Reviews like this haven’t made me too anxious to dive into MSN’s AdCenter product to buy advertising.
I wonder how Microsoft feels about the uptake so far.Â The product was years in the making, and there just hasn’t been much buzz or positive experiences to point to so far.
I’ll give it a spin soon to see for myself, but haven’t read anything that’s motivated me to do so.
After the initial Google Spreadsheet announcement, blogs are buzzing with some of the biggest voices bashing Google, some defending them, and others just questioning their intent.
The complaints seem to range from Google getting distracted from their core mission to just putting out incomplete or bad products.
I disagree with both ideas.Â First, their core mission has been organizing information and allowing people to find it, and the tools they’ve been building and releasing all do have to do with organizing and working with information.Â And, at this point their core revenue model is advertising from Adwords ads showing up in search results and in Adsense.Â The main dangers to that revenue model are someone making it obsolete in some way, or Google losing search volume and losing Adsense publishers.Â Creating these free tools people use keeps people involved in the Google brand, thus making searchers more likely to use Google Search, advertisers more likely to think of advertising with Google, and publishers more likely to work with Adsense.
As to whether the products are revolutionary enough doesn’t matter that much.Â Google Spreadsheet isn’t revolutionary, and it’s not better than Excel.Â However, it’s good enough for a lot of Excel users, it’s free, and it’s on the web meaning users don’t need to fumble around with if it’s installed or not.
Here’s a way I like to think about web product development.Â When my 4 year-old daughter needs a spreadsheet application to start doing her first school projects or financial work on it, which is she more likely to use?Â Pay $269 for Office to get Excel?Â Or use a free and simple web-based application like Google Spreadsheet?Â I know which way I’ll be pointing her when that time comes.
That’s the thing, Google has time.Â The product doesn’t need to be perfect now, they’ve got the size and momentum that they’ll get users simply on their name and their Google-like ability to make things pretty darn easy to use.Â Will they be the best spreadsheet application in 8 years when my daughter needs it?Â I have no idea, but they should probably be trying.
Google has announced the release and beta of Google Spreadsheets.Â For the full rundown on what it is with screenshots, check out Google Blogoscoped.
The timing is right though, I’m ready for the free versions of tools that were really formally only available in Microsoft Office, which costs hundreds of dollars.Â Is Google Spreadsheets as good as Excel?Â No, of course not, definitely not if we’re talking about features.Â However, I don’t use 90% of Excel’s features, or 90% of the features in Word, or Powerpoint.Â With Writely being purchased by Google, you know a Google web word processing product is on the way, if Writely isn’t good enough already to do the job.
So, I’m a power computer user and do lots of “business” on a computer using Word and Excel daily, but the functionality I use is covered in these free web tools.Â The next computer I buy will not contain Office, and I’ll just use web office applications.
I wonder what percentage of Microsoft’s customers will be coming with me?
In a great win for WebTrends, Microsoft has chosen them as the analytics provider for all of Microsoft’s web properties.
Their press release covers the reasons why Microsoft made that choice.Â It should be a good momentum boost for Webtrends as it seems like some of the largest web companies out there have selected other vendors over the past couple of years.Â It’s just more proof how competitive this space is, and how much great innovation the analytics vendors are doing in their products.
With Google’s purchase of Urchin and subsequent release of Google Analytics, some have wondered if Microsoft’s purchase of DeepMatrix not too long ago was going to be a similar product offering for Microsoft.Â WebMetricsGuru suspects that Microsoft may not have felt that DeepMatrix could handle the needs of Microsoft’s properties themselves.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch talks about Yahoo and Microsoft getting together in some way to challenge Google.Â He brings up some very good reasons that it might makes sense for them to work together because both have their various strengths and weaknesses of going up against Google’s Search/Adwords/Adsense platform.
That’s fine, I think it could potentially help both companies although there might be some general brand confusion depending on what they do.
Either way though, it still feels like they’re playing catch up to Google.Â Instead of trying to catch up on their own, they’d be trying to combine their strengths to battle Google on the Search/Adwords/Adsense platform.Â I’m not sure that’s the right strategy.Â I think the right strategy would be to innovate to the next level.Â Is the Adwords/Adsense model really the best advertiser/publisher model possible?Â I wish the Yahoo Publisher Network didn’t feel like a watered-down Adsense with slightly different features.Â I think many publishers would have loved to see something innovative that made it a more compelling solution than Adsense, besides just being an alternative to it.
How do you innovate?Â Flip media on it’s head.Â Change the way the game is played.Â Be open, be efficient, be transparent, put as many people together as possible.
Robert Cringely is always an interesting read, and his latest post is about Paul Allen and his relationship with Microsoft with a a good story or two along the way.Â What’s really interesting is his confident prediction at the end that an upcoming anti-trust case will be the downfall of Microsoft.Â Wow.
The SearchEngineWatch blog is reporting that MSN will be offering a time-limited AdCenter sign up on Monday, March 6th for only three hours. It will start at 9 am PST and advertisers can start creating campaigns right away.
It sounds like it’s probably meant for them to just get some outside beta testers without really opening up the flood gates. If you’re interested, makes sure you set your calendar to get in at that time.
It’s nice to set the bar high, but shouldn’t Microsoft keep statements and goals internal when it comes to beating Google? Neil Holloway, President of Microsoft Europe, Middle East, and Africa said “that in six months’ time we’ll be more relevant in the U.S. market place than Google.”
Does Microsoft learn anything from the past? A little while back they made a similar claim when launching their independent MSN search, and they now have 12% of the search market to Google’s 50%. I’m glad they have guts, but they’re starting to just look like they don’t have a clue in making claims that they can’t back up. Maybe they’ll back it up this time, but for some reason, I doubt it.
I’d rather see them say they know it’s a great challenge, and they think they have some things coming which will make them a larger factor in the search world. Saying they’ll be more relevant in 6 months…that just seems a little silly.
Pete Caputa is sniffing out what I’m smelling as well, Google is starting to go everywhere ads, which as much as they may try it means they’ll most likely lose focus on their online advertising business. They’re in a tough spot, they need to keep growing, but yet they don’t want to screw up what they have.
What does this mean? It’s getting hard for them to innovate. They’re making piles of cash from Adsense, which gives you less desire to innovate. You’re #1, everyone is chasing you, so you have to be extremely paranoid to keep innovating the way a startup would. Google may know that they need to keep innovating, but it’s almost impossible to stay as hungry. Microsoft wants to take their market. Yahoo wants to take their market. And hundreds of smaller companies with nothing to lose want to take their market. Can Google keep innovating to fight them off? I’m not so sure.