TurboTax Lesson on Monetizing “Free”

Tax day has come and gone and whether you filed months ago or scrambled to the post office seconds before closing on April 15th, for you the tax season is over. So too is the season over for software maker Intuit and their famous tax software TurboTax. By all accounts it’s been a good year.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Intuit announced that it had “distributed 10% more units of its popular TurboTax software than last year”.

This works out to over 20 million copies of TurboTax.

What’s their secret? They promote the free part.

TurboTax’s ad campaign focused on the free service offered to customers filing 1040EZ & simple returns. Of course everyone else has to pay and are quickly directed to one of the many paid TurboTax products.

Eric Schmidt Hints at Google Tablet during LA Party

According to an article in the New York Times, Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently hinted to friends at an LA party that Google is working on their own tablet running the Android operating system.

With the relatively slow adoption rate of the Google phone Nexus One, one has to wonder why Google would want to venture into producing its own hardware again. Of course the tablet market and the phone market are two different creatures so perhaps the challenges Google is facing in getting people to give up their iPhones won’t be as pronounced with the tablet.

From a marketing perspective this could be very interesting. Mobile advertising is still in its infancy and who will control this lucrative advertising sector is still unclear. Apple’s new ad network iAd is poised to be the 800 pound gorilla and with iPhone penetration at all time highs and iPad sales through the roof, Apple may win by default.

Google Can Opt-Out of AOL

Let’s climb aboard the way-back-machine and take a trip to 2005. Carrie Underwood was rocking American Idol, Batman Begins made us believe in prequels again, and Google was buying a 1 billion dollar 5% stake in AOL.

According to a Washington Post article on December 17, 2005, Google purchased the 5% stake in AOL “as part of a far-reaching business and advertising partnership aimed at boosting AOL’s financial prospects as the Internet service struggles with the loss of millions of subscribers.”

The AOL partnership was an important win for Google at the time. Rival MSN was deep in the bidding process to replace Google as the search engine for AOL users when Google waltzed in with the $1 billion trump card.

The Planet is Burning

Data center and hosting provider The Planet is in the process of trying to recover from a fire which has crippled their H1 data center in Houston, TX.

According to an Intology article, nearly 9,000 servers at the facility are currently off line. The Planet engineers are working with the Houston fire department to get clearance to restore emergency backup power and get servers back online.

Since The Planet is a provider of a variety of shared hosting and dedicated server products, I can only imagine the number of websites that may be affected by this outage.

The Planet customers seeking information about this outage can read more at The Planet’s forums.

If you’re not a customer, count your blessings and back up your websites. Experiencing a major outage with your hosting provider is not a question of if, but when.

Facebook Can’t Stomach Beer Pong

Ahhh. The time killing game of beer pong. For those of you who have never played beer pong (or have so severely lost that you no longer remember playing), this is truly a game of wit and fortitude.

All you need to play is a ping pong ball, plenty of beer, and a few cups. Team up, take turns throwing the ping pong ball at your opponents cups (filled with beer of course), and every time you land in the cup the opposing team drinks the beer.

CollegeHumor challenges Facebook to beer pong

As a favorite game among techies, it was no surprise to hear that the staff from CollegeHumor would be challenging the staff from Facebook to a little beer pong.

Does Bill Gates Think the Internet is 10 Years Old?

In a May 6th article published by the Associated Press, Bill Gates was quoted as saying “The Internet has been operating now for 10 years,”… “The second 10 years will be very different.”

Being a bit of an Internet history buff, I cringed to read such a powerful figure in the world of computing being quoted as effectively saying that the Internet has been operating since 1998.

Since I started my first Internet job in 1996, I was pretty sure Bill was wrong.

The word Internet was first coined in 1974, the first respectable network which could be called “the Internet” was created in 1983, and the opening of the Internet to the commercial world occurred in 1988. Of course, all these dates push the history of the Internet well beyond Bill’s 10 year time line.

Adsense for Conversations

Adsense for ConversationsGoogle’s recent post about “Adsense for Conversations” is my favorite April Fools antic this year.

The fictitious Adsense for Conversations is powered by an “unobtrusive screen above your head” where “Anyone taking part in the conversation can hit the ad with their hand to immediately take advantage of the product or service being offered.”

While the thought of monetizing conversations about dinner plans, appointments, and general office banter is awesome, it got me thinking “could Google really monetize conversations with contextual advertising?”

Google needs only two elements to serve contextual advertising; a screen to display ever changing ads and data to match contextually with ads. The most logical place to find both of these things in the world of conversation is the phone.