Here’s the latest Silicon Valley round-up:
Is the “Browser Operating System” finally coming? — Google and others have built all these online applications that can, collectively, take the place of Microsoft Office. All we need now is a browser operating system, which makes it easy to switch back and forth between these applications online — so we’re not tied to Microsoft’s XP or other desktop-based operating systems. The home-page companies like Netvibes and Pageflakes appear to be headed that way. Google’s personal homepage is the “fastest-growing Google product,” according to Marissa Mayer, Google vice president. Now, the integration of theses apps via the browser needs to improve, and investors at Intel Capital tell VentureBeat they think a “Browse OS” is coming next year, and several players will be in the running. We’ll be moderating a SVASE panel Thursday discussing what’s hot and what’s not. Newsweek calls 2007 the “year of the widget;” it may also be the year of the browser-based OS. Btw, the image above comes from a decade-old CNET story, showing how readers have long preferred the Web experience not be integrated with the PC.
Technorati used to be hip — Technorati used to be how you searched the blogosphere for people, conceptual memes and companies. But two trends appear to be hurting it: Blogs have become main-stream, and so they’re getting tracked by other search engines. If you’re searching blogs, you can first try Google’s general search. If that doesn’t yield anything, Google has a blog search, with a link directly from its news page. After suffering criticism early on, Google’s blog search has improved, and has apparently overtaken Technorati. And there are internal problems at Technorati. A Handelsblatt reporter sent us a story this morning (scroll down) saying Technoratic’s PR relationship with Edelman has foundered over frustration with Technorati’s service in Germany.
Apple safe from Jobs fallout, for now — Apple today said its chief executive, Steve Jobs, didn’t do anything wrong in the stock options backdating scandal rocking the company (update: though as this Merc story shows, there is still some intrigue). This is a relief to investors, who pushed up Apple’s stock by 5 percent. Earlier this week, an SF publication, The Recorder, reported that options documents had been falsified, and Apple’s stock had plunged on worries Jobs might be vulnerable. What this shows is that a great portion of Apple’s value is dependent on Jobs staying at the company. As such, Jobs is probably the most valuable executive alive — arguably more indispensable to Apple than the Google guys are to Google, for example, or Gates to Microsoft, and Ellison to Oracle — all companies with perceived depth of talent extending beyond the founders. In other words, its time for Apple to engage in successor plans.
Google’s fixed Zeitgeist — Now we find out, through Google’s recent admission, that the most popular searches on 2006 really isn’t the one we were led to believe. The real list apparently contained “eBay,” a competitor, which Google conveniently chose to knock of the official list. It’s another example of Google’s tendency to avoid transparency. If you read Google’s explanation, it all makes sense enough — but we agree with other bloggers that Google’s hand-picking of words based on what Google thinks is relevant removes much of the exercise’s meaning.
The dot-bomb records of Brobeck opened for public viewing? — There’s quite a brouhaha over the project led by professor David Kirsch to open up the records of Silicon Valley law firm Brobeck. You’ll remember that Brobeck was at first fantastically successful, cashing in on the dot-com era IPOs, but then suffered a spectacular crash when the bubble burst. Now, former clients are being informed that if they take no action, their records will be turned over to the Library of Congress’s National Digital Infrastructure and Preservation Program, for perusal by academics and others. See details here. There’s outrage, given the files contain social security numbers and other private data. However, Kirsch seems to have shut everyone up for now with this comment at Techcrunch, where he says some individual information “may need to be scrubbed by archivists for sensitive information.” We’re wondering what clients Kleiner Perkins, Cisco, and Accel and the other Silicon Valley heavyweights will think of their bubble-era laundry being aired.