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At the Mashable party during the SXSW conference, I caught up with Cliqset founder Darren Bounds to learn more about where the social service is today and where it is headed. Louis Gray also spoke with Darren and recorded an audio interview that’s worth listening to. Lastly, check out the Cliqset SXSW mashup which pulls in content from Cliqset users from the following services: Brightkite, Flickr, Foursquare, Gowalla, Qik and Twitter.
Darren described Cliqset as a real-time conversation and aggregation service. Currently they aggregate content from a variety of services from their users. Comparisons to Friendfeed are included in every Cliqset review although now that Friendfeed development has stopped, Cliqset could take over the tracks and move forward. Darren noted that their goal is to be more user-friendly than Friendfeed was.
Darren noted that the Florida-based Cliqset team is working hard to organize the social web. He also mentioned that they are looking to move to the valley soon. I think this is a smart move – when you are attaching yourself mainly to Twitter and/or Facebook, being closer to these companies is a smart move.
The company recently partnered with Evernote and the Cliqset application is available in a browser, as an Air app and also on the Boxee Box.
In terms of the Cliqset roadmap, Darren noted that they are working on a tighter integration with Twitter. The integration will become visible over the next few months. For the balance of 2010, they are focused on content people are interested in. I assume this means we will see more mashups like the SXSW mashup noted above along with pulling in additional content outside of content provided by Cliqset users.
Darren shared that they have 50,000 users and 85% of those users have created accounts since November 2009. Their overall goal is to create a place that works for both the bigtime sharers like Louis Gray and Robert Scoble while still providing a place that is comfortable for the average Facebook user.
(also note Darren’s awesome Voltron shirt – just like Voltron brought together the cats, Cliqset brings social services together. Darren wouldn’t comment regarding if there is a way to form blazing sword)
By now most people within the sound of this blog post have already heard about Google’s launch of Google Buzz. The service, which is amazingly similar to Friendfeed, basically brings together a person’s (or brand) social activity from across the Web and allows their friends (or customers) the ability to vote and comment on items.
Most of the people I’ve had discussions with regarding buzz all seem to agree that Google placed Buzz inside of Gmail for the “instant userbase”. One of the reasons that Google Wave has seemed to not grab users interest is that it’s on a separate website which creates a need for Google to market the service to users. By jamming it directly inside of one of the most popular email services, Gmail, they instantly have the userbase that Friendfeed never was able to achieve. Even though many of us have talked about a social network inside of email for years, it still seems a bit odd. Perhaps it will become more familiar over time. Sadly now I need to use Gmail even though I very much prefer Yahoo Mail (except when they don’t deliver my mail for hours or days).
<begin crazy theory mode>
Back in November, Adam Ostrow from Mashable and Caroline McCarthy from Cnet wrote about a partnership between Twitter and Google which would allow Google access to the content on Twitter. McCarthy noted, “Google and Twitter have cut a deal where Google is essentially licensing a data feed from Twitter to get that information in search results.”
It appears that Google is paying several million dollars for this data feed. Now that Google has launched Buzz and you can add your public Twitter datastream into Buzz, is there a need for Google to pay for the data feed?
Naturally it’s easy to say that not every Gmail user will use Buzz and those that do may not include their Twitter feeds. But with Gmail having a larger installed userbase than Twitter and with (my speculation) a near 1:1 overlap in users, might the Buzz Twitter stream get Google pretty close to the data feed? In addition, by using the Google Buzz Twitter stream, it gives Google a better way to rank tweets in search results rather than just a person’s Twitter follower counts and simple usage patterns.
In addition, it would allow Google to basically push the search results into Buzz instead of to Twitter.
<end crazy theory mode>
So am I crazy or not?
Well today we learned that another company wants to be Friendfeed. I’d like to welcome you to Google Buzz.
I’ve been watching the live stream of the Google Buzz event and it looks and functions exactly like Friendfeed except that it’s inside Gmail versus a stand-alone Web application like Friendfeed was/is.
I can only hope that Google Buzz works as smoothly as Friendfeed does and I also hope that Google Buzz pushes out as much as they pull in.
Update: There’s an excellent Google Buzz discussion thread started by Robert Scoble on Friendfeed.
Update 2: During the Q&A session, someone asked about the comparison to Friendfeed and the Google employee (sorry don’t know the name) replied with, ”we dont look at competitors, we just build what our users want”.
Update 3: Many on the Friendfeed chat and several of the questions noted that Google Buzz looks and acts just like Facebook.
It seems the hot Twitter news of the day is that the service might be slowing in U.S. growth. You can read the Twitter stats story on Mashable and TheNextWeb. Earlier in the week the big news for the so-called social media experts was the on and off status of the new “retweet architecture system”. Twitter turned it on for many users (I was not one of them) but then turned it off so they could fix some bugs.
Apparently there are two camps when it comes to the new retweets…one camp likes the consolidated concept and the other camp hates it because they can’t add their 2-cents to the conversation. My guess is that 90% of re-sharing on Twitter is either direct sharing of something Mashable posted or the addition of “lol”.
