By: Hillel Fuld
I do not remember a day, at least in recent history, in which there were so many game-changing tech announcements.
- AOL sells ICQ, the first ever instant messaging technology.
- Apple enters search to compete with Google.
- HP buys Palm to compete with Google, Apple, BlackBerry, and any other mobile giant you can think of.
All that happened yesterday, and people (myself mainly) do not know which piece of news is most worthy of their attention. So, after conducting a short Twitter survey (screen shot below), I decided to blog about all three… Now, my only challenge is to do it in a blog post that is not something you can bind and sell as a 500 page book, since there is just so much to say about each one of these developments.
So here goes:
- AOL sells ICQ: This story has particular significance for me. ICQ is one of the most successful Israeli startup companies in history. They were the pioneers of instant messaging, from which AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Gtalk, Facebook Chat, and many more services originated. It was huge news in the “mini-Silicon Valley” Israel tech community when ICQ was sold to AOL. Since then, ICQ has lost some popularity and currently stands at approximately 32 million monthly uniques, out of which 25% are in Russia. It is therefore very appropriate that DST, the Russian investor that has money in Facebook and other tech giants, have acquired ICQ for $187 million. To put things in perspective, AOL originally bought ICQ for $400 million. Bottom line? AOL got rid of something that has been weighing them down for some time, and ICQ is officially no longer such a huge Israeli success story. Well, they still made a nice bundle from AOL but the end of the story kinda leaves a bad taste in the mouth of most Israeli geeks.
- HP buys Palm: According to most of the responses I got from my tweet, this is yesterday’s most significant development. HP has acquired Palm for $1.2 billion. Those of us over 25 remember when Palm was the cool thing to have. That day is long gone. The company who came out with their wildly popular Palm Pilot (I actually needed my mom to remind me of that name, I could not for the life of me remember it. That HAS to be the first time I called my mom for information about technology) is no longer selling handsets. Though they did recently debut WebOS, an intuitive and impressive mobile operating system. This acquisition is huge from a consumer’s perspective, and also has a huge impact on the business side of the mobile industry, specifically in regard to Palm and HP.The big question on everyone’s mind is will HP leverage Palm’s reputation as a very innovative company with what can be a winning mobile OS, or will HP force their boring and unsuccessful branding at least in the mobile space, on Palm? I want to believe it is the former, and that is why they bought Palm, but you never know. On the flip side, HP may leverage their money, business and marketing power and use it to advance Palm’s OS, for example having the HP Slate running WebOS. Now there’s a thought that excites me. Mashable points out that there is one more interesting variable in this equation, Windows 7. HP has already committed to using Windows 7 on their devices, and this acquisition begs the obvious question “If HP now has their own in-house mobile OS, are they really going to offer devices with a competing OS?” Doubtful, but only time will tell. Whatever the case may be, huge news for the mobile industry!
- Apple Buys Siri: If you ask me, this is yesterday’s biggest news. Maybe it is just my obsession with mobile, or my love of iPhone OS and Android (will explain that), but Apple buying Siri for, according to Scoble’s estimate (he was actually the one that broke this news, on Twitter) around $200 million, an iPhone app (or more like a technology) that enables you to search effectively via voice, now that is huge. Why? For starters, just a few weeks ago, I was playing around with a friend’s Nexus One, and more specifically with its Voice Search capabilities. Four out of five results were incorrect (it did not pick up my voice accurately), but to be fair, I was in somewhat of a noisy outdoor environment. As I played with this technology and attempted to show it off to my non-geek brother (unsuccessfully since it kept failing), I could not help think to myself, “Apple could and should do this better”.
Scoble interviewed the Siri guys a few months back, and rightfully predicted that they have a bright future ahead. Apple buying this voice search technology is just another new battle in the epic and ongoing war between Apple and Google. Siri is supposedly more of a personal organizer that allows you to add events or activities via voice, but you can ask any question and the technology uses search to find you relevant answers. I can go on and on about this technology and this acquisition, but the best is to watch the videos below. Watch the first if you want to learn more about Siri, and the second if you’re a hardcore geek with the patience to watch an entire Scoble interview and demo (worth a watch, but a little long).
I am very much looking forward to seeing what Apple and HP’s acquisitions mean for the mobile industry. The entire space is going to change drastically.
So, what is you opinion? Which of the above announcements will impact the market the most? Please explain in the comments.