Friday, December 08, 2006

Social platforms: Xing and LinkedIn

These past days, there's been quite some discussion in the German news and blogosphere about Xing's going public. For Lars Hinrich, founder of the company that runs the social platform, it is not the first company, with his prior companies having proved rather unsuccessful. When looking at LinkedIn that is planning a German version of its socializing platform until March 2007 (with a possible IPO in the near future), a competitor that should be seriously considered is close. The main difference between the two platforms is that Premium Xing accounts cost 5,95 € a month, while LinkedIn ist (still?) free of charge for many functions. On the other hand, LinkedIn offers at least four different premium account types, ranging from $60 / year to $200 / month. However, I am not aware of how many users actually have a Pro account. As only about 13% of Xing users a willing to pay for a premium account, question is whether LinkedIn will be successful in reaching an equal share of users until the end of 2007. That's what LinkedIn's co-founder, Konstantin Guericke, announced, who recently gave several interviews (in German) related to the potential of socializing platforms. Of course this is biased, and time will tell whether Xing will remain as successful as it is now. What could be a potential added value to Xing to make a real difference?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Zweitgeist - your alter ego on the web

Just today I became aware of a new social service that may bridge the gap between surfing the web and communicating, called zweitgeist an artificial word meaning something like your virtual alter ego or second spirit. It is based on a piece of software that needs to be downloaded as a client closely associated with your web browser. A Firefox extension is also available.

After registration, you basically start by filling out your profile, most importantly a picture representing yourself (can be selected from a large variety of characters). While the animated characters seem a bit boring at first sight, the fun starts when executing actions with them (such as waving hands, sitting down, walking etc.). That is a great extension of the speech bubbles which serve to exchange textual messages - a good approximation to non-verbal communication.

Some more information about this can be found here and there. If you want to know more about what you can do with your alter ego beyond chatting, you might want to have a look over there.

Of course while the user base is limited, you'll find most zweitgeisters on sites like google, amazon, or other popular pages. Thus, you might not really know whether it is worth starting a chat or not. But since I'm not the only one to find it fun to use, I suppose that there'll be more users as time goes on.

While your base account is free, there are numerous options (such as having an animated character, or multiple characters to choose from), which cost a monthly fee, expressed in a virtual currency, called kala (=stone). This fee depends on the user's reputation (and I suppose this means how excessively he's using zweitgeist). The more you invest, the more you get.

Let's see how this will be accepted in the long run. At first sight, it is fun to use, indeed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Venice Project

What a name for a new project from the founders of KaZaa and Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Fries. Seems to be a P2P streaming platform for TV content, removing the constraints of time-dependent (ordinary) television, according to GigaOm. It's currently in beta, allowing anyone to sign up, and I'm definitely curious to see what's it all about.