Posts tagged ‘predictions’

Why the iPhone Might Be Able to Swap Music

It has been confirmed that Apple is delaying the release the next version of its operating system so that it can focus more attention to the iPhone. At a time when Vista was just released, it could definitely hurt Apple to delay their OS. What was so important that it needed to delay OS X by four months?

Music sharing.

I am going to make an unusually bold prediction and guess that Apple is going to add media swapping into the iPhone. To support this theory (purely a theory!), I present you some facts I feel are relevant:

  • The iPhone has wireless LAN functionality. Music sharing is a pure software upgrade.
  • Something is being developed now that wasn’t originally planned for the iPhone. Developers were pulled from OS X, and in enough volume to slow down the project by four months. They are working on something that is closely related to the operating system, such as modifying the Fair Play DRM scheme.
  • The announcement to delay OS X came out today, but the cause must be traced back a few weeks. The decision to move resources for such an important project (OS X) could not have taken one day. Thus, the decision may have been made recently, but it must have been in the works for several weeks. Something happened in the last several weeks that directly influenced this delay.
  • EMI announced they would opened up their music catalog a few weeks ago. The songs are to be available DRM free starting May 1, one month before the iPhone is released. Apple must have known about this at least a few weeks prior to the announcement date. This places this news item squarely in the middle of the target timeline.
  • It has been noted that the decision to remove DRM was entirely EMI’s initiative. This is a key point. If EMI approached Apple, any corresponding decision regarding the iPhone was made in reaction to EMI’s announcement. This would have left Apple scrambling to catch up to the aftermath of the announcement, rather than being fully prepared going into it. The timeline is further validating by taking into consideration the secondary negotiations Apple had to make with EMI related to such a feature, as well as with the other labels.
  • Microsoft has indicated they want DRM-free music in the Zune. If the Zune comes out as a DRM-free sharing device, Apple may lose significant market share. Even a reduced DRM version would help the Zune a lot.

I believe this makes sense on many levels:

  • It would destroy the entire premise of the Zune, killing Microsoft’s ambitions in the music player market.
  • The iPhone distinguishes itself as a sharing device too. This adds a ton of value to the product. It also makes it the only phone on the market with such a feature.
  • It requires no changes to the hardware, keeping manufacturing costs exactly the same.
  • It would hasten adoption of the product, even at its high price.
  • It distinguishes the iPhone from the iPod on another dimension, no longer making it a simple “hybrid.”

Final clarification points:

  • I am not saying all sharing would be DRM free — just the stuff that is already DRM free. This on its own is a huge edge over the Zune. It also completely redefines the music player market.
  • Sharing Fair Play media would require alterations to the fundamental workings of the technology. This would require developers that work with Fair Play a lot, such as certain OS X developers, which makes sense.
  • Changing Fair Play might effect iTunes, iPod firmware, and OS X. A new version of iTunes just came out, and nobody needs a press release about iPod firmware updates being delayed. The reallocated human resources would compound the delay to the OS.
  • If this happens, you can expect a new generation of iPods to appear in 2008 that share this functionality.

I know my theory is crazy. Give it some thought and let me know what you think. ;)

Update: Wi-fi iPods are now rumored later this year.

Social Networking Integration Belongs on AIM, not Firefox

So Firefox is going social. The idea is to integrate data streams from social networks directly in your browser. In concept, it sounds neat, but I doubt it will ever grow out of a tiny niche. In fact, I think the idea is dumb all together. I think these exact features belong on existing chat clients.

While consolidating social networking data is for the best, Firefox is not where we need to see this feature. I see a few problems.

  1. Bloat.
  2. Firefox is a minority browser. Users who will use this feature will be a minority of that subset, making the social aspect limited in its usefulness.
  3. Browsers are often used in work environments where social networking is not exactly encouraged.

Social network integration belongs in social applications such as AIM. It would be far more useful and obvious if a chat service piggy backed on the existing chat based social network with meta data from Myspace, Facebook, Del.icio.us, Flickr, etc. It makes no sense pushing social aspects in an application that is not always used for social purposes, especially at the added cost of bloat.

