I found this link today in a MSN Space (darn, I cannot remember whose blog it was, but I recall that it was a guy from Peru). It is an interesting 8 minute flash movie about Google, Amazon, Blogger, and their users debunking the press media by 2014. It is not that I agree with every hypothesis, but it is fun and provoking to see.
This movie helped me glue together some thoughts that I have had lately. So did the launch of MSN Spaces and MSN Messenger 7's reminiscences of Yahoo Messenger 6.
Just for email, currently I have a Hotmail account, a Yahoo Mail account (that I seldom use), also a GMail account, and I also have other two personal email accounts.
Fortunately, right now I can manage all my email in a single place: mostly Microsoft Outlook, or the web browser when my desktop is inaccessible. I keep a couple of MSN Groups and I have visited some Yahoo groups in the past.
I have an account in Orkut, I have been expecting a Wallop invitation from Robert (I have just learned that it was my fault, I didn't give him my email address, shame on me, I am so sorry Robert!).
Google has separate profiles in Blogger and in Orkut. MSN is doing now contact cards and Yahoo has been doing profiles for a while.
All of them are in the search engine business, although, Google is currently dominant by far.
I have only recently experimented the joy of Froogle, and MSN Shopping in the same day.
I think I can see clearly what the name of the game is for these companies, and I certainly can appreciate how huge it is. I am not meaning that I won't be surprised by their next moves.
But I also see some pieces still not there or still not glued enough. Orkut for instance is very experimental, and Wallop very closed. Inside Google properties, only Froogle seems to share authentication with GMail. Yahoo and Microsoft have unified authentication for their properties. Yahoo lacks, to my knowledge pictures uploading and good blogging tools. MSN Spaces lacks collaborative group blogging. Some companies outside this group, like Apple and Amazon, seem to have some pieces that these three companies would like to have. Yahoo and Microsoft seem to have the lead in mobile space. Hopefully one of them will think about buying Plaxo, and the others will clone some of its functionality. I hope Wallop goes public soon.
Google shares earning with you by allowing AdSense in your blog. MSN, on the other hand fills both sides of your blog with their own ads.
Perhaps in a couple of years it will be very difficult to tell one service from the other, and most people will either choose one company or have an account in each of them, as I do right now. I believe each of these companies will provide the frame for a huge amount of commercial transactions. Perhaps the day will come in which we will see the world dominated by Google, MSN and Yahoo branded Visas and MasterCards and micropayment services will flourish (I think right now Yahoo has the lead with PayPal).
It is almost like the Internet bubble, but this time for real and with only a few big players, as it was predictable to happened, actually.
One painful aspect of this is having to keep a different identity for each company. While the Internet is only one, and SMTP is only one, I still need maintain three different profiles, many different email accounts, and start two messengers (so far) if I want to be fully "wired". I hope in the next years this change. If just these companies realize that they have to work some things together and play nice, maybe they will shift their business models a little bit to match "the business model of their users".
I already feel the Internet as the extension of my mind and my life, and here is a guy that belongs to a generation that grew up watching TV (I seldom do nowadays), not surfing the net. So imagine what this will mean for our sons. Some kind of science fiction begins to look not too unreasonable.
I wonder what my universal information management tool will look like. This is the next grail for me. Will everything run inside Outook like NewsGator and Plaxo, or perhaps Omea, the next FireFox with more feed subscription power, or perhaps an Onfolio that doesn't crash when I try to import my "Stuff" folder from My Favorites? Will "Stuff I have Seen" ever see the light? Will A9 evolve to a more usable Web based information management solution? Or perhaps we will see something new and fantastic from Novell/Ximian? Once again, the pieces are scattered there and until they are glued together, there is no synergy.
Right now, the only thing that keeps me off saying that this is fantastic times to live is that tomorrow is not granted. If this nosense, brutal, mediaeval, stupid, tribal, religious violence doesn't stop, we will have nothing.