Google App Engine: Your Web Apps On Google Infrastructure

| Apr 8, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

Google just released a preview release of Google App Engine, a developer tool that enables you to run your web applications on Google’s infrastructure.

Google App Engine gives you access to the same building blocks that Google uses for its own applications, making it easier to build an application that runs reliably, even under heavy load and with large amounts of data.

The development environment includes the following features:

  • Dynamic webserving, with full support of common web technologies
  • Persistent storage (powered by BigTable and Google File System (GFS) with queries, sorting, and transactions)
  • Automatic scaling and load balancing
  • Google APIs for authenticating users and sending email
  • Fully featured local development environment

During the initial preview period, applications are limited to 500MB of storage, 200M megacycles of CPU per day, and 10GB bandwidth per day. In the future, these limited quotas will remain free, and developers will be able to purchase additional resources as needed.

This new offering from Google is direct competition to the suite of web services offered by Amazon, including S3 (storage), EC2 (virtual servers) and SimpleDB (database).

But unlike Amazon Web Services loosely coupled architecture, which consists of several essentially independent services that can optionally be tied together by developers, Googles architecture is more unified and less flexible; which means that developers using it will be running their entire application stack on Google resources.

Very interesting start from Google in the cloud computing arena, hopefully the future will hold more options and development platforms, and a bit more flexibility. It should make it a little easier for developers to get started with a new web app, and actually scale when that app reaches the point where it’s receiving significant traffic.

# Google App Engine

Tips for Naming Your Startup

| Apr 7, 2008 | comment 2 Comments

One of the first important things to consider when launching a startup is its name, after all it is the name you’ll be using for all your professional activities, and as an umbrella for your company’s services and products, so it just has to be right.

Here are a number of tips for choosing the right name for yours:

Keep It Short: Sometimes you can get carried away, wanting to choose a name that expresses what your company does so clearly, that you end up with a sentence that feels more like a slogan than a company name. The idea here is to try and keep it as short as possible, so that it’s easier for people to remember, and even faster for them to type into their browsers.

Be Generic or Be Creative: Either go for a generic name that accurately describes what you’re about, or try to be creative and come up with a cool, yet effective and unique name. It’s a bit easier for Arab startups to come up with generic or creative names because many Arabic words are still available as domain names.

Keep it simple: Company names should not be difficult to pronounce or spell, it has to be easy for people to pass on to their friends and acquaintances, thereby aiding you with word-of-mouth marketing. There also shouldn’t be any confusion as to how its spelled when typed into a browser, which is something Arabic startups should pay extra attention to, as translating Arabic words into English letters can be very tricky.

Go for the .com: It’s a reflex a lot of people have developed, to just type in the company name .com; losing all that traffic just because you had to go for the .net or .org or whatever other extension is just a shame, especially when you’re at the startup phase and need every single potential user you can get. As many Arabic words are still available as .com domain names, this could be a relatively easy task.

Avoid Using Hyphens or Numbers: Again to avoid people misstyping your domain name and ending up on some other website other than yours, you should avoid using hyphens or numbers in your name. They rarely ever benefit a website. Many Arabic websites choose names with numbers in them, to stand in for Arabic letters, that should be avoided, not everybody knows what those numbers stand for and they sometimes stand in for different letters depending on where you are in the Arab world.

Keep it Meaningful: As hard as it is to come up with a generic name that says it all about your company, you should still try to come up with a quality name that combines a number of words, a mixture of descriptive with meaningful and generic.

Think Ahead: Yeah sure, you’re starting this as a little project from your bedroom or basement, but if you’re onto something interesting, that little project could turn into a successful company. Take that into consideration when choosing a name, sure you want to sound cool and all, but still professional enough for business and deals.

# Inspired by: Folksonomy

Halal Exchange, Marketplace For Global Halal Trade

| Apr 6, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

Halal Exchange, a unique e-commerce platform aimed at facilitating global Halal trade, will make UAE the preferred hub of the $2.1 trillion-a-year global Halal market (according to Malaysian government estimates in 2007).

With UAE ideally positioned through its infrastructure and telecommunication network and its growing significance as one of the largest re-export centers in the world, Halal Exchange will facilitate the growth of Halal trade, both within the Middle East as well as globally.

Powered by vLinx, a web-based solution, which addresses the challenges of global sourcing, the Halal Exchange makes the costly and complex import-export process as simple as doing business across the street. The Exchange will provide a seamless business platform for the larger retailers and distributors as well as the small and medium-sized companies, which are currently responsible for nearly 80 per cent of the global Halal transactions.

Headquartered in the UAE, Halal Exchange is a joint venture between vLinx Inc. and RAK Investment Authority. The service is free of charge� and accessible to registered clients anywhere in the world.

# Site: Halal Exchange
# Source: Mena Report

LEBConnection, Access To Lebanese People And Projects

| Apr 5, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

Newly launched LEBConnection is a business oriented social networking service that caters directly to the specific everyday needs of the Lebanese people around the world: finding jobs, promoting people and projects in the Lebanese community and finding housing.

The project started a year and a half ago while co-founder Patrick Sayegh was staying in Paris and various parts of France, and was exposed to the difficulties many Lebanese faced in getting jobs in French companies even if they were qualified for them.

