad range of tools and applications. There are new tools like del.icio.us, which allows users to store their bookmarks at a Web site, "tag" them with category names, and share their lists of favorite links with friends or the public. Del.icio.us even keeps track of most popular Web pages, much as Billboard ranks top tunes. Other up-and-coming Web 2.0 companies include edgeio.com, a new way to distribute classified ads.

Another example is Google's Gmail service or Yahoo's new e-mail system Y Mail, which is in the testing stage. Users can now move e-mails from one folder to another by dragging and dropping them across the screen, just as if they were using a desktop application like Microsoft Outlook. Older forms of Webmail forced users to wait for the page to reload every time they moved e-mails, added an attachment, or opened a new message. These programs operate just like Outlook, except they're free.

A FEW SIMPLE CLICKS. Not to be outdone, Microsoft has its own raft of Web. 2.0 applications, Windows Live. The software giant has just outlined some ambitious targets for the project, including an aim to host 20 million users of its new e-mail service by June (see BW Online, 3/10/06, "Memo Outlines Microsoft's Plans").

A lot of the innovations are powered by a new kind of Internet technology, much of which was developed by Microsoft itself. Many, but not all, Web 2.0 companies use a software platform known as Ajax. Until now, you had to reload a Web page every time you wanted to save a change. If you want to add a news feed to your homepage at a Web 2.0 site like netvibes, all you need to do is make a few clicks.

There's no need to save the page and wait for it to reload, as you would if using older homepage platforms like My Yahoo. That's because Ajax, used to create netvibes, can save new information on your page without having to re-save the entire page with all the older data that didn't change.

MASS APPEAL? Web 2.0 and its antecedents have been a topic of conversation among entrepreneurs, bloggers, engineers, and other industry insiders for years. But now the new Web is working its way into the mainstream. Led by giants Yahoo and Google, the changes will be apparent over the next few months.

"Today, these are real niche applications," says Brad Garlinghouse, vice-president of communications products at Yahoo. "The exciting thing is that Yahoo is taking Web 2.0 to the masses." He said the new version of Y Mail will be the world's most widely used Web 2.0 application.

The implications reach far beyond the Net. The new Web is changing the business model for media and communications companies. Traditional players in these markets have built their businesses on a foundation of brand and content, forming a customer base and marketplace. In the Web 2.0 era, they'll aim to cultivate a community of users on the Web, according to Troy Young, executive vice-president and chief "experience architect" at Organic, an online advertising and consulting firm.

YOUR NEWS, YOUR WAY. The new business model begins with a platform and set of user tools based on Web 2.0 technology. It's used to attract a community of users, which in turn create a marketplace on the Web. "The content and brand emerges at the end of the cycle and it's created by the users," Young says.

The biggest news site, measured in terms of users and page views, is Yahoo. True to Web 2.0 form, Yahoo started with a set of Web communications tools and added news feeds. While traditional news organizations may turn up their noses at such commodity content, it's wildly popular with tens of millions of users who simply want to know what's going on in the world on a constant basis.

Even Yahoo's customizable news features are still relatively primitive by Web 2.0 standards. With the exception of the new e-mail program, it's not making much use of true Web 2.0 technology. By contrast, Newsvine.com allows users to create their own home pages and columns and comment on every story. Top stories are selected according to user patterns, not by editors. Users even get to keep 90% of the ad revenue that their home pages generate.

GATEKEEPERS NO MORE. The changes are upending long-established hierarchies in the news business. The core news operations of The New York Times (NYT) and The Wall Street Journal have relatively small audiences on the Web, but they're adapting quickly. And where they're not building, they're prepared to buy. Witness the New York Times' recent purchase of About.com and the acquisition of Marketwatch by Dow Jones, parent of the Wall Street Journal.

Expect to see the barriers between so-called Old Media and newer forms continue to crumble. "We want to work with traditional news organizations, syndicating their content," says Newsvine CEO and co-founder Mike Davidson, a veteran of Disney's (DIS) ESPN unit. "It doesn't have to be us-against-them."

