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Google Acquires Dodgeball 253

Posted by Zonk
from the tagged dept.
kalki writes "Dodgeball.com, a service that uses mobile phones to help people meet up with friends who are in the same location, said on its website on Wednesday that it has been bought by Web search leader Google Inc. Also available on the official site is a Q&A about the deal." From the article: "As a two-person team, Alex and I have taken dodgeball about a far as we can alone. Since we finished grad school, we've been trying to figure out how to grow dodgeball and make it a better service along the way. We talked to a lot of different angel investors and venture capitalists, but no one really 'got' what we were doing - that is until we met Google."
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Google Acquires Dodgeball

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  • The cynic in me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:40AM (#12508493) Homepage Journal

    We talked to a lot of different angel investors and venture capitalists, but no one really 'got' what we were doing - that is until we met Google."

    I think what he's really saying is "We begged but no one offered us any money... until we met Google."
  • What's next? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:43AM (#12508519)
    Google is in a lot of things that seem really cool.

    I am concerned, however, about the infrastructure of society being in the hands of a company.

    That is exactly what Microsoft wants, in my opinion, and in that respect, Google and MS are identical.

    That is why MS is watching Google so closely.
  • by coupland (160334) * <dchase@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:45AM (#12508530) Journal
    Crap, do Sun [slashdot.org] and IBM [slashdot.org] know about this? They'll have to make a couple more purchases just to keep up with Google. Wake me up when there's only one fish left in the pond...
  • Great plan Bart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Underholdning (758194) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:45AM (#12508542) Homepage Journal
    Great idea. Google has had tremendous success with it's prior engagement in social sites. Just look at Orkut.com
    Yes, I was being sarcastic. I'm still trying to figure out why they made this move. It doesn't seem to fit into the "organizing the world" mantra?
  • New Trend (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky (799199) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:51AM (#12508592)
    I predict a new trend to start emerging: Think of a unique/different way in which 'searching' is in anyway involved and create a startup with full intentions of being bought by Google.
  • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:53AM (#12508611) Journal
    If you're searching Google to find out where your friends are hanging out, perhaps technological integration isn't exactly your biggest problem.
  • by msbmsb (871828) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:53AM (#12508615)
    Google already knows your computer usage...might as well track your location and places you go in real life also. Think of how much advertisers would pay for that info in addition to everything else Google tracks about you (email, searches, local drive searches, internet usage).
  • Re:What's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @08:59AM (#12508676)
    I am concerned, however, about the infrastructure of society being in the hands of a company.

    That is exactly what Microsoft wants, in my opinion, and in that respect, Google and MS are identical.


    That's exactly what every company wants but they want to do it in a way where their customers pay out the ass for it. People support Google because it's "free" (free as in I gave out my personal habbits to the lowest bidder so I could see maps for free).
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:09AM (#12508769)
    Google local search of "what bar are my friends hanging out at tonight?" drop down some phone numbers, get a google map to where they are.

    Or, change that to "what bar is my soon-to-be exwife hanging out in tonight?"

    If it can be used by your friends, it can be used by people who don't like you. There's always a flip side.

  • by millwall (622730) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:10AM (#12508785)
    If you don't know where your friends are -- they aren't your friends.

    I'd say, if you've got so few friends you know where all of them are at any given moment, THEN you are a geek.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:14AM (#12508823)
    to reach your circle of friends. Think about it, is there a better way of direct marketing?
  • by mattspammail (828219) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:16AM (#12508830)
    "egregious error"

    Strong words for an old-timer like you. You should know better. Did you buy that ID on eBay?

    This is far from an egregious error. If it fails, it fails. If it succeeds, they reap the rewards. What are the chances of a business model such as this one failing? At this point, much lower than before. Apparently there were other idiots already using the service, but as soon as Google ties this system into their existing Hello, Picassa, and (possibly) future IM client, I believe potential is just oozing. There is no bigger gadget money-maker out there than cell phones. iPods are a distant second. And the high school/young college market is teeming with kids willing to pay for an inexpensive, unneeded service just like this. If it's free though, and it keeps them using Google services and so forth, how can this lose?

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:17AM (#12508835)
    I remember when personal computers were just finding a niche in business, and your choices were an x86 running DOS and a Mac. For us DOS guys, MS was this amazing Sorcerer's Tower in Redmond that kept coming up with newer, better office and personal apps. And we watched in awe as the graphics programs for Windows began to nose up on their Mac counterparts (if not their user base). MS was Great!

    Then, somewhere along the line, circa early-mid 90's, somebody looked up and realized how pervasive they were. The Novell and WordPerfect satellites had been completely absorbed into the ever-burgeoning and hungry DeathStar they orbited, and even our phones, PDAs, TV set-top boxes, and browsers began to sport the Brand of the Beast. The backlash began, but the tide was unstem-able. We had become a Microsoft Nation, save for a few cells of Linux revolutionaries and a Mac sub-culture that, by its own choice, would not breed and so could not be counted upon in the long haul.