If anybody wants to move to consolidate social networks, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and AOL have their chance now by releasing a client that integrates with all of the top networks. Perhaps they could even build an API. If I had the time or money, I’d certainly invest in a chat client that supported this.

Just imagine if I could set up an away message and it changed my headline on Myspace or updated my status on Facebook. Or if sharing pictures with friends was as easy as telling them to right click on my username and select “See Flicker pictures.” Or what if when I try to send a message to somebody who is offline, it just sends the message through Facebook instead? The point is that the social networking features could be harnessed to do things not supported by regular chat clients.

The possibilities are endless and the field is wide open.

If PS3 Broke Records in UK Why is it so Cheap on UK eBay?

Today’s post is about the PS3. I find the PS3 to be an interesting product because of its relative success despite its pricing and feature set that is contrary to the customer’s desires. In short, it has features most customers don’t want (Blu-Ray) and because of these features, it costs a ton more.

So imagine my surprise when the media started reporting that the PS3 sold out in Europe and, in fact, broke sales records in the UK.

I remember launch day in the US: every PS3 in sight was sold out and the Wiis barely ran out of stock. But then it was only a few weeks before demand revealed itself: everybody bought a PS3 so they could scalp it to the hardcore fans who didn’t have one yet. As a result, the PS3 aftermarket quickly died and the eBay market followed it. Soon, people were selling them for a loss!

And I remember Japan’s launch, when people were paying Chinese immigrants to stand in line and buy PS3s so they could sell them later. In fact, the story goes that the first person to ever buy a PS3 later walked from the store to a nearby parked car and gave it to his “boss.” It seems to me like the PS3 launch hype is largely due to scalpers.

So what about the UK? With all this record breaking nonsense, UK eBay must be booming, right? Here’s what I noticed after looking at 1423 closed PS3 auctions in the UK:

  • High prices (30% markup or more) were commanded by auctions that happened prior to March 25th (launch). This makes sense.
  • Only 55 closed auctions went or asked for a price above retail (£600).
  • Most that sold for a profit went for £650 (8% markup).
  • At £599 (retail), there were 95 auctions that went without any bids, three auctions for the PS3 that sold, and five auctions for the PS3 plus 3 games that sold.
  • There are countless pages of auctions below retail price going unsold (requires eBay login). £450 for a £599 console that came out less than a week ago? (see image below)
  • In contrast, searches for the Wii show approximately half of all auctions (maybe 60%) closed with a sale. Prices ranged a lot due to bundling, but a vanilla Wii was selling for approximately £300 (65% markup). In fact, at the £300 range (requires login), virtually every auction closed with a sale. And at the £250 range (requires login), the auctions had double digit bids.

check out those buy it now prices!I am not doing this to be scientific, but it’s a stark difference from the PS3 opening week in the US. Auctions ranged around $900 for the 60GB model, a 50% markup. I urge others to go confirm my observations. eBay is possibly the single best product demand barometer of our time. I know the PS3 broke records in UK, but then why isn’t the UK eBay demand following these figures? Is there low demand, except from scalpers?

If I’m wrong, the PS3 will continue to sell out in Europe and give Sony the boost it needs. But if I’m right, you should start seeing the negative “too much stock” stories in about 2 weeks when the eBay market reality sends thousands of scalpers back to the store to get refunds.

At the very least, someone explain all of these “buy it now” auctions that are set below the retail price.

Yahoo’s Secret Weapon is Answers – Google in Trouble

Finally, a post not directly about Google!

My friend Ji predicted the story I’m going to share today. It first became clear when the story broke that Google bowed out of the answers service and Yahoo slapped them around. While Techcrunch simply referred to this as Yahoo’s “Morale boost,” my friend pointed out that this could be the beginning of Yahoo’s come back in the search engine market.

It all started today when I read an article that talked about how few ads Google has compared to Live and Yahoo. The supposed reasoning is that Google serves less ads per page to reduce noise, which increases click rates in the long term. So on a search where Google only shows two ads, Yahoo shows eight. At first glance, Google is beating the pants off of Yahoo. Not only are their ads clearly less cluttered, but Google has 50% more results and a map with restaurant reviews.

But wait, scroll down to the bottom of Yahoo’s result page and notice this:

who wants sushi

I don’t know about you, but if someone types in “San Francisco  Sushi” and got that, I can’t see them ignoring that result.