But if incumbents in news, media, and other markets are to flourish, they will have to make changes. Their roles as gatekeepers and repositories of centralized content are fading. "Power is shifting toward the individual, operating at the edge of the network and away from the giant companies at the center of the network," says Michael Arrington, chairman of edgeio.com and the founder of techcrunch.com, a popular blog that tracks Web 2.0 companies. Adds Arrington: "It's a paradigm shift for everyone on the Internet."

"THERE'S SO MUCH CASH." Just as Newsvine is challenging news sites such as cnn.com, edgeio is targeting the established online marketplaces. It searches blogs for entries that have the keyword "listing." Then it organizes them at the edgeio Web site by geography and category. Arrington says it's cheaper than eBay (EBAY). And it eliminates some of the anonymity of Craiglist, which may be a desirable feature for many kinds of businesses.

Another sign of the Net's new times: demand for Web 2.0 companies is on the rise. Schachter and the other founders of del.icio.us didn't need more than an angel round of investors, allowing them to keep the lion's share of the proceeds of the Yahoo deal. Although Yahoo wouldn't comment, one person familiar with the matter says the outfit paid $27 million. "There's so much cash and opportunity, people don't often need venture capital funding," Arrington said.
Once again, the pace of Internet innovation is on the rise. Markets are being changed, and fortunes are being lost. And in that sense, Web 2.0 is very much like Web 1.0.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Microsoft's New Search Engine Challenges Google

Microsoft has launched a new search engine that it says is better and faster than previous versions and will give Google a run for its money, reports PC Mag. The beta version of the engine is set to debut at http://www.live.com/, as is a Windows Live Toolbar beta. "To say we'll get to overall number one in a few months is a bit bold," Microsoft Microsoft Search Senior Product Manager Justin Osmer is quoted as saying. "But, maybe we'll be number one in some market metrics."

Microsoft could soon lead in local search and relevancy, Osmer said. Morepver, Microsoft will be using its own picture and video search technology rather than a third party's and will improve in those areas.

The new engine also will also have greater scope, including search, news search, RSS feeds, email search, local search and searching of MSN Shopping and MSN Spaces.

Live.com is intended to replace MSN.com.

Google: Revs Will Reach $100B; Eyeing TV, Radio, Print, Direct Advertising

After Google's CFO, George Reyes, made comments that prompted a sell-off of Google stock earlier in the week (all he said was that sales growth rates would slow, given Google's size), the online behemoth was under pressure to reassure investors - and did so splendidly - writes the Times Online. Google's top leadership gave a super-upbeat presentation to analysts, saying the company would expand into every area of media and set as its objective revenues of $100 billion a year. Those remarks should worry many in the traditional media business.
Google said it aims to become a presence in every part of the $800 billion global advertising market - from television and radio to print and direct marketing. "We see ourselves in every one of those segments.... It will be possible in the next few years," Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO said.

Google execs said the company would increase sales by improving search engine and ad quality by investing in infrastructure and new technologies.

The stock gained after the presentation, going past $386 a share, up from below $340 earlier this week - but still 20 per cent off the $475 high earlier this year.

Google derives more than 97 percent of its revenue from search-related advertising. It has 40 percent of the U.S. market for web searches and 60-80 percent of most European markets, according to comScore.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Google Tries to Reassure Wall Street

Google shares may have fallen toward earth in recent weeks, but its executives still think that the sky's the limit for the company's growth opportunities.

With the share price down 20 percent from its high this year and investors increasingly skittish, Google offered a detailed and sober appraisal yesterday of its finances and strategy, a presentation meant to reassure investors that as a rapidly growing company, it still saw boundless opportunities to expand its Internet services and advertising network.

The meeting, in Mountain View, Calif., Google's headquarters, was a sharp contrast to 2005's gathering, which investors found frivolous and lacking in substance.

Last year, instead of hearing from Google's chief financial officer, analysts were treated to a presentation by the company's chief cook, Charlie Ayers, on the lunch menu for the meeting.
This year, the chief financial officer, George Reyes, was the master of ceremonies. Dressed in black, he gave a long recitation of Google's past results, as finance chiefs customarily do at such events.

Jordan Rohan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said that Google's presentations were more polished and professional this year and that executives addressed the questions most in the minds of investors.

"The company appears to have matured significantly since its first analyst day a year ago," Mr. Rohan said.

"Investors have been successful," Mr. Rohan said, "in communicating with the management they can't be this funky renegade company."

