Why aardvark? u guys had something great going on here.. selling out so soon, with so much potential to make you much richer than the $50M google gave u… just like smule who had a fantastic head start with the ocarina and other apps.. they raised $3.9M dollars thereafter. the aardvark community grew strongly quickly and created a niche that no other search engine does nor did. real time answering from real people. sure, u have yahoo answers et tal.. in those u hope that someone knowledgeable will pick up the glove and provide you with the info you need. by using vark, u can get good answers in minutes, and the more you ask, the more the system learns about how to route the question to the right person and figure out which answer was a good one. there was an attempt at the beginning of the interent revolution. at the time i was at my 2nd year in college studying computer scient. one of our teachers started a small venture where people answer each other’s questions. the implementation was not at it’s best, but it kinda worked. after two years of operations the money had run out and the creative ideas of how to make money dried as well, so they shut it down (for the life of me, i cannot remember the name of that company). what vark is doing differently is several things. one, it uses jabber/xmmp protocol to be present right there alongside gmail contacts with google talk, or any aggregator (like adium) that supports this open source protocol. the heart of the system is the algorithms to analyze a given question, suggest the right tag (ie topic) and route it to whoever is a good authority in the field (usually more than one person). those people are online (naturally) and can either pass or answer. you can then continue discussing the issue with them, rank it as a good answer or flag it as an inappropriate one. if u did not get the answer you want, you can resubmit it, change the tags and hope for the best. i started testing aardvark since the day it launched it’s beta and later on the iphone app. at the beginning there were not many users, and not so many questions to answer, but quite slowly, over a period of two months it was working really well. best case scenario, i got a solid answer in less than a minute. nothing i could do with google or any other search engine. the social aspect is interesting as well. people love giving answers to what they know about. there is an innate desire in humans to help each other out… u may say it is an ego thing (and to some extent u are probably right), however, people get our of their way to provide answers sometimes, doing basic research, giving good links and more. so why is google buying aardvark? good question. two answers: one, the small team of aardvark are ex google employees with top notch management with yale and stanford grads. these are serious people with the creativity and leadership ability to makes things work. they understand google and it’s weaknesses and have found a way to monetize. two, real time person to person (rtp2p) search does not exist. and the aardvark team has shown us that it can be done, and done well. so where is the money? meaning… how does the aardvark makes it’s profit. good question again. and the answer is simple: just like google’s adwords, the aardvark places results that are paid for. for example, let’s say someone is asking the community if they can recommend or know a computer technician in the upper west side of manhaatan. some people will respond giving their input, but this question can be routed directly into a paying customer, who wants to be notified immediately when someone is looking for a technician in the metropolitan area. long short – a lead engine. i have answered several questions and provided links to products on amazon, using my amazon referral id, so why not others in a streamlined maner, where the vark directs all of those potential leads to the user. aardvark also plants automatic answers. i was questioned by the devel team about the quality of that feature a couple of months back, when i was looking for someone to build a loft bed in my studio. i got an answer from service magic, a well known lead generator for all type of construction work. if haven’t tried aardvark u definitely should. they are at http://vark.com, they have a free iphone app and they can be added to your fav jabber client as firstname.lastname@example.org. Confirmed: Google has Acquired Aardvark.
google is on my top fav list of companies. it’s inception, vision, execution and overall position and leadership of the 21st century demands respect and admiration. since the marriage of search with advertisement google has been growing itself into a web power house, organizing data almost in every location possible, from our books, history to the solar system. recent development include the chrome operating system and android, google’s smart phone operating system.
the comparison with microsoft is important and relevant in my eyes. microsoft established itself as the king of licensed software, growing to be the top company on the planet who gave the personal computer revolution exactly what it needed: a usable, eye-candy operating system than manages a computer properly. how is microsoft doing these days? fine thank you. there is a lot of cash under the mattress and microsoft can, and is, competing with almost every player out there.
and where is apple in all this you probably ask by now? well, apple took a different course. since his early days when steve jobs was selling hand assembled computers from the back of his pickup, many solar panels have been installed in silicon valley. job’s vision was clear throughout: vertically integrate his operations to create a high end brand. this means developing software and hardware. the rest again is history. though it took jobs many decades to become the empire apple is today, with luck and pitfalls that could have buried apple to the ground, his vision is key: have some style for crying out loud.
apple is successful for a handful of reasons. for me, their success is the fact they write their own software and develop their own hardware. they have quality control of what bares their name, not like microsoft who pimped windows to anyone who was willing to pay their licensing fees.
where does that leave us the consumer? when it comes to microsoft based products we are left with a lot of garbage computers, from cheap to expensive, from ugly to cute, from large to small – the choice is yours. choice is wonderful. choice represents north america for me. in microsoft’s case what it boiled down to is a lot of offers, little quality and very little branding.
so why do i care? well, i would be sad to see google walking the same path as microsoft. i already see it’s struggle with android and the different devices developed throughout, and it seems as if they are going the same way.
let’s think about this together for a moment. why isn’t google developing their own phones? strategically they develop software. why not develop and sell their own hardware and have the quality control needed to establish their brand. why settle for licensing and ads integrated into their applications when u have the potential, the momentum, and the brand name (to date) to leverage sales, operations and overall customer satisfaction.
here is one scenario for you. google keeps up with software only. in 10 years they are as out of date and hated as microsoft. why? because other cool product are out there. because apple is now on top of it all (recent posts show apple bought a company that is the equivalent of google maps).
google has the momentum and brand name to match apple at the moment. they are cool and hip and are leading the industry. why not create the right hardware to match their brand? have the same level of quality we are used to, AND have the consumers pay a premium for it, just as the consumer pays for apple products.
what will that mean for google? more expenses, more revenue, vertical integration for their product, hence quality control. happy customers and a serious competition from apple. face it, apple is making the coolest computers on earth, the coolest and most advanced smart phone (the iphone), they re-invented the walkman with the ipod and are currently continuing hard to branch out to every aspect of usage of their product. from software to hardware. from cables, chargers, flat screens, to music and video editing tools for novices and pros.
so… is it time for google to start manufacturing their own hardware?
Here is the letter I got from Google today in regards to freeing up the tv airways!
We did it.
On November 4, 2008, by a vote of 5-0, the Federal Communications Commission agreed to free the unused TV airwaves for unlicensed public use.
This is a tremendous victory for Internet users.
Thank you for being one of the more than 20,000 who signed the Free the Airwaves petition to the FCC. This historic vote would not have been possible without your effort.
And many thanks to the Commission for showing great leadership on this issue.
Read Google Co-Founder Larry Page’s reaction to the vote on the Official Google Blog:
Email sent by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, sponsor of Free the Airwaves.