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Beanstalk's Internet Marketing Blog

At Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization we know that knowledge is power. That's the reason we started this Internet marketing blog back in 2005. We know that the better informed our visitors are, the better the decisions they will make for their websites and their online businesses. We hope you enjoy your stay and find the news, tips and ideas contained within this blog useful.

April 17, 2012

Google Drive is going nowhere but is still moving

I swear there’s Google staffers who are so devoted to the projects they are working on that they don’t know what the rest of the company is developing.
One hand does not know what the other is doing.
If I was working on self driving car technology I think that the last thing I’d do is call my on-line storage solution ‘Google Drive’, but that’s exactly what they are doing and it’s coming out next week.

For old-school nerds, this might seem boring. GMailFS came out years ago an it allowed GMail users to add a ‘GMail’ drive as a file system in your PC. Anything you drag over to the GMail drive would be uploaded to your GMail account as hidden email messages with attachments. Browsing the GMail drive on any internet connected PC would show you all your files and you could copy/delete/upload from any location. It was actually pretty handy.

Sadly GMail’s technical staff saw the potential nightmare that would arise if something changed with these ‘special hidden messages’ and quickly moved to block the GMailFS tool from working before it became too popular.

Everyone using GMailFS knew it was a hack, against the EULA for GMail, and so the move to block it wasn’t a big stink, more of a ‘bummer’ moment like when they realize they forgot to increase the price of your favourite soda in the school’s vending machine and then fix it.

Also, while Gmail offers almost 8GB of storage, using it for files could cause mail interruptions if you were to max it out trying to copy some files between machines. Plus all your mail eats up your storage, and in my case, that means only 3486MB of storage not 5GB.

While prices aren’t available, we know all Google storage limits are expandable for paid accounts. It would only make sense, given the processing needs of email, that Google Drive will allow you to add more space to your drive for less money than you’d pay for the same storage in GMail.

Speculation is that Google Drive will have desktop integration on Windows, Android, and Mac meaning it should be as easy to use as a USB drive yet you only need to pack around your username and password.

Other operating systems will obviously have web access to the drive, that’s a “no brainer“, so even obscure versions of Linux and potentially even appliances like WebTVs will have limited access to your shared files.

Why not sign up a few friends using a DropBox referral ID and get 15GB of free space? Well if you want to use your friend’s info like that, you either hate your friends or they are really understanding. Plus DropBox doesn’t have the best track record of privacy and security; in fact it seems like the hackers lay off DropBox just long enough for it to become a ripe target and then they hack it again.

Even without the historical issues surrounding the competition, this is going to be just like G+ vs. Facebook, Skype vs. Google Voice:

  • If you use GMail you already trust Google with your most private assets, using them for files is no extra risk.
  • Google is a hardware and software solutions provider. Anything they deliver will be more advanced than the competition.
  • Google has a much larger exposure base than the competition yet a much better track record on security and data integrity.

Personally, to me this is a no-brainer, and the only questions I have are how awesome the integration will be with other services?

  • If I upload a music folder with a playlist so I can put my music onto my car-pc, can I open the playlist and stream my tunes from Google Music on my work PC?
  • If someone emails me a file and I wanted to share it with my co-workers, will GMail let me save the file to a shared folder in Google Drive?
  • If I put a huge RAW image from my DSLR camera on my Google Drive, can I open it in Picasa and share a thumbnail on G+ without making 5 copies of the same picture?
  • If something crazy happens while I’m in a Google self-driving car, can I save the last 5 minutes of exterior video to my Google Drive and then later share the pertinent time-segment of that clip on YouTube without having to upload/download?


SEO news blog post by @ 12:13 pm



August 4, 2011

Google Voice is Skype hunting

Starting on August 2nd, Google Voice is now international with worldwide support for the voice over IP calling service.

Skype Hunting

This move also marks full support for 38 different languages, and 4 different currencies (Euros, British Pounds, US Dollars, and Canadian Dollars) in which to stock up on calling credits. Google also claims that they have lowered calling rates to 150+ locations making it even easier and cheaper to connect internationally.

Google voice international calling rates
Click here for a complete list.

Speaking of connection fees, there are none. You will only be charged for the call time, no conversion fees, and there’s nothing extra hidden in the billing process other than local taxes which you would pay to any legitimate service. Calling between Canada and the US is still free for the rest of 2011, which is also very nice.
Call quality is getting smart

But how is the quality?

To be fair, consider these points :

  • I’m a Skype customer of over 4 years
  • I own a USB to RJ10 Skype adapter
  • I use analog & bluetooth microphones/headsets
  • I’ve spent hours talking over Skype
  • I’ve used Skype mobile (WM6.5)
  • I have over $30 US of unused Skype credit
  • I prefer to use Google Voice for quality..
  • Skype was the early adopter
  • Skype used whatever tech was available
  • Google has access to new hardware/software
  • Google has very deep pockets
  • Microsoft’s takeover hasn’t improved anything

Even with MS backing, Skype is at a disadvantage and it shows in call quality compared to the same calls made over Google voice. There’s less latency, less echo, and the dialling pad works more reliably with Google Voice as compared to Skype. Because we’re an English language SEO, my experience is almost entirely with calls from Canada to other Canadian phones, the US, Mexico, and the UK. I would not be surprised to hear that Skype has more modern services in freshly installed countries, but I can’t say I’ve experienced this at all.

