Posts from December 2006

2007: The End Of The Page View

Recently there was ‘big news’, Myspace had passed Yahoo! in monthly page views. I put the words big news in quotes because it really wasn’t as big news as it was made out to be.

It’s common wisdom that Myspace is designed to generate a ton of page reloads every session. And social networks are always going to generate a lot of page views per session. People like to check other people out.

But there’s even more to the story. Yahoo! revamped its mail service (which may be responsible for a third of its total pageviews) to use an ajax front end. What does that mean? Ajax and other dynamic html technologies allow a page to change content without a reload. So Yahoo!’s mail pageviews are down and that’s going to have an impact on Yahoo!’s page view growth.

I’ve been on the board of comScore since its formation in 1999 and have been lucky to occupy a front row seat to observe the dynamics of the Internet measurement debate. Since Internet measurement became a business in the mid 90s, page views have always been front and center in the world of Internet measurement. And for a good reason, a page view meant another ad view, maybe another three or four ad views depending on how many ads are on the page.

But there are changes afoot in the Internet measurement business. Everyone is recognizing that pageviews matter less now. Ajax and other more modern web technologies allow for new ads to be diisplayed without a page reload. Ad views can grow even as page views decline. I know that there have been a number of discussions about this at the highest levels of the leading Internet measurement firms and the leading Internet businesses. And we’ll be seeing the outcomes of those discussions at some point in 2007.

But it doesn’t even stop there. Web pages themselves are changing, moving from pages controlled by publishers to pages controlled by users. I have no idea what percentage of total Internet pages viewed in the month of December are "controlled by users" (I’d love a number on that if anyone has it), but I am sure that percentage is increasing. I’d put some, but not all, social networking pages in this category. All blogs for sure. And the growing category of personalized start pages (Google, MyYahoo, Netvibes, etc) is a big part of this trend.

What do users put on these pages they control? In some cases, they put their own content, but they also put pieces of other web pages on their pages. These "pieces of other web pages" are called widgets, badges, embedded players, and a number of other things as well. If you want to do a deep dive into the world of widgets, I’ll send you to Ivan Pope’s year end wrapup. He covers most of the interesting things happening on this front. Here are a couple quotes from that post:

The Bite Sized Web, ‘I think we’re going to start to see an interesting side effect on web
pages and blogs as content and services become more granular. Content
providers, the Yahoo!’s, AOL’s, publishers, magazines etc., will start
to provide their content, in a dynamic form, for placement on other web
pages.

and

Evan Williams of Odeo calls for the abolition of pageviews because ‘The web is becoming increasingly widgetized—little
bits of functionality from one site are displayed on many others.

Evan takes this post back to where it began. The big reason that 2007 will mark the end of page views is that pages are not really pages anymore. They are the delivery payload for any number of web services that load with the page.

MyBlogLog said in the middle of December that they are getting 1 million widgets displayed per day. Some of those widget impressions came from this blog. But the same page view that delivered the MyBlogLog widget also delivered a last.fm widget, a flickr badge, an Indeed jobroll, and a bunch of other web services to my readers. The bottom line is a page view isn’t a page view anymore. It’s a lot more and a lot less. And we are going to come up with new measurement terms in 2007 that recognize this fact.

2007: Broadband Internet Video

I really wrestled with the terminology for this post headline. I called it IPTV initially but Ari’s comment gave me the right words. Thanks Ari.

I am talking about downloading and watching TV (I mean that broadly to include anything you’d watch today on your TV) on any internet connected device.

We are Netflix customers. Before we left on our trip to Italy, we refreshed our selections and came with six DVDs. We used them up in the first couple days between the flight over and a couple of nights where it was tough to fall asleep. So we went to iTunes and started downloading TV shows and movies. In the evenings, after dinner and before bedtime, the girls have watched the first and second seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Josh and I have watched three movies we downloaded to my laptop via iTunes.

But I don’t think iTunes is the only model for IPTV. It’s one model and with the arrival of iTV from Apple in 2007, iTunes will be able to play on your big screen TV. That’s a big deal to some.

I think people consistently overestimate the "quality" and "screensize" issues in the IPTV debate and underestimate the issues of convenience and ubiquity of content. I have found that time and time again, ubiquitous content of poor quality wins over a narrow selection of high quality.

Last night after dinner, our whole family crowded onto the master bed in one of our two hotel rooms and watched Good Will Hunting on my 15" MacBook Pro. Nobody complained about the lack of quality or screensize. I am not saying that families are going to start throwing away their family room flat panels and replace them with MacBook Pros, but I am saying that a ton of content that used to be watched in the family room is going to be watched on other devices.

What are those devices? Desktop and laptop PCs, xBox and other game devices, PSP and other portables (maybe even smartphones). It’s exploding TV time and 2007 is going to be a breakout year.

In addition to iTunes/iTV, we are going to see The Venice Project come to fruition in 2007. It will start on Windows PCs, but I hope and expect to see a Venice client for Mac, xBox, and PSP before year end. For those of you who don’t know, The Venice Project is the next thing the guys who did Kazaa and Skype are doing. First it was music, then telcom, now TV and Film. The one thing I wonder about The Venice Project is whether they’ll be able to quickly amass a large enough catalog of content. They are working in partnership with the major content owners, an approach that hasn’t worked too well in the past for companies looking to disrupt industries.

And you cannot underestimate the power of web video (YouTube, Google Video, etc, etc). I would expect to see a number of these players adopt a client like The Venice Project and also a p2p backbone, and offer the content that is building on their networks in downloadable formats. I also expect more and more people to connect a web browser to their family room systems and start watching web video sitting around after dinner.

Finally, there is the role of feeds in all of this. When video content owners really turn on their feeds, who knows what is going to happen. I already have a number of video feeds coming into my iTunes. But I keep it limited because video feeds are a great way to fill up your hard drive really fast. But the storage issues are going to get solved soon enough. And I would bet that video distribution ten years from now is largely built on a feed based architecture.

That’s it for now. I’ve already broken my pledge to keep these posts short. I’ll be back tomorrow with another theme for 2007.

The Cure – The Book, Not The Rock Band

The_cure
I don’t read as many books The Gotham Gal, not even close. But when I go on vacation, I always try to read three or four books.

So far, I’ve read two The Ghost Map and The Cure. I’ve added a list of the books I am reading on vacation to the right sidebar, above the flickr badge. You can click on them and you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can buy them.

Like most things in my life these days, this book got to me via blogging. Mike Orren who is a regular reader and commenter sent me an email on October 30th telling me I had to read it and included a link to a WSJ review of the book.

The story is about a young HBS graduate just starting out his career when he finds out that two of his three kids have a rare but deadly disease called Pompe. He becomes obsessed with finding a cure, leaves his job, joins a promising biotech startup working on a Pompe cure, raises a ton of venture money, almost gets himself fired by his VCs, and I’ll leave the rest of the story alone for those of you who want to read the book.

The author Geeta Anand is a WSJ  journalist who came across this story on her beat and decided to make a book of it. But it’s really much more than a business book. It’s a story of a mother and father who are dealt a really lousy set of cards and they play an amazing hand. Most of all its a story of parental love. And I couldn’t put it down.

Long before I found the time to read it, I mentioned Mike’s email to The Gotham Gal and our friends Amy and Brad Feld at a dinner in NYC in early November. Both Joanne and Brad read it and blogged it back in November. I would bet Amy read it too, but I couldn’t find any mention of it on her blog.

And after Joanne blogged it, she got a comment from the brother of the guy, John Crowly, that the book was about. And I think she also got a really nice email from his mom, but I can’t link to that.

It never ceases to amaze me and The Gotham Gal how much connectivity our blogs create.

A Nice Christmas Present

My Slingbox client can’t connect to my Slingbox for some reason here in Italy so we weren’t able to watch the Jets Miami game (it would have been a very late night anyway).

So I just went to the New York Times and found out the good news. Thanks guys for a wonderful Christmas present.

Jets_miami

Merry Christmas From Siena


  Siena 
  Originally uploaded by fredwilson.

