Previews, insights and a reality check from the Web 2.0 Summit, San Francisco - Day One Round up
The Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco is now in its 7th year, but it is my first visit. For years I’ve frequented industry events all over the US such as BlogWorld in Vegas, New Media Expo (now merged with BlogWorld) and The CM Summit in New York. This year I canned BlogWorld when I received an invite from John Battelle, CEO of our partners Federated Media to attend #W2S.
W2S (as hash-tagged on twitter) is an invite only event and tickets come in at a hefty $3,995, but there is good reason for that. There are no time wasters here, just serious business people who are really shaping the future of the internet.
Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google kicked off proceedings in conversation with the co-hosts John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly. Cutting to the chase they asked: “So what about the new Google phone then?” and bam there it was, Eric let the cat out the bag and previewed new Google Nexus S phone with NFC (near field communication - which is effectively an Oyster Card Chip in your phone, which Google expect to use for mobile payments). He went on to explain that Google could do so many more things like instant facial recognition, but social acceptance and government regulations prevent them from doing so just now, so one can only assume these guys have far more technology up their sleeves that could change the face of media, but are just sitting on it for now. There were burning questions about Andriod vs. Chrome OS, Eric said that both platforms would deliver different solutions. Both of which compete head to head with Apple’s iPhones and iPad.
Before the event officially started I sat next to Robin Li, Chairman and CEO of www.Baidu.com (China’s Google) over lunch, I had no idea his business was valued at $40bn on the nasdaq and that it commands 99% market penetration in China. In his talk with John Battelle, he gave the largely US audience a reality check on the sheer size of the Chinese market and that there is plenty more to come from Baidu.
The lunch talk was entitled “New Search Insurgents” with speakers from Ask.com, Answers.com, Google.com and Quora.com, the discussion pivoted around the evolution and importance of questions and answers platforms, however, when Google talked about their on-going growth into content, post purchase of aardvark.com, there was some debate about the issue of anti-trust. Should Google be allowed to generate content or should they just be an indexer?
The day included many amazing speakers, however, the most insightful was Cisco’s Wim Elfrink’s presentation on how the Network is Transforming the World. “Would you pay $10 a month to have your toilet give you nutrition advice?” (think about it!), he then explained how the next wave of the internet, the so called Industrialisation or Web 3.0 will helping to improve the social infrastructure globally to help generate reductions in energy usage by 50%, water usage by 80% and that traffic jams and crime would reduce by 20%.
One thing that was acutely clear from the day is that we are all still at a very early stage of online media and there are many many more complexities and opportunities ahead of us. Publishers, content owners and technology providers will to keep innovate at full speed whilst advertisers and agencies will continue to struggle with the plethora of choice. But that's what makes our industry such fun."