Google Just A Bunch Of Marketing Gimmicks?

Mike Elgan over as ComputerWorld.com let loose on the fact that Google slings around the termsbeta‘ and ‘experimental‘ only to get around blame and criticism. I tend to agree.

Just like Microsoft and many other software companies, Google designates a huge number of its many online services as beta, and many features as merely “experimental.”

For example, did you know that Gmail is still in “beta,” and has been in the “beta” stage of development for five years?

I’m pretty sick and tired of seeing the word Beta whether it deals with Google or some other Web 2.0 site. To a point, I think it’s embarrassing to have the word displayed on a product or service for five years. At face value, you would begin to think that the software would never reach a point of completion. However in Google’s case, they can use that term Beta as a defense against criticism considering end users don’t pay a dime to use their products/services. After five years of being in beta, I throw that line of thought out the window.

Mike sums it up pretty well in one of his closing statements:

New rule: If a “product” is attracting eyeballs and making money, if the users don’t know they’re beta testers, if the beta is unlimited in time and in scope, and if the product will never, ever be offered for sale anyway, the words “beta” and “experimental” have no meaning at all. And the products are open to criticism.

So when everyone is wondering why the word ‘beta’ has been devalued to the point where it means nothing, I hope they do a Google search to find the answer.

NOAA Implements Google Maps To Forecast Pages

I’m a weather junkie, no doubt about it. However, I was surprised to see that NOAA has implemented Google Maps into their point forecast pages. Typically, the map would display a plain image with county lines and various cities. Clicking on the exact location of where you live for your specific forecast was a trivial process of trial and error. Now however, users can zoom into the map, pan the map around, see a highlighted section of the map which describes the forecast area, and download the data in a KML file.

New Google Point Forecast

The Weather Channel website has had an implementation of Google Maps along with radar data for quite some time but I always find the page to load slowly, especially during an animated radar sequence. Although NOAA has not gone that far with regards to local radar images, the new iteration of selecting point forecasts in relation to where you live is a vast improvement.

Here is what the old point forecast used to look like and still does for those sites who have yet to be upgraded.

Old forecast Point Graphics

Is Jaiku Still Around?

Jaiku LogoRemember Jaiku? That service which was launched in 2007 which aimed to be a Twitter like service except that it was more of a content aggregator than anything else. Using Jaiku, users can type in 140 character messages as updates while also having conetent aggregated from other services they are apart of through parsing RSS feeds.

As it turns out, Jaiku is still around. In a blog post published on the official Jaiku blog on May 30th, Jyri reminded folks that Jaiku is still alive and well and that moving the service into the Google App Engine has taken much longer than anticipated. Jyri also mentioned that they do in fact have plans for future development. What that future development might be is anyone’s guess.

What I find interesting is that, this service called FriendFeed has ate Jaiku for lunch and then spit them out. FriendFeed works in a very similar fashion to Jaiku except there are no 140 character limits and the content aggregation looks much prettier on FriendFeed. Also, there appears to be much more conversation surrounding the aggerated content items on FriendFeed than there is on Jaiku.

So although Jaiku was one of the first services out of the gate to allow aggregation of your content into a central location allowing others to comment on those items, either their timing was wrong for the service or they had a few things wrong with their implementation. If that was the case, I don’t know what those wrong items might of been. The bottom line is, Jaiku was the first major player in this arena and once Google acquired them, they have fallen flat on their faces. Also, I find it funny that the people behind the FriendFeed service are ex Google employees. Isn’t that quite the coincidence?

The bottom line is, FriendFeed is the place to be in terms of content aggregation in a central location. The early adopters along with many of the big names within the blogosphere are climbing all over each other on the service which is usually a good sign that the service is worthy of your time. Jaiku on the other hand is still invite only which doesn’t appear to be doing them any good.

I don’t see Jaiku ever becoming a threat to FriendFeed. FriendFeed has picked up where Jaiku has left off, improved upon their offerings and apparently, they have done everything right. There is no looking back for FriendFeed and if I were the creators of Jaiku, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that I was acquired before the launch of FriendFeed.

One last thing before I go. I wanted to highlight the fact that it would seem as though being the first one out of the gate does not guarantee anything. I strongly believe that the Google acquisition has done nothing but set Jaiku back but hey, at least Jryi and company received a nice paycheck.

Human Mind Vs Google Searcher

Brad Williams, no not the Brad of Strangework.com but a different Brad Williams is known for having a superior memory. Brad can somehow recall events in uncanny detail. In fact, he can recall any event or anything he has experienced to the point of knowing what the weather was like that day.