We’ve been in Siena for the past couple days.

It’s a very cool walled city in the center of Tuscany that retains much of its old world charm.

I am headed out to catch Christmas mass (something I haven’t done in about 25 years) at the Duomo.

2007: Social Search

I am going to try to post a quick theme (not prediction) for 2007 each day next week as I finish eating my way through Italy.

Today it’s social search, prompted by the news that Jimmy Wales’ for profit company Wikia is launching a social search engine. I am linking to Techcrunch’s story on this because Mike’s got a nice screenshot.

A "wikipedia style" approach to social search is interesting because it could be the most "mainstream" way to do it. I am aware of one other company with similar pedigree (founder and backer) that is going to launch something similar but I’ve been sworn to secrecy on it.

I still believe that Yahoo! could so something equally (or more) compelling in this category with their ownership of delicious, flickr, upcoming, and myweb. To date they haven’t created the killer social search desitination. I hope that one thing to come out of the reorg is a committment to do that in 2007.

And then there are the firefox extensions. If you look at Firefox’s recommended add-ons, about half of them include social search as one of the main value propositions. I currently use two of them, lijit and adaptiveblue. I’ve tried a number of the others. It’s hard to say if anything truly mainstream will come out of this category, but I think its an area to watch nonetheless.

One thing is clear. Lot’s of people are gunning for a slice of those 7bn searches a month. It’s a lucrative market if anyone can make a dent in it. And I believe social search is the most attractive approach of the ones I’ve seen.

Top 10 Records of 2006 Wrap Up

So it’s Christmas Eve, the time for last minute holiday shopping if you are the procrastinating kind like me.

This isn’t going to be of help to you procrastinators but John Battelle asked me to put the entire Top 10 list into a single linkroll so he could easily purchase what he liked from the list.

I’ve done that and taken it one step further. I’ve published the entire Top 10 series as an Amazon list so you can buy ala carte or if you so desire, you can purchase all twelve records with the push of one button. That would make one hell of a holiday gift. Trust me on that one.

But 2006 is almost over. It’s time to look forward to 2007. And I am already aware of three tremendous records that are coming out in early 2007 that will almost surely be on my top 10 list next year. Because I like to look forward so much more than looking back, I’ll end this series of posts with links to three killer records to pre-order for 2007.

The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer
Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (not yet up on Amazon)

Enjoy!

Top 10 Records of 2006 – Number One

Whatever_people_say_i_am
All you need to do is look at my last.fm listens over the past year to know what my top record of the year is. The Arctic Monkeys took me by storm in late 2005, when I found them on the Internet. I couldn’t wait for their debut record, bought the UK version when it came out, and have been hooked on them since. I put their EP, Who The F**k Are The Arctic Monkeys, on this list as well and in some ways I prefer that record, but its only an EP, and this record, Whatever People Say I Am, is such a tour d’ force, that it deserves to be number one anyway.

A lot of people here in the US don’t get the Arctic Monkeys. I get comments on this blog that my picks are generally solid, but “why the obsession with the Arctic Monkeys?”

The Arctic Monkeys bring everything a great rock band needs to have; a pounding drum and bass beat, twin guitars which produce riff after riff after riff, and a great front man, Alex Turner, who can really sing and write great songs. There are Arctic Monkeys songs where you get three or four killer riffs in the first 30 seconds. I love that.

But if I had to pick just one thing about the Arctic Monkeys, it would be the lyrics. Alex Turner is what you’d get if you mixed Bob Dylan and Mike Skinner. He’s a poet with a street sensibility. His songs are about real things that happen to him and his friends, but the way he tells the story, the way he delivers the line, it’s just so good.

Everyone’s heard the single You Must Look Good On The Dancefloor. It’s a great song for sure. But there are so many better songs on this record, When The Sun Goes Down (Scummy Man), Mardy Bum, A Certain Romance, Fake Tales Of San Francisco, From The Ritz To The Rubble, Riot Van, Still Take You Home, Vampires, Red Light. I basically listed the whole record. It’s killer. It’s the best thing that came out this year and I love it.