Tag Archives: Chief Executive Officer

The Secret Behind Google’s Success: The Instant Massage

Google’s profits are indeed impressive, and if my local newspaper (no link available, I’m afraid) is right, it’s clear clear why: the company is offering a service no right-minded person could refuse:

But the introduction of new products, such as instant massaging, and upgrades to existing services, such as mapping, helped Google attract more summer traffic than anticipated, executives said during a conference call yesterday.

This seems to have emanated from an AP story, carried by The Seattle Times and Canoe Money, both of which either fixed the typo or else didn’t create the error (no way of easily telling whether the error was in the original copy, or whether my local paper ran an ageing spellchecker over the word to create the fluff.)

Instant massaging is actually not that uncommon.  3G UK’s JustYak Chat “brings the popular Internet Instant Massaging to the mobile world” (a press release that hasn’t been fixed in two and a half years. Does no one proofread these things?) In fact Google offers “about 535” entries for instant massaging, only one or two of which seem to deliver what they promise. (IWantOneOfThose.com points to the USB Massager, which I’ve long touted as a serious peripheral.)

In fact instant massaging has a pedigree. It throws up 27 matches on Factiva, including this comment from Charles Gibson on ABC Good Morning America on June 20 (sorry, no links for these as Factiva is a subscription only service. You’ll just have to take my word for it):

Are cell phones, instant massaging, and multi-tasking giving us all Attention Deficit Disorder? Yes, is the answer.

I can well imagine. Instant gratification always was the enemy of concentration. Or this from the UK’s Birmingham Post on Nov 17 2004 in its Anniversaries section, which goes some way to explain why British workers are using more paper, but still leaves us wanting to know more:

2001: A study showed that paper consumption in British offices had increased by 40 per cent with the advent of emails, faxes and instant massaging.

Then there was the report of a local man exactly a year earlier in the Providence Journal arrested for online harrassment, or “cyberstalking”. The paper explains:

Cyberstalking is a misdemeanor charge that involves harassment via e-mail or instant massaging, according to the state police.

Indeed. People leaping upon strangers in public and on the Internet, delivering instant backrubs should definitely be stopped before it gets out of hand. (Sorry.) But then again, maybe this explains AOL’s difficult times. Back in August 1999, according to CNNfn’s Moneyline, AOL was doing its bit to make online a more pleasurable place to be, as a transcript of the show has host Stuart Varney explaining:

America Online is pushing to make its popular instant massaging feature an Internet standard. And in the process, out-muscle Microsoft. For the first time, AOL will let other Internet service providers use the massaging systems: EarthLink and MindSpring. The deal lifted shares of Earthlink 4 1/2. Mindspring rallied nearly three. And AOL edged up nearly a dollar.

Only a dollar? Microsoft clearly lacked the technique and strength necessary to make backrubs an Internet standard. EarthLink and MindSpring (the names carry different connotations now, knowing they were more focusing as much on massages as messages) clearly were 100% behind this initiative.

One can’t help but wonder, though, what the transcribers and stenographers made of what they were writing when they wrote ‘massaging’ rather than ‘messaging’; take, for example, this transcript from September 1998 Congressional Testimony by John Bastian, Chief Executive Officer of Security Software Systems, a company offering “computer software solutions designed to protect children on-line”. His testimony on the dangers of life online was otherwise impeccably recorded by the Congressional stenographer, except this bit:

Thousands of explicit web sites exist with millions of pages of pornographic material. Most are easily accessed by a few clicks of a mouse. But sites are only a portion of the sexually explicit areas. E-mail, chat rooms, news-groups and Instant massaging can be virtual playground for the sexual predators and pedophiles.

Makes the Internet sound an even scarier place than it already is. Maybe we’re better off that AOL failed in its vision, and that Google may not, after all, be reaping huge profits from instant physical therapy.

Skype Comes To Hong Kong

Skype are moving into Hong Kong with an agreement with Hutchison Global Communications Limited, which operates Hong Kong’s largest fibre-to-the-building network.