Williams’ type of detailed, exhaustive memory is called hyperthymesia and few known cases exist. Brad’s brain scans are now being studied by neuroscientists at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the Univeristy of California, Irvine.

Wow. That hyperthysmesia is something I wouldn’t MIND being diagnosed with. An incredible gift if you ask me. In a future film that has yet to be released, Brad goes up against a Google search user in a challenge to answer 20 questions. Brad ended up answering 18 of them correctly and turned out to be 11 minutes faster than the Googler.

There is still hope for us yet! Check out the video interview done by ABC.

Google Still At The Top

Neilsen Online has released search share rankings within the U.S. As expected, Google is leading the way with over 4 billion searches. Over half of those searches are shared while 37.9 searches were attributed per searcher. Yahoo! came in 2nd place with 1.2 billion searches, 17.7% of those were shared while there were 22.4 searches per searcher. The lesson here is that Google is till at the top of their game when it comes to search. Especially when you consider, that the figures of Yahoo combined with MSN/Windows Live Search still don’t compare to Google’s numbers.

searchmarketshare

Google Takes Feeds Out Of Search Results

Not sure how long this has been going on, but a post on the Google Webmaster Blog talks about the removal of feeds showing up in search results with the exception of podcast XML feeds. I for one am really happy that Google took this measure because it was becoming increasingly annoying, to browse search results, only to click on one XML feed after another without ever actually coming across the content.

As a webmaster, you may have been concerned about your RSS/Atom feeds crowding out their associated HTML pages in Google’s search results. By serving feeds, we could cause a poor user experience:

  1. Feeds increase the likelihood that users see duplicate search results.
  2. Users clicking on a feed may miss valuable content available only in the HTML page.

To address these concerns, we prevent feeds from being returned in Google’s search results, with the exception of podcasts (feeds with multimedia enclosures).

You can check out the entire blog post here.

Blogs Introduced Into Universal Google Search

GoogleBlog

eWeek is reporting that Google will be adding blogs to their universal search results. Apparently, starting next week, links to blogs will show up next to images, news, books, local maps and video. This is awesome news for anyone that has a blog. Already, I garner quite a bit of search engine traffic from Google.com via search terms and strings. I can’t wait to see if Google adding the Blogs genre to the universal search will help expose this blog and other blogs to even more people.

Universal Search is the fruit of a five-year effort involving hundreds of engineers working to refine the company’s search algorithms and add multimedia content to its search returns to give users richer results.

Blogging is not dead yet!

Google Design With Comic Sans

All Graphic Design has posted a funny picture of Google if it were designed with the font, ComicSans. The funny aspect of this is the actual search terms combined with the results. The search terms “comic sans sucks” brings up a number of search results, including a spoof from Google.com themselves. Comic Sans is not the best looking font, and it’s pretty apparent that it has it’s own hate club.

ComicSansSucks

Check out the Google Spoof and the full screen shot here.

Steve Ballmer On Search And More

This is a video clip of John Battelle asking Steve Ballmer questions relating to search. Steve describes search the way he and Microsoft sees it. In his outline of a successful search strategy, he pretty much describes the way Google does it. Go figure! It’s an interesting interview that goes beyond search. For example, John asks Steve if they are making money through their deal with Facebook.

Google Image Search vs Iconlet

Iconlet.com logo

Iconlet is a search engine for you guessed it, icons. The front page of iconlet looks as simple as the Google homepage and seems to be just as functional. Iconlet appears to have a large database of icon images but I was disappointed when I only discovered 11 search results for the term RSS. However, other searches for ARROWS and HOME provided me with hundreds of results.

Iconlet Search Results For RSS

If you are looking for something in particular, Iconlet provides an advanced search which gives you the options of typing in an icon name, specified image resolution, .gif or .png extension, and various licensing types. I guess no one uses .JPG as a file extension for icons as it was missing from the advanced search file extension choices.

One of the biggest issues I can see with iconlet is the fact that it has Google Image search as competition. I’ve used Google Image search in the past to locate icon files and it’s proven to be a useful resource for this sort of thing. It also appears as though iconlet has it’s own home grown database of icon files, whereas Google Image search has the entire Internet at it’s disposal. If iconlet can increase it’s database selection while adding additional search features, they may eventually be a compelling reason to switch from using Google Imagesearch. Until then, I’ll stick with Google first,