Keeping to Google's stated policy, neither Mr. Reyes nor any other executive offered specific financial predictions or other quantitative insight into the company.

But Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive, quickly sought to counteract the impression that Mr. Reyes had given investors on Tuesday implying that some of Google's opportunity revenue growth might be slowing.

The company's shares rose as Mr. Schmidt began to speak, and they closed at $376.45, up 3.2 percent.

Mr. Schmidt defined Google's opportunity as increasing its share of the worldwide market for advertising of all types, not just online, which he estimated to be $600 billion to $800 billion.
The company's advertisers "don't want to be just on text ads and just on Google," he said. "They want to be everywhere on all sorts of media."

Google has started selling advertisements in print publications and has bought a company that sells radio ads. And it said that it hoped to find a way to sell television ads as well.
Mr. Schmidt teased the audience with what might be an audacious goal: "building the systems and infrastructure of a global $100 billion company."

Then he added, "I'll give you the choice of whether that is $100 billion in market cap or revenue."

Since Google's market capitalization is already $111 billion, Mark Stahlman, an analyst with Caris & Company, said he took that to mean $100 billion in revenue. That is perhaps a bit of a stretch for a company that had revenue of $6 billion last year. (Mr. Stahlman, who is especially bullish on Google's stock, predicts that it could reach that level in five years.)

While Google executives seemed to take the analysts more seriously this year, they remained dismissive of competition from Microsoft and others.

Marissa Meyer, vice president for product management, disputed claims by Yahoo and Microsoft that the results from their search engines were as relevant as Google's.

Ms. Meyer listed several new technologies, including one that corrects for what seem to be mistakes in search queries. If someone searches for "CBS Alias," the system will now guess that they might be looking for information about the television program that is actually broadcast by ABC, and it will show results for the query "ABC Alias" as well as what the user asked for.

"We think the gap with the competition is as large as it has been," Ms. Meyer said.

Alan Eustace, the vice president for research and systems engineering, asserted that Google's worldwide computer network was much more powerful and efficient than any other Internet company's.

"We don't think our competitors can deploy systems cheaper, faster or at scale," he said. "That will give us a two-, three-, five-year lead."

Mr. Reyes tried to assure investors that Google was more than a bunch of unsupervised engineers playing volleyball and riding around on scooters. He detailed a strategic planning process that the company follows and listed financial measurements it monitors, like the average revenue it receives for each search. But he warned the analysts not to ask for specifics on any of those figures.

"We do follow and closely monitor these metrics," he said, "but we are not prepared to share them with you at this point in time."

Mr. Reyes took pains to indicate that growth was not slowing as much as some investors feared, underlining rapid worldwide expansion.

"The question I get asked a lot is, 'Is international expansion slowing?' " he said. "The answer is no."

Mr. Schmidt also talked about Google's payment system, which it recently introduced.
He reiterated that it was not meant to allow one person to transfer money to another, in competition with PayPal, part of eBay, which has been Google's largest single advertiser. Rather, he hopes that it will allow advertisers on Google to let users click and buy products right from the ads.

Mr. Stahlman, the analyst, said that in the informal conversations, Google executives were unusually forthcoming. In particular, he noted that the second half of the presentation was delayed 30 minutes because a crowd of investors surrounded Mr. Schmidt. "Eric was answering everyone's questions," he said.

When asked about the Google's biggest single opportunity, Mr. Stahlman said Mr. Schmidt cited advertising on cellphones.

"They had much more meat than they ever offered before," he said of the meeting.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Microsoft To Release Six Versions Of Windows Vista

Vistal will arrive in editions for business customers, home users, and a special low-priced "starter" edition for sale in India, and other developing countries.
Microsoft plans to release Vista in six editions, including versions for business, home, a low-priced version for India and other emerging companies, and a version for sale in Europe that does not include the media player, in compliance with European anti-trust rulings.

Microsoft plans to disclose the lineup for Vista Monday, after it inadvertently posted information about its packaging plans for the software on its Web site last week. Microsoft's new PC operating system will arrive in two editions for business customers, three editions for home users, and a special low-priced "starter" edition for sale in India, Russia, Mexico, and other developing countries.