This is Yahoo’s power play, and they’re doing it in relative stealth mode. Perhaps they don’t even realize just how ground breaking this can be. For example, if I search for “Which game console should I buy?”, on Google, I get a bunch of results from review sites. On Yahoo, I get all those, plus these:

excellent results

As you can see, the potential is amazing. Yahoo may not have the biggest index or the best search algorithm, but who needs it when you can mine answers to common questions out of an Answers database! Yahoo shouldn’t be sidelining these results near the bottom. They should be right at the top, perhaps even displacing a few ads on the right. After all these years, we have come full circle to a search engine that performs best when it is literally asked a question.

This is “ask Jeeves” all over again. Except this one works.

Yahoo Answers is barely a year old. What happens in another two years when this service has fully matured and becomes far more ubiquitous? This won’t ever replace Google, but it has the potential to get users acquainted with asking questions on Yahoo, which has the residual effect of converting them over the long run. Google should be afraid of this application because it has the potential to steal a large slice of Google’s search engine pie.

Keep on eye on this feature as we should see it become a larger part of Yahoo’s search results this year (if they have half a brain).

Note: this was originally going to also cover Live’s shameless sponsored result for San Francisco Sushi that promoted something completely unrelated. I was also going to discuss how bad the sponsored results were. Since I took the screen shot, I have decided to include it here. The caption is, “Which one doesn’t fit?”

which one doesn't fit?

I really hope that maps ad is because I typed in a location and not because they are randomly spamming ads to their other services.

The Importance of Google Checkout: The Pieces Come Together

I have repeatedly predicted that Google will expand its promotion of the Google Checkout program this year. Well, it seems they’re hastening the pace. Google is now offering $1 referral fees for people who forward them new Google Checkout users. google is giving away moneyThe users you refer get a $10 discount. That means for the first purchase a user makes, Google loses out on $11! Not only that, but Google Checkout is currently free to stores that support it, costing Google another chunk of fees for credit card processing.

As I’ve asked before, what other product has Google marketed so aggressively, paying out everybody in the financial chain? Right now, Google is doing a land grab with Google Checkout, and its primary competitor is the already entrenched payment processors such as PayPal, 2Checkout, and even Amazon. If you’ve ever used the service, it’s pretty much like Google’s version of Amazon’s checkout system, except it works on any site that supports it.

For those of you who haven’t read my theory on this topic, Google is banking its future in text advertising on Google Checkout. To understand the theory, let me explain to you the CPA (cost per action) market, where people are paid out whenever someone makes a purchase. Then I will explain where Google Checkout comes into play.

The players:

  • Advertisers – These are the people who are selling stuff. Examples could be Coca Cola, Nike, or Apple. They pay Google to have ads show up on publisher web sites through AdSense.
  • The Ad broker – Google. They act as the middle man.
  • Publishers – This is you and I, e.g., the website that hosts ads. These ads exist to sell products for the advertiser. Ads you see on Google’s search results make Google a publisher as well, in some contexts.

How the CPA market works:

  • When a purchase is made, the advertiser pays the ad broker, and then the ad broker pays the publisher.
  • There is a strong incentive by the advertiser to under track in order to reduce the payout.
  • Tracking is done with cookies, JavaScript, and 1×1 pixel images. Many ad block programs cause under counting because they block the cookies or images.
  • If an order is fraudulent, there is often a great deal of manual work that must be done to “scrub” the customer list. This requires trusting that the advertiser does not remove excessive records. This can cause disputes when the broker tracks different numbers than what the advertiser reports.

Google Checkout’s role:

Google is now testing CPA ads. Up to this point, there was no real competitive advantage for Google, especially since there are already several heavily entrenched and well funded competitors in the market. Google Checkout helps even this out, a fact that is apparent by the timing of this new referral program (the day after the CPA tests began).

  • Google Checkout can track a purchase the moment it happens. Unlike competitors, users with JavaScript disabled or ad blocking programs would still be counted.
  • Tracking can be done by forwarding all Google related sales to the Google Checkout system. This means no cookies need to be used either. If someone clicks on a Google Ad, the URL they see makes them checkout using Google Checkout.
  • If later, a card turns out to be stolen or the customer demands a refund, Google can immediately adjust account balances to the publisher and advertiser (much like it does with click fraud with their current ads) without bias or human intervention.

