Wrap-up of Web 2.0 Summit’s opening day

Web 2.0 Summit

In a predictable turn of events, Apple, Google, and Facebook dominated tech headlines yesterday, overshadowing the fairly momentous opening day of the Web 2.0 Summit. Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco runs through November 17, and we’ve picked out some of the more intriguing moments from yesterday. Here’s a look at what you missed while you were busy downloading the Beatles anthology.

Zuckerberg takes the stage

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s interview was one of yesterday’s most hyped events. He addressed his company’s recent squabbles with Google, admitting in a non-answer kind of way he isn’t sure the one-way relationship that’s been established with Google is fair. “I’m not sure we’re 100 percent right on this. The correct answer isn’t completely obvious. I’m not sure that we’re completely right, but I think it’s not completely black and white.”

Zuckerberg also pitched his ideas about Facebook’s messaging system revolutionizing e-mail, as well as his vision of the online business world evolving into a more social animal over the next five years. And in typical Zuckerberg fashion, he reminded everyone how young Facebook is, and maybe inadvertently, his own youth. “Oh man, I’ve made so many mistakes running a company so far. If you can think of a mistake, I’ve probably made it or will in the next few years,” he admits, but not without reminding the audience that such slip-ups are allowed when you’re developing something that billions of consumers utilize.

RIM takes on Apple

RIM CEO Jim Balsillie will probably never live down the phrase “You don’t need an app for the Web.” Saying that RIM’s products will continue to focus on utilizing the mobile Internet, Balsillie also hyped RIM’s iPad competitor, the PlayBook. Balsillie claims it will be significantly faster and more responsive than Apple’s tablet. It should be on shelves in early 2011 for less than $500.

Yahoo is optimistic

There’s been talk lately concerning Yahoo’s struggles, and possibly impending layoffs. CEO Carol Bartz would not address those specific rumors, but defended her company, saying that “When you get 30 miles outside of Silicon Valley and 60 miles outside of New York City, everybody knows what we stand for.” Bartz did acknowledge Yahoo’s challenges in recent years, but said that the company will remain successful. As for current projects, the site is focused on utilizing its vast amounts of consumer information to further customize its users’ online experience.

And in an entertaining word association exercise, Bartz said she thinks of “competition” when she hears “Facebook,” and “great company” when she hears “Google.”

State of the Internet address

Morgan Stanley Internet analyst Mary Meeker revealed that statistics point to smartphones easily outselling PC and laptop sales in 2012, and that by 2013, 650 million units will be sold. She also warned the US market to watch out for China’s growth. At the moment, the US has more than twice as many smartphone users, but China will be encroaching on that number in time.

Zynga gets to brag

Yesterday, Zynga primarily treated the audience to a breakdown of its impressive numbers. The social game developer now has 320 million registered users and 10 new games in production. The company is also moving into Yahoo territory, with Farmville and Mafia Wars officially available on the network sometime this week. 

Gravity – the Pandora of the Web

Startup site Gravity is the creation of three former MySpace executives and was unveiled at yesterday’s conference. It works like Pandora, but instead of cataloging your music preferences and delivering songs based on them, it does this for your Internet browsing. It works by analyzing the language from your social networking profile and drawing conclusions about your interests. This has been attempted and reattempted, with limited success. But Gravity has a lot more money behind it, so maybe it stands a better chance.

Smartphone cloud computing system, Aro, introduced

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s (you know, the one who isn’t Bill Gates) $20 million investment in Aro has gotten it some attention, and yesterday we got a better look. Developed by Kiha Software, it’s a cloud computing program for smartphones that attempts to minimize the process of using a mobile device. This series of downloadable apps natively connect the most basic functions of the smartphone (contacts, e-mail, search, phone, calendar, etc) and anticipate user needs to speed up the process. The beta version for Android should be available soon. Before then, you can check out this video demonstration.


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