I also can’t say that I have used the video chat feature of Google Voice, whereas I’ve actually had Skype video chat working on my car’s PC where people have called me mid-drive only to find I’m not looking them in the eye, and there’s a blur of scenery in the background. So if you wanted an opinion on video chat, I can’t help at all on that question right now as I have only tried Skype’s service.

Even if you don’t use VoIP and you’re a devote land line owner (still irreplaceable for emergencies), this is another face off between Google and Microsoft, and Microsoft has a friend with them in the ring. It should be an interesting scramble to the top with the consumers coming out as the lucky ones.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:11 pm




June 23, 2011

Netherlands Net Neutrality Not Nebulous

What had been uncertain is now law in the Netherlands as they dive head-long into the great debate known as Net Neutrality.

Yesterday, June 22nd, Dutch parliament passed a bill stopping mobile operators from billing more for voice calls made on-line. The law also prevents the companies from simply blocking the calls to skirt around the ruling. There’s still a crucial step of passing the senate, but at this point it’s just a formality and we can expect this to be law.


In this instance we’re looking at fair access to using the network for voice calls, but net neutrality means many things and is a huge issue across the globe in any developed country with paid network access.

Net neutrality

Ideally a packet of data should cost the same no matter what’s inside that packet, but ISPs claim that not all traffic is equal. In fact ISPs believe that packets used to deliver game data, file-sharing, or adult content, should be deemed ‘unwanted’ and either delivered with less priority or charged at a higher rate. ISPs even go to the effort of claiming that by censoring these particular packets they are capable of delivering a better internet experience for the majority of their users.

Customers challenge that ISPs are trying to skirt around upgrades and improving the connectivity by simply censoring certain traffic. This means that with a few tweaks they can avoid huge upgrade costs and instead just pocket the profits.
Comparing storage to bandwidth
Not buying it?
Well lets take a look at a much more competitive medium?
If you take the cost of physical disk storage..
Make some leaps between storing data and transmission..
You can draw some very pretty images..
Visualizing the gap between competition and tech.

In this case the artist to the right would like you to see the following:

If ISPs were competitive we’d be paying $45/month for 985Mbs!

.. if only it were a legal argument!

In this case the issue is mobile internet users making calls but we know what a slippery slope these decisions can be.

Indeed in the mobile industry alone there is already rumours of backlash in the form of increased subscription rates. Vodafone was quoted as saying that the bill, if passed, would “lead to a large increase in prices for mobile internet for a large group of consumers” as Vodafone would no longer be allowed to single out heavy users for higher charges.

Users on the other hand are outraged that providers won’t upgrade to solve the bandwidth needs because it cuts into profit, and instead just increase prices to discourage extra use. Customers also demand to know how the companies are learning the contents of the data and trying to charge more based on type of data. This has been compared to a postal worker that looks inside your letter mail, and charges you more to deliver a cheque vs. a bill. To some it is entirely unthinkable and the outrage is far flung across the web.

In the end, if the Dutch leadership have the sense to make bills very selectively, they may solve some of the crucial problems we’re facing with ISPs. I personally have some doubt that they can take two steps forward without any steps back and will be impressed if someone can finally pave a clear path forward on such a contentious issue.

SEO news blog post by @ 8:03 pm



May 11, 2011

Microskype? Skyprosoft? Microsoft Buys Skype

This is one of those cases where we get to see why rumors are just rumors. Last week we reported that a potential deal between Facebook and Skype was on the table. Today, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft and Tony Bates of Skype have concluded a deal with Microsoft purchasing Skype for $8.5 billion. This would be the largest external purchase by the former IT behemoth Microsoft.

Skype has been up for sale for quite some time. Facebook and Google were thought to be the major contenders in a bid for the social networking site Skype with Microsoft entering in late into the game.

Google was not really considered a serious contender in the purchase of Skype as they already have established their Google Voice service which offers video, chat, social and voice. Many people are wondering what the sale of Skype will mean for Linux who frequently use the Skype VoIP platform.

Facebook was a major player in the purchase. The social giant has been coming under increasing pressure from its users to offer video and chat VoIP services for some time. If the company had to use conventional methods to offer voice and video service to its 600 million plus customers, the cost and overhead of operating the infrastructure would be prohibitive if not impossible.

Even though Microsoft is an investor in Facebook, the biggest boon comes to Microsoft by being able to utilize Skype’s assets. Of paramount importance is that they will able to keep the property away from their major competitor, Google.