Anybody with any real knowledge of the CPA network knows that it is very different than the CPC, aka “pay-per-click”, market. This is because the industry thrives on trust, human relationships, and lots and lots of human deal making. Google may change that with its classic “algorithm for everything” mentality, but, for now, it’s clear that Google has no plans to take the entire market. It seems like they are only interested in pure e-commerce advertising market (just a slice of the entire market).

So in the coming months, you should start seeing Google making power moves to get major retail chains to start using their checkout system. This won’t come easy because one of the things Google does is hide customers from the seller (advertiser). Not having customer contact information is bad for repeat business, so many larger retailers will resist Google. This is why Google is fighting from the bottom up: giving incentives to people like you and me to spread the word, one dollar at a time.

Google Beta Tests Click Fraud Killer

Google has finally started a public beta for a pay-per-action ad model. I already explained how important Google sees these types of ads. For text-based advertising, this is where Google will focus its attention next. These types of ads are much harder to cheat because actual actions (such as a purchase) must occur before an ad pays out. This destroys the click fraud industry that has plagued Google. While there is a form of fraud associated with pay-per-action, it is much more difficult to pull off, and relatively easy to spot (My previous employer was this type of ad agency).

As this beta rolls out and the mainstream launch nears, I firmly believe you will see even more active promotion of the Google Checkout application. As I mentioned before, Google checkout is a critical edge in Google maintaining any market share it steals from the current top pay-per-action companies. In short, Google Checkout kills a variety of potential loopholes that exist in the pay-per-action ad model. Since Google controls the payment processing, they can track:

  • Valid vs Invalid payments. Sometimes a payment is invalided later, such as when a credit card is reported stolen. These are lost revenues for the publisher since they’ve already paid the ad broker (Google) money to place their ad. The ad broker also gets shafted sometimes because the advertiser would withhold payment, causing problems down the chain with the publisher who displayed the ad. With Google Checkout, such events can be properly tracked and all parties involved can be refunded or credited as necessary. 
  • Refunds and chargebacks. This is the same issue as above, but involve abusive or fraudulent customers. Again, this is otherwise lost money to the advertiser, which is of course the single most important entity for Google to make happy.
  • Actual sales volume, instead of what is reported by the publisher. In regular pay-per-action ads, there is a big incentive to cheat the tracking of sales and conversions (which is done with cookies and embedded images). This is to reduce payments owed to the ad broker. Google Checkout makes this much more difficult since Google knows exactly how much an advertiser has made. There will still be hurdles to overcome, but it definitely will make things more transparent for everybody.

Like I said, Google Checkout isn’t done yet. Google will fight to the bloody end before they let it languish in obscurity. It’s a vital part of their text ad strategy, moving forward.

Gosh, a lot of Google news lately, huh?

Maybe Google Wanted to be Sued: YouTube and Plan B

No matter how you spun it, a lawsuit was waiting to pounce on YouTube. And when the lawsuit came, it would be from multi-billion dollar media conglomerates. Worst of all, people feared it would trigger a landslide of more lawsuits. Even still, Google bought YouTube. And now the billion dollar war has begun.

I wondered: Maybe Google actually wanted to be sued.

Backroom Discussions

First of all, in a perfect world, no, Google wouldn’t want this. And Google, hoping that the world is close enough to perfect, did buy YouTube. But somewhere during discussions, someone must have asked, “How is this different from Morpheus and Kazaa? Won’t we be sued into oblivion?”

The smart lawyers at Google probably mentioned something about the DMCA, but honestly, would you want to buy a company that would be hated, constantly, by the very people who own the content that keeps you afloat? Or better, how will such a site remain #1 if there is a (Edit: added link) unified effort by content owners to either displace or destroy you? Most of all, media companies, who have significant clout and money, wouldn’t let YouTube host their content for free without a fight. There was more to this purchase than meets the eye.

No matter how you look at it, the purchase came with a lot of legal risk. I believe nobody at Google is surprised that Viacom is suing and wants $1 billion, A.K.A. most of the sum Google paid for YouTube. This is all part of the expected road map in owning YouTube.

