Google had the largest active presence at this summit of any company.
Hmmm, wonder if that means anything?
iGoogle continues to be Googles fastest growing product (let’s put that in perspective, Google has Gmail, Google has Checkout, Google has alot of popular products, eh? yet the one that is er, going viral, shall we say is iGoogle) it is essentially a personalized homepage where you can put stupid cat photos. Okay it is more than that, and as I will explain, it is an enormous piece of the Google “how to take over the world” pie.
The person I was looking most forward to meeting was Adam Sah, and luckily we got to spend alot of time together, and I got quite an interesting look at San Fran as we did. But there were plenty of Googlers to go around. There were a few exciting things put out by Google here and I learned some new things.
The following Googlers were at the summit…
Jessica Ewing – Lead Product Manager, iGoogle
Adam Sah – Architect, Google gadgets
Brian Shih – Associate Product Manager, Google gadgets
Jeff Ragusa – Partner Solutions Engineer
Elisabeth Yin – Product Marketing Manager
Let’s start with Jessica, who
pimped discussed iGoogle during the personal homepages session. She actually put out quite a few things in the little time she had. Most were highlighting features and factors of the path to personal homepage nirvana. Google’s mantra…
Personal connection + Speed.
In my opinion, she left out a factor… simplicity. Keeping things simple is something Google has historically not been so hot at. To find a gadget and install it is amazingly simple to do, and people respond to that. Whoever chose the words “Add Stuff” (the link that users follow to add gadgets to their iGoogle page) should get a raise. In the past Google might have worded that differently… “acquire new XML programs for your interface” or something else that was unfriendly to new users. But by keeping things simple their product has soared. (psssst, Google, if you are wondering why your calender and mapplet gadgets aren’t taking off, you may want to consider the simplicity of use factor)
Jessica mentioned something over and over again.
“Most people”, she said, “will only customize their personal homepage in the first 100 seconds of creating one”
I was unable to count the actual amount she said this, but it was bunches. Must mean somethin, huh? Another interesting tidbit she put out was that 35% of iGoogle users use themes. This was interesting to me because it is indicative of engaged users, and 35 percent is huge. She also highlighted the “magic tab” feature of iGoogle. Which, all kidding aside, is pretty neato. I tried to get her to give me some new numbers that I could quote of the amount of iGoogle users but she wouldn’t.
People who work at Google have two main modes.
1) Googler Normal – They speak naturally, engaged in your conversation and incredibly nice.
2) Googler Glazed – Their eyes glaze over and start talking like an android. (This occurs when you try to discuss actual numbers with them.)
Fear not, the glazed over eyed androids can be turned back into humans by talking about puppies or beer, or anything that doesn’t require that they tell you a number.
Okay let’s move on to Jeff Ragusa, who was speaking about Google Aps during the Widgets in Enterprise session.
WTF? Why the hell would Google present about Apps at a widget conference??? That was what I was thinking, but it was a great session for me and anyone else who is crafty as I am and as a added bonus, everyone at this session got an invite to Google’s newest beta.
I learned one simple fact here that made my head spin round round, like a record, baby, round round round round. This fact will very probably not make you as excited as it made me, but it is important, useful, and key to some of my future plans…
The Google enterprise start page is the same thing as iGoogle.
Told you you wouldn’t get excited.
Prior to yawning however, you may want to know a couple of reasons why I find this interesting. If you are unfamiliar with this product you might want to take a look at these slides put out by Google from the summit, they are worth a look. The Google Apps start page is the same friggin thing as iGoogle, except that it is brandable and has more customization features.. This make sense, it is actually quite a useful tool for businesses. For those who aren’t yet rabid fans of my wonderfulness, I previously highlighted an interesting use of iGoogle in the real world in an article about a company using Google gadgets and the iGoogle page as a office tool that is constantly viewable to employees via a large screen TV in the office. It is a natural progression of such functionality to become a business solution offered by Google.
But in the gadget world, there is a more important point to make about this.
Gadgets that are also business applications will be important. Very important. Want to snuggle up to Google and make them like you? Think business applications. For those of you seeking the path to Google gadget ventures program I would consider very strongly the ways that Google is using gadgets.
Ask not “what can Google do for me”, ask “what can I do for Google?”
But there is another reason why this is notable and useful to any developer who is dealing with Google. Google Apps start page is interesting because when you click “add stuff” you get taken to a Google gadget directory that is branded and there is a customizable list of company specific gadgets. This is really intriguing to me and set off alot of bells in my head that usually go off when I know something is important but I need to think about it more.
