Apture: The Birth of a New