Is semantic search good for business? If you’re Google – maybe not. The way we search at the moment means that we often have to repeat or refine searches to get the results that we are looking for, which means more opportunities for adverts to be served (and therefore clicked). If sematic search become really good, and gets you what you need with less effort – will advertising revenues diminish as a consequence?
This blog was orginally posted elsewhere in 2006, but I just bought a Wii and it became important to me again.
In a 2003 Time magazine article Nintendo President Satoru Iwata lay out his vision that what consumers really wanted out of video games was simple, accessible, and entertaining. This was a bold statement in a world where the likes of Sony and Microsoft platforms were feeding the gaming world faster, more graphically rich, and increasingly more violent game-play. Almost four years later and the Nintendo Wii is the world’s top-selling game console. In the US, Nintendo’s $250 Wii sold 360,000 units in April, while Sony’s $600, PlayStation 3 lingers at the bottom of the sales chart, with 82,000 units sold. Nintendo have sold 6 million of the consoles worldwide in the six months since launch.
A year ago I gave a speach at the launch of a new 3D visualization company. One of my co-speakers on the day was a senior Sony Computer Entertainment director. He was demonstrating some of the features of the soon to be release PlayStation 3. To show the rendering power of the human form he played a demo featuring an actress at a casting where the role she was testing for became real before the viewers eyes. I have to say it made the audience – a broad range of attendees from all walks of life – look very uncomfortable. The demo became more and more sinister with four letter expletives making some of the audience blush. Sensing the mood, Ray commented that this was culturally the norm and expected these days. Don’t get me wrong: Ray is a really nice guy and a real professional; and if the history of the games market to date was anything to go by, then he should have been so right.
So why has the Wii been so successful? With the last paragraph in mind the answer this becomes obvious. The average game for the Wii is simple, participatory, inclusive and fun. It appeals to a broader demographic beyond the narrow band of PlayStation and the Xbox junkies, which is traditionally your prepubescent to late 20s male with obsessive compulsive tendencies. It’s easy to pick up – metaphorically and literally, (the spatially aware controller is a master stroke) – and you only have to watch my six year old daughter and 60 year old mum playing tennis togther to see the instant and enduring appeal.
John Schappert, COO of Electronic Arts’ game studios sums this up precisely “I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t expressed joy over Wii Sports,. They’ve hit a bull’s-eye, delivering a console that gamers like and that brings non-gamers to gaming.”
Since the mass proliferation of the Internet in the mid 90’s, software – traditionally installed on the PC or local server – has been shifting from running locally on the computer desktop to globally via the web browser. There has been a consistent, pervasive movement which has progressively changed the way that businesses engage with their customer and staff. The thing is though that it’s been so gradual that it’s a paradigm creep rather than a shift.
Over the last decade, this pervasive process has had many names including Application Service Provision (ASP), Software as a Service (SaaS) and more recently the phrase Cloud Computing has entered the common vocabulary.
We’re going to hear a lot more about Cloud Computing from now on. Why? Because early on this week a story has broken effectively announcing that Microsoft has acknowledged that the days of the operating system – in a box, on your desktop – are numbered. With their exposure of a project code named ‘Midori’ we get the first real sign that Microsoft is seriously planning the move from the traditional Operating System to the Internet Cloud, (it has dallied with the idea of making your documents available on the web before, but without a shift from the OS).
So what does this mean for the average Microsoft Office user? The simple answer is that someday, probably in the not too distant future, we’ll all be using our web browser to do our word processing, spreadsheet building, and slide presentations, and rather than storing files on our PCs or in-house office servers, they’ll be held in great big data centres, quite literally on the other side of the world.
But so what’s so special about this? Hasn’t Google been providing web based word processing and spreadsheets for some time already? The answer is yes, of course. But whereas Google has been providing these services as market testers (some might say spoilers biting at the heels of Microsoft), it’s not a paid for services and is cross subsidised by Google’s core ad based search. What’s got people talking is that this is Microsoft’s core business and when they make the move to Cloud Computing there will be a naturalised paradigm shift the likes not been seen since the move from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95.
At Quba we’ve been doing stuff in the Internet Cloud since the beginning of the decade. In 2001 we built Vauxhall and Renault car dealerships with a web based insurance system, (back then they were called extranets). In 2004 we delivered an end-to-end customer relationship management system for the New Technology Institute which powers their public web site, with a backend office that still sits at the heart of their business processes today. Symphony, our Internet Cloud Event Management software services events ranging from NHS conventions to the Church of England’s Lambeth Conference.
Whilst writing this blog article my Daughter Grace aged 6 asked me what I was doing. I said I was writing an article about clouds. She went quiet for a while and after 10 minutes she gave me the picture, rendered in Microsoft Word, and proudly displayed at the top of this article. No doubt it will be Grace and her generation that will take Cloud computing for granted.