So plan A was to hope people would be nice and look the other way. That worked for a year so far, and Google hoped it would continue. Plan B was to get sued.

This isn’t any ordinary “get sued and win” plan. Waiting to get sued so you can win in court is a defensive move for most companies. But for Google, this is preemptive. This is about Google defending YouTube, instead of YouTube defending YouTube.

Why Getting Sued is a Preemptive Strategy

Let’s pretend that YouTube was not bought out because talks got delayed. Then realize that it would have probably been sued a lot sooner by a lot more people. Investors would flee and nobody would want the company now. If YouTube goes broke, that would have likely pushed Myspace Video to #1, giving News Corp a huge edge since it happens to own Fox Entertainment. Myspace Video would become whatever was in the best interest of Big Media. Probably a DRM infested piece of crap that sued its users for uploading copyrighted material.

Myspace is #2(Edit:) If you don’t think Myspace would have hopped into the throne, you may want to see this recent report that shows how Myspace video is #2 in the video market. And as the trend goes, Myspace is actually losing share in the video market (3% between December 2006 and January 2007). Seeing as how 16% of all YouTube traffic comes from Myspace, you can’t say YouTube isn’t causing serious harm to Myspace videos, keeping it from becoming #1.

On the other hand, if YouTube didn’t go broke and fought the lawsuits, imagine if they had lost. Myspace Video gets to keep whatever edge it has, but virtually every other video site on the Internet becomes illegal overnight. Thousands of user records and IP addresses would get subpoenaed, and video sharing dies in one fell swoop.

Why Does Video Sharing Matter to Google?

What’s the next big thing on the net? Video. Google cares what happens in video sharing because it wants a slice of the video ad market. It doesn’t want to just be in the market, it wants to own it like it owns text ads. But that’s not the whole answer.

Google bought YouTube because it wanted to make sure of three things:

  1. Google has first dibs for video ads on the biggest video site on the Internet
  2. YouTube remains legal
  3. Expand and protect current fair use related provisions involving copying intellectual property

The first point is obvious, and the second point feeds into point #1.

But the third point is the most important for Google. If YouTube were to lose a lawsuit for hosting intellectual property, it would severely weaken Google’s position in a variety of current and future endeavors. Any aspirations Google has of some day crawling and indexing video content (nope, they don’t have this technology yet) would now be in a legal limbo. It would also potentially re-introduce new arguments against their Google Image Search. And their book search program might suffer a similar fate once the YouTube precedent settles in. Google, being a company that spiders and indexes (stores) massive amounts of copyrighted information, would now be in serious legal jeopardy.

YouTube is Google’s Future

Thus, Google not only threw money at YouTube: it threw its lawyers at YouTube too. Google’s lawyers are some of the most well-versed copyright lawyers in the world since so many of their lawsuits deal with that issue.

The goal here is simple. Google wants to own the #1 video sharing site (completely legal), own 100% of the ads on that site, and clarify many currently-ambiguous copyright issues in their favor. If all of that goes as planned, the $1.5 billion paid to YouTube was a small price to pay. But if they had never gotten involved, the potential losses were far greater than a billion or two. Since Google has a market capitalization of over $130 billion, even a dip of 1% means losses of over $1 billion. But if entire sections of their business model became legally uncertain, you can bet they’d lose a lot more than 1%, especially with their insanely high P/E ratio (the ratio between what their stock is worth and how much they make).

By fighting a lawsuit, Google gets to prove the legitimacy of Internet video distribution – something that will probably never flourish under the “old media” regime. Unfortunately for them, the DMCA protects site owners from liability of what its users do — or at least that’s the general interpretation. Letting YouTube fight this battle alone with their own lawyers might have resulted in a very public and unnecessary loss that would have crippled Google’s video ambitions and possibly caused collateral damage to a bunch of related industries (especially search). This would have forced everybody to play by the conglomerates’ rules, and taken anyway any guarantee of Google getting any cut of the video ad pie. Video sharing needs this clarification before it can move forward. And if Google legitimizes it, they will have the biggest video site on the web for their video ads to play.