    I am often reminded of the affection I and so many others had for MS 15 years ago, seeing it mirrored here daily in the gushing PR presented as "reporting" on the front page of slashdot. But MS brokered only tools, no matter how empowered those tools made us feel. Google brokers knowledge, and if we don't monitor their growth at least as cynically as we do that of Microsoft, we are fools.
  • by says (835719) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:17AM (#12508838) Homepage
    You may be doing a lot more than just checking for their name on the internet. When google starts aggregating information from the internet, Orkut, blogger, gmail, and now dodgeball, under a "peopleranking" algorithm, it will be a very interesting world. Just think about how much power a neighborhood watch group equipped with camera phones can have by using those four services. Throw in google.maps (which I think will eventually use a livestream from Keyhole) and you are approaching Total Information Awareness for citizens. The more I think about it, the more I'd like to see them move their servers into international waters right away.
  • Re:What's next? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vacindak (669486) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:42AM (#12509084)
    That is exactly what Microsoft wants, in my opinion, and in that respect, Google and MS are identical.

    That is why MS is watching Google so closely.

    No it's not. MS is watching Google so closely because they threaten to make the OS/platform you use to do your work irrelevant in a way that things like Java never could.
  • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@gm a i l . c om> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:24AM (#12509490)
    I have no problem with a Google empire. I would have had no problem with a Microsoft empire, if they hadn't built theirs Robber Baron style.

    Google is, so far, the perfect example that you CAN be a successful company and NOT lie, steal, and cheat your way there.

    For decades, I've had to deal with MBA types who revered Bill Gates, not because he was a good guy but because he was successful. They didn't care how he did it, they cared that he had done it.

    Let Google take over; let them be so pervasive that you can't go anywhere without seeing their brand; AS LONG AS THEY REMAIN THE COMPANY THEY ARE NOW.

    I'd rather spend the rest of my life dealing with business oriented types that realize it's possible to get ahead without being backstabbing, manipulative, lying, sacks of excrement than with the ones today that think their actions should only be guided by whether the potential profit outweighs the potential fees if they get caught.
  • Cuz, y'kno (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aztektum (170569) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:28AM (#12509529)
    It would make too much sense to just to call your friends mobile phone to find out where they are.
  • by twifosp (532320) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:38AM (#12509634)
    This strategy is no different than offering a free search. When you search, google knows what you're looking for and gives you advertisements based on that. Now they are adding the where.

    Google is going to become the premier marketing company in the future. They are really good at providing a service that people want or need, but at the same time, that service also helps them collect data on you. Is this a good or bad thing? I can't really tell yet. However, I just had a flash back to Minority Report where people are getting customer advertisements based on who they are.

    Let's look at what google can know about you, if you use all of their services (present and future):

    1. Google Search: What kind of things you search on a regular basis. Your interests and hobbies.
    2. Gmail: What kind of content you get in your email.
    3. Google Cache Proxy: Where you surf the web and how often.
    4. Google Maps: Where do you want to go?
    5. Google Dodgeball: Where do you and your friends actually go?

    Think about it. I could easily forsee LCD screens on streets, in bars, at your restuarant table which display custom google ads. As soon as you pass by them, your bluetooth enabled phone broadcasts your cell phone number to the receiver which transmits to the Google Person Database. This database spiders out and looks up your most recent searches, your friends searches, other people who search like you, accesses your e-mail indexes, looks up what locations you visit on a regular basis, and gives you a custom advertisement which has the best probability to sell to the thousands of other people who have a similar demographic to you.

    I'm starting to think of Google as marketing powerhouse with really smart technology, rather a technology powerhouse with really slick marketing.

    I'm struggling to find the answer: What can't Google figure out or make damned good assumptions about you, based on your Google use?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:39AM (#12509640)
    Ive seen a few responses here along the lines of "there is no need to find out where your friends are, because if they are your friends, you know." And this is entirely untrue if you have a decent social life and/or live in a reasonably populated area. I don't call every single person in my phonebook on a friday night to see where they are or where they are going to be. Furthermore, drunk people rarely stay at the same bar for a period of time. I would easily say that the #1 use of my cell phone is finding out where people are and what they are doing so I can meet up with them and then talk to them in person.

    With technology like this though... I could run a query and see "who is out on the upper east side tonight?" get the results, and then call them up to hang out. It saves me the annoyance of having to call everyone up and see whats going on. A non party-type example: "Oh I see that Mike is working at his LI office today. I'll call him up to see if he wants to get some lunch." Think about this for a bit, and you can see that there are many scenario's where this application would be useful.

    Humans LOVE to socialize and exchange information. Solitary confinement is considered the harshest form of punishment in the US prison system. There is gold to be found in any technology that can allow us to interact with each other more.
  • by A8bbNjwk (883576) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:25PM (#12510836)
    That's the fallacy of pseudonymity on the web. Have you ever posted something using your pseudonym from your real IP address? Or used both your real identity and pseudonym while maintaining the same tracking cookie in your web browser? Or leaked personally identifiable semantic information by posting from the same brain (google stylometry)?

    Once the two identities are linked by a single careless move (like those mentioned above), your pseudonym is compromised retroactively. You are now personally accountable for everything you thought was done anonymously. Don't think Google won't automate this in the future, if they aren't doing it already...

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