This past summer I wrote about how Friendfeed could generate massive income and also reach the mainstream. Sadly that never happened because Friendfeed sold out to Facebook. While it looks like Facebook wasn’t reading, this morning I started to think that perhaps Twitter was. What really got me thinking was something I read on Patricia Handschiegel’s blog. While she discusses the way Twitter defined their service in the beginning, she uses the word forum throughout the column.
After my post last week about where Friendfeed might be headed and after several other blogs made posts, Friendfeed founder Paul Bucheit has responded today with a very short note on Friendfeed about the status of Friendfeed.
You can join the discussion here and Paul noted, “First, FriendFeed is _not_ going away. (in fact, we’re working on switching it to new servers) Second, I know everyone wants to know what the team is working on, but we don’t pre-announce things, so for now all I can say is that there’s good stuff on the way. Re:”
I am glad to learn that they are moving to new severs – hopefully the service will be back to pre-acquisition speeds. Paul tells me in the thread that the slowness is due to growth of the userbase and the data storage.
I am also glad to learn that the service will not be disappearing. Johnny Worthington wrote a good letter to the Friendfeed team today.
While we don’t know what will eventually happen with FF, it would be smart for Facebook to keep it running smoothly as it’s a great way to introduce new Facebook features to the early adopters that live in Friendfeed.
Update: Many on the FF thread have been asking about the platform and whether development will continue. Paul responded with the following, “Jim, there may be a few new things, but as I said, the team is mainly working on fb platform and openness, so it’s unlikely that there will be any big new features of ff (except maybe one that I’ve been thinking about for a while…). – Paul Buchheit”
From the early days I’ve noted that the technology that Friendfeed created is great. Even though response times have slowled lately and now the service is going to become some sort of flower, the real-time nature and the ability to provide major page updates with no refresh are amazing. It’s the number two reason that Facebook acquired Friendfeed earlier this year.
One of the wishes I had was that Friendfeed would provide a forums version of their platform where publishers could run an in-house version. I thought this was the way Friendfeed could generate massive revenue. While that revenue stream is gone, I still have hope that the forum software providers were watching how Friendfeed worked and picked up on some of the elements for their own future versions.
For nearly a decade, I’ve purchased the vBulletin software for our HTMLCenter forums. The software has always worked well and (I think) it’s only $30 a year for updates after you buy a permanent license. Last week I received an email that vBulletin 4.0 is coming soon and that I can pre-order an upgrade now. The upgrade price is $130 for the full suite; no discount is provided on the forums-only version.
I headed over to the vBulletin site and I was pleasantly surprised. They have updated their logo and created a completely Web 2.0-ish website. Now this is going to get good, right? I mean certainly they have heard me and the others calling for something more “today” when it comes to a forums too.. right?
Looking through the screenshots, I am pretty disappointed. The screenshots look cleaner but nowhere near as smooth and quick as Friendfeed. Naturally vBulletin is super-robust when it comes to community management. I’d wonder though, how many of the vBulletin-powered forums really need that level of management — I know I don’t.
There are some new features including the ability to create a blog post or article from a forum comment. This is similar to the reblog feature from commenting service Disqus. I continue to give vBulletin high marks for customer service — every question I’ve had over the years has received a response very quickly.
What I don’t see on the features list is anything related to social sharing. Where are the buttons for Digg, Twitter, Yahoo Buzz, etc.? In the current version, social sharing is available via a plugin. I assume the same will be required for the 4.0 version.
I don’t want to take anything away from vBulletin and the 4.0 release. vBulletin is one of the best examples of local software and revenue models out there. While the service doesn’t get the love from the web 2.0 blogs, I’ve always been happy with it. Unlike some other software which we won’t name, I’ve never worried going to sleep when using vBulletin.
I will have a full in-depth review once I receive the software and work on the installation. I am really hoping that it looks and acts more “today” than previous versions of the forums software.
Remember Friendfeed? The ultimate sharing service that was going to beat Twitter and reach the mainstream in a big way?
Web trending service Compete shows Friendfeed down nearly 30% in September with 750,000 U.S. unique visitors. This is down from just over 1 million unique visitors in August 2009.
Former Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang noted this past weekend, “To be honest, Friendfeed doesn’t have the same appeal it used to post-FB acquisition. I’ll just cut my losses and use Facebook instead.” Robert Scoble, the most popular Friendfeed user, is now using Twitter’s favorites feature to share content. Consultant Louis Gray appears to be using Google Reader to share content he finds interesting. I am unsure if the actual Friendfeed interaction usage for Robert or Louis has dropped.
These days I find myself only loading Friendfeed a couple of times a day. The service seems to load and react slower than pre-acquisition. I receive nearly zero interaction on my shares, feed posts and comments. The ability to drum up a conversation certainly has diminished post-acquisition. Why is this? If the service wasn’t acquired, would the level of interaction still be high? It is interesting to look at how quickly the early adopters packed up their carriages and started the horses after the Facebook acquisition was announced.