Vine: Google Lost in the Undergrowth

April 28, 2009

Update: A reader wanted me to point to this Fortune item by Henry Blodget who did not take my gentle approach to the Vine service. Maybe I was too subtle?

The week is young and I am tangled in social and local search announcements. Facebook is almost a little semi open. This morning I learned that Microsoft has rolled out Vine. You can read the Seattle Times write up here or Search Engine Land description here. Microsoft is probably quite happy with the local newspaper’s view; for instance:

It’s been awhile since Microsoft introduced a game-changing social Web application, but Vine — a service that’s debuting today with a beta test in Seattle — could be a contender.

A contender. I can hear Rocky’s coach now. “Kid, you’re gonna go all the way.”

What’s the title?

The idea is to show a map of a user’s locality and make “experience” a one click task. Unlike other local services, Microsoft has put a business spin on the service. Instead of positioning the new service as a way for teens to meet up at friend’s house when the parents are on vacation, Vine can be used for emergency and other serious types of geospatial communication services.

I think this is interesting for two reasons. First, the geospatial, social, local angle is of keen interest to users and entrepreneurs, to youth and those in organizations looking for ways to become more efficiency. Second, the service noses ahead of Google’s offerings in this sector.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that Vine is likely to suck millions of,, and other hot services dry in the next couple of weeks. The hardware requirements are hefty, well beyond my mobile device’s capabilities. Mary-Jo Foley wrote for ZDNet here:

For users accessing Vine via the Internet, the software component of the beta service requires a PC running XP SP2 or Vista; and 600 MB of hard disk space (100 MB for Vine and 500 MB for the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1).

I do think that Vine makes Google look like it missed an opportunity. Now Google can point to dozens of services that allow a user to map, communicate, and geolocate all day long. Google may argue that its services are building blocks which a Googley developer can assemble into a on steroids.

For today, Microsoft has an edge. Now can the Redmond giant expose the blade of a light saber to leave me with a one track plastic straight razor?


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