Let’s take a look at that “brandable” gadget directory…
It looks just like the regular Google gadget directory, but let’s examine what makes it different….
First and most obviously, there is the company specific directory as circled above. This is a feature where a company can choose the gadgets accessible to their employees. This sorta makes me wonder… hmmm, where would a company get company specific gadgets?
Answer: Not clear.
When answers are not clear then guess what? That is opportunity.
If you are a developer, I would not only suggest you think in the direction of business application gadgets, I would further suggest that you think in the direction of business application gadget suites.
Come up with suites of gadgets that are universally useful to such a “company directory” (as shown above) and you will laugh and giggle your way to the bank, and Google might even give you 100,000 thousand or so to start.
Google Gadgets Session by Adam Sah
I was not expecting to learn much from this session but I wanted to be at it anyway, mostly to hear what Adam had to say. I have noticed that when you go to a conference and attend a session covering a subject you are passionate about, you really do not learn much about the subject, but you get a marvelous view of what people are putting out and you get a feel for why they are putting out whatever it is they are putting out.
This tells you all sorts of stuff, as does also the amount of interest the session attendees have.
That is the real reason I went here, I wanted to know two things… What is Google putting out, and what will the interest level be?
The interest level was high, there were two sessions to choose from at the same time, but the Google gadget session had the majority of attendees.
Here is what was put out.
This session was basically an overview (albeit a brief one) of what Google gadgets are and where they are being used. The session then went on to more strategic thinking of Google gadgets and what to (from Google’s standpoint) concentrate on as developers.
The slides from this session are not public, which bites, cause it would have made this easier.
Quickly, Google gadgets are small xml applications that are displayed and used in a variety of places, most notably, the iGoogle homepage used by tens of millions of users.
Google gadgets are ungodly popular and create hundreds of millions of page views a week. Popular gadgets are used by tens of millions of people. I switched my blogs focus from SEO to Google gadgets and the reason for that is the extraordinary opportunity Google gadgets create, on many different levels.
I make several thousands of affiliate sales every week from Google gadgets. As far as directly making money goes, Google gadgets represent the biggest single opportunity I have ever seen on the web.
After a quick overview of what Google gadgets are, Adam Sah went on to highlight some of their opportunities. He put out some things I agree with and some things I do not agree with, but this ain’t about me, so here is what Adam suggested in general.
“Go where they ain’t”
Was perhaps the central theme of his presentation. As an example, let’s just say this. When I started talking about Google gadgets some months ago there were a couple of thousand of gadgets in the Google gadget directory. There are now over 20,000.
Adam suggested that as developers it might be wise to start concentrating your gadget efforts in areas that are not as saturated as the Google gadget directory. (I disagree to an extent on this)
His specific (and valuable) suggestions were to concentrate on “where they ain’t”. Since there are over 20,000 Google gadgets in the directory, it makes good sense to start concentrating on creating Google gadgets in places where not so many exsist.
He highlighted the fact that there are currently less than 500 Google gadgets for maps (mapplets) and there are even less that exsist for Google calender. (Yes, Google calender does have Google gadgets ).
This solid advice, but above I mentioned I disagree with it a bit. Here is the deal. Adam mentioned alot in different conversations with people that the one biggest factor in Google gadget popularity is… drumroll please…
When they were added to the directory.
The Google gadget that are most popular and that have the most users all share one thing in common. They are the gadgets that have been in the Google gadget directory th longest. There some really crappy gadgets that do way better than more useful ones do, simply because they have existed longer. In this sense it makes absolute good sense to get gadgets out right now for Maps and Calanders while there are so virtually no other gadgets to choose from in those products.
Where my opinion differs from Adam’s is that there is still buttloads of opportunity to make gadgets of any type or sort for the Google gadget directory….
If you know SEO
I don’t say that because I have some weird theory on it, I sat that because I make tons of money from Google gadgets, even my new ones.
If there is one single thing I learned from this summit it is this.
SEO is entirely under represented in the widget field. There are a stunning amount of incredible things going on out there in the gadget world that no one knows about, simply because developers are typically not stellar search engine marketers.
If you do SEO, take a few moments to explore the possibilities in widgets. What ever your revenue model is, there is opportunity for you to make money.
Look into gadgets people, you have an in here like you would not believe.