Online calendars still drop in the bucket

LeAnn Prescott from Hitwise has an analysis of online calendars that has been getting a fair bit of traffic and commentary, since it shows that Google’s calendar — which has only been around for about six months — is growing strongly in “market share of Internet visits” (as Hitwise describes their proprietary measurement of traffic).

LeAnn says that Google’s traffic share has tripled since June, and that it appears to be close to matching Yahoo’s traffic, which has been declining sharply over the same period. All of which is great, and it’s nice to see that a Google property is growing — unlike, say, Froogle or Google Co-op, etc. But that’s not what struck me about the Hitwise chart. What struck me was how tiny the online calendar market is.


If you look away from the downhill slide of Yahoo’s line on the chart and the upward climb of Google’s line on the chart, what you notice is that even at its peak the market leader — Yahoo — had 0.008 per cent of all Internet traffic. After its slide, it is around 0.005 per cent, and Google is at 0.0043 per cent. In other words, all three of the online calendar leaders put together have a little over one one-hundredth of one per cent of Internet traffic.

As more than one commenter has noted, it would be interesting to see where and some of the other online Ajax calendars sit in terms of traffic share. But what is clear is that Google and Yahoo are still fighting over table scraps, and that online calendars have a long way to go before they become a significant factor for Internet users.

Bubbleshare finally gets acquired

Update 2:

I just got off the phone with Jason DeZwirek, the CEO of Kaboose — which is publicly-listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange — who told me that the acquisition of Bubbleshare is the first in a series of steps the company plans to take to move its various family-oriented websites (including BabyZone, and Funschool) into the social networking arena.

Jason said that the Kaboose network gets about 10 million unique visitors a month, which makes it the third-largest in the North American online family segment, behind Disney and Viacom (according to comScore). About 80 to 85 per cent of the company’s traffic comes from the U.S. The Kaboose CEO also said that the company is expected to post sales of about $22-million for 2006 and has $30-million in the bank.

Social networking tools for moms and families “is going to be a big initiative for us in 2007,” Jason said, and the Bubbleshare team will be part of making that happen. Kaboose expects to add social networking services both by developing them in-house and by buying other companies in that space.

For more details on Kaboose, check out my Globe and Mail blog here.


According to one source with some knowledge of the deal with News Corp., the deal fell off the table not because of the publicity but because Ross Levinsohn quit, and it was his idea. Without him, it couldn’t get any traction within News Corp. and so Bubbleshare went looking elsewhere.

Original post:

Not that long ago, there were some red-hot rumours that Bubbleshare — the Toronto-based photo sharing site started by serial entrepreneur Albert Lai — was about to be acquired by News Corp. for a price in the neighbourhood of $5-million. That deal reportedly fell through, however, and now I learn from my friend Mark Evans’ blog that Bubbleshare has been bought by Kaboose for $2.25-million (I’d like to point out that Jeneane Sessum wrote about it first, as she notes here).

Kaboose is a little-known Toronto company that owns a number of kid-oriented websites and networks such as BabyZone, and describes itself in its press release as “the largest independent, family-focused, online media company in North America.” As Mark points out in his post, this deal makes a lot of sense because Bubbleshare — while a great and useful service — has always seemed more like a feature than a standalone business.


The question of whether the News Corp. deal fell through because the details leaked out, a theory that emerged shortly after TechCrunch wrote about it, remains unanswered. I find it hard to believe that a little publicity would scare off a giant like News Corp., but you never know. In any case, congrats are due to Albert and the team for building a great service and getting a nice exit.

I will add my congratulations to those already expressed by Michael O’Connor Clarke, Alec Saunders and Jeneane Sessum. It will be interesting to see what Kaboose does with Bubbleshare, and whether the Toronto company plans to make a bigger push into the area of social networking — especially given the popularity of sites like Club Penguin, and Disney’s recent social overhaul of

Seven ways to help Digg get better

Before too much time goes by, I wanted to take note of something that Muhammad Saleem wrote over on his blog The Mu Life about 7 ways to improve Digg. Muhammad, who is not only a top digger but also a top Netscape submitter and anchor, has clearly thought a lot about some of the flaws with the Digg model — including things such as the “Bury Brigade” and the problems with comments — and I think some of his suggestions make a lot of sense.

One of the most important recommendations, I think, is the first: Listen to the community. And I would add to that: “respond to the community.” If there’s one thing that Digg has not been terribly good at — during all the criticism about the changes to its algorithm to stop the “gaming” of the site, and the various other problems it has experienced — it’s responding to and interacting with the community.

At times, it seems like Kevin Rose and the gang want to have a community-run news site, but without having to actually deal with the community, or like they think that if they tinker with enough things behind the scenes it will become a smooth-running machine and no input from them will be required. I would argue they are wrong on both counts. A community isn’t a machine but a garden, and it takes work to cultivate and keep the weeds from taking over.