So let’s ask ourselves again: would Google pay $1.5 billion so it can fight the lawsuit on behalf of YouTube? Now that I think about it, it seems like a wise long term move.

Update

7:20PM 3/20/2007: Welcome Reddit and Digg users! :) Someone posted a comment (on Reddit) noting that they didn’t think Myspace Video would be #1, had YouTube gone away. I have updated this post to reflect this (see picture)

8:31PM 3/20/2007: Holy hell. Digg’s users almost destroyed my server! This box only has 1GB of RAM, so if you’re interested in finding out how this post is still here, come back in a day or two for the full explanation. :)

9:01AM 3/22/2007: I’m on Slashdot. I think I survived the Slashdot Effect!

PS. If you find my idea entertaining or have an acute interest in programming, please subscribe to my blog. :)

iPhones and the 10 Million Prediction

Steve Jobs hopes to sell 10 million iPhones between July 2007 and 2008. Many people have questioned the feasibility of this number. The people over at Arstechnica say that 10 million is actually a lot harder than Apple made it out to be due to the size of the smartphone market. One claim Arstechnica makes is true: Jobs definitely over-reported the size of the market he was entering.

Last year, 80 million smartphones were sold. If apple wants to sell 10 million, they have to grab a lot more than 1% of that market (more like 12%). Up to this point, it looks as if Apple has a pretty tough up hill battle.

But I believe this prediction is short-sighted and ignores a few crucial facts.

The Market

First, the smartphone market is growing at a mind numbing rate. Last year, it went from 46 million to 80 million: a 175% change. It’s always hard to know if you’ve hit the top of a curve, but last year, the world bought one billion cell phones, in line with what Steve said. So with less than 10% of all phones being smartphones, it’s clear that the smartphone market has plenty of room to grow.

Convergence

To be honest, I think most people aren’t thinking about the Internet features of the iPhone. Most people simply haven’t been exposed to mobile Internet to understand why people refer to the Blackberry as the “crackberry.” Thus, what people see when they look at the iPhone is:

  1. Music
  2. Videos
  3. Cell phone

People have been demanding that these devices converge for years, as evident by the recent media phones by companies like Verizon. This alone should be a reason why the phone will sell. Can you name any other product that had people demand it be made half a decade in advance? Any?

The News Media

The last and most important reason why the iPhone is likely to kick butt has to do with the media. Ever wonder why there is such a media circus around the iPhone? Ever wonder how articles full of nothing but iPhone speculation made it into respectable newspapers? Why is it that even though there are many other more capable phones out there, the iPhone continues to get all the press?

Because the iPhone appeals to average Joe and the media recognizes this. Apple carved out a new market for smartphones. The iPhone has a camera and media features that place it in a separate bucket from the “productivity” smartphones. Apple’s phone is for casual use.

Market Growth

So right now, the smartphone market, aimed only at business people, is 8% of the global market. This is after sales grew over 70% two years in a row.

Arstechnica was making its prediction based on the idea that the market doesn’t grow. But what happens to that share when smartphones suddenly open up and are actively marketed to regular consumers? What happens when Apple’s marketing team starts marketing the phone as the next “in” thing to have? What happens when you start seeing celebrities using them and showing them off at movie premiers?

Just like Nintendo stole the PS3 thunder, Apple will turn the market upside down by flooding it with a ton of new, previously uninterested consumers. It’s not a done deal, but the metrics used by Arstechnica hardly speak for themselves.

Google Possibly 80% of the Search! Yahoo Users Do 5-10x More Queries per Search?

Yahoo, the supposed #2 search engine with a reported 23.6% market share generates less than a percent of my search traffic. This holds true for other sites that I examined. Google consistently comes out on top by an 90% margin!

Below, I have compiled a list of the top referring search engines for 10 web sites where I had log access. The results point to a shocking conclusion that Google’s true market share may be upwards of 80%!

My Blog (Michikono.com / Michiknows.com)

My blog enjoys a lot of search traffic due to the ever increasing amount of technical articles I write.

