Facebook’s ‘Ping’ Noise Has 4 Notes: F, A, C and E

Facebook-ping
Feed-twFeed-fb

You know that little chime on Facebook that bleats out when you're chatting with someone? Here, it sounds like this:

Well, that's not an off-the-shelf sound effect. It is the Facebook ping, and it was very well considered.

We know this because that ping has a fan, and that fan asked on Quora, "How much research has gone into developing the Facebook ping sound? The sound is so pleasant sometimes that it makes me wonder how much effort has been put into its development."

A flattered former Facebooker named Everett Katigbak, who "designed most of the audio currently in the product," chimed in with a most comprehensive answer. Read more...

More about Facebook, Music, Quora, Social Media, and Conversations

Bing Now Surfaces Quora Answers In Its Social Sidebar

bing_logo

Microsoft and Quora just announced a new partnership that will bring content from the popular Q&A site to Bing’s social sidebar. Unlike some of Bing’s other integrations with social networks like Facebook, the Quora integration focuses less on content from your friends and more on bringing content from Quora’s topic experts to Bing. Just like the launch of Quora’s embeddable quotes earlier this week, this move clearly shows the company’s desire to court a more mainstream audience.

With this new integration, Bing users will be able to hover over a Quora user’s name and immediately see the answers they have shared and click through to Quora for more answers. As Quora notes, if you don’t want your answers on the site to be surfaced on Bing, you need to ensure that you disallow search engine indexing in your Quora settings.

According to Microsoft, this integration is part of its “ongoing commitment to work with industry partners to make the social experience compelling and useful for customers.” Just recently, Bing expanded its network of partner services by launching support for Foursquare in its sidebar. Bing also currently features integration with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and Microsoft plans to add similar integrations in the coming months.

For Quora, this move could allow the company to break out of its current early adopter niche and become more of a mainstream service. Earlier this year, the company raised $40 million at a $400 million valuation and at that time, Quora co-founder Adam D’Angelo told our own Alexia Tsotsis that he doesn’t think of “mainstream as a binary thing. I think that as it grows bigger, more and more people will use it to tell their stories.” Earlier this week, Quora also launched its embeddable quotes feature, which our own Josh Constine also saw as a way for Quora to get “the off-site eyeballs it needs to make learning more mainstream.”


Announcing The 2011 Crunchies Finalists And Tickets On Sale Now

Crunchie Award photo by Susan Hobbs

The nominations have been tabulated and the votes are in. Over 300,000 nominations were calculated across 20 categories. Along with our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, we are very proud to announce the finalists for 2011′s best in technology. Voting begins now.

For 2011, we’ve added some new categories. Best Location App, Best Cloud Services and Biggest Social Impact join the Crunchies ranks this year. You’ll also find Best Social App, the NYC-dominated category of Best Shopping App, Best New Startup and the year’s best VC’s and Angel Investors. Newcomers like TaskRabbit’s Leah Busque and Keith Rabois for his angel investments (Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yammer, Path, YouTube) made the list of finalists, as well as industry favorites such as Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus and Ron Conway.

There are some pretty good match-ups this year. Google+ is up against Facebook Timeline for Best Social App, along with the New New Twitter, Instagram, and Path 2.0). The Kindle Fire is competing with the iPad 2 for Best New Device. And Pinterest, Turntable.fm, Nest, Fab, and Codecademy are all vying for Best New Startup (even though two of those were complete pivots). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is up for Angel of the Year. His seed investment in Zynga is worth 160 times what he paid for it. But AngelList founders Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi are also finalists in the category for helping to democratize angel investing, along with Conway, Rabois, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, and Kevin Rose (who has a killer portfolio that includes Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and Square). Who will win?

Everyone is eligible and encouraged to vote. The rules state that you may vote once per day, per award category, until voting closes on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. There are 20 award categories open for voting, recognizing the top accomplishments across a variety of fields and roles. If you are one of the finalists, create a badge and get your community excited about this honor and get them to vote for you. Winners will be announced on January 31, live at the Crunchies.

In addition to today’s announcement of the Finalists, we are happy to release our next batch of tickets through Eventbrite. The release begins now, so act fast and get them while you can.

Here are your Finalists:

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (AngelList)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codecademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

5th Annual Crunchies Awards
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne@techcrunch.com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.


