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3 posts from October 2010

October 08, 2010

Autonomy blames the economy: could it be something else?

Good news - bad news on Autonomy today.

First the good news:  Autonomy reports sales of $415M for the first half of the year, in the middle of their predicted range. On top of that, Autonomy announced a $15M deal with an unnamed "major global bank". And they are on target to grow the business 17% compared to last year (Forbes)

Now the bad news: as Avi Rappoport reported on Twitter Friday afternoon, Autonomy shares took a 16% dive during the day. The Financial Times reported the drop was based on lower forecasts and Mike Lynch's remarks "about volatility in customers view of the current macroeconomic situation".

For some time now we have seen Autonomy less as an enterprise search company - even though they claim to "own search" on billboards in the San Francisco area - and more of a 'compliance' play. Steve Arnold has even made the same observation (Autonomy Not (sic) Longer a Search Vendor); and one of the tech guys we know who worked for Autonomy until recently tells us that he has not worked on a pure search project for years unless the customer was also a compliance customer.

Autonomy has a powerful engine that has pretty darned good results right out of the box. And the IDX file that holds data to be indexed provides a really straightforward way to interface to other platforms - probably one reason Autonomy can integrate with new technologies they acquire.

But IDOL is a premium product which often requires lengthy, complex integrations. I can see a few trends that could be causing worries in Cambridge as much as indecisive prospects:

  • Very capable open source alternatives
  • More aggressive pricing by major competitors
  • More competition in compliance opportunities
  • Competitive products that provide GUI-based tools for managing search

Don't get me wrong: IDOL is a real winner in the right environments when it's configured properly. I'm just wondering if competitors are gaining on Autonomy; and whether customers, wary of price/performance, might start to shy away from big and complex.


October 06, 2010

SharePoint and FAST ESP Search Book SHIPS!

Wow, pent up demand never hurts!

We knew that there were a bunch of people waiting for the Advanced Microsoft Search Book, but we were kind of surprised by today's Amazon results. The book shipped Monday - we just got our 'official' copies yesterday; but Amazon reports our book ended up in the top 10, at least in one category:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
   #7 in  Books > Computers & Internet > Microsoft > Networking
   #24 in  Books > Computers & Internet > Software > Business
   #28 in  Books > Computers & Internet > Programming > Software Design, Testing & Engineering > Software Development 

Well, I'm impressed. Thank you for those who are buying the book! We all hope it is useful for you. And we all want to know what you liked and didn't like, and where you need more content. Here's the official Wrox site for the book (for errata and updates) ; but we've also kicked off a blog just for the book where all four of us will be adding things like PowerShell scripts and taking questions.

October 05, 2010

Google plans to make display ads as crucial as search advertisements

Google executives claimed that display ads will become as crucial to its business as search advertisements are during the keynote session of a international interactive advertising awards competition. They predicted that "smart and sexy" rich media ads will make the static ad banner become a thing of the past, and that in five years the online display market will grow from $20 billion to a $50 billion business, 75% of ads will be "social" (meaning that people can comment on them), and that people will be able to subscribe to them (receive notices when similar ads are available to watch).

Caroline McCarthy in Google: We're too sexy for your search talks about how Google is "unapologetically and enthusiastically optimistic about this space." Amiri Efrati in Google Wants to Make Online Display Ads ‘Sexy’ and Mike Shields in Google Sees 'Smart and Sexy' Future for Banner Ads describe a TrueView ad format for Youtube. Its designed to give viewers the option to skip an ad (after 5 seconds) that they don't want to watch, and to chose from multiple ads which one they want to watch (similar to Hulu). They will alter creative elements of an ad in real-time, depending on factors like the viewers location, the web sites content, and the time of day. Advertisers will only pay if a user decided to view their ad.

A YouTube executive stated that while television networks generally make more money by showing more ads, online video will reverse that trend. Google also predicted that 50% of all targeted ads will use a real time bidding system. In their case they will use technology from last years purchase of ad company Teracent .