Friday, February 12, 2010

My brief comment on iPad, Siri, GBuzz, and Aardvark Acquisition

Due to my schedule, I do not have time to make intensive posts that explore the news in depth as I used to do. To celebrate the Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day (this year they happen to be in the same day, Feb. 14) together with the Thinking Space readers, however, I would like to share my brief comment on some of them with my friends. Happy holidays!


iPad represents a remarkable breakthrough in concept. Its current product design is, however, immature. It is a terrible misleading to think of iPad an enlarged iPhone. To see the real intrinsic distinction, let's take a minute thinking of the following comparison.

The innovation of notebook computer brings the Web to people anywhere in the world; the innovation of iPhone brings people anywhere in the world to the Web; the innovation of iPad, on the other hand, makes an instant bridge between a person anywhere in the world and a specialized subset of the Web---his Web of interest. This is the real gap Steve Jobs claimed to fill in the product launching show.

Certainly, the current iPad design has not reached the goal yet. This is why I call it immature.


Siri on iPhone is a milestone though there is still a long long way ahead to reach a meaningful success.

Believe it or not, Siri and iPad actually belong to the same philosophy---developing a personal assistant. iPad plans to construct a hardware platform of personal assistants. Siri attempts to build a software platform of personal assistants. Compared to iPad, the road ahead for Siri is even tougher.

On the positive side, Siri provides a fascinating environment to experiment many key concepts of the Semantic Web and linked data in the real world. Idehen Kingsley must be interested in exploring his journey with this service. We as normal users, however, still need more time to watch the future progress of this service.

Google Buzz

Twitter but in Google? Maybe. But GBuzz means more.

Google Buzz reveals the GMail users the social communities they implicitly belong. These social communities existed disregarding GBuzz. GBuzz, however, makes them explicit. This is a critical step Google made towards exploring the treasure of the social web. Google has been hesitated on how to step into the social web for long time. Finally it seems the company finds their unique asymmetric strength to enter this market by cashing the popularity of its dominating GMail service. This is remarkable because in comparison Microsoft still does not get how they might exploit their asymmetric strength in this field.

Google's Aardvark Acquisition

The innovation of Aardvark is ended. This acquisition is probably a good news to the Aardvark investors and the Mechanical Zoo employees. It is, on the other hand, not so good a news to the evolution of the Web.

In short, Google's ultimate interest contradicts to the eventual potential of Aardvark. Google's ultimate interest is to make itself a super-smart brain while everybody using it may follow it stupidly. The social search services such as Aardvark aims to locate smart people and make people rather than machines be smarter through the social communication. This contradiction in the level of philosophy actually is the intrinsic reason that made the Aardvark designers leave Google several years ago. Although at present the power of money brings them back, it does not solve the fundamental conflict.

I had a phone conversation with Max Ventilla two years ago and we shared quite a few thoughts about what the social search was and how to approach it. I am glad of and sincerely congratulate his achievement in business by sealing this acquisition deal. I am afraid, however, that he will start another journey sooner or later when his original passion catches him again.