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Is the bubble back?

Everyone?s wondering worriedly and speaking in hushed tones whether the venture funding going bonkers, analyses Deepak Mankar.

business Updated: Nov 15, 2005 21:45 IST

The good news is, Firefox is in the news again. A Dutch Web analytics firm, OneStat.com of Amsterdam, recently reported that the Mozilla Foundation's Web browser is now used by 11.5% of the world's Internet www.onestat.com. In August, scant three months back, US-based Net Applications had estimated Firefox's share at about8%."It seems that Netscape users and some Internet Explorer users areswitching," Niels Brinkman,co-founder of OneStat.com, said in a statement. In the United States, OneStat.com estimated Firefox is used by 14% of Web surfersas compared to Internet Explorer's 81%.In themeanwhile, the Mozilla Foundation announced another version of anupgrade to Firefox. Available at Mozilla.org, the ‘test preview’ offers improvements in blocking pop-up advertisements and includes added support for Webwww.mozilla.org.

BACK COMES THE BUBBLE. VC funding going bonkers?

The Economist in an article headlined ominously ‘Bubble 2.0’ revived the memories of those heady days five years ago when venture capitalists funded anything and everything that had remotely to do with dot-com. blogs.guardian.co.uk. Is the bubble back? Everyone’s wondering worriedly and speaking in hushed tones. Well, at the recent Web 2.0 conference, VentureOne reported that Net startups received $2.56 billion in the third quarter – 47% of all venture fundings. This was up 37% over last year, same period. But VentureOne also found that all VC funding was only up 9% in the quarter. Venture Economics, on the other hand, reported that it was actually down 13% and Net funding was only $596.3 million, down from Q2 and last year's third Q3. Also see:www.businessweek.com. Quotable quote by the Silicon Valley venture capital guru Vinod Khosola to a packed ballroom at the Web 2.0 conference: "There is a boomy kind of feeling in the room again."

BLOGS & BUSINESS. The meeting ground.

There’s a new survey by Technorati, the blog-search engine, and Edelman, a public relations firm, using 30,000 subscribers of Technorati's e-mail newsletter (final sample:821 respondents). The aim? To study the interaction between bloggers and corporates. The questions the study tries to answer are: How and where do the interests of bloggers and those of corporations intersect? Should professionals in charge of corporate communications reach out directly to bloggers? Are bloggers different from other communications channels? A key finding is that the blogger respondents’ main motivation is to position themselves as authorities in their respective fields. This doesn’t coincide with the findings of an AOL consumer survey (September 2005; sample: 600 Internet users over 18 who maintain at least one blog). It suggested that most bloggers were not blogging for gain, either professional or financial, but simply as an outlet with nearly half claiming that blogging was a form of therapy for them.In the Technorati survey, a high number of bloggers had been contacted by companies or PR representatives (5.11% daily or almost daily; 5.60% more than once a week; 9.98% about once a week; 30.81% less than once a week; 48.47% never). The survey also detected a fair amount of scepticism about corporate blogs. About half termed them at least somewhat trustworthy and the other half, occasionally trustworthy or not at all trustworthy. Bloggers would far more likelytrust a blog of an individual employee. When looking for company info, bloggers were most likely to trust other bloggers to steer them right, by their own admission. www.emarketer.com.

MS SCARED OF GOOGLE? Wharton Profs think so.

"What Google wants to do is strategically decrease people's reliance on Microsoft. It's as simple as that," says Raphael Amit who teaches management at Wharton. On the other hand, according to Kendall Whitehouse, senior director of information technology at Wharton, “the central challenge to Microsoft goes beyond corporate reorganizations, defecting employees or the popularity of Google's search engine as a gateway to the web.” How do innovations at Google threaten Microsoft? Whitehouse points, as an example, to Google Maps. The API of Google Maps lets developers embed Google Maps in their own web pages using JavaScript.Balaji Padmanabhan, professor of operations and information management, agrees with Whitehouse that "there is a move toward PCs that don't have a lot of software installed on them, where most applications can run off a network.” Then there is Thomas Y. Lee, professor of operations and information management who feels Google's challenge to Microsoft is much broader. "…Google is a threat to …Microsoft's business model. Microsoft has software …they use to leverage the operating system."Legal studies professor Kevin Werbach opines that Microsoft’s competitive issues go beyond Google, mainly “the law of large numbers”.Marketing professor Peter S. Fader sees Google's threat as a tune Microsoft has heard before. Read the full story at knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN LONDON. Bill sings a cheery tune.

In a wide-ranging interview with Computingin late October in London, Gates reviewed Microsoft’s 30 years pointing out the “number of times people have written our death warrant – every four or five years … [with] a new person’s name on it”: Netscape, Novell, IBM, Ashton Tate, Lotus. His take on Google: “Google is great, they are smart people, the press should continue to feed their arrogance as much as possible.” And: “They say they are going to organise the world’s information. Well, we don’t think that is our job.”www.computing.co.uk.

SAFER THAN GOOGLE MAPS. NRSA’s Image Atlas.

The National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) is determined to storm the high-resolution satellite imagery market. Mindful of President Abdul Kalam’s defence-related concerns about Google Earth maps last month, it is bringing out an atlas of hi-res images like the ones available there – unlike Survey of India’s outline maps – but without features of defence installations. www.agencyfaqs.com.

HONE YOUR WRITING SKILLS. By penning a love letter.

Joshua Lederman is Special Instructor of Writing, Department of English, Emmanuel College, Boston, Massachusetts. He has been trying, for many years, to teach his students howto write. He got to thinking what it would be like if hisstudents wrote love letters in the same style as they write theiressays. One specimen result is at www.improbable.com.

LATE BREAKING NEWS. From Nigerian literati.

The Ig Nobel Prize for Literature, 2005, was awarded in October to the “Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and thenusing e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thusintroducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters – GeneralSani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., andothers – each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money soas to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled andwhich they would like to share with the kind person who assists them”. Later, a joint recipients (‘Mrs. Maryam Abacha’) wrote an e-mail which you can read at improbable.typepad.com. P.S.: Even in this e-mail, the widow of “the late military head of state of Nigeria General Sani Abacha”dangles a bait, viz., a piece of the $30.3 million US dollars in a security firm he deposited in a security firm before he died, if the ‘undisclosed recipient’ helps her to rescue her rightful legacy.

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles athttp://www.asiaondemand.com/. Website:http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him at dmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.