A Huge Day for the Big Web Players

It's been a huge day for the major web companies, news pouring out every hour, so I thought I'd recap and offer some thoughts:

  • Facebook users will soon be able to gift each other songs, web-streaming copies for 10 cents or downloadable DRM free files for 90 cents, powered by lala.com (paid thru Facebook credits)
  • Google is expected to unveil a music tie-in next week that lets users stream songs and potentially purchase them right from the search engine, powered by i-Like and lala.com
  • MySpace will now be housing a full library of music videos from the major music labels, and also providing Artists with deeper analytics of how fans engage with their content
Clearly this all points to one thing - multimedia content is rapidly becoming available everywhere. The entertainment industry is learning the only way they can fight piracy to offer easy access at fair costs. Also, I think the ability to gift Facebook friends songs could be a huge money maker for all parties if it's easy for the user and the music is easily played back as a library. And I want to see if users buy their own songs to house on their own profile for easy listening. Also, its amazing a full mp3 is cheaper than the virtual gifts people can send now. Finally, it's impressive that Lala was able to get themselves into both the Facebook and Google music deals, taking them from relatively no-name to top-tier player in a matter of hours.
Myspace's announcement is them trying to hold onto their claim as the best place for Musicians to set up their home-base website as they watch more and more of the grassroots marketing move to Twitter & Facebook. They're doing a pretty good job as an Entertainment portal, but this helps them with actual artist relations.

Social Search
  • Microsoft cut deals with Twitter and Facebook to incorporate their content streams in real-time into their Search index. Microsoft unveiled an early beta of their Twitter search engine at http://www.bing.com/twitter , which not only shows recent updates but popular links being shared around a search term
  • Google announced a similar deal with Twitter (no Facebook for now), but hasn't yet incorporated the content fully, with more details expected in a few weeks
  • Google announced a separate product called Social Search which will enable users to search their own social graph for content. Google will create a personal index of content for a user based on the social profiles attached to their Google profile, helping users surface content such as friend's Flickr photos and profile info
The social search space, also known as the real-time search space, is heating up big time. The major search engines Google and Bing are realizing that more and more users will start their web searches with their social graph and want the latest information that their social graph is highlighting as valuable. Microsoft's early search site shows how it will try to take on the memetrackers and the real-time search engines at once, a space that's currently being owned by new web start-ups Tweetmeme and OneRiot.
It's clear Google will jump into this space as well, but their personalized social search product is separately very interesting. Helping users to unearth their own personal information from their own individual social graph is potentially even more important than a broad real-time search engine. The key here though is what content Google will be able to index - given that Facebook especially is behind a wall. The great thing about FriendFeed was that you could add RSS feeds to supplement the content that was already being indexed, a way to overcome the Facebook walls. Will Google be able to do this?

  • Flickr announced people tagging on their photos similar to Facebook's features, but with more privacy controls. Users can choose who exactly can tag them in photos.
This is a feature that's made sense for a long time, but I don't think by itself it will matter much. Not enough people have Flickr profiles for it to matter, and because of the upload caps not enough people will ever choose to upload to Flickr. If this was done through Facebook connect it would be totally different (similar to PolarRose's offering). Also I would really like to see some integration with Apple's iPhoto, since they are working on syncing their products already and I've invested the time in tagging my friends on my desktop computer. This would be a good rivalry to the sync'd tagging of Picasa and Picasaweb. Finally, since serious Flickr users have been stockpiling photos for years, Flickr really needs to integrate Facial recognition on the site - both to keep up to par with competitors, and to make tagging less daunting of a task.