HGC is the first Fixed Telecommunications Network Services (FTNS — a provider of fixed line services which include telephony) operator in the world to have reached a co-branding agreement withSkype Technologies S.A, Skype says in a press release issued today (not yet available on their website but I’m guessing it’ll be here when it is).

Under the agreement, the two partners will bring Skype to Hong Kong through a co-branded “HGC-Skype” portal, which is scheduled to be in service in March 2005.

In short, this means that HGC Broadband users — both wired and wireless — will be able to use Skype. Of course, they could anyway, but (I’m guessing here) this is an opportunity for Skype to pitch itself to a Chinese audience, and a chance for Hutchison to offer an extra lure to customers in an already crowded marketplace. As Peter Wong, Chief Executive Officer of HGC, puts it in the press release, “Being a full fledged telecommunications service provider, we launch ‘HGC-Skype’ to cater for the communications needs of tech-savvy users. We always partner with leading service providers, and Skype is no exception. Our cooperation will bring ‘Skype mania’ to Hong Kong.”

What’s interesting here is that Skype is dealing for the first time with an infrastructure provider, and one that offers ordinary telephone services as well as broadband. While Hutchison sounds as if it is calculating that only the tech-savvy are going to be using Skype, it must also be recognising that the days of expensive international phone calls are over. (Local phone calls in Hong Kong are free.)

WhenU’s Popup Victory

WhenU, now known as Claria, has won what it calls an “important decision for the entire Internet industry” in its motion to enjoin the Utah Spyware Control Act, passed in March. WhenU had argued the Act “affects legitimate Internet advertising companies and therefore violates the First Amendment and dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, among other laws”. (Here’s a CNET story on the verdict.)

If I understand the ruling correctly (and this is based largely on Ben Edelman’s assistance), the judge has ruled that, in this particular law, Utah was unconstitutional in trying to limit popups, while it was within the constitution in trying to outlaw spyware — or more specifically, software that is installed without a licence and lack a proper uninstall procedure. As the judge did no want to break the act in half he ruled in favour of a preliminary injunction for WhenU. Ben, who works as a consultant for the Utah government, reckons WhenU could lose on appeal, since under Utah law, the judge “is obliged to regard the act as ‘severable'” — in other words, that he can keep parts and discard parts.

Avi Naider, WhenU’s Chief Executive Officer, meanwhile, is celebrating his victory. “Spyware is a problem and we want to put an end to it,” he says in a press release. “WhenU supports appropriate anti-spyware legislation at the federal level, but unfortunately Utah’s Act also impairs legitimate Internet advertising.”

Software: Lindows 4.0 is launched

 Lindows.com, Inc. announced today the launch of LindowsOS 4.0 ( http://www.lindows.com/40) which “brings industry-first features to Linux desktops such as comprehensive Plug & Play support, ad blocking, spam blocking and pornography blocking along with a continued emphasis on ease-of-use and affordability” (the press release says).
 

 
“The argument from Microsoft against desktop Linux is that it may be affordable from the start, but the long term maintenance destroys those early savings,” said Michael Robertson, chief executive officer of Lndows.com, Inc. “For the first time, LindowsOS 4.0 with its Zero
Maintenance goals makes Linux far easier and lower cost to maintain than a comparable Microsoft Windows XP computer. In addition, we’re leap frogging Microsoft by unveiling a suite of operating system features to help users block spam, ads and pornography from their
desktop.”  
LindowsOS 4.0 is available immediately preinstalled on personal computers from retailers online (http://www.lindows.com/featuredbuilder) and available on CD for $59.95 MSRP (http://www.lindows.com/40) ($49.95 for US digital download only). To locate a retailer visit, http://www.lindows.com/featuredreseller. Users of LindowsOS 3.0 are eligible for a free upgrade to version 4.0 by visiting their “my.lindows” ( my.lindows.com ) account and downloading the software.