Google 2015: what will it look like?

I worked at post-DOJ-spanked Microsoft. I saw firsthand how wimpy Bill Gates got (I had a lunch with him and Mike Arrington where we talked about whether Microsoft would let us acquire interesting new companies. “No way” was the basic answer. Funny that back then they could have purchased Skype for $2 billion, not listening cost them $6.5 billion).

Today Jason Calacanis is taking Google to task for being naughty.

It’s worse than that Jason. Google is behaving like Microsoft. It isn’t buying the most interesting new startups (VMware is, having purchased SocialCast today, after SlideRocket and Mozy). It has done pretty sizable harm to its first service, search, and Microsoft is even kicking ass on its mapping technology.

So, what could Google in 2015 look like?

Jason lays out one vision of what Google could look like in four years: a nice company that helps the entire industry grow together.

Let’s be honest. Big companies don’t do what’s right (translation: I don’t think Google will listen to Jason). Why not?

Go into the heads of a big-company employee. Do they want to do the hard work of starting a new initiative? No. Do they want to take the personal risk to go into Larry Page and ask him to do something he isn’t already doing? No. Do they want to go into Larry and say “hey, Larry, we’ve screwed up in social and we’re screwing up in search, we need to do some small things to addict people to our services?” No. In fact, does anyone want to pitch Larry in doing something small, like it seemed Instagram was when we all first saw it? Or Foursquare? Or Twitter? Come on, how many of you, when you first saw those things, said to someone else “that’s gonna be a big company some day?” I didn’t even though I was in the first 15,000 to have a Twitter account. Even if I had, it’s one thing to be a tech blogger or a geek in Palo Alto and it’s a whole nother thing to go and pitch Larry Page and say those things.

Even worse, will the average employee at a big company tell the lawyers to sit down and shut up? Nope, not in my experience.

What’s small today? Here’s a list over on Quora (I’m seeing Ashton Kutcher soon, so asked for startups to pitch me their stuff). Quick, any of these gonna be big companies someday? How do you know? Who made you an expert? I hang out with experts and even they really don’t know. Quick, what was Facebook when it first came out? “A way to meet girls at Harvard.” You really were gonna fund that? Even Ron Conway got involved after it went to other colleges.

Anyway, what will Google look like in 2015?

First, what will the trends be for the next four years?

1. Mobile will get bigger screens, more capabilities, and many more users will have more than 100 apps (today only the weirdos like me do, the industry even has a name for us, they call us “heavy app users”).
2. Home entertainment systems will increasingly go completely Internet connected and many people will unplug their cable systems.
3. All media will be streamed, very few users will have downloadable files anymore.
4. There will be “apps of apps.” In other words, there will be apps that join many apps together. Already that’s happening. When I take photos with Instagram I can send those photos over to Foodspotting, Trey Ratcliffe’s photo app, amongst others. Om Malik wrote about that trend yesterday.
5. Social networking will be far more nuanced than it is today. I saw one startup, coming soon, that figured out who people I worked with 10 years ago were. All by just looking at Facebook. How? Artificial Intelligence from a lab at Stanford University.
6. We’re going to know EVERYTHING about ourselves, if we put the data in. Just this past weekend there was a Quantified Self conference with hundreds of attendees (held just a couple of miles from Google’s headquarters).
7. Automobiles will have more interactivity and more “assisted driving technology” than today, but the fully automatic self-driven car will still be years away for the average person due to cost.
8. 3DTV will continue to struggle, due to lack of content and the continued requirement to wear glasses on most screens.
9. Our social graphs will bring us much richer experiences. Going to Sonoma? You’ll know exactly where your friends have visited in the past and you’ll be able to see where celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg or Ashton Kutcher have visited.
10. News has shifted very heavily toward socially-influenced real time displays like Zite, Flipboard, Feedly, etc, on tablets.

So, which ones is Google doing well at today in 2011?

Mobile? Oh, yeah, Google is doing pretty well here. They aren’t the thought leaders, but are the market share leaders.
Home entertainment? Nope. Xbox rules here and Apple TV is the up and comer. Google’s efforts are too expensive and too geeky to use.
Media streaming? Nope. Google isn’t a major player yet. Netflix, Spotify, etc prove that Google hasn’t made major inroads here yet and Apple is about to really demonstrate how lame Google’s efforts in music have been so far. Even Amazon is making Google look bad.
Apps of apps? Nope, I don’t see Google leading anything here. If anything the startups are making it happen. Heck, even Twilio and Simple Geo are showing innovation in areas where Google should be dominant.
Nuanced social networks? Um, Google isn’t even in the game in social yet, not to mention making social networks that are letting us do something Facebook isn’t.
Quantified self services? Richer social graphs? Google hasn’t even figured that out, even though Google was an early leader here with its health efforts.
Automobiles? Google has the self-driving cars, which are good for PR, but, who has been putting units INTO today’s cars? Microsoft and RIM. Not Google.
3DTV. Google is actually a leader here, with YouTube enabling new kinds of content. But, is this an area that really will matter? It sure doesn’t look like it will anytime soon.
New news displays. Google isn’t a player here yet.

