December 15, 2005

Top Ten Web 2.0 Moments of 2005

Posted by Richard MacManus @ 10:44 am
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It's been a huge year for the Web! A time of renewed optimism in Silicon Valley and an incredible number of new web applications. In a sense it all started with Google's IPO in August 2004, the success of which was a positive and affirming lead-in to 2005. We then witnessed a renaissance of startup activity, acquisitions and intense VC interest in the Web throughout the year. Here then is my list of the top ten defining moments for the Web in 2005.

10. Bloglines acquired by Ask Jeeves in February. The Bloglines deal signaled that multi-million dollar Internet acquisitions were back! It was the second time Bloglines developer Mark Fletcher had hit the payload, having sold ONElist to Yahoo! in the dotcom boom. A close runner-up was blog network weblogsinc being sold to AOL, which perhaps proved there is real value in blog content. 

9. The return of Amazon - Mechanical Turk and Alexa web services. Towards the end of the year, threw a couple of curve balls - showing they haven't lost their innovative touch.

8. In late June, Microsoft embraced and extended RSS. They promised "deep platform support for RSS" with integration into the next version of the Windows OS - at the time named Longhorn but later renamed Vista. In November, Microsoft followed up by announced an extension to RSS called Simple Sharing Extensions, or SSE.

7. Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications - Jesse James Garrett's influential essay which coined the term AJAX (shorthand for Asynchronous JavaScript + XML). The technology itself has been around for years, but the term AJAX was only introduced this year and has quickly become a defining part of the new Web.

6. In September, the new-look Memeorandum launched. Gabe Rivera's advanced news clustering service was a revelation to the tech and political blogosphere and is a sign of things to come in the media world. The rise of is also worth a mention - this user-generated community site now rivals Slashdot in audience and influence amongst IT people.

5. In November, Google Base was released. It's a centralized database for various types of content - like events, classified, reviews. A lot of people wondered whether it's a craigslist or eBay killer. Whether it turns out to be or not, there's no doubt the potential is there for Google to turn it into a hugely valuable directory of structured content. 

4. Yahoo! acquired Flickr in March and in December. Yahoo! has evolved into a powerful media company and in 2005 they've released a lot of outstanding products. But if anything sums up their year, it's the acquisitions of two of the darlings of Web 2.0 - Flickr and Yahoo! also bought Konfabulator in July.

3. eBay bought Skype in September. Mainly notable because of the price tag - somewhere between $2.6 - 4.1 billion (yes, billion!). It showed that eBay is serious about competing with the big platform players. Also it showed eBay's commitment to building out its communications platform and improving its global presence.

2. Microsoft announced The Live Era. It's been a big year for Microsoft. They recognized the threat to their business model that web-based applications and services pose, so in November they announced a suite of 'software as a service' products to counter it. This was followed by the release of so-called leaked documents by Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie, which confirmed Microsoft's potentially radical change in strategic direction. They still need to prove they will implement their Web 2.0 visions, but surely the Web-based Office will be good motivation!

1. Web 2.0 Conference. It was difficult to pick any one item that was the highlight of the year, so I gave the number one spot to an event that captured the innovation, enthusiasm and even the cynicism that surrounded the Web 2.0 meme this year. Was it the most important Web 2.0 moment of the year? Some might quibble with that, but the sold out October event was a nexus of Web 2.0 energy and jam packed with people. It showed that the Web is generating excitement and activity again, across both the development and business worlds.

Update: I'll add other worthy Web moments of 2005 to this post, as people suggest them. Already folks have pointed out iTunes support of podcasting and the release of Google Maps mashup, HousingMaps

Update 2: From January, this was very important: Tsunami survivors turn to blogs for news, help

Categories: Web 2.0, Tech

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