Archive for AOL


Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by manuscrypts

I read a few interesting news clips about AOL today. While one was about Time Warner thinking of splitting up and selling AOL, the other two were more interesting to me – AOL’s acquisition of Social Thing, a lifestreaming site, and their introduction of Buddy Updates, which  lets you share and view your online activities with your buddies. They have a fairly good list of services supported – Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, RSS Feeds….

And that made me wonder on where exactly two other lifestreaming services i took for a spin around the weekend would fit in. One is Lifeblob and the other is LifeinLines. I have to admit that i spent more time on the latter since I found the interface a bit more ‘warm’ and easier to relate to. I guess I was also influenced by Ankur’s blog where he explained the reason for starting LiL, and his taking time out to explain things to me. 🙂

The best part about LiL is its almost exhaustive means of updating – email, Gtalk, SMS, Voice, or directly from the webpage. Very cool. The user interface is also extremely friendly, and it has layered privacy settings, which helps you to define different settings for different friends, thus retaining gradients of privacy within a social environment. It also allows you to choose your moods and do a bit of location tagging. In that sense, a few years from now, this is perhaps a great way to visualise what you were doing at 9pm on Aug 4th 2008. It could be text with mood, location or your own voice. 🙂 What I’d love to see is more connection with my existing favourites – twitter (which they’re working on), an FB app (yes, again), and a browser plugin (that’ll be later). I asked about the last one because my twitaholism started after I discovered Tweetr, and soon after, Twitterfox.

LifeBlob is more visual, connects ‘lifelines’ of people, and allows tagging other people, hmm, like Notes or Tagging in Photos in Facebook, as a rough comparison. It also allows you to import photos from other photo sharing sites and allows imports from blogs too. I quite liked the ‘Places’ and ‘Tags’ clouds on the homepage.

While both are lifestreaming services, the approach is quite different, and thanks to UI and features, they are differentiated. But I was looking at it from a user point of view, okay, my point of view, since I believe in the Long Tail. 🙂 While Twitter is always referred to as a microblogging service, its fundamental question ‘What are you doing’ makes it a lifestreaming service to me, which people have used to communicate just about everything, including @having !! I also have a few blogs, where my rants are in say, large formats. I have pretty active Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. In addition, there is Friendfeed, which I have promised myself to explore, the virtual worlds, so how many microlives am I expected to have??!!!

So you’ll say, “oh, you’re back to saying consolidate“, but no, that’d be so predictable, and boring. Remember the long tail I mentioned? Well, so, I forced myself to be a lil more objective before I made such sweeping rants. And I realised that this is only the beginning of the social universe, a big social bang if you will, there are so many ‘shiny objects’ out there, and more are being made as we speak. Nothing is defined yet, so spaces and uses and therefore users, are still debatable. In a country like Japan, Facebook and MySpace are yet to make a mark. Back home, in India, I have so many friends who just refuse to let go of Orkut. Most people I come across have not experienced the magic of Twitter. Perhaps, I will even discover a long tail of my internet media  usage – a large amount of time for some services, and smaller amounts for other services. 😉

What I’m trying to say is a very simple thing – in between the blogs, the social networking of Facebook, and the updates on Twitter, there are many worlds, and many parallel worlds. Also, the large players may not be able to provide great levels of service as they scale up (a good note here albeit on real world entities), and the ‘my’ kind of service that many users want. Perhaps that’s where the opportunity is, for Lifeblob and LifeInLines, and others like them. The threat, of course, is not being able to find that critical mass of users ASAP, for they will ultimately hold the key to revenues.

until next time, one life, many moments 🙂

PS. My dear 2.0 readers, do not be alarmed if you don’t find a post tomorrow. I’ve reviewed my strategic  long term intent for the site, and the scalability that I can offer. (I’ve always wanted to use those words, basically means that while I won’t lack the material to rant about, I may not get the time to do it) Keeping that in mind, I have decided to make it 3 posts a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Update 05/08/08: Just read a very good case for Lifestreaming

There’s a little bit of social networking in….

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , , on March 14, 2008 by manuscrypts

For all those who’ve been good and watching TV, the source of that one should be a lollipop. There are some 4-5 ads of AOL doing the rounds, which you really couldn’t have missed. What’s the context? Well, i read here, that AOL is buying out Bebo for $850 million. Oops, I should’ve told you to hold on to something. Bebo is UK’s #2 social networking site (after Facebook) with a claimed base of 40 million users. Put this in perspective with the eyes  that popped when Desi Martini was picked up for $10 million. I really woudnt be able to offer any intelligence on the valuation, so lets stick to the core competency of this blog – brand +internet.

Now, Indian online entities have picked up this strange habit of using the reach of TV to sell the concept of email. Remember rediff’s infamous Hoohaa ad, followed by the unlimited ones. Zapak has also been a big TV advertiser. Indiatimes has been making me suspect if i have jaundice for sometime now. Strange, because, while i understand the reach of TV, I’ve never seen the big guys ever do TV (or have i missed something). Its only the locals + AOL who have been eating up TVC time. And except for rediff, I have never used any of them for my email use. (and that was before the ad) I’m quite happy with yahoo and gmail. More importantly, I’ve seen their advertising in the place where it matters – the web. Context, anyone?

So, I’m guessing, that AOL with those ‘young’ attitude ads was looking at reaching out to the youth audience (isn’t that who everyone’s after?) by showcasing its features in a fun way. While e-mail is the one of the best utlities to use as a carrot, I’ve a different idea for them. Bring Bebo here, lets have a solid ‘fatal fourway’ match with Orkut, Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo. If we include Big Adda, Minglebox, Yaari etc, its a royal rumble. Meanwhile, what AOL has to do is rope in Kareena Kapoor as brand evangelist.

Did i just catch a ‘Huh?’ from you? Okay, for those of you who look down on Bollywood gossip, Bebo happens to be Kareena’s (quite well known) nickname. Kareena would anyway make a good icon (for the guys because she’s hot, for the girls because she’s smart). Add to that her name connection and the Bollywood effect, and i think we might have some fun here. Imagine weaving in hits like ‘Jab we met’ (in her filmi life) and things like the Shahid Kapur mouth to mouth resuscitation MMS, the Saif gossip being exclusive content on the site, do you need to do extra things to get hits?

Meanwhile, to increase this weekend’s productivity, you can read a very neat post on SEO and SEM right here.

until next time, anyone expressing Aitraaz? 😀