Announcing The 2011 Crunchies Finalists And Tickets On Sale Now

Crunchie Award photo by Susan Hobbs

The nominations have been tabulated and the votes are in. Over 300,000 nominations were calculated across 20 categories. Along with our partners GigaOm and VentureBeat, we are very proud to announce the finalists for 2011′s best in technology. Voting begins now.

For 2011, we’ve added some new categories. Best Location App, Best Cloud Services and Biggest Social Impact join the Crunchies ranks this year. You’ll also find Best Social App, the NYC-dominated category of Best Shopping App, Best New Startup and the year’s best VC’s and Angel Investors. Newcomers like TaskRabbit’s Leah Busque and Keith Rabois for his angel investments (Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yammer, Path, YouTube) made the list of finalists, as well as industry favorites such as Marc Andreessen, Jack Dorsey, Mark Pincus and Ron Conway.

There are some pretty good match-ups this year. Google+ is up against Facebook Timeline for Best Social App, along with the New New Twitter, Instagram, and Path 2.0). The Kindle Fire is competing with the iPad 2 for Best New Device. And Pinterest, Turntable.fm, Nest, Fab, and Codecademy are all vying for Best New Startup (even though two of those were complete pivots). LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is up for Angel of the Year. His seed investment in Zynga is worth 160 times what he paid for it. But AngelList founders Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi are also finalists in the category for helping to democratize angel investing, along with Conway, Rabois, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, and Kevin Rose (who has a killer portfolio that includes Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga, and Square). Who will win?

Everyone is eligible and encouraged to vote. The rules state that you may vote once per day, per award category, until voting closes on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59pm PST. There are 20 award categories open for voting, recognizing the top accomplishments across a variety of fields and roles. If you are one of the finalists, create a badge and get your community excited about this honor and get them to vote for you. Winners will be announced on January 31, live at the Crunchies.

In addition to today’s announcement of the Finalists, we are happy to release our next batch of tickets through Eventbrite. The release begins now, so act fast and get them while you can.

Here are your Finalists:

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (AngelList)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codecademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

5th Annual Crunchies Awards
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA

7:30pm – midnight – Awards Ceremony and After Party
A night of celebration with festive attire.

Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen, if you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities during the ceremony or after-party, please contact Jeanne Logozzo at jeanne@techcrunch.com.

For press credentials, please fill out this request form and confirmations will be sent separately via email.


Google Realtime Search Quietly Adds Quora, Gowalla, Others

Google Realtime Search is nothing new. For months it has existed as its own area within the search engine’s navigation to search for things happening in realtime. But up until now, that has meant mainly Twitter (thanks to Google’s data deal with that company). But earlier today, it appears Google flipped the switch to make Realtime Search a lot more useful. Namely, they’ve added results from services like Quora, Gowalla, and a range of others.

As pointed out in this Quora thread, it looks like Google flipped the switch to include the data from the services listed above (as well as others) this afternoon. The fact that Quora co-founder Adam D’Angelo and CFO Marc Bodnick voted up this Quora posting suggests this did in fact just happen today.

As the Quora user notes, “Google Realtime Search is indexing Quora activity such as asking Questions, adding Answers, upvoting Answers, and submitting Posts.” And that’s great news for Quora. But it’s equally great for the other services now included in the realtime feed Google surfaces — namely because they also sometimes surface these results on the main Google.com as well.

We’ve known for sometime that Google was working with Quora to generate better social results. Gowalla is interesting in the fact that this data is public. For example, I just searched for myself and found my own check-in this evening (it’s public on Gowalla.com as well — unlike Foursquare, which only shows this location data when you connect with someone).

Also included is Facebook data. But it would seem that this data has been included for some time even though the timeline graphs indicate it’s new.

Update: We previously stated that Buzz and Facebook data was new, but it looks like it has been there for a bit, even though the timeline graphs suggest they’re new. Quora, Gowalla, and some of the others definitely do appear to be new additions though.


The Age Of Relevance

relevance

Editor’s note: This is a guest post submitted by Mahendra Palsule, who has worked as an Editor at Techmeme since 2009. Apart from curating tech news, he likes analyzing trends in startups and the social web. He is based in Pune, India, and you can follow him on Twitter.

What’s the Next Big Thing after social networking?

This has been a favorite topic of much speculation among tech enthusiasts for many years. I think we are already witnessing a paradigm shift – a move away from simple social sharing towards personalized, relevant content.

