Category: google

OpenSocial signs up MySpace and SixApart too!

I mentioned earlier in the week that Google was about to launch OpenSocial, a Social Network API platform. Since then Mike Arrington in TechCrunch is reporting that not only is it happenning but MySpace, Bebo and SixApart are on board too!

The OpenSocial site is now live and confirmed participants so far are:

Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING

Why OpenSocial?

The web is more interesting when you can build apps that easily interact with your friends and colleagues. But with the trend towards more social applications also comes a growing list of site-specific APIs that developers must learn.

OpenSocial provides a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network’s friends and update feeds.

Many sites, one API

Whither FaceBook, the current social network colossus in this? They and Microsoft (their recent investor) have got to be wondering how to meet this challenge to their dominant position. Probably the best approach would be to jump in too – that way they have all the advantages of the open platform without the development costs. Google are saying it is an open platform and they wouldn’t see that one coming!

The chances are though that they won’t jump on board and there will be two social network standards, Google’s OpenSocial standard and FaceBook’s.

Microsoft buys 1.6% of FaceBook for $240m

The New York Times is reporting this morning that Microsoft has bought a 1.6% stake in Facebook for $240m, this values the company at $15bn.

This values Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 23 year old founder at $3bn and Accel Partners, the venture capital firm that invested $12.7 million in May 2005 now owns 11 percent of Facebook stock worth a cool $1.65 billion.

The deal must be a huge relief for Microsoft after the stories circulating yesterday that Google were about to beat them to the post (pun intended!) in buying a piece of Facebook.

This is a dream deal for Facebook as they yield only 1.6% of the company and still manage to scoop $240m.

What is in it for Microsoft? Well, on the one hand, as the New York Times reports:

As part of the deal, Microsoft will sell the banner ads appearing on Facebook outside of the United States, splitting the revenue with it. Last year, Microsoft struck a deal with Facebook to run banner ads on the site in the United States through 2011.

but, probably equally importantly, Microsoft has stymied Google’s plans to own advertising rights on Facebook.

Is Facebook really worth $15bn? Who knows. A company is worth as much as a buyer is willing to pay for it. Today, for whatever reason it is worth $15bn to Microsoft. Who knows what it will be worth next week.

Google Translate writes its own translation engine

I noticed on the Google Operating System blog yesterday that Google Translate had switched translation engines from Systrans widely used engine to an in-house statistical based translation engine.

Intrigued, I headed over to Antonio Ortiz’ blog (Antonio is based in Malaga and blogs in Spanish), copied some of the text from one of his posts and ran it through both engines.

This is the original Spanish:

Microsoft comprará 20 compañías al año durante los próximos cinco. Es lo que ha afirmado Steve Ballmer en la conferencia Web 2.0 de San Francisco, que también ha señalado que también incluirán fabricantes de software open source en la lista y que prefieren compañías pequeñas (pequeñas entre 50 millones y 1000 millones de dólares) antes de que se conviertan en inaccesibles (News.com).

Here is the Systrans translation:

Microsoft will buy 20 companies to the year during next the five. It is what it has affirmed to Steve Ballmer in the conference Web 2,0 of San Francisco, that also has indicated that also they will include software manufacturers open source in the list and who they prefer small companies (small between 50 million and 1000 million dollars) before they become inaccessible (News.com).

and now here is Google’s translation:

Microsoft will buy 20 companies a year for the next five. This is what has Steve Ballmer said at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, which has also indicated that manufacturers will also include open source software on the list and who prefer smaller companies (small between 50 million and one billion dollars) before they become inaccessible (News.com).

While they are both far from perfect, I think you will agree the Google translation is at least as good as the Systrans one. Not bad for a new translation engine.

The Google Translation service has the option to “Suggest a better translation” – this is then fed back into the translation engine and it learns apparently!

What will they think of next!