Is Microsoft Trying To Be Social or Candid?

Reuters has reported that Microsoft will partner with Bebo – the largest social networking site in the UK and a network that is hunting down MySpace and Facebook in the US.

Windows Live Messenger will be integrated with the Bebo system to allow instant messenging between members, in addition to the import and export of contacts across both user bases.

Joanna Shields, president of Bebo’s international business, confirmed why the alliance was good for them:

Our core strength is not building applications. We’re more of an open platform and much more likely to partner than build it ourselves

According to Shields, about 90 percent of Bebo users already use Windows Live IM services, making Microsoft the most logical partner.

67 Percent of Searchers Driven by Offline Channels

And 39 percent of offline-influenced searchers will go on to make a purchase.

Both of these fascinating figures have been uncovered by an Online Search Behaviour Study commissioned and released by Search Marketing firm, iProspect.

Conducted by JupiterResearch in June 2007, an online consumer panel of 2,322 randomly selected individuals were quized over 25 questions about their behaviours, attitudes and preferences as they relate to games, digital imaging, portable devices, and service bundles.

iProspect President, Robert Murray, was amongst the first to express surprise over the results:

We figured we’d see an even split between those influenced to search by offline and those not

In the firm’s press release, Murray goes on to discuss the implications of the findings and elaborates on the current incoherence of online / offline messaging, saying:

Mobile Document Service Has Hidden Agenda

Cloudprint, a development from the Hewlett-Packard Labs, will make it possible to store and share [previously spooled] documents from your mobile phone. At face value any form of mobile computing seems like a practical solution – but the hidden agenda is not a shade of green – more black, cyan, magenta and yellow.

Generally speaking the service will be useful. Users will first “print” their documents to online servers, which in turn will release a document code to the user’s mobile device. The code can then be used at any time, from any Internet-enabled location, to retrieve the documents – saved as PDF files.

Great! I can hear the crys from Friends of the Earth – it will encourage a paperless environment and will help to cut down on energy consumption by avoiding unnecessary printing. Or will it?

The Portal is Dead – Long Live the Portal

It was this time last year that AOL jumped on board the advertising business wagon in an effort to tap into its 90 million monthly visitors and turnaround its wailing fortunes. But let’s face it – it’s like turning an oil-tanker in the English Channel!

A slowdown in advertising revenue to 16 percent growth last quarter (compared to 40 percent the previous) has left AOL execs split down the middle. Many are now raising questions about the transformation plan, while others accept that the prospect of exceeding the overall Online Ad growth rate is no longer realistic.

Despite eMarketer’s prosperous 28 percent growth forecast for the US, Internet usage trends indicate stormy weather for the portals – especially giants like AOL, Yahoo! and MSN. Analyst for RBC Capital Markets, Jordan Rohan, sums up the outlook:

Are mobile consumers about to see the name Google on their credit card statements?

Recent reports from the WSJ Online and the Times Online suggest that Google may position themselves as mobile middlemen – provisioning content discovery through a new search platform (similar to their desktop Product Search – formerly known as Froogle) as well as the mobile transaction itself in a ‘gateway style’ solution.

Personally I can’t see it. Facilitator of Mobile Web growth and capitilisation of ad placement yes, but Google – organisers of the world’s information – an insurance broker – nah!

Of course, the success of mobile contextual advertising is totally dependent on the mass adoption of the Mobile Web. And sure as eggs are eggs, Google is gearing up in every which way possible to make it happen. Having spent months working with content providers it is clearly evident that they are seeking to index as much content as possible and find new ways to engage the mobile audience – but IMO with one goal – to underpin their advertising model.

AdSense for Mobile Beta Expands to US

Select invitations have started to land in the mailboxes of some US-based Google advertising partners. ClickZ also confirms the beta extention with a statement from a Google spokesperson.

We will continue to evaluate… and will refine the [mobile] product based on feedback from our users, publishers, and advertisers.

Although experts remain slightly skeptical about the placement of contextual advertising in mobile content …

You’re not going to have that flexibility and capability on the mobile phone, with its small screen.

… Lee Hancock, CEO of go2 Wireless, goes on to counter this argument with two positive flips of the coin.

Firstly, it may aid the discoverability of mobile content – a topic recently discussed at MobileMonday’s New York panel discussion on Mobile SEO.

Winksite Shares Some Mobile Love

Note to diary.

July 6 – Winksite introduce upgraded mobile publishing platform that promises to extend the reach of the Mobile Web.

July 7 – Launch my personalized, optimized, cross-browser compatible mobile portal.

Can it be that easy?

One of the biggest challenges for both experienced content publishers and web enthusiasts alike is the strict flavour (subset) of HTML that mobile browsers depend on – xHTML Mobile Profile (often dubbed WAP 2.0). So far, it’s been a vicious cirlce! Desktop browsers (mostly talking IE here) have been so forgiving in the past – rendering poorly coded websites in a presentable manner – that adoption of standards for mobile screens has been resisted, resulting in poor user experience and the dragging of progress heels.