Sabtu, 16 Agustus 2008

WW-176 -- Mobile Content Search – Can Niche Players Play A Role ?

Mobile Content Search – Can Niche Players Play A Role ?

In our past issues, we mentioned the success of off-portal sites
that rely on advertising revenue. Paid mobile search,
advertising in which advertisers only pay when a visitor clicks
on their ad or link from a search engine page, is rapidly
gaining momentum. A small US startup company called MCN,
headquartered in the west of Tokyo, between Shibuya and Ebisu
along the Yamanote circular line, is one of the drivers behind
paid mobile search. MCN started in 2004 in Mountain View, CA.

Last year, the business headquarters was relocated to Tokyo to
be closer to the fast growing Asian markets. The research and
product development team is still in Mountain View. The company
already employs 50 people.

The challenge for mobile search is the quality of the search
results. It often takes more than five clicks to reach the
relevant content. Mobile users do not have the patience for
this. Long click distances kill content discovery. MCN is
changing this with allwords - its vertical paid search program.
If the provider’s database contains content relevant to the
query, it can be presented to the mobile users in a few clicks.
'We call this 'Search Merchandising' and we are driving the
industry’s highest clickthrough and conversion rates for mobile
content transactions. On music search, for example, our
clickthroughs are approaching 50% and growing and our content
partners tell us our conversion rates are easily double those of
competing systems' says Marc Brookman, CEO of MCN. Content
providers are charged on a pay-per-click basis, similar to
Google’s Adwords, except that with allwords they don’t have to
manage the complexity of bidding for keywords—they can buy all
of the keywords in a given category (Music, Images, Games,
Comics, Video, etc)..

In Japan, MCN has signed up with more than 30 content providers
and 6 distribution partners and portals. Yahoo! Mobile Japan
uses allwords. On the Yahoo! Mobile Japan top page, users can
click on vertical content channel links to browse to the music
or comics or games pages where the content search is powered by
MCN. After entering the key word, MCN connects the query in
real-time directly to multiple content provider databases, ranks
the most relevant results into a ‘Top 5’ and returns actual
content items, not just links, to the user to purchase the content.

MCN co-exists with the traditional search providers. Google and
Yahoo are targeting big traffic customers with mobile search.
Google provides its search engine to DoCoMo and KDDI. Their
search results are often not relevant for paid mobile content
discovery, the niche market MCN has been growing in with its
white label service. How long will it take before Google and
Yahoo adapt their search and business model for the mobile
Internet? Stay tuned.


Microsoft Talks Up Windows 7 - But Only a Little

Although it is not officially scheduled to be released until 2010, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about Microsoft is starting to talk up Windows 7, its next OS.

To that end, it has started a blog hosted by the two senior engineering managers for the Windows 7 product, Jon DeVaan and Steven Sinofsky, and is promising to release in-depth technical specs in October, first at the Professional Developers Conference and then at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference.

DeVaan and Sinofsky demonstrate that Microsoft has learned from the Vista experience.

"We, as a team, definitely learned some lessons about 'disclosure' and how we can all too easily get ahead of ourselves in talking about features before our understanding of them is solid. Related to disclosure is the idea of how we make sure not to set expectations around the release that end up disappointing you -- features that don't make it, claims that don't stick, or support we don't provide," they wrote.

Ghost of Vista

Overpromising on features, which were later discarded or abandoned, was a major complaint about Vista -- though it was hardly the only one. When that much-awaited OS was released, it had a number of problems with it, to say the least.

Vista required significant investments in additional hardware to run smoothly and took up more system resources than many corporate IT shops had anticipated.

Windows 7 should address the remaining tech issues with Vista, Rob Helm, director of research at Directions on Microsoft, an independent consulting firm, told TechNewsWorld.

"The worst problems with Vista had to do with hardware performance Rackspace now offers green hosting solutions at the same cost without sacrificing performance. Make the eco-friendly choice. and capability," he said. Those are being resolved or will be resolved over the next two to three years, he added. "By the time Windows gets out of the door, the hardware universe will have caught up with the demands that Vista places on it," he said.

Incremental Improvements

Windows 7 is also not the ambitious undertaking that Vista was, which bodes well for a smoother roll-out. "It is pretty clear it is supposed to be an incremental improvement to Windows Vista," Helm said.

Areas that Microsoft has said it will improve in Windows 7 include graphics performance, power management and APIs (application programming interfaces) for developers.

The biggest change, which has been demoed, will be the introduction of touch computing -- a feature that ironically may pass many users by unless they have upgraded their PCs. Nonetheless, Helm said, Microsoft clearly hopes Windows 7 will be able to deliver what people had originally expected from Vista


India to confront climate change

The Indian government has unveiled its plan for confronting the threat of climate change. But presenting the plan, India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, made no commitment to cut his country's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas associated with global warming. This report from Alan Johnston:
Mr Singh acknowledged that climate change could have a catastrophic impact on the earth's environment. And he said that his one-billion people must now set off down a more sustainable path of development.

He spoke of the need for greater energy efficiency and a gradual move away from fossil fuels. Mr Singh said that harnessing the power of the sun would be central to this strategy.

India has no plans to cut its emissions of carbon. But it argues that - per head of population - its emissions are only a fraction of those of the rich nations.


Google eyes RI SMEs to boost expansion in Asia

Google is targeting Indonesia's small and medium enterprises to boost its expansion in the region.

The Silicon Valley giant is providing an opportunity for Indonesian SMEs to develop their businesses and find new customers by advertising on Google Adwords, a Google product aimed at businesses with limited cash flow.

"The thing we always have problems with in small businesses is cash flow. Sometimes it is a good month, sometimes not, so many small businesses are very pragmatic and adopt very cost-effective advertising strategies," Google Southeast Asia marketing manager Derek Callow told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

"Indonesia is an important market for us in Asia and it's important for us to help small businesses understand that AdWords is a great platform to advertise their businesses online."

Callow said online advertising, especially search marketing, could be a powerful driver of business growth for nearly 50 million Indonesian small and medium businesses, adding "Google AdWords is one of the most cost-effective and highly targeted online advertising platforms available today."

The key benefit of Google AdWords, said Callow, was it could help advertisers target new audiences on the Google advertising network, provide greater control of budget, content and geographic targeting of adverts, as well as control over time commitments.

"There's no minimum spending requirement or time commitment. And with the cost-per-click option, you're only charged if people click your ads. This means every dollar of your budget goes toward bringing you new prospects," Callow said.

"With a minimum bid of Rp 90 per click, and where impressions are free, Google AdWords helps small and medium businesses with traditionally small advertising budgets to target and find relevant customers online through our ad network, which reaches 78 percent of Internet users globally."

To date, he said, the most popular Indonesian adverts in Google were those from travel, import-export and professional service companies, including accounting, legal, healthcare and financial companies.

Callow was speaking at a seminar on how Indonesian small and medium businesses could take advantage of targeted online advertising.

The seminar, held in cooperation with news portal and market research firm Synovate at the Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place Hotel, is Google's first-ever foray in promoting online advertising in the country.

Eva Yusuf, associate director of Synovate Indonesia, said her company's research showed there were more than 23 million Internet users in Indonesia in 2007, projected to grow by more than 16 percent to almost 27 million users by the end of this year.

"We also found most Indonesians turn to the Internet to search for information before making a purchasing decision," Eva said.

"These trends imply more business opportunities for small and medium businesses to advertise online to a growing pool of Internet users in Indonesia as well as to overseas customers."


President's speech likened to campaign

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made full use of his annual state address on Friday to claim credit for his administration's "success" in reducing poverty and unemployment.

He also promised to raise the salaries of civil servants by 15 percent and use the rest of his time in office to improve public welfare.

Legislators were quick to respond to the President's speech before the House of Representatives, accusing Yudhoyono of campaigning for the 2009 presidential election.

The President said the government had managed to significantly decrease poverty and unemployment rates, and would prioritize its programs to enhance public well-being during the remainder of its rule.

"Poverty has reached the lowest level of the last 10 years, from 17.7 percent in 2006 to 15.4 percent as of February this year, while the unemployment rate decreased from 10.5 percent in the same year to the current 8.5 percent," he said in his annual address to mark the country's Independence Day on August 17.

He particularly stressed the poverty rate, which experienced a decline under both World Bank and State Statistic Agency criteria.

To further alleviate poverty, the government conducted various programs, including direct cash aid, conditional cash transfers, the National Program of Community Empowerment and the disbursement of loans for small and medium enterprises, he said.

The government, he added, would increase the salaries of civil servants and retired officials by 15 percent next year in a bid to boost efficiency and public services.

The 15-percent rise would be in addition to an extra one-month salary for them, Yudhoyono added.

"During four years of this administration, we have increased the salaries of the lowest ranking civil servants two-and-a-half times higher than the Rp 674,000 in 2004. We will raise the salary to Rp 1.72 million each next year," he said.

In the 2009 state budget, the government plans to allocate Rp 143.8 trillion for civil servants' salaries, an increase of Rp 20.2 trillion from last year.

In response to the speech, House members said Yudhoyono was attempting to woo voters and boost his reelection prospects ahead of next year's presidential election, with recent surveys indicating a decline in his popularity.

"It was an extraordinary speech with excessive rhetoric within the context of a political campaign. I suppose he used this moment to pursue his interests in 2009," said Effendy Choirie, chairman of the National Awakening Party faction at the House.

"It was more like a political speech than a state address," said the National Mandate Party's Drajad Wibowo.

However, Syarief Hasan, a legislator from Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, countered the allegations, saying, "The President's speech answered all the country's problems that people have always wondered about."

Priyo Budi Santoso, chairman of the Golkar faction, the largest party at the House, said he was so impressed by Yudhoyono's speech he gave a standing ovation.

But Vice President and Golkar chairman Jusuf Kalla did not refute the criticisms, claiming this was how the government conveyed its achievements.

"Politics is all about campaigning. A campaign carried out by the government means doing something and letting people know about what has been accomplished. There's nothing wrong with it, it is normal," Kalla said after Friday prayers.