Muhammad has a bunch of other good suggestions, including retiring the Bury Brigade — which Steve O’Hear of ZDNet has been on the receiving end of — and being more explicit about the moderating and filtering of content that occurs behind the scenes at Digg. I encourage you to go and read the rest.

Jobs’ reality-distortion field still intact

I know this is probably going to trigger a wave of enraged emails from Apple fans — or “Macolytes,” as I like to call them — but I can’t resist writing something about the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Steve Jobs and the backdating of Apple’s stock options, which Dan Farber of ZDNet wrote about recently. I wrote an earlier post about it here.

In that post, I said that I thought Apple — and Steve Jobs — had been getting a free ride on the whole options thing because the company and its products are so popular, and I still think that (it’s either that or the legendary Jobs “reality distortion field”). As BusinessWeek suggests in this article, Steve Jobs is effectively untouchable. Everyone would much rather talk about how the iTV unit is going to be announced at Macworld.

Of course, it’s possible that everyone is willing to overlook the Apple case because a) they are tired of the whole options-backdating issue, b) they don’t think it’s really that important — or even wrong, as my friend Rob argued in the comments on my previous post — or c) the company has absolved Jobs of any direct liablity, and therefore the whole issue is effectively closed.


That could be. But as far as I can see it, the facts are pretty clear from the WSJ story: Steve knew about the backdating, and while he didn’t benefit from it, he either actively agreed to it or approved it. He also personally benefited from a huge grant that was backdated, although he apparently didn’t know about it.

As a blog called The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs puts it, this is the Hurd defense (named for the CEO of HP), which in a nutshell says “Did illegal activities occur? Yes. Was the current CEO in charge at the time of the illegal activities? Yes. Did the current CEO authorize said activities? Yes. And benefit from them? Yes. Therefore, the CEO is not responsible.”

Does that make sense? Only in Apple-land.

How do I get into these things?

Nothing like a few contests to start the new year off on a good foot, right? I seem to have already won one that I didn’t even know I had been entered in: namely, the ultra-exclusive “Hottest blogger dudes of 2006” contest that my friend Leigh Himel of Oponia Networks put together recently in response to Amit Agarwal’s post about hot women bloggers. Thanks, Leigh.

And the second contest is something Allen Stern of Center Networks is calling BloggerMania I — a kind of blogosphere Wrestlemania, with Allen playing the part of Vince McMahon of the WWF. For some reason, Allen has decided to have a series of round-robin “matches” between different bloggers, and yours truly has been matched up with none other than Tara “Miss Rogue” Hunt, a partner at the PR company known as Citizen Agency, who blogs at

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And what is this contest based on — looks? Rhetoric? Argumentation? Sophistry? Cool sidebar widgets? That’s the worst part. Allen isn’t saying. According to his description, “I have received a few questions about what the bloggers below need to do to win. The answer is nothing. I will create the results based on studying each blogger’s style, posts, etc.” Great — I’m destined to lose, and will never know why 🙂

In his post, Allen says “If you are one of the challengers, you should do everything you can to get your community behind you! Remember, your community’s support may help you win!” So, there you have it, er… community. Get to work. I can’t let Tara — or the Number One seed in my category, Steve Rubel, win just like that.

Is it a “real blog”? Wrong question

Zoli Erdos has touched off the latest round in the omnipresent “what is a blog” wars, with a recent post looking at Google’s official “blog” and noting that it isn’t really a blog because it doesn’t allow readers to comment. Mike Arrington at TechCrunch — who to his credit has not only kept comments open but has participated in them, despite some flame wars with him as the target — posted on the topic as well as opening a poll on the whole issue of comments.

At last count, about 40 per cent of the 2,200 people who have responded think that the ability to comment isn’t a requirement, but enhances a blog’s content “dramatically,” and about 34 per cent say that commenting isn’t a requirement. The remainder think that a blog without comments isn’t a real blog — a case that I tried to make with this post back in February. After much debate, I modified that position to effectively agree with the largest group in Mike’s poll.


I know everyone likes to say that it’s about “the conversation” and so on, which is getting a touch overused as a metaphor (but is still essentially true, I think). The bottom line for me is simply that the comments on a post are often at least as interesting as the post itself, and in some cases much more so. In that sense, the post is like a magnet that attracts different viewpoints — some of which are bound to be moronic “you’re an idiot” kind of comments, but some of which are occasionally going to add huge value.

For example, I found the back-and-forth between Blake Ross and his critics on the Google issue (see my recent post) of even more value than the original post. Yes, I know that other bloggers are free to respond on their own blogs, but that’s hard to follow unless you work at it — having comments on a post is like a mini-aggregator of differing opinion. And if you are lucky, the signal-to-noise ratio makes it worth your while. In fact, that’s a good sign of a valuable blog.

So is a blog really a blog without comments? Sure it is, if only because the term “blog” is so viscous and malleable that it can mean just about anything. But I don’t think of BoingBoing or Google’s blog or other prominent examples as being “blogs” in my definition. Are they valuable? Sure. Interesting? Often. But – at least as far as I’m concerned — still missing something.