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G-Hawg update. No shadow seen = early spring vacations for investors.

In an intense one-hour webcast and phone conference, Google released their Q4 numbers. Revenues were up 101% to $1.032 billion in the last quarter of the year. Income from operations was pegged at $303 million, a staggering 30% growth. That’s on top of two previous quarters that each showed 15% increases in income.

Watch for an initial review of the Q4 announcement in a few hours and a much longer analysis in tomorrow’s StepForth newsletter.

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

Why am I still using Google?

When Yahoo dropped Google results in favor of its own Inktomi generated listings, the search world expected Yahoo to gain some ground in market share. While this did in fact happen, the increase was relatively insignificant, and Google remained on top. Now that MSN has released its own search technology and no longer relies on Inktomi based results, will they see a significant increase in users?

My personal opinion is no. Sure their market share may increase, but I doubt, in the short term anyways, that they will make any significant increases to overtake Google. I’ll use myself as an example. I personally look at search results across the big three on a daily basis across a wide range of industries. In my opinion (and I am sure many SEO’s and webmasters will back me up on this) MSN now provides better, more accurate and relevant search results. That being said, I still use Google for my personal searching.

Whether I am at home, or in the office, Google is my search engine of choice. My wife uses Google, most of my friends and family use Google, and lets face it, the majority of searchers worldwide use Google. So why, if MSN is providing better results, do I still revert back to Google, knowing that I will most likely have to filter through a bunch of rubbish.

I think this is due to a number of factors. For years now I’ve been using Google, dating back to before I entered this industry, at a time when Google was providing relevant results. So a big part of this is habit. My fingers automatically type whether I like it or not. My default home page is set to Google. The only toolbar I have installed is the Google toolbar. This began for the checking of Page Rank, but now I use it almost exclusively for its search field.

Even though I know MSN provides better results (in most cases) I still use Google. This makes me think that the general public, many of which are unaware that MSN has changed, will also stick with Google. Behavior patterns are hard to break – although a month late, perhaps I will make it my new years resolution to stop using Google.

Part of the draw to use Google is the cleanliness of the site. Even though MSN has released, along with its new results, a new look and feel, it may still seem too cluttered, and many times slow loading, for users looking to simply perform a basic search.

The general searching public likely doesn’t realize that results from one engine are more relevant than that from another, or that the results generated in MSN were once duplicates of what you would find in Yahoo. Many tend to stick with what they know – they’ve always used Google, and as they haven’t “shopped around” so to speak, don’t realize that the other engines may have more to offer. Old habits are hard to break – and until such a time as a “quit Google patch” is invented, many may be there to stay.

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

G-Hawg Day!

Welcome to G-Hawg day! This is the day that Google’s team of accountants make their highly anticipated Q4 Report.

At 4:30 PM Eastern, or 1:30PM Pacific, a Google accountant will lift his head high above his low-fat latte. According to folk-legend, if the bright TV lights produce a shadow behind the accountant, we’re in for six weeks of financial instability in the market. If, on the other hand, the accountant does not see his shadow, many Google share holders will be in for two week vacations somewhere warmer than here.

Why is it that when one search engine does something, every other search engine jumps on the bandwagon? From the introduction of similar new products and features to the coincidental timing of product introductions, the major search engines frequently tend to trip over each other’s feet. This tendency is getting mention in the mainstream media with an article from tech-writer Seth Hansell in today’s New York Times noting “Search Sites Play a Game of Constant Catch-Up“. Read more…

Adding fuel to the rumors that Google is going to introduce a proprietary browser, Google Inc. has hired the lead developer of the Firefox web browser, Ben Goodger away from the Mozilla Foundation. Despite a volume of circumstantial evidence such as the registration of the domain or its organization of open source programming events, Google has repeatedly denied speculation they are developing a web browser or an operating system. According to Google spokesperson Steven Langdon, Goodger will be working on products that enhance the browser experience such as the Google Toolbar and desktop search.

Goodger will also continue working on upgrades to the wildly popular browser he has fostered over the past 18-months. Google will be donating half his time back to the Mozilla Foundation. In a Monday morning post to the Mozillazine Blog, Goodger wrote about his new employment and continued role at Firefox stating,

“As of January 10, 2005, my source of income changed from The Mozilla Foundation to Google, Inc. of Mountain View, California. My role with Firefox and the Mozilla project will remain largely unchanged, I will continue doing much the same work as I have described above – with the new goal of successful 1.1, 1.5 and 2.0 releases. I remain devoted full-time to the advancement of Firefox, the Mozilla platform and web browsing in general.”

Firefox is quickly becoming the browser of choice for Internet professionals who appreciate the expandability of open source software. Over the past six months, millions of web users have migrated to the Firefox browser, suddenly taking a large market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Mozilla and Google have a lot in common with each other. Both rose to mass popularity because of word-of-mouth testimonials from very satisfied users. The only comparable mass-migration in Internet history was the meteoric rise of Google itself over the past four years. Both identify Microsoft as their main competitor and both have drawn an enormous amount of attention from Microsoft.

Mozilla and Google also have similar cultures of young, smart engineers who feel they are different from the common business mold. Both groups are committed to the creation of “disruptive technologies”, or technologies that make products which change the ways people use the Internet. Lastly, both Google and Mozilla employees believe their work will make the web a better place. While it is only safe to say a partnership between the two is a likely development, the alliance between the two firms is obvious.

Friday, January 21st, 2005

Adding Value to AdWords

This is a breaking story about Google AdWords based on several rumours, readings and conversations. There is a fair likelihood that some information here is erroneous. In an email, Google Advertising PR Michael Mayzel stated, “We are not providing comment.” If correct the implications are huge and might provide Google advertisers critical protections they’ve been asking for.

Google is about to announce significant changes in the way it does business with its advertisers. Read more…

Cyberspace is almost always bigger than we think but big does have its limits. Logic tells us that the environment known as cyberspace is finite. It can grow but there are always definite numbers or statistics that can be used to measure its boundaries. To be practical, the boundaries of cyberspace are defined by bandwidth-capacity. Google, which lives in a world of infinite possibilities doesn’t accept the concept of finite gracefully. Faced with the obvious limitations of growth to the Internet as we know it, Google is doing the most logical thing possible. It is grabbing more bandwidth-space in order to allow it to expand the current finite boundaries of cyberspace. Read more…

Daniel Brandt knows a lot about what Google knows about you. Having spent the past three years studying Google and the ways Google collects personal information, Brandt is the self-appointed “voice of reason” behind the Google-Watch website. In an email yesterday, Brandt expressed his continuing concerns about Google’s data collection and personal privacy. Brandt’s concerns have been exasperated by Google’s recent mission to digitalize the collections of as many libraries as possible. Read more…

The search engine marketplace underwent a number of changes in 2004 with the number of independent sources nearly tripling by year’s end. Twelve months ago, Google was the dominant search tool feeding information to almost every other popular search engine in one way or another, including its biggest rivals Yahoo and MSN. Going into 2005, Google still dominates the search engine market but the world’s most popular search tool has lost a great deal of ground to its former bedfellows. Yahoo introduced its own algorithmic search engine early last spring followed by MSN’s beta release of their own search tool in the autumn. Over the span of one year, Google’s control of organic results dropped from approximately 76% to the 45% share it owns today. Read more…

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

2005 Predictions – Watershed Ground

Three weeks ago we promised our predictions for the coming year. Here they are. Please remember, we are techno-geeks, not psychics. Some of these predictions may come true and some may be way off base. We do know the search industry is evolving faster than ever before. What seems fantasy today may well be reality next month. 2004 was an interesting year in the business of search, setting the stage for what should be a watershed year in 2005. Read more…