Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, March 21, 2021

This occurred to me recently:

MySpace has been a runaway success, much to the puzzlement of those who view typical layout-trainwrecks like this one as practically antithetical to attractive Web presence.

eBay has similarly been an ongoing Web success, despite (or because of?) crappily laid-out pages like this one.

Is there a connection? Both sites practically show off their lack of design aesthetic, and they have thousands/millions of dedicated users to show for it. Is an aggressively anti-polished look the key to online success? God help us if it is…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/21/2006 11:17:34 PM
Category: Internet
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Well, that didn’t take long: The same day that Google Finance comes online, I get my first couple of traffic hits courtesy of the new Mountain View offering.

Both visits were to today’s earlier post about Tom’s of Maine being all but acquired by Colgate; but both also happened to come from Google Finance’s profile page for Capital One Financial Corp. Not particularly relevant, as I just mentioned Capital One briefly in that instance. It looks like the Blog Posts component is just a straight feed from Google Blogsearch, so I don’t know how helpful that would be for this would-be investor’s resource. As I often write about businessworld topics, I guess I can expect to see a regular traffic trickle from this part of Google, assuming they leave it as is.

Another oddball thing: The expanded AJAX-enabled information for company officers includes a link to individual trading activity, as provided by Yahoo! Finance — which Google is competing against in this space. I’d expect to see that get changed shortly.

As far as the bigger picture in yet another non-search offering from Google: It’s imperative for creating new advertising opportunities, so naturally that’s where Google’s going to direct its growth. As a public company, it has to pursue revenue growth channels, and there’s no surer bet online than providing financial information (or even an aggregate thereof — indistinguishable to the average user). I’m sure a sports news section is the next offering in this vein.

I’ve carped on before about how Google is traveling down a familiar road, and it seems it’s finally become apparent to everyone else:

Google’s expansion already has caused some people to draw cautionary comparisons to AltaVista, a pioneering Web search engine that set out to build a more diversified portal in the 1990s.

The expansion alienated AltaVista’s once-loyal users as its search results deteriorated, creating an opportunity for upstarts like Google. AltaVista eventually was sold and its technology now part of Yahoo’s effort to overtake Google in search.

“You wouldn’t think it would be possible for Google to repeat the same mistakes” as AltaVista, [Search Engine Watch editor Danny] Sullivan said. “You would think Google would remember that one of the reasons it exists is because of the dumb things other people once did.”

I don’t know why Sullivan is digging into the AltaVista gravesite for an example — I’d say Yahoo! itself is a good example of this irresistable search-engine-to-portal progression (or is that regression?), as it went from a search engine/directory service to a grab bag of content delivery. And I outlined this pattern dynamic upon the rollout of Google’s Personalized page:

But basically, like any other media business, Google is compelled to create a subscriber base, which it can pitch to advertising and marketing partners. Gmail and other non-search offerings were just the groundwork; this is a fuller realization of that.

Obviously, Google eventually will be presenting a default page just as cluttered as Yahoo!’s, with all sorts of advertising and other doodads. I guess they’ll eventually lose focus on search, and some fledgling upstart will fill the newly-created void — until it, too, goes through the portal process, replaying the cycle all over again.

Not only that, but I’ve always felt that Google’s climb to the top of the search game had less to do with its hyped relevance prowess, and more to do with Yahoo!, Excite and other circa-1998 engines willingly receding from the search to pursue the business potential that portal services offered. Google won because its competitors let it.

And now, with this foray into user-sticky financial information, Google will stretch itself to the point where it loses its search crown to a next-generation site like Clusty or Accoona. The cycle repeats.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/21/2006 09:14:54 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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Hmm. It seems that any regional company that comes under my personal purview is getting snapped up by a giant rival. Last week, it was North Fork Bank being bought by Capital One, and now, Tom’s of Maine has sold off 84 percent of itself to Colgate-Palmolive.

I had just discovered Tom’s a few days ago, via a store display. For some reason, the box full of natural-ingredient deodorants had caught my eye, and I was contemplating buying one to try. I didn’t at the time, but maybe I will the next time I’m shopping (I’ve got enough artificial underarm stuff to last me for a while until then).

I don’t think I’ll try any of Tom’s other stuff, like the toothpaste. I’ve been told that the “unique taste” of such stuff is horrendous, and on top of that, doesn’t fight cavities as well as the usual stuff (I’d guess that’s because users of natural hygeine products tend not to eat as much tooth-decaying food, so they don’t need the industrial-strength toothpastes the general populace does; but still).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/21/2006 06:16:01 PM
Category: Business
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I’ve been saving this “You Win 1-Liter Coke Product” plastic bottlecap for months now. I rarely pick a winner on these goofy things, so I’d like to cash it in for some syrupy-sweet carbonated sugar water.

The problem: I can’t find a freakin’ 1-liter product anywhere. Not at supermarkets, not at little grocery stores, not at Wal-Mart or Target. I’ve been told gas station convenience stores stock them, but I haven’t found any in the couple of those I’ve checked, either.

I have noticed, however, that stores do stock 1.5-liter bottles. I just bought one, and sure enough, my get-one-free bottlecap was not applicable, thanks to that exta half-liter. Not to mention the questionable use of this 1.5-liter mutant — why bother with that, when you can just go for the standard and familiar 2-liter?

In short, I think I’ve been rooked.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/21/2006 05:45:26 PM
Category: Food
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