So the idea was to create a platform that enabled Lebanese people all around the world to tap into their extended network of contacts to identify connections who can help them take advantage of certain business opportunities they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

LEBConnection provides an intuitive interface that enables users to easily build their network of connections through importing contacts from other accounts as well as easily sending invitations to their friends and acquaintances. Information on the site can be accessed in many ways, and the search engines have broad or narrow searches to look for people or jobs according to specific criteria.

On one hand, businesses and people can post ads on the website, to their network of connections as well as to the whole community, about their open job opportunities, projects and deals; and on the other hand, users can search for these opportunities as well as contacts they have in certain companies and places who can help them in getting jobs, deals or resources.

An internal email system LEB mail is built into the system to enable the sharing of information between contacts.

The service is a free one, and the interface is in English and French for the time being with the possibility of adding Spanish as its next language.

# LEBConnection

Pressera, Online Newspaper & Magazine Hosting

| Apr 4, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

PresseraPressera are a Lebanese online publishing service that offers an easy and interesting solution for Arab newspapers and magazines to take their publications online.

There isn’t much detail on their website about the setup phase, but they promise it is an easy process, and that the service is 100% automated, enabling newspapers and magazines to publish online daily, and have their publications viewable through a fully customized viewer panel.

Newspapers and magazines from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Syria are currently using the service.

The publications are available for free to all readers through custom subdomains of the Pressera website; they can also download them in pdf format.

It seems like quite an easy and interesting solution for offline publications that want to extend their readership and offer their content online, although it’s a shame that the content isn’t in an indexable and searchable format.

Sequoia Capital’s Elements of Sustainable Companies

| Apr 3, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

Sequoia Capital, one of the most important venture firms that funded startups like Apple, Google, Yahoo, Cisco Systems, Oracle, PayPal and YouTube, recently released a list of principles and key drivers of success for any startup aiming to make their business successful and build a sustainable, enduring company out of it.

Their list goes as follows:

Clarity of Purpose: Summarize the company’s business on the back of a business card.
Large Markets: Address existing markets poised for rapid growth or change. A market on the path to a $1B potential allows for error and time for real margins to develop.
Rich Customers: Target customers who will move fast and pay a premium for a unique offering.
Focus: Customers will only buy a simple product with a singular value proposition.
Pain Killers: Pick the one thing that is of burning importance to the customer then delight them with a compelling solution.
Think Differently: Constantly challenge conventional wisdom. Take the contrarian route. Create novel solutions. Outwit the competition.
Team DNA: A company’s DNA is set in the first 90 days. All team members are the smartest or most clever in their domain. “A” level founders attract an “A” level team.
Agility: Stealth and speed will usually help beat-out large companies.
Frugality: Focus spending on what’s critical. Spend only on the priorities and maximize profitability.
Inferno: Start with only a little money. It forces discipline and focus. A huge market with customers yearning for a product developed by great engineers requires very little firepower.

# Sequoia Capital: Elements of Sustainable Companies

B2C E-commerce Study In Four Arab Countries

| Apr 2, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

A recent analysis by the Arab Advisors Group of e-commerce expenditure in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon was released recently after studies based on major online and face to face surveys conducted by Arab Advisors Group during 2007.

Total number of e-commerce users in these four countries exceeded 5.1 million people in 2007.

The UAE’s e-commerce users penetration was the highest among the countries studied. The UAE’s e-commerce users’ penetration stood at 25.1%. Saudi Arabia (14.3%) and Kuwait (10.7%) followed while Lebanon had the lowest penetration of e-commerce users with 1.6% of the total population.

The UAE also had the highest average amount spent per capita over one year. As for Lebanon, it had the lowest e-commerce expenditure per capita per year and per month due to a low penetration of e-commerce users in the country. However, Lebanon registered the highest e-commerce expenditure per e-commerce users.

# Press Release: Arab Advisors Group

Mezed, Product Auctions Differently

| Apr 1, 2008 | comment 1 Comment

MezedMezed is a Tunisian auction site that recently surfaced into the arena of online startups in Tunisia.

A number of Tunisian websites have already attempted to try and push through the idea of online auctions in Tunisia, get it popular, and attempt to make some money out of it. Examples off the top of my head are sites like: MoncefBay and EchriBay.
A lot of these services hang on for a while before fading away into Tunisian internet history. It just seems that the auction model just hasn’t taken off and worked up to now, for one reason or another.

Websites that approach the whole buying/selling thing through small classified ads seem to be doing a little better maybe, but nothing big enough to come close to real e-commerce yet.

Back to Mezed, they take on a new and different approach to the whole auctions system, taking out the sellers and auctioning off partner products themselves. Their system revolves solely around buyers competing to get the auctioned product at a cheap price.

Continue reading »

Seamler, Personalized Arabic Startpage

| Apr 1, 2008 | comment Leave a comment

SeamlerSeamler is one of the first Arab services that followed the steps of Netvibes, launching a personalized startpage for the Arab world.

The interface is entirely in Arabic, and is very much like Netvibe’s earlier versions, with the same level of usability and interface basics.

Users can customize their startpage, or actually create several pages, using blocks of content, from a list of selected sites and blogs spanning several different themes; they can also add blocks that pull their content from RSS feeds of the user’s choice.

In addition to the content blocks, there are a few widgets users can throw onto their pages like clock, calculator, weather info, sticky notes, flickr and gmail widgets.

Seamler initially launched back in September 2006, and haven’t really done much to evolve the service, add new widgets or even other content sources ever since, and other Arab websites and portals have caught up adding the same startpage idea with richer features and more options.

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