Friday, October 19, 2007
  • Ross Fadner, October 19, 2007, 10:45 AM
  • Electronics Arts, the world's largest third-party developer of video game software, called on hardware makers Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to abandon the console wars and help build a common gaming platform. EA believes that an open video game platform would not only drive innovation by enhancing competition, but help developers cut costs. Third-party software makers currently have to develop three versions of the same game to reach as many gamers as possible. Hardware makers, meanwhile, typically lose money on consoles, anyway, as most of the revenue is recouped through software sales.

    "We want an open, standard platform which is much easier than having five which are not compatible," said Gerhard Florin, EA's head of international publishing. "We're platform agnostic."

    Florin's request may soon be moot, as gaming increasingly turns to the Web. Analysts say that set-top boxes like those developed by Apple and cable providers like Comcast are becoming more powerful and may soon absorb the video game console market. Even so, Florin believes the console wars could last another 15 years, which is why he's calling on hardware makers to collaborate on a common platform. Read the whole story...
  • A new fad has taken hold in Silicon Valley, but it lacks substance. We're not necessarily talking about the astronomical valuations placed on companies that don't warrant them--we are, but only indirectly. It's the open platform and the social graph, two ideas popularized by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when he announced in May that third-party developers could create programs for his site.

    Silicon Valley seems to be most taken with the latter. In some tech circles, geeks and venture capitalists alike refer to the social graph as a kind of advertising Holy Grail: think of a gigantic graph with a pattern of nodes representing Faceboook users and all the things that connect them. Tech firms have been so excited by the innovation that several social network providers, including MySpace and soon, Google, have followed suit.

    However, Silicon Valley's craze for the "social graph"...is overdone. What it essentially comes down to is a gigantic address book that contains more information about each user. But unless Facebook grows to the point where it becomes the de facto hub through which consumers experience the Web--unlikely due to the recent trend toward smaller, exclusive social networks--the social graph will be just another behavioral tool for advertisers, and another set of features for consumers. Read the whole story...
  • A new fad has taken hold in Silicon Valley, but it lacks substance. We're not necessarily talking about the astronomical valuations placed on companies that don't warrant them--we are, but only indirectly. It's the open platform and the social graph, two ideas popularized by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when he announced in May that third-party developers could create programs for his site.

    Silicon Valley seems to be most taken with the latter. In some tech circles, geeks and venture capitalists alike refer to the social graph as a kind of advertising Holy Grail: think of a gigantic graph with a pattern of nodes representing Faceboook users and all the things that connect them. Tech firms have been so excited by the innovation that several social network providers, including MySpace and soon, Google, have followed suit.

    However, Silicon Valley's craze for the "social graph"...is overdone. What it essentially comes down to is a gigantic address book that contains more information about each user. But unless Facebook grows to the point where it becomes the de facto hub through which consumers experience the Web--unlikely due to the recent trend toward smaller, exclusive social networks--the social graph will be just another behavioral tool for advertisers, and another set of features for consumers. Read the whole story...
  • Social networks, focusing instead on email providers like Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL, have started encroaching on the territory of MySpace and Facebook. If social networking is all about loyalty and personalization, then email and instant messaging are--in theory--the perfect place to mine that data. So why not combine all these services and let users stick a profile on their account? Google's Gmail, it seems, is already headed in that direction, allowing its users to chat with contacts from inside their in-boxes.

    But social networks are headed in the same direction. Many Facebook users claim the social network has supplanted email as their central means of communication. And the prize for more and better features, as Facebook can attest, is more usage-more time spent means more ads consumed.

    Email providers can't expect that users will bite if they simply build social networking features. According to comScore, there were 542.9 million users of Web-based email worldwide in August, compared to 483.7 million social-networking users. The margin of users is narrowing; in the future, email providers will have to compete with the MySpaces and Facebooks, which got a head start, enlisting thousands of developers to create programs to keep users at their sites. Read the whole story...
  • AOL is in trouble again (or rather, still), but this time, it's worse: 1,200 layoffs and reports that more than a dozen AOL products are going to be shut down. What's the future of the Time Warner company? The result is the dissolution of the AOL brand as we know it. AOL CEO Randy Falco says the fault of the former regime was to turn AOL.com into a Web version of "the all-in-one" service the company tried to provide in its former iteration. The Web portal strategy at large has failed with the rise of blogging, user-generated content and customization tools like RSS feeds. So, AOL's next plan is to become more like Google: a network of sites and services comprising a little bit of everything: blogs, widgets, email, advertising services, etc.

    The new AOL strategy is vastly different to the one laid out by Yahoo, it's rival and fellow beleaguered portal. CEO Jerry Yang told investors that Yahoo's strategy is to focus on services making it the default home page for users' online experiences. AOL, it seems, plans to throw lots of stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Read the whole story...