The key element of the next big thing is the increasing significance of the Interest Graph to complement the Social Graph. While Facebook, Twitter, and Google are already working on delivering relevant content, a slew of startups are focusing exclusively on it.

Relevance is the only solution to the problem of information overload.

The above matrix is a representation of how the process of online information discovery has evolved over time.

Phase I: The Search Dominated Web

This is how Google began its dominance over the web two decades ago, using PageRank to surface the most popular web pages as identified by other web pages that linked to them.

Phase II: Web 2.0 With Social Bookmarking

In the Web 2.0 era, social bookmarking services gained significant traction, surfacing popular content. Sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon are hugely popular even today, driving millions of page views.

Phase III: Personalized Recommendations

Services like Hunch, GetGlue, etc. have focused on building an Interest Graph for users, to deliver personalized recommendations using a ‘taste engine’.

Phase IV: Personalized Serendipity

The latest crop of startups is focusing on personalization using a combination of Interest and Social Graphs. Personalized Serendipity is what Jeff Jarvis calls ‘Unexpected Relevance’. Examples include Gravity, my6sense, Genieo, and TrapIt.

What Exactly Is Relevance?

The battle against information overload is sometimes presented as a choice between Relevance and Popularity, where ‘relevant’ is equated to ‘personalized’ as against popular.

However, Relevance does not always mean Personalized. Relevance is very dynamic – it depends on the needs of a person at a specific point in time. There are times when users want to know about the most popular stories, and other times when they seek personalized content.

There are multiple approaches to filtering information for Relevant Content. Google, Paper.li, and PostRank are examples of algorithmic filtering, while Reddit, Hacker News use a crowdsourcing approach. Klout can be used to filter Twitter streams by influence, while Facebook uses social affinity as a filter for its newsfeed and social signals for its new Comments Plugin. Location is another high-impact signal for delivering relevant content, gaining importance in a mobile world.

In other words, Relevance spans across all the quadrants of the Discovery Matrix above, and none of the above approaches to filtering for relevance is the ‘best approach’. There is no killer approach to Relevance. Henry Nothhaft, Jr., CMO of TrapIt, described it as “the myth of the sweet spot”. The competitive edge will be with services that support multiple discovery methods, multiple filtering approaches, have flexibility, and support multiple mobile platforms.

Quora: A Showcase Of The Interest Graph

Quora has pioneered the use of the Interest Graph as a dominant signal for its newsfeed. Quora asks new users to select Topics to follow, as part of its onboarding process, which is the first revelation that Topics are as important as Users to follow.

Quora’s newsfeed is an interesting showcase of what happens when you mix an Interest Graph with a Social Graph – and the result is the mysterious addictiveness so many have experienced, but found difficult to explain. An item pops up in your newsfeed not because you were following a user, but because you were following a related topic.

This often leads to Personalized Serendipity – or Unexpected Relevance – which is why Quora gets many people hooked.

The war over the Interest Graph began between Twitter and Facebook last year, as Erick described so eloquently. So how did Quora beat them to this game?

For starters, Quora is built from the ground-up with the Interest Graph being a backbone of the framework. Twitter’s ‘Browse Interests’ is too broad and primitive to be of use, even at present. And while Facebook has a mechanism for allowing publishers to push new items to your feed, most publishers have been unaware of this functionality.

This is also the reason why Facebook’s Like Button now publishes a full news feed story. The future clearly belongs to who best captures the Interest Graph as Max Levchin and Bill Gurley put it.

The implications of a Relevance-driven web are wide-ranging and broad in scope. Better utilization of the Interest Graph by services will lead to better ad targeting, and a potential decrease in reliance on CPM/CPC-based advertising. Monetization focus will be on higher yields through transactions and subscriptions as Dave McClure once described. Online media publishers will focus on Relevance Metrics revealing engagement and time-spent on site, than primitive metrics like page views and traffic.

Social media may lose its obsession with follower numbers and traffic, evolving to context-driven reputation systems and algorithms.

Interest Graphs will be used to build Better Social Graphs. Today’s monolithic Interest Graph will get further specialized into Taste Graphs, Financial Graphs, Local Network Graphs, etc., yielding higher relevance for different needs.

The Age of Relevance beckons!


How Much Does Netflix Spend On Postage Each Year?

If you ask that question on Yahoo Answers, you’ll probably get something about how a husband’s Xbox was once used for Netflix, but now it doesn’t work. If you ask that question on WolframAlpha, you’ll get get some abstract data about money spent on various things each year. If you ask that question on Bing, you’ll get a bunch of old content. Both Ask.com and Google give you the answer if you dig into their links a bit — or if you click on their first links: to Quora.

What happens when you ask Quora that same question?

You get this: “about $600m”

That’s not just some random person citing some old numbers from an old story. That’s directly from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The data point itself is somewhat interesting, but it has been out there before. What’s really interesting is that once again, Quora is proving to be a go-to place to get such information from fairly incredible sources. No one had yet answered the question someone asked about Netflix, so the CEO took it upon himself to answer it. Boom. Next question.

The fact that Quora is able to foster such an environment continues to fascinate me. If that can scale remains to be seen, but real people answering real questions about their companies is very, very useful. And if the platform can prove itself to be a good source of information relayed anonymously — such as here — it could really explode.

I wonder how long until one of the search engines tries to buy these guys? Or rather, I wonder how long until one of the search engines is successful in buying these guys — because I’m sure some have already tried. Again, this Netflix query brought up Quora as the first result in both Google and Ask. Google is all about saving time, so why not just buy Quora and bake this into results?

Of course, whether Quora, which was started by ex-Facebookers, would sell to Google or anyone is another story. But someone is going to offer this company a lot of money. And they’re going to need to.

Update: I decided to put my query on Quora: “Has one of the major search engines already attempted to buy Quora?

Naturally, Co-founder Adam D’Angelo answered:

No. We’ve been pretty clear with everyone we’ve spoken to externally (including our investors) that our goal is to build Quora into an independent company over the long term and we are not considering acquisitions.

Good for them. Awesome product.


Why Facebook and Apple Will Win the Q&A War


The Social Analyst is a column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

The Q&A market is on fire. In the last month alone, Ask.com relaunched with a community Q&A focus and Facebook released Facebook Questions to the first wave of users. That’s on top of the buzz surrounding Quora, Google’s acquisition of Aardvark, the explosive growth of Formspring, Apple’s acquisition of Siri and the juggernaut that is Yahoo! Answers.

Speaking of question and answer, I have a one: Is there room for all of these approaches to delivering answers to users’ questions?

The answer: probably not.

When people find the answers they’re looking for, that’s it; they don’t have to ask the question again and again. That is just the nature of Q&A. Can you really imagine the majority of users posting their questions to Facebook, Formspring and Quora?

There are going to be winners, losers and niche players in this rapidly-evolving market. Specifically, I believe there will be two verticals of the Q&A market, each one ripe for domination: Community Q&A and mobile Q&A (a.k.a the “I need my question answered RIGHT NOW” market). While there will be a lot of heated competition in the coming months, Facebook and Apple are in the best positions to dominate community and mobile Q&A respectively.


The Contenders for the Q&A Market


There are dozens of contenders for the Q&A market, and I simply cannot profile them all. However, I did want to point out some of the key players, some of which you know well, a few you probably don’t, and one or two that you probably didn’t expect. These are the key companies that already have market share in the Q&A space or have innovative technology that could quickly make them contenders.

  • Google: The search giant took a stab at this market back in 2002 when it launched Google Answers. Unlike Yahoo! Answers, questions were answered by experts and researchers, but it could cost as much as $200 for an answer. Not shockingly, it folded in 2006.

    Google got back into the game earlier this year though with its $50 million acquisition of Aardvark, a social search service that allows users to submit questions and receive an answer from topic experts within seconds or minutes. Currently, Aardvark is a Google Labs project, but it could become an integral part of Android or even Google Search if Facebook or Apple gain momentum in this market.

  • Quora: Founded in 2009, Quora is a Q&A startup that boasts a stellar team, major buzz and $11 million in funding. One of its founders is Adam D’Angelo, the former CTO of Facebook.

    Quora is a Community Q&A service with a slick interface, a slew of features to surface relevant questions and answers and some high-profile users, including venture capitalists, startup founders and tech luminaries. Facebook Questions incorporates some of Quora’s best elements though; is there room for both?

