Stand-up comedians have a saying that "you're only as good as your last gig." The same goes for computer technology. What you have to assume is that someone somewhere has a business plan which involves, er, attracting all your customers. \nTo date, there are only two known defensive strategies. One consists of "locking in" said customers so that they have to be very determined to go elsewhere. This is the Microsoft Way. The other is to make your next product even more sensational than its predecessor. \nTo date, few companies have managed this trick. \nThe US$64 billion question at the moment is whether Google, the world's favorite search engine, will manage to pull it off. \nIts spectacular success revealed that Internet searching is a very big business. Something like 550 million search requests are entered every day worldwide (245 million of them in the US and 77 percent through Google). \nGoogle has shown that selling advertising based on searches can be very lucrative. And it is estimated by industry watchers that the annual paid-placement advertising revenue generated by Web searches will reach about US$7 billion by 2007 (as compared with US$3 billion last year). \nIf Google's current share of searching continues, that means the company could look forward to annual revenues of nearly US$5.5 billion in three years' time. \nAh, that magic word, "if"... The great thing about capitalism is that the prospect of annual revenues of US$5.5 billion tends to concentrate minds. So far, in relation to Google, those minds have been focused in two directions. \nThe first involves trying to get a slice of Google's action. The company is heading for a stock-market flotation this year and -- if industry rumors are to be believed -- this could be the biggest thing since Netscape went public on Aug. 9, 1995. \nNetscape shares were conservatively priced at US$28, opened at US$71 and went as high as US$74 in the most frantic day's trading since the Wall Street crash. \nSomething similar could happen with Google. And this, in turn, might have wider implications, because it was the Netscape launch that triggered the technology boom/bubble. \nIt was what awakened non-techies to the notion that there might be money in that Internet thingummy. \nGiven that the stock market is slowly shaking off the rueful technophobia that has afflicted it since 2001, could Google's flotation triggers another avalanche? \nThe second direction in which search-related revenue concentrates minds leads to the quest for technology that is better than Google's. \nA lot of brainpower is being focused on this question. \nSome of us are old enough to remember when AltaVista was the best search engine there ever had been. Then one day Google was launched and we never used Alta-Vista again. But all that means is that Google is the new AltaVista, and the question is: what lies around the corner? \nThere's no doubt that Google represented a great advance. But there is no such thing as perfection in this business. Surveys indicate that almost a quarter of users don't find what they're looking for in the first set of links returned by a search engine. \nThat's partly because, in the words of MIT's Technology Review newsletter, "the precious needles of information we seek are buried under a haystack that grows by some 60 terabytes every day. [A terabyte is 1024 gigabytes.] And it's why fierce competition in the search industry is certain to continue, especially as companies implement a host of new technologies, such as natural-language processing and machine learning." \nAlready, there is interesting potential competition for Google. \nThere's Teoma (www.teoma.com), for example, which uses the existence of subject-based communities to home in on an answer to a search query. Then there's Mooter (www.mooter.com), which uses ideas from psychology, software and neural networks to create a ranking algorithm that learns from the user as a search progresses. \nAnd there are several research efforts aimed at finding ways of searching the "deep Web" -- that is the huge reserve of documents buried in corporate and official databases which only become published Web pages if a particular search query asks for them. \nFurthermore, of course, there is Microsoft. There is always Microsoft. Bill Gates has made it clear that he sees searching as Microsoft's business. \nThe company has a huge research and development effort devoted to it. \nAnd it plans to use its, er, "infrastructural advantage" [monopoly] to build natural language searching into "Longhorn" -- the next release of its operating system, due next year or 2006.
PROTECTION: The New Taipei City mayor said a pass could cover stores, but not eateries, while Ko Wen-je said vaccinated people could be exempted from some rules Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) on Saturday proposed implementing a “COVID-19 pass” regulation that would allow only vaccinated people into certain areas. New Taipei City is planning to require a “COVID-19 pass” for entry to “vulnerable spaces” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hou said. Non-students entering elementary schools in New Taipei City are required to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of students under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials have said. The
‘GOOD FRIEND’: The Slovenian prime minister said he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that Taiwanese should have the right to determine their future The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed Slovenia’s plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, after Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed the plan in an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday. Taiwan is a democratic country that respects international democratic standards and international laws, the Slovenian prime minister said in the interview. Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” he said. “Of course, this will not be on the level of embassies. It will be on the same level as many of the EU member countries.” “When I spoke with our businessmen who are trading with Taiwan, they
LAWMAKERS RALLY: Beijing’s unlegislated actions breach international and WTO trade rules, and affect the basic principles of the EU single market, the letter said A group of 41 EU lawmakers on Tuesday condemned China for its political and economic coercion of Lithuania, and called on leaders of the bloc to demonstrate solidarity with Vilnius. The letter was initiated by Slovakian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Miriam Lexmann, who is cochair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. “We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, resolutely condemn political and economic coercion of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) against Lithuania,” the letter said. The letter addressed European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and
BRIBES FOR VOTES: A probe found that funding for the scheme came from Huang Daonian, director of the Economic Bureau at Changsha City’s Taiwan Affairs Office Five Taiwanese businesspeople working in China were yesterday found guilty of taking money from Chinese authorities to buy votes for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in the 2020 presidential election. The Taipei District Court sentenced Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises (台灣同胞投資企業協會) Changsha City Branch chairman Lin Huai (林懷) to three years and 10 months in jail, with deprivation of his civil rights for four years. The other four convicted in the case, who all received 20-month prison terms, were China New Family Association (中華兩岸新家庭協會) chairwoman Chiang Ming-sia (蔣明霞), Hunan Shaoyang City Association in Taiwan (湖南邵陽旅台同鄉會) director Chang Kuo-chun (張國君),