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Thursday, December 02, 2004

MSN Spaces: Better Off as Vaporware?

So MSN is getting into the blogging game with a service called MSN Spaces. Nice try, Microsoft, but I see two prime reasons why it will fail:

1) In standard Microsoft fashion, MSN is embracing and extending the blog concept to make it more than it is or should be. At this early hour at least, it seems too different from the more standard services like Blogger or Movable Type. If it's a blogging tool, why not call it MSN Blogs (and who the heck needs a Contact Card!). I guess they're trying to set it apart from other services, but in doing so, it will become something else that people don't understand.

2) Hardcore bloggers like Andrew and I are wonky, tech-savvy people. We don't want to use some corny tool designed for your cousin the landscaping guy, or your aunt the quilter. That type of person is not one who saturates their brains with information and is able to thoughtfully comment on it in real-time fashion.

Posted by Cory | | | Permalink

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Broadband in the Bush

Further to the Jakob Nielsen post on decentralization... and to a recent Business 2.0 story about startups who eschewed Silicon Valley to work in lower-cost remote areas...

A Canadian satellite broadband company, incorporating technology from Motorola, is offering affordable satellite Internet service that works pretty much anywhere and offers about the same speed as DSL.

The only catch seems to be that a "base station" needs to be installed "by your community" and you need to be within 16km of one of these units. For dispersed dwellers in remote cottage areas, that seems to make the service possible only if residents pool funds to install a number of the units. Driving through the Muskokas (about 90 minutes north of Toronto) this summer, I noticed that deep-pocketed region was already getting on board with new Internet access schemes. It shouldn't be too long before this stuff spreads to less prestigious regions. Within a couple of summers I may not even be able to escape work in the rocky hills and lakes of the Haliburton Highlands. Sooner, if somebody convinces the Wilberforce Chamber of Commerce to give Xplornet a call.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Lovin' It, But Not Findin' It

On ClickZ today, Pete Blackshaw makes a good point about the inadequacy of the site search on Mcdonalds.com. If they're all about the salads, then how about some smarter results when you go type in "salads" into the site search box?

I've been pondering the McDonald's salads example for awhile, and even worked a lengthy discussion of it into a draft chapter of my forthcoming book. This got mixed reviews at my publisher. An editor wondered why I was so eager to toss in examples from huge companies instead of focusing on "real life" stories about smaller businesses using Adwords. (One might as well ask Machiavelli why he wrote The Prince instead of "The Profitable Baker," but anyway...)

McDonald's could really use some search marketing to go with their marketing. I know they can do it, because along with other large companies, they're no stranger to bopping users over the head with big banners at sites like ivillage.com.

A Google search for the term "salads" turns up Subways.com in the first organic position. And few if any advertisers. Nice going!

McDonald's is up to something with AdWords, though, at least in Canada. If you type in "McDonalds" you see an ad for mcdealcanada.com, which is an official McDonald's site that outlines the daily "inexpensive sandwich of the day" ($1.69 Cdn.) for each day of the week. ($1.79 in Thunder Bay. Sorry.)

That's a head-scratcher right there. McD's is trying to create floor traffic by marking down Big Macs and other lower-margin products, when the business pages tell us that McDonald's new-found profitability is attributable to their salad lineup, which would be extremely easy to promote! But maybe people drive up to the window motivated by the cheap Big Xtra offer, and change to a salad at the last second.

Who knows what they're thinkin'. But I might have to make a trip to Subways tonight to reward them for their excellent ranking on the term "salads." Call it search karma.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Who's Afraid of Google Scholar?, Part I: Amazon

Chris Locke has pointed to a little-known feature being tested by Amazon: hypercitation. The entry for one example, a book on art history, cites a list of books which are cited by this book, as well as a list of citations of this book in other works.

I can't seem to stumble on any other examples of this at the moment. Anyone?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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