Google 98.34%
Yahoo 0.6%
Search 0.5%
Live/MSN 0.3%
AOL 0.2%

That’s no mistake. Not even a full percentage point for Yahoo. I thought, “well maybe my readers are the type that loves everything Google?” We’ll find out that my theory didn’t stand for long…

Plurker

Most of Plurker’s traffic comes from people searching for their own screen names. Thus, I figure it would be a good representation of search quality. It is also heavily optimized for search engines and has dedicated pages (with titles) for each screen name. And yet…

Google 96.0%
Yahoo 2.9%
AOL 0.5%
Ask Jeeves 0.3%

Yahoo seems to be 1/10th of where it should be.

LetsTorrent

While I only recently launched LetsTorrent, I noticed that the top spider is Yahoo Slurp (Yahoo’s spider). Surely the percentages will be right here, right? No! 

Google 98.8%
Unknown search engines 1.2%

Yahoo doesn’t even show up! But maybe the site just has no real content and thus it gets lower priority? Can we give Yahoo a break here? I would, except it does appear Yahoo has the site in its index.

GoogleLoco

After the recent GoogleTV hoax, a lot of people searched for the “Loco Google” mentioned in the video. Thus, after I created GoogleLoco, I had a big influx of search visitors looking for this hoax site. Surely those would represent some kind of proportional search traffic, right? Right?

Google 97.9%
MSN 1.1%
AltaVista 0.7%
Unknown search engines 0.3%

Nope. Yahoo doesn’t even show up. Yes, it’s in Yahoo’s index.

uQuad

uQuad has a pretty large number of sub-pages, including a restaurant directory and enjoys a large amount of search traffic.

Google 95.3%
Yahoo 2.7%
AOL 0.8%
Unknown search engines 0.7%
MSN 0.5%

…And yet it still is heavily skewed toward Google.

Second Opinion

I figured that maybe my sites are statistical anomalies. So I decided to get a second opinion since most of my sites are relatively small. Below are stats to five more (much larger) sites, none of which I operate. I won’t disclose the site names for privacy reasons. All of these sites have been around for at least a year, are optimized for search spidering, and have middle tier Page Ranks. Again, these are incoming traffic numbers from search engines for February.

A funny picture site:

Google 86.8%
MSN 6.4%
Unknown search engines 1.8%
Yahoo 1.8%
Ask Jeeves 1.6%

Web hosting service (this is the lowest of all 10):

Google 58.3%
MSN 13.8%
Yahoo 8.3%
Hotbot 5.5%
AltaVista 5.5%

Another hosting service:

Google 83.5%
Yahoo 5.4%
DMOZ 5.4%
Ask Jeeves 1.5%
MSN 1.5%

A blog:

Google 94.3%
MSN 3.7%
Unknown search engines 1.8%

A video site:

Google 80.1% (12,492 hits)
Yahoo 7.3% (1,132 hits)
MSN 5.1%
Unknown search engines 3.2%

A proxy service:

Google 90.4% (13,908 hits)
Yahoo 4% (619 hits)
MSN 2.9%
Unknown search engines 2%
AOL 0.1%

Summary of Results

Across 10 sites, The average Google share is 88.1% and the median is around 92%! 

Possible Explanation (and Why Current Search Metrics are Broken)

It perplexed me that Google is reported to have a share as low as 44%. While researching this matter, I found a blog entry with the same conclusion as me, but I then stumbled across another article that explains what’s going on. In it, the man argues a stupid, but sobering point about search stats:

Search referrals are different than number of searches performed.

For example, let’s say I am looking for GoogleLoco.com using the term “Google Loco”:

  • On Google I’ll find it on the first try (click to see why) – One search.
  • On Yahoo, I wouldn’t find it until page 5 (have fun getting there) – Five searches.

In fact, since I have no referrals from Yahoo on GoogleLoco, we might just conclude that people searched and didn’t even make it to my site!

Who else realized search engines are graded on such retarded metrics? By that logic, it’s almost in Yahoo’s interest to maintain crappy results to ensure users are trying more queries! If they improve their search relevancy, they stand to lose market share due to more people finding stuff on the first try!

Lastly, this also is telling about the number of people that use each search engine. Yahoo may have half the queries of Google, but Google is bringing 10 times more visitors! And yet, Google only has double the queries? What’s that mean? If the Google-Yahoo referrer ratio is around 10:1, then the average Yahoo visitor is doing 5x more queries than the average Google user! Of course, the scary part is that these logs indicate a ratio of more like 20:1.

