Forget your social start up – Twitter and Facebook have got it sewn up


So says Silicon Valley guru Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners, who was one of the first investors in Facebook. The theory is that the twin pillars of social are now so strong that it is almost impossible for anyone to come up with a start up to challenge them. So all those social start ups are a waste of time and won’t be getting any of Roger McName’s cash.

I think this is an over-generalisation, but it is something that I have been thinking for several months now. It seems the only way for a social start up to make any money is simply by being bought by Facebook. Take location-based services. FourSquare had a big head start and loads of media coverage, but Facebook Places seems to have taken the wind out of its sails (in the UK at least).

Also Twitter and Facebook are so ingrained in our lives now that they won’t be disappearing in a MySpace/Friends Reunited style.

The gaping flaw with McNamee’s theory is that he has a downer on Google. It is early days for Google+, but it clearly has the potential to develop into a mainstream social platform.

Besides, if you passionately disagree with him, it is worth noting that he doesn’t always get it right. As WallBlog reports

‘Worth noting that McNamee is also a former Palm investor and once said of the Palm Pre: “You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two-year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.”…

Ball Invasion – a new high for Augmented Reality

Alas I don’t have an iPad 2, but if I did you wouldn’t be reading this as I’d be busy playing Ball Invasion. I know you have heard ‘incredible things about AR before, but this really does look amazing. It is the first game to use a new system called SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. This is a system developed in part by NASA for use in robotics, which allows an object (like, say, a drone) to look around, build up a picture of the world and then understand where it is.

So it takes your surroundings and then turns it from the real world into a different way of seeing what’s in front of you. Watch the video – you’ll be very impressed. Only hope the iPhone version is available soon.

Anyone with an iPad 2 had a go yet?


There’s a load more here…

Why the Huffington Post UK faces a tough battle


Today is a big day for the UK media with the long awaited arrival of the British edition of The Huffington Post . The HuffPo has had a huge impact on US media and is apparently in the nation’s top the nation’s top three news sources. Can it repeat that sucess here?

Well it chose a good day to launch given the huge phone tapping story that has exploded in the last 48 hours. However can it keep that momentum up? The mainstream media has in general been fairly cynical about the launch. Up until a couple of years ago the broadsheets tended to speak very warmly of the HuffPo (as it always tends to about US blogs though often not UK ones). However that warmth evaporated when the site was firstly bought by a large, scary, agressively expansionist media company in AOL and then announced the launch of a UK edition.

So there’s no great surprise that in writing for The Guardian (the paper that could lose the most from the HuffPo’s Uk launch), Jemima Kiss praises the site for its innovation stateside but suggest that it isn’t offering a great deal that’s new in its UK edition.

Rob Hinchcliffe, writing in The Drum… agrees too saying its celeb blogging formula that works so well in the US, is unlikely to appeal in the UK. After all several of its most high profile bloggers – like Alistair Campbell are just reposting articles from their own blogs. And as for Tony Blair blogging – well that’s a great launch day news story but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Ultimately I think that the bad news for Arianna is that the UK media, from The Guar and Telegraph through to Spectator, Guido and even the BBC is that they have monitored the HuffPo and mastered the tricks (instant reads, live blogging, guest bloggers) that made it successful. Even if it innovates in the future you can bet that the UK media will be conducting similar experiments very soon after. Also with a few notable exceptions (Guido, Anorak, Football blogs) the lead that UK blogs had over established media has disappeared, mainly because heritage media has woken up to how to attract online traffic.

Further I think it unlikely that HuffPo is quite as big a deal in the UK as the British media community thinks. I don’t have a steer about what its UK traffic is but I rarely see links from the HuffPo being tweeted by non media types.

A couple of years back Gordon Macmillan at Wallblog wrote a very incisive story… about why a HuffPo type site had not launched in the UK. There have been a couple of attempts most notably The First Post, which I had a very small involvement with and is now owned by Dennis Publishing. It does reasonably well, but barely appears on Fleet Street’s radar as it can’t compete with the established media brands in terms of numbers. I think the HuffPo UK will struggle in the same way.

Still, if anyone can make it work it is aol. So good luck to the team, but don’t expect too much support from the UK media. Those content links from other big media players are going to be a lot harder to come by now.