Some speculations suggest that Skype was sold due to floundering sales revenues. Attempts at turning a bigger profit by charging more for their premium services seems to have backfired on the company and forced them to sell.

According to GIGAOM, some of the reasons as to why Microsoft needed to buy Skype were:

  • Skype gives Microsoft a boost in the enterprise collaboration market, thanks to Skype’s voice, video and sharing capabilities, especially when competing with Cisco and Google.
  • It gives Microsoft a working relationship with carriers, many of them looking to partner with Skype as they start to transition to LTE-based networks.
  • It would give them a must-have application/service that can help with the adoption of the future versions of Windows Mobile operating system.
  • However, the biggest reason for Microsoft to buy Skype is Windows Phone 7 (Mobile OS) and Nokia. The software giant needs a competitive offering to Google Voice and Apple’s emerging communication platform, Facetime.

Using the $8.5 billion price as the likely sale price, eBay gets $2.55 billion for its 30-percent stake in Skype. So in the end, eBay did make money on the Skype deal.

According to GIGAOM, the biggest winners of the sale were:

  • Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, the co-founders of Skype, with their 14-percent stake, take home about $1.19 billion. Damn, these guys know how to double-dip!
  • Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) own 56 percent of the company, and that stake is worth $4.76 billion.
  • Andreessen Horowitz had three percent of the deal and made $205 million profit on their $50 million initial investment.
  • eBay gets $2.55 billion for its 30-percent stake in Skype. So in the end, eBay did make money on the Skype deal.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:18 pm



May 6, 2011

Facebook-Skype Wedding Bells?

In a report from Reuters, it seems "Facebook and Google are separately considering a tie-up with Skype after the web video conferencing service delayed its initial public offering, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters."

The article states that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has been re-initiated discussions about a potential partnership or an outright purchase offer for the Luxembourg-based company, Skype.

As we reported in this blog post on March 8th, 2010, discussions between Facebook and Skype began back in September 2010. A Skype deal is expected to be valued between $3 billion to $4 billion, while Skype’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) is expected to raise about $1 billion. In August 2010, Skype filed a registration statement to go public, but the October 2010 appointment of a new CEO, Tony Bates, delayed the IPO till the second half of 2011.

In October 2010, Skype released Skype 5.0 that offered voice calling between friends but did not include a video chat feature. The integration was one-sided in that only Skype added some Facebook features to its client. It was speculated at that time that Facebook declined to offer any VoIP services since it would begin competing directly with other VoIP services that offer video calling such as Google Gmail and Apple’s FaceTime.

Google’s GoogleTalk service has offered the ability to video chat and VoIP calling for several months and is able to offer an all-inclusive package that offer email, voice & video chat, phone calling from a trusted source all for free. With the popularity of Skype waning and Facebook users demanding these features, it seems that Facebook and Skype are desperately trying to move forward to offer a more robust service.

Unfortunately it may be too little too late, as the Skype service may not be up to the challenge of offering a fully integrated service to the multitudes of Facebook and Skype subscribers. It is evident in the call-quality that the newer service (Google Talk) utilizes an up-to-date, better, technology. Skype will have a difficult time replacing the outdated and obsolete technologies currently used in their infrastructure in order to compete with GoogleTalk.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:42 pm



March 8, 2011

Skype…Y U NO Social?

In an interesting article from ZDNet, it looks as though Facebook and Skype have resumed talks over a merger between the two online companies. If the rumor-mill is correct, you may be soon able to make a video call to your friends on Facebook. This appears to be another step between the migrations of the two technologies. They have been discussing a potential joining or partnership since September of 2010, but were unable to reach any agreements at that time.

Skype has had the ability to voice call your Facebook contacts since the release of version Skype 5.0 released in 2010, but it did not include video chat ability. While Skype has included some Facebook features into their software, Facebook has not reciprocated as adding any VoIP services on their website and mobile apps would instantly put them in direct competition with many other services that offer video calling such as Google’s Gmail and Apple’s Facetime.

Skype currently allows for video conferencing with up to 10 other people but it is only available on their premium package. Allowing this option would be a huge boost to the popularity of both Facebook and Skype. Google has been trying to develop a social network with its release of Orkut, but has been so far unsuccessful.

And this is where the conspiracy theory comes in:

More and more subscribers use Facebook to conduct internet searches as they would in Google. As it stands now, Facebook places paid ads for localized searches on your Facebook page. If Skype owns eBay than any potential merger between Facebook and Skype opens the floodgates for direct and specific product placement from eBay. Adding a partner with an affiliate such as eBay seems essentially problematic if not completely unethical.

And now for the "SEO Spin":

As SEO’s we need to watch for these shifting usage patterns in an effort to make the exploit peoples search patterns. While Facebook does not offer much for the SEO to promote a client’s business, it may be that the best SEO efforts will be realized through a back door approach. What if an SEO’s client were to place their products on eBay in order to have them appear on your Facebook page when searching for relevant terms?
Further bulletins as events warrant.

SEO news blog post by @ 7:31 pm




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