This explains why I don’t know anybody that uses Yahoo.

Note: Google Image Search hits are merged with “Google.” All stats on this page was collected through Awstats. Last I checked, Awstats does not have a Google bias.

Crazy Ideas: Forget the PS3, Push the PS2!

By now, everybody has heard about the PS3 being only luke-warm. Sony has had their eye on the wrong ball. Sony should have pushed the PS2 harder than they’ve ever pushed any console rather than launch the PS3. Allow me to explain.

There are many reports that the PS2 is still dominating.

Sony sold 1.4 million PlayStation 2 (PS2) consoles in the United States in December, compared with only 491,000 of the PlayStation 3 (PS3) model…

Meanwhile, buyers snapped up 1.1 million Xbox 360s and 604,000 of the family-oriented Wii consoles made by Nintendo.

So in other words, even with virtually no marketing, the PS2 is outselling the Wii, Xbox, and PS3! People have been focusing so much on the “next-gen” that nobody stopped to wonder if the last war is really over. Besides, what makes a system “next gen?” New games? PS2 has that. Better graphics? The Wii and Xbox are destroying the PS3, which is supposedly the most powerful machine out there.

Pretend for a moment that Sony decides to push the PS2 with renewed vigor. After all, the PS2 beat the 360 every single month last year. Why is it that Sony can’t continue this momentum? It doesn’t matter if Xbox has 10 or even 30 million consoles out there. Sony has shipped over 115 million PS2 consoles and sold at a rate 50% greater than 360 sales last year. That’s nearly one PS2 for every 55 man, woman, and child in the entire world! They have a library of over 7,000 games. Since there have been 1.2 billion games sold for the PS2, that works out to an average of 10 game purchases for each PS2.

The problem is that Sony is hung up on this whole “next-gen” concept that they don’t even realize they have no reason to start a new war! The fact that their “outdated” console is out-selling everybody else shows that they could have sat back on the PS2 for another year or two.

If they’re so keen on the Blu-Ray, they should just drop the price of the regular PS2 to $99, and create a new Blu-Ray version for $300. Seeing as the Wii and PS2 are roughly equivalent in power, trying to convince someone to pay a $50 markup over the Wii is much easier than convincing them of a $200 markup over the 360. Additionally, even if they take a $100 loss for each Blu-PS2 they sell (you heard the term here first!), the 10-1 game ratio would pad the losses a lot faster than the crappy 2:1 ratio the PS3 has been seeing.

Sony should embrace their PS2, polish it up with some new case colors, maybe a built in wireless card, slim it down, and re-release it. In the end, consumers care about games, not the power of the CPU. The PS2′s gaming library is the undisputed champion of that race. I’m not saying they should never release a new system. I’m saying they shouldn’t sideline their current best seller.

Lastly, let’s discuss publisher support, which is how I even came to this idea. The PS2 is a well understood system with a huge developer base that understands how to maximize its potential. It is still releasing new games at as fast a rate as ever. And its market reach is greater than the sum of all of its competitors combined. Developing a hit game for the PS2 is guaranteed mass market penetration, whereas the current next-gen consoles are still somewhat of a risk. In other words, there is a great appeal that still exists with developing on the PS2.

With the PS2 dominating the market even harder than it is now, Sony could have taken a lot of steam out of its competitors with phrases like, “Buy our PS2 and 10 games for the price of a 360!” Then, after the buzz is all gone, Sony could have launched their PS3 at their own leisure on a separate year than Nintendo or Microsoft. As the dominant leader, Sony should have set its own schedule rather than letting Microsoft set the pace of the next-gen race.

Sony should have finished milking the PS2. Sony could have taken their sweet time and let the PS3 technology drop in price and nurture the software lineup. They could have launched their system with a library of 50 games, but instead, they rushed it with only eight launch titles. By letting the PS3 brand flounder, they risk losing their actual next gen market forever since lagging console sales makes publishers flee, which causes further lagging console sales. In short, the PS3 was released a year too early because Sony got impatient.

Microsoft’s greatest victory was making Sony doubt the PS2′s ability to keep up its steam.

And Sony stumbled.