  • Yahoo!: No matter what you think of Yahoo!, it’s impossible to deny that Yahoo! Answers is one of the two 800 pound gorillas in the room. Launched in 2005, Yahoo! Answers hosts millions of questions and answers generated by its vast community of users, only beaten in sheer size by Answers.com
  • Answers.com: Founded back in 1999, Answers.com is one of the web’s most trafficked websites, boasting more unique visitors than even Yahoo! Answers. It revamped its interface late last year, and the company also owns WikiAnswers.
  • Apple: Apple builds computers and mobile devices; why would it be included in a list of competitors for the online Q&A market?

    The answer: Siri.

    Siri is an iPhone app that essentially transforms your phone into an automated personal assistant. Give it a voice command such as “Get me movie tickets for Inception at 10 p.m.” or “What is the address for the Googleplex?” and Siri will pull up the relevant information. Its technology is based on the CALO Project, the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history.

    Apple acquired Siri in April with the rumored acquisition price somewhere in the $200 million range. Spending that kind of money means Apple has some serious plans for Siri and its technology.

  • Ask.com: The search engine recently reinvented itself with semantic search and a community Q&A element. While it controls far less of the search market than Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft, it still has more than enough users to create a robust Q&A platform.

  • Mobile Q&A: Apple Has the Upper Hand


    If you want to become a master of mobile Q&A, it’s best to have control of a major mobile platform. Even a popular iPhone or Android application doesn’t have the reach of Apple, RIM or Google.

    That’s why the battle for mobile Q&A will take place between Apple and Google and their respective mobile platforms. Both have reach and both have users, but while Google has cool mobile products like Google Voice Actions and is the proud owner of Aardvark, they are nothing like the technology packed into Siri.

    As I explained before, Siri is based on the AI technology of the CALO project. Because it’s an AI answering questions and not a community of users, answers are almost instantaneous. While Aardvark is surprisingly quick, it can still take several minutes to get the answer you need — an eternity if you’re on the road and need that address right now.

    Siri will be integrated into iOS in the near future, and it will become a central feature of the platform because of its ability to help users search by voice for the answers they need. Bet on it.


    Community Q&A: Facebook Has the Users


    I’ll start out with this: I think Quora has a better interface and higher quality answers. I also think Yahoo! and Answers.com have strong legacy SEO (if not the highest quality answers), so they will be around for a while. But when people have a question about the best graphing calculator to buy or the top five places they should visit when they go on vacation to Peru, they’re going to turn to their Facebook friends and the social network’s 500 million users.

    Facebook just has too many advantages. Whenever someone asks a question, it appears in friends’ news feeds. Whenever someone answers a question, it pops up in your notifications; that answer then appears in their friends’ news feeds. News Feed is a viral powerhouse that Quora, Ask, Yahoo! and even Twitter can’t claim or duplicate.

    Quora will have a tough time scaling to the size of Yahoo! Answers when it has to compete with Facebook (though I think it will carve out a nice niche). Yahoo! and Answers.com just don’t have the technology or the engineering talent at the disposal of Facebook. Ask.com’s revamp, while impressive, still has to compete with the virality of Facebook’s social graph and News Feed. It’s Facebook’s market to win.


    The Wild Card


    While Facebook and Apple seem to be in prime position to be the dominating forces in the Q&A market, there is a wild card that you should be watching: Google, or more specifically Aardvark.

    If Google scales Aardvark (say, with direct integration in Google Search) and more people prove willing to answer questions, then it could instantly become a contender in both mobile and community Q&A. Imagine getting instant answers via text from a search query you performed on your phone, or if Google integrated Aardvark into Google Chat or its rumored Google Me social network. There are near limitless possibilities, depending on the quality of the execution.

    For now though, Aardvark remains dormant, so I can’t call it a contender until Google reveals its plan for the service. The Q&A market is filled with unanswered questions (pun intended), but we’re going to have to wait a while before they get answered.


    More Social Media Resources From Mashable:


    - HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Q&A Sites
    - 15 of the Funniest Facebook Questions [PICS]
    - How News Consumption is Shifting to the Personalized Social News Stream
    - Why Entertainment Will Drive the Next Checkin Craze
    - 5 Social Fundraising Alternatives to Facebook Causes

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, talaj


    Reviews: Aardvark, Android, Facebook, FormSpring, Google, Google Labs, Google search, Siri, Twitter, iPhone, iStockphoto

    More About: apple, Ask.com, Column, facebook, Google, q&a, quora, The Social Analyst, yahoo answers

    For more Business coverage:

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