So, will Google take the “bad door” and continue doing things that are anti-competitive and anti-consumer, which will invite even more government scrutiny of our industry or will they take the “good door” and actually start innovating in these areas?

Can someone call me and tell me what Google of 2015 will look like?

I so want Google to be innovative again, but it sure doesn’t look like it will be. What do you think?


Will Sony Bloggie 3D bring mainstream to 3D?

New toy just arrived: 3D Sony Bloggie. Will try it out as soon as it is charged.

I bought a Sony Bloggie 3D last week because I am researching 3D. Vizio gave me a 65-inch 3D TV to help in this research and to give me a screen for the studio I’m building, too, but that will be the point of a future look at 3D.

Yesterday I shot video at a six-year-old kid’s birthday party. You’ll need 3D glasses and you’ll need to setup YouTube on first play to view this video.

Most people I talk with on Twitter hate 3D. Most of them complain about glasses and headaches, but a good chunk complain about no content. My brother-in-law returned a 3DTV because there wasn’t any content, so he thought he’d save the hundreds of dollars it cost extra.

I just upgraded my Comcast line to the latest cable box. Not even one channel is in 3D right now.

The folks who run TV stations tell me they aren’t about to buy 3DTV cameras and broadcast equipment. They say the move to HD nearly bankrupted them.

So, what is the Sony Bloggie 3D? And, will home movies be enough content to get people excited by 3DTV (at least the part of the market that doesn’t care about wearing glasses or doesn’t get headaches watching?)

It’s a small video and still camera that looks a bit like the FlipCam. Except it takes still and videos in 3D and has on its back a new 3D screen that doesn’t require glasses.

Will being able to shoot your baby in 3D save 3D?

Not yet, is my review.

Why not?

Because the software sucks. I still can’t figure out how to use it to do 3D photos on my computer (they work great when you hook the camera up to your TV screen via an HDMI cable). Editing is a major pain in the behind, although I figured out how to do it that was only because GoPro’s team (another 3D camera I’m testing) showed me how to do it and how to upload it to YouTube properly. Even there, you’ve got to add a special tag to enable the 3D player and you’d only know that if you when looking.

Also, does it really add much? Actually it does. I love seeing my kids in 3D and my family loves watching them. But is that enough to spend several hundred dollars more on a 3DTV? And then $250 on the Sony Bloggie 3D? And then potentially even more on 3D glasses (the Vizio came with four sets of glasses, which isn’t enough if you are throwing a 3D viewing party, which you most certainly will if you have the only 3D TV in the neighborhood).

Some other things to pay attention to:

1. The screen on the back of the Bloggie isn’t all that good. The screen on other cameras I’ve seen is better. It’s hard to see, and the 3D effect on that screen isn’t very pronounced. Don’t worry, on a good 3DTV the effect is much better.

2. The menus aren’t all that good and aren’t consistent.

3. Battery life is pretty short. I was at one bar after not shooting very long at the birthday party yesterday. I’m used to getting a lot more out of my video cameras.

4. Focus isn’t all that good and it’s nearly impossible to see on the screen whether something is in focus or not. So, you just have to shoot and pray it came out.

5. Editing tools aren’t setup for 3D. iMovie or FinalCutPro doesn’t know how to do 3D titles, or other effects. So, trying to edit is very frustrating. I have some tools from GoPro (they bought another startup that does 3D editing software, but it’s woefully incomplete and hard to use too).

That said, for $249 I’m happy, but I’m an early adopter who likes nearly every shiny new thing that I get my hands on (the video I shot at a friend’s six-year-old kid’s birthday party yesterday is pretty good). I sure wouldn’t recommend this for a normal user. Not yet.

So, 2D lives on to see another day.

You can order one and look at customer reviews on Amazon.

A visit to Silicon Valley’s hot new hardware company: hyper energy-efficient microserver maker SeaMicro

1/4 the power. 1/4 the space. 4x the compute. Server of the future. SeaMicro. Wild.

Yesterday I visited a remarkable new Silicon Valley company that’s getting lots of attention: SeaMicro. What do they do? They build “microservers” for datacenters. Sounds boring, right? But this company is anything but. They got two of the biggest VCs on board, Steve Jurvetson and Vinod Khosla. They have tons of customers who are praising them. Yesterday eHarmony’s CTO told me they are using SeaMicro servers and are extremely happy. And they’ve been all over the business press as being one of the fastest growing hardware companies Silicon Valley has ever seen.

Why is everyone hot and bothered by SeaMicro?

Because its servers give you compute 1/4 the power utilitization and 1/4 the space as other servers. I had to see for myself, and in this video CEO Andrew Feldman shows me around their test datacenters and explains their technology and why they are kicking the behind of Dell, HP, and others. Sorry for the noise, but it’s a bit noisy when you have a room with thousands of servers in it.