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36 posts from December 2006

Google Blog Search Passes Technorati?

GoogleblogsearchI'm truly surprised.  Not that it happened, but that it took this long.  According to this Hitwise report, Google Blog Search recently surpassed Technorati in market share of visits.

I use Google's Blog Search almost exclusively, and not because it's conveniently linked to from other Google sites.  I just find it to be as fast, clean and full of relevant results as Google itself.  Technorati, on the other hand, tends to take a loooooooong time to generate results.  Then there's Icerocket; I sometimes try it out if I don't find what I'm looking for on Google Blog Search, which is rare.

Google may have a hard time chipping away at Microsoft's market share with their free web-based spreadsheet and word processor, but search is what their brand name is all about, so it's hard to go wrong with their Blog Search tool.

Microsoft Giveth then Taketh Away

Microsoft_3File this one under "What were they thinking?!" As has been reported all over the place, Microsoft had a great idea to seed the blogosphere with souped-up laptops running their new operating system, Vista.  The bloggers received these "gifts" in the hope that they would have something nice to say about Vista and help jumpstart the product launch.

FWIW, I agree with Robert Scoble on this.  It was a smart idea even though it was obviously going to lead to pay-for-post type criticism.  I tend to feel that if the blogger fully discloses the fact that they've been given the laptop, let them say whatever they want about Vista/Microsoft; if you've read the disclosure and don't want to read their review, go to another site!

But what started out as a good idea is rapidly crashing and burning.  After Microsoft originally told the bloggers they could keep the laptops, enough whining and complaining in the blogosphere (no doubt led by those who didn't get a free laptop!) is now causing Microsoft to change the offer.

According to this post on Marshall Kirkpatrick's blog, Microsoft sent a follow-up message to all the bloggers saying that "you either give the PC away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews."  I hope that message came with a nice Homer Simpson "doh!" sound.

Who's the genius at Microsoft who decided to make a somewhat good situation much worse?  My guess is they'll be laying rather low for the next week or so, hoping this whole thing blows over.

Author Wants Out of Amazon

Amazon_1Here's an unusual situation, and thanks to The Big Bad Book Blog for highlighting this one: According to this article in the Guardian, an author in the U.K. was horrified to see his book on and wants it removed.  The author is a huge supporter of the independent bookstore channel and doesn't want Amazon to steal sales from the little guys.

That's a noble cause and all, but his comments show he doesn't quite understand how Amazon operates.  He is quoted as follows:

What they (Amazon) are actually doing is getting the independents to do their market research.  When a book gets a certain amount of attention, they will attempt to stock it and cut the independents out. Not with my book!

Huh?  First of all, I've never really noticed Amazon trying to copy anything from brick-and-mortar accounts.  If anything it's the other way around.  Secondly, thanks to its virtual nature, Amazon stocks pretty much every book, so they're not waiting for success at the independent level before taking on inventory of their own.  Again, my experience has been that certain books show early success on Amazon, resulting in stock-up opportunities at the brick-and-mortar accounts.  This author seems to think the opposite happens...

Amazon: Why No Embedded HTML in Reviews?

AmazonAnytime I review a book here on my blog I also try to (remember to) cut-and-paste that same review on the book's page on Amazon.  One of the biggest frustrations I run into when doing this is Amazon's policy against embedding HTML in customer reviews.

I figure there are two reasons why they don't want you to embed HTML in your review: loss of traffic and dead links.  Neither one of these are bad enough to warrant Amazon's policy against them.

The primary reason I'd like to embed HTML in my reviews is to offer links to related sites/pages.  Yes, those links will cause customers to visit pages outside the world of Amazon.  Big deal.  Is Amazon really that concerned that they'll lose a customer because of an outbound link?! If so, I think they're really underestimating the power of their own brand.

The dead link issue is equally lame.  Dead links exist on just about every site.  Would I think less of Amazon because I found a few there in customer reviews?  No.  Plus, Amazon tends to be pretty innovative with services and features -- couldn't they harness some of that energy to write a tool that periodically crawls their own site, stripping out dead links in customer reviews?

Embedded links in reviews will only serve as another feature for Amazon's customers.  These links will help customers with their purchase decision by providing additional information, much more than can possibly be squeezed into the actual review.  I think Amazon should consider these customer benefits and rethink this policy.

Michael Hyatt on (Inaccurate) Bestseller Lists

ThomasnelsonMichael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, offers this perspective on "inaccurate" bestseller lists.  He's absolutely right, and it's somewhat related to the earlier post I made about the definition of "bestseller."

Michael had dropped out of the blogosphere for a few months earlier this year but he seems to be back with regular posts this month.  I'm glad to see it -- I always learn something new when I read his blog.