Microsoft also plans to ship home and business versions of Windows Vista with its media-playing software removed for sale in Europe, in order to comply with a European Union antitrust order against the company.

Microsoft's decisions about how it packages new Vista technology for 64-bit computing, searching a PC's hard drive, encrypting a computer's contents, and connecting cameras and other entertainment peripherals reflects the changing nature of how people use PCs since Microsoft shipped its current desktop operating system, Windows XP, nearly five years ago.

Many computer users employ the same machine at work and at home, says Barry Goffe, Microsoft's director of Windows client product management, and want the best of both worlds all the time. "People are expecting more out of their PC," he says. As a result, each edition for Vista, except for the starter edition, will include 64-bit functionality out of the box, and every edition, except the starter and basic home editions, will include technology from today's Tablet PC and Media Center versions of Windows.

Competitors wasted no time criticizing the new product. "Vista doesn’t do a heck of a lot more than DOS did," said Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, at a meeting with reporters at Sun's Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters late last week. Demands by U.S. customers such as the State of Massachusetts, and by the European Union for openly published file formats "has to scare Microsoft to death," he said. "That's how you blow up the Office monopoly. And that's the key to blowing up the Windows monopoly."

In any case, Microsoft's business customers have been waiting for more information about how the company plans to package Vista's features. Last week, Microsoft released a new preview version of the software for companies to test. Vista will arrive in two business editions -- standard and enterprise.

Here's how the Vista packages stack up:

- Windows Vista Business includes similar features to today's Windows XP Professional edition, including backup, networking, and group policy support. It includes Microsoft's new Aero user interface, a new search engine, and small-business features such as fax and scanning software and easier-to-understand help menus.

- Windows Vista Enterprise, available to Microsoft's largest corporate customers, adds new BitLocker hard-drive encryption, a virtual PC program for running software written for other platforms, and a new subsystem for running Unix apps.

- Windows Vista Home Premium is designed for the majority of home PC users and includes the ability to show photos on a large-screen TV, play music on a home stereo, write and copy DVDs, and edit high-definition video. It also includes the ability to sync files between two computers.

- Windows Vista Ultimate combines all the features of the Vista Business and Home Premium editions -- it's designed for corporate employees who often work on company projects from home.

- Windows Vista Home Basic is aimed at users who mainly read and send E-mail and surf the Web. It doesn't include the Tablet PC, Media Center, photography and music software in Vista Home Premium.

- Windows Vista Starter will retail only in emerging markets such as India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia. It won't be available in the United States or Europe, and runs only in 32-bit mode.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Me on my Company Foundation day - Confidential Resort, Bangalore Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2006

Microsoft's New adLabs Develops Video Hyperlink Ads

Microsoft's New adLabs Develops Video Hyperlink Ads
Microsoft announced the launch of its adCenter Incubation Lab (adLab), a joint effort between MSN's adCenter and Microsoft Research. It is "a state-of-the-art lab in Beijing with a mission to research and incubate advanced technologies for MSN's adCenter, designed to provide advertisers with rich targeting capabilities based on audience intelligence information," Microsoft said in its statement. The company highlighted one of those innovative technologies: video hyperlink ads.

The technology "can detect product items displayed on a television screen during a show or commercial," Microsoft said. Consumer can then "zoom into products featured on the television screen and click through to detailed product descriptions and information on where the products can be bought," according to the announcement.

"Until now, there is no way for the user to actually interact with these ads in the video," said Microsoft data-mining analyst Li Li, is quoted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as having said.
The company also announced that it would officially launch its adCenter advertising platform in the U.S. by June.

Microsoft wants a bigger piece of the online advertising market and is attempting to catch up with Google and Yahoo. "We are determined to establish Microsoft as the top leader in this space," said adCenter general manager Tarek Najm, according to the paper.

The new technologies were displayed and the adLab announcement made Thursday at the Microsoft adCenter Demo Fest on the Microsoft campus, an exposition of research and innovation in digital advertising technology from Microsoft researchers.

adLab will be headed jointly by Ying Li, Ph.D., of Microsoft adCenter in Redmond and Jian Wang, Ph.D., of Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, and will consist of a team of dedicated scientists with specializations in the areas of data mining, information retrieval, statistical analysis, artificial intelligence, auction theory, visual computing and digital media.

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