Sunday, February 27, 2005


For 19 years, my wife and I have maintained as many as 44 resource calendars. We never found inexpensive good ones. We would have saved at least ten thousand man hours had good ones been available all 19 years.

Rumors are swirling again. Larry Paige, co-founder, says he is surprised at many of the things the company is supposedly ready to do. The company does not like to discuss products until they are beta ready.

The rumor I like is about calendars. There is evidence that Google is crawling the web to find calendar postings of events. The idea clearly is to make a calendar search function similar to the new movie search function. The movie function allows one to search by actor, director, genre, key word or whatever. The best part is to get show times at local theaters and to even buy tickets on-line.

Indexing calendars should be extremely helpful to almost everyone while dramatically cutting the costs of publication. No more paying a newspaper to list anything from a church service to a rock concert, anyone with a web site could post their events for free and get wider response at the same time. In a blink of an eye, Google could aggregate the listings in the order requested by any searcher. The listings could easily be sub-divided into many categories. An event could be anything from the sale of an antique shot-gun at auction to what is on TV at 8 PM. I can not tell you how many times I have been frustrated while searching a newspaper trying to find a particular event.

Back to the resource calendar, those looking for an available date for a condo at Myrtle Beach could find my empty properties in the blink of an eye. We are talking about a business where the typical agency fees are 35 to 55% of the gross revenues! Condo owners would be more than happy to pay GOOG a few cents each time a potential customer found an empty spot. Vacation planners who often spend hours identifying available properties would find them in an instant.

Many businesses have spent millions on scheduling programs. My business spent tens of man hours setting up outlook group calendars. Churches often have many groups to schedule. A church secretary could post a Methodist Men event on several hundred personal calendars in the blink of an eye.

The other day, I attempted to explain the power of the new Google autolink. I am still trying to fathom the power myself. Let me share a couple of examples with you.

Barnes and Noble discovered the power in its business quickly. You see, one of the many things the autolink does is convert ISBN numbers to web links. AMZN (Amazon) and GOOG have been in a close relationship for a while and in this case the web link was to AMZN. Visitors to Barnes and Nobles web site found that they could click on any ISBN number on any Barnes and Noble web page to go directly to AMZN to see the comparable price of the same book. When Barnes and Noble discovered this fact they quickly set up all the ISBN numbers as links back to their own site. The Google program is set up not to over-ride existing links. (I read this info on a Google Blog late last night and failed to write down the source. I'll try to find it tomorrow).

There are several services in regard to a cars VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). This is another valuable autolink for Google. There must be many web owners who would be happy to share advertising revenue should someone want to check out a particular number. Again, the number of uses is more than my feeble mind can imagine. Obvious other uses are address autolinks to maps, package tracking numbers, and bibliographies.

One key point is that in many cases, the owner of the web site would say halleluia and welcome the Google links. For example, a company ships a package by FedEx and sends an email to the recipient which includes the tracking number. If the company sent a Gmail, the recipient could click on the tracking number to find the status of the package; no extra work required by the sender. It would have been the same if the recipient had looked up the package on his web account with the sender. The sender would routinely post the tracking number and the recipient would have immediate access to the tracking service. Typing in a few numbers would only be a small time saver but this would happen billions of times every day!

Google is not the only one in this marathon. Google is half way home at the 13th mile and Yahoo, though three miles back is holding the distance. MSN is ten miles back but running slightly faster. There are many more contenders; broad based and narrow based. ASKJ is one of the broad based that relies on Google's adds for much of its revenues. ASKJ may decide it has to divorce itself from GOOG. Narrow based services might be shopping services or even match makers.

The toolbar or browser may be the key. As each service is added to the Google or Yahoo toolbars, the "stickiness" to the customer is enhanced. Right now I use Yahoo, and for stock market services. When more is available on GOOG I may use it. At some point, most of us will gravitate to the one service that does the most for us. If the ASKJ dictionary is a just little better than the Yahoo dictionary but we have chosen to load the Yahoo toolbar making the Yahoo dictionary handy, we will tend to use the Yahoo dictionary.

Don't count Yahoo, MSFT or ASKJ out because many things could happen. Google insiders are naturally selling some of their shares, the owners are young not experienced in running a large company and MSFT has taken on powerful interest and won before. On the other hand, Google is the innovator with several big head starts in a business that still has huge upside.

I have read where analyst suggest the Google advertising revenues can't continue to grow so fast. I can see a lot of folks dropping their newspaper subscriptions and throwing away the yellow pages as Google gathers steam. I am even beginning to rethink my investment in TV Guide! I will check out the numbers later but the newspaper ads for events alone in every little and big paper in the world has to be a big number.