Words-Pictures-Web

An eMarketer Blogging about Media & Technology

Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Picasa Goes Mac Desktop

Posted by buddyscalera on January 6, 2009

Most dedicated Mac users I know tend to use the iLife applications that come with a new Mac. While not particularly glamorous, these apps work well together. Apple’s integration strategy makes the whole suite hard to resist.

But as the Mac market share increases, we see more companies developing new and interesting applications for OSX. Google just released a Mac desktop version of Picasa, which is designed to appeal to iPhoto users.

Based on this video, Picasa for Mac has some interesting features, particularly the ability to sync your online galleries.

I use Picasa to share pictures, so I’m likely to try the new Picasa for Mac. Picasa is functional, but not as good as Flickr for sharing pictures.

But considering the fact that Flickr is owned by Yahoo, it may be time to explore other picture-sharing networks. Yahoo’s future is pretty hazy, and they are likely to get purchased by another media company. That means networks like Flickr could undergo some significant changes.

Picasa may not be perfect, but knowing that it is backed by Google helps me have more confidence that my pictures will survive online. And the step to embrace the Mac platform just makes me plain ol’ happy.

Posted in Apple, Flickr, Google, photography, Picasa, Yahoo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Flickr & Picasa Your New Photos

Posted by buddyscalera on December 27, 2008

I’ve been posting more pictures these days to photo sharing sites. My two current favorites are Flickr and Picasa.

Picasa (owned by Google) offers some nice sharing features, including the ability to embed your photos inside your blog. It makes it easy to share a gallery…except on WordPress. (Unless I pay for a WordPress upgrade.)

At least I can embed a preview image that links to the Picasa gallery:

Random Photos by Buddy Scalera

Flickr (owned by Yahoo) is also a cool service, but it only allows you to insert a link to your gallery. That’s sort of old school, considering all of the cool things you can do with widgets and code.

Flickr has a really vibrant and engaging social network, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. I can join groups where I can share my photos and I can track photographers I like.  By comparison, Picasa’s social community is a little weak.

On the other hand, Picasa offers many cool features, including the ability to upload video and embed slideshows. For the same features, Flickr requires you to pay $24.95 to get the premium features, which include basics like the ability create multiple galleries.

If one of these sites offered the right package, I’d certainly be willing to pay. Of course, I want to pay according to my needs. So, I’d pay $12 a year for upgraded consumer services on Flickr. And if I wanted pro-level services, I’d be willing to pony up $24.95. With only two choices (free or $24.95), I’m sticking with free.

On the Picasa side, I’d like to see Google do a better job of integrating their other services. I already use many Google services, so I’d pay extra to have them synchronized. Again, give me some pricing thresholds, and I’ll choose the one that makes the most sense.

Posted in freeware, Google, new media, photo reference, photography, Uncategorized, Yahoo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Which 1,400 search engines do you use?

Posted by buddyscalera on July 30, 2008

Okay, sharpen your keyboards, and get ready to search. Which of the 1,400 top search engines do you use?

What? You only use Google? Pfeh! You mainstream, conformist, follower. (Use Yahoo? Don’t gloat, it’s not exactly “indy.”)

By industry estimates, there’s over 1,400 search engines floating around these days. Really. Here’s the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines.

And that doesn’t even include http://www.cuil.com, which recently launched.  (It’s pronounced “cool.” Yes, really.)

Some of the others have equally creative names like ChaCha.com, Twerq.com, Twingly.com, Famhoo.com, and Mahalo.com.

So why so many search engines? Well, most engines have highly specialized search parameters. That’s a fancy way of saying that they narrow searches to a specialized audience.

Again, so why so many search engines? Well, if you’re Summarize.com, it’s for profit. Twitter.com bought the Twitter-only search engine Summarize.com for a cool $15M.

Search is big business and it’s getting bigger. Hey, I have a great idea. How about a personal search engine for everyone in the world? I’ll make billions!

What? Oh yeah, they already have that at Rollyo.com.

That’s clever web-speak for “Roll Your Own.” Oh…how cuil.

Posted in Google, new media, Search, technology, Uncategorized, Yahoo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Free Isn’t Really Free

Posted by buddyscalera on June 14, 2008

Lots of people, including me, use free applications. This blog is on the free version of WordPress.

But free really isn’t free. There’s always a price.

As Google grows, more people register to use their free tools, including GMail, Google Documents, YouTube, and this little tool called “Search.” Yes, and it’s all free. We love free, right?

Google is a for-profit company that has a responsibility to it’s shareholders and employees. The smart engineers who write the code for these free applications…well, they need to get paid. Everyone needs to get paid.

So how does Google make money? Well, right now, they leverage the immense amount of data that they capture every time we do a search. Or they monetize the content of our emails. Or our social networks. Or our video viewing habits.

And it’s all legal and completely above board. It’s right there in their privacy policy, if you choose to read it. It’s really not Google’s fault if you dont read the fine print. Google is an exceptional company, creates a lot of great of amazing products and does a lot of wonderful socially responsible things. But all this is made possible because they also run a hell of a business.

Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, WordPress and others offer free services with the hopes of getting a LOT of people to register. Then, they monetize it by selling profiling data about how we use their free services. (Note: Broadcast television and radio work in similar ways. Newspapers charge a fraction of what it costs to print and deliver the paper. It’s all fueled by advertising.)

Many people are thrilled that there’s a free alternative to Microsoft’s Office suite. But when you buy their software, you get a certain amount of protected anonymity. Microsoft isnt data mining information from your private Excel spreadsheets, but free services like Google Documents and Zoho can. The front end of these services are free, but they need to find a way to earn a profit. And currently that’s done by aggregating user behavior and selling it to advertisers.

There’s really no such thing as free. And with Internet applications, free is a temporary concept. Eventually, we will all have to pay.

Posted in freeware, Gmail, Google, marketing, Yahoo, YouTube | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Techronyms for Search

Posted by buddyscalera on May 25, 2008

In the technology business, there’s a new acronym for every new product, idea, or process. They call these “techronyms.”

Anyway, I find that mnemonic tricks sometimes help me remember techronyms and people’s names.

I wanted to share a quick one that comes up all the time when I talk with people about Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing. Here’s one to help you remember the difference between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Remember that the “M” in SEM stands for “money.” The “O” in SEO is for “zero-dollars.” That’s because SEO is free.

As I think of more techronyms, I’ll post ’em. If you’ve got any, post ’em.

Posted in Google, marketing, new media, Search, SEM, SEO, techronyms, Web Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Google’s Usability – Only 76%?

Posted by buddyscalera on March 23, 2008

At first, this may seem like a criticism of web usability legend Jakob Nielsen, but it’s really not. When it comes to web interface, Nielsen was a true pioneer and continues to be a voice within a world that he undeniably influenced.

No, this is a different take on the same data that he uses to inform his clients. And the industry at large, hence, probably even my clients.

A new article in SEORoundtable.com referenced a study conducted by Nielsen that “One-Fourth of All Internet Users Cannot Perform a Simple Google Search.” The lead noted that “usability expert Jakob Nielsen blogged about how difficult it is to perform a Google search

Now, considering what I know of Google, I wondered how “difficult” it can be to perform a Google search.

Anyway, according to Nielsen’s research, there is evidence that suggests that nearly 1/4 of Internet users cannot actually use Google. Now, he readily admits that 76% of the people he surveyed CAN use Google, but he’s more interested in the 24% who CANNOT.

Well, this glass-half-empty perspective is the part the grabs headlines. Listen, Nielsen is a web usability pioneer, so I am not surprised that when he talks, people listen. But this is sort of the opposite of what the headline should have been.

The headline should have read “76% of Internet Users Leverage Google.”

Consider for a moment what Google does. Based on a few words (aka keywords), Google gives you a list of websites that you might want to “visit.” Despite the fact that these are only digital destinations, we’re asking people to consider at least two abstract concepts:

  1. The idea that there are networked computers that lead to an online destination that doesn’t really exist in the real world and…
  2. There’s some kind of engine (another real world object) that helps you find this non-existent destination.

Even if people don’t need to wrap their hands around the abstractness of it all, they do learn pretty quickly how to use Google to find what they want. If 76% of people have learned how to use Google, that is a testament to the usability of the site. Heck, that’s probably significantly higher percentage of people than learned how to set the clock on their VCR.

Nielsen’s research is probably well designed and would likely stand up to research scrutiny, so it’s doubtful that it’s somehow loaded (to get a specific result). But if you look at the “task” they asked people to perform, then it’s even more impressive that they got a 76% success rate. In Nielsen’s own words, “in one of our test tasks, to find “a strong vacuum cleaner that is easy to use, can pick up pet hair, and costs under $300”)”.

Well, Google would only be one starting point in your web search. If you were a user, you might be looking to buy something, so you’d focus on shopping sites right? But if you were in a research mode, you might also try a review-oriented website.

But if you really wanted to know if it was “easy to use” you would have to look past the marketing copy. Because every vacuum cleaner will claim that it is “easy to use.”

So how do people find out if it’s easy to use? Reviews! Professional reviews, social network reviews, and user-generated reviews will tell you if something is “easy to use” which is a highly subjective qualification. Google is designed to find word matches on facts, not offer a subjective opinion on quality.

Now, back to our 76% success rate….considering the test question, Nielsen should be amazed at how many people were able to use Google to actually find information that helped them find a vacuum cleaner. What other tool has this kind of usability success rate?

Consider the huge differences in education, experience, and attitude of Internet users. Yet, Google created something simple, yet incredibly powerful, that bridges the gap between the gap of human diversity. Let’s face it, Google’s success is due in part to it’s ease of use. People like powerful tools that are simple and pleasurable to use.

Finally, this study wasn’t just about Google, it was about searching on the Internet using a search engine. Google may be the biggest player in search, but Google isn’t the whole Internet. It’s just one corporate brand that happens to dominate their category. Would those people tested know how to use Yahoo? Ask? MSN?

Also, if Nielsen polled those same people in a week, would they have still been unable to use Google? It is an exceptionally easy tool that actually fosters learning.

I deal with clients every day. Most of them do their own research, and I wonder how they will respond when they see a headline like this from an industry legend like Jakob Nielsen. Will they wonder if Google is “easy” enough to use? Will they feel that Google may not be the right channel for communicating their brand message to their target audience?

Of all people, Nielsen should have been headlining the fact that 76% of people can actually use a common tool like Google to make use of the increasingly complex Internet. Not the opposite way around.

Posted in Google, Search, Usability, Web Design | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »