Manas Kumar, Thinking out Loud

my thoughts & visions for technology

Archive for the ‘Online Technologies’ Category

SaaS Wars.Google and Apple ganging up on Adobe

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Funny enough, I got this image from Google (No cencorship there!!!)

Warning: Some of my regular readers will find this blog post highly controversial and may not be able to relate with it upfront. However, I’m just thinking out loud…

You know how there’s all this hype about SaaS, Cloud Computing and who the ultimate dominant players will be in the marketplace? Well I’m about to expose an uneasy fact about this race for domination between organisations like Google, Adobe, IBM, Microsoft and perhaps even Apple.

First thing to notice is that each of these companies have their own definitions for cloud computing and are not prepared to accept a unified definition of what the heck is this thing called Cloud Computing.

Eric Schmidt from Google said “Cloud computing is exchange of data over a std. TCP/IP connection delivered (perhaps) via an HTML 5 application” – notice the reference to HTML 5 – hold that in your mind for a moment.

Now Adobe has, in the last 2 years developed a bunch of online apps that compete with Google in the area of document publishing (BuzzWord, Presentations and Spreadsheets), File Management etc. Adobe’s trump card is Flash – 98% penetration rate and on top of that- instant browser compatibility – it truly is a trump card for Adobe. Add to it the fact that some of the technologies Adobe is delivering through its Acrobat platform are built using special plugins for Flash that Adobe is (openly) refusing to make available as part of the std Flash SDK. For example the plugin Adobe uses to provide screen sharing inside Connect using Flash. Google it… Then there’s Adobe’s ability to produce apps that look “good” – this all adds up to one significant and unfair advantage.

Now obviously players like Google dont like this idea so out comes the hoo-haa about Flash being inappropriate for delivering rich user experience because “someone” wants to push the alternative – HTML 5. Google, as smart as they are, are a bunch of geeks – they produce highly functional stuff but poor in design and UI appeal. In short – very vanilla.

Alongside this you have Apple refusing to support Flash in any of its market leading products like the iPad/Pod/Phone – however, Apple is happy to support HTML 5. Both Apple and Google want to push Microsoft into the corner – that’s easy enough though…

Now guess which 2 companies are leading the charge with finalising the specifications for HTML 5 – Google and Apple. Are you smelling the burnt offering yet?

Recently Adobe announced that in its next release of the Flash Builder they will provide a way for Flash AS3/4 code to be re-bundled as Objective C code for fast and easy deployment on Apple products.

Apple comes out last week with an announcement stating that on the iPad and iPhone 4.0x only apps built using the X-Code/native Objective C constructs will be allowed on appstores for instant deployment – check it out – this is an all out effort to keep Adobe out of this race for SaaS domination.

Now in the middle of all this Microsoft, in the corner has been pushing its Silverlight platform – which is now supported out-of-the-box in Windows 7 and Vista updates. Personally, I think Microsoft has yet again shot itself on the foot – I know ways that we have been brainstorming about in the area of “how to use Silverlight to compete against Microsoft products online”.

And then there’s Microsoft’s Office online that was due for release in APAC around March, 2010. In this suite of apps there’s an evil product called Outlook.

Ask Michelle from Email on Acid and she’ll tell you how simple HTML emails render inside Microsoft’s Outlook 2007 and 2010 – It’s shocking to say the least. While everyone else has advanced their HTML rendering engines (well done Gmail), it seems like MS is going backwards. Care to comment on this anyone?

Another ironic fact. Have you also noticed: for you to be able to watch an Apple video, you need Quicktime; for watching a microsoft video you need Silverlight or the Windows Media Player plugin. YouTube is already capable of serving videos without Flash using HTML 5. So to continue Adobe’s mandate to maintain Flash player as the standard for delivering video content, Flash 9 announced support for MP4 files with .H264 codec support – So its almost like every time the world is throwing lemons at Adobe, its turning them into lemonade – Good on you guys… I can sooooooo identify with Adobe right now.

So what’s the sum total of all this argument – Google is evil? Apple is arrogant? Microsoft is foolish? (thats proven beyond reasonable doubt), Adobe is being victimised? Perhaps all of the above but the fact of the matter is that anyone who considers themselves even a small player in the SaaS arena (that includes mid-sized guys like us) has a lot to consider/think about in terms of

  • Delivery
  • Design
  • Dependencies

From what I understand, HTML 5 will not be 100% supported and the final documentation not finalised until 2017 (yes thats millions of years away…); but the fact that Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer 8 (I struggled to believe it) already support HTML 5 in some capacity – so the battle is at the doorsteps. But it’s all good though, I just hope that Adobe continues to produce lemonade and we’ll see how far these big boys go to chuck lemons at Adobe.

I still believe Adobe has unfair advantage when it comes to design, delivery and dependencies in the online apps arena…

As always, I welcome your comments.

Wisdom of the crowd – democracy of social networks

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Google Rocks!

I know the title of this post is a mouthful, but I was struggling to actually come up with a title that justly headlines the content of this post. I need to warn you that this is by far the most technical post I’ve ever made on my blog. I must admit, I have my reservations about this particular post. I don’t expect this to be the bumper hit like my Tips for Social Networking post last month that attracted 17,000 views within 3 hours of posting. Anyway, it’s worth a try – don’t you reckon?

Well! This post is about introducing you to a mathematical beauty that has been known to science pretty much since the days of binary. I’ll spare you the jargonificaiton – what I’m trying to get at is the mathematical explaination behind the growth of companies like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, You Tube and LinkedIn.

It’s called the Viral Expansion Loop, something I remember studying in my Math majoring days but only recently the concept was reignited by a business contact Dave Wild, from Smith & Wild who passed me a couple of articles on Forbes and Fast Company. Dave, this post is because of you – You’ve reignited my passion in this area even though it has been inside my head all this while, albeit dormant.

Now the Viral Expansion Loop (VEL) is not the same as Viral Marketing – quite different actually, both in concept and delivery. Viral Expantion Loop is what explains how a variant of the flu virus turns from an “interesting mutation” to an epidemic and then progresses along to become a pandemic. Read the rest of this entry »

Social Media for businesses: top 10 tips

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Social media, as I have mentioned in many of my previous posts, is no longer something reserved for the teen space. Over the past 18 months, social media has grown into a phenomenon that will either have a positive or negetive impact on your business (depending on how you use it).

To understand social media, you need to first understand the transition of the world wide web. You have probably heard the term “Web 2.0” – well in reality does it mean that the internet is in it’s second version? Not quite.

It’s more like the internet has moved onto it’s next level of influence.

You see, all this while the internet has been known to be the information super-highway. You type in a question in Google and out comes the answer. Very two dimensional, very mechanical not to mention how it can be manipulated for personal gain.

Enter Web 2.0 – Now you type a question, when you find the answer, you share it with your friends – your social community. The more answers are shared, the more powerful the community. Web 2.0 has not just given birth to a new era in social interaction, but it has also opened opportunities for taking the web to one level further. Read the rest of this entry »

Sentiment Analysis for social engineering

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Sentimentality - A bunch of smileys sourced from Google Images.

Sentimentality - A bunch of smileys sourced from Google Images.

Many of my readers may find this post rather confusing but I will try my best to keep it simple.

Sentiment analysis is a very new field that has emerged out of the Semantic Web or Web 3.0 as some refer to it. You’ve heard of Web 2.0 but what is Web 3.0?

There are several high level definitions on Google for Semantic Web – but here’s my definition of the semantic web in common English.

Semantic web is a new era in the life of the world wide web where the internet is no longer used as the information super highway or the social hangout space, it will now become an intelligent medium that translates, elaborates, communicates and most importantly moderates all your social interactions with anything via the web.

Remember the popular “the Machine is using us” video put together by social anthropologist Michael Wesch? Well that described how the web has evolved from being 1 dimensional (content only) to 2 dimensional (form Vs content) and now it’s about to become 3 dimensional (form, content and MEANING). Read the rest of this entry »

The imminent death of the OS

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Got this from Google, like always.

Got this from Google, like always.

The operating system as we know it is coming closer to extinction.

There was a time in computing when the operating system governed what and how you can use software on a PC or Mac. Microsoft for one has made it’s billions by selling the Windows Operating System, and by producing good quality software (Like MS Word) it made sure the revenue streams remained open for generations to come as it kept improving (or sometimes degrading, e.g. Vista) its operating system.

If you want something like Outlook, you have to use the Windows OS, if you want something like Keynote, you have to be on a Mac and so on. Software, for the last 2 decades has depended on the OS to be accessible by the end users. Read the rest of this entry »

How to use Facebook for Viral Marketing

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There are many ways to do that, however, in this post, I am going to specifically talk about 1 way you can build your database using nothing but Facebook.

Facebook has something called Facebook Connect – It’s a tool available only to advanced programmers who know how to manipulate the Facebook programming architecture to connect to it’s database and pull some specific information and use it in several ways.

Now this is not hacking. Facebook has an API (Application Programming Interface, a bridge used to connect two or more disassociated applications) that allows developers to tap into it’s database and access certain information. Facebook preserves your privacy and does not share your email address with anyone. So you have nothing to worry about.

So here’s a simple but effective recipe to virally grow your database through Facebook using the Facebook connect API. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by manaskumar

August 2, 2009 at 4:46 am

Where to next with the Twitter phenomenon?

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Here’s something interesting.

The United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has produced a generic Twitter strategy for all government departments, despite the risk of “criticism of jumping on the bandwagon” and “pointless content”

Did you know?

When people working in the Empire State Building twittered that they were craving ice cream delivery, New York local chain Tasti D Lite was there to listen and meet their need. When electronics buyers look for good deals, the Dell Outlet Twitter account helps them save money with exclusive coupons. When Houston’s coffee drinkers decide where to get their daily dose, many choose Coffee Groundz, which lets them order via Twitter.

Is that crazy or what? Full marks to companies that are proactive in spotting such opportunities and being there at the right place at the right time. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by manaskumar

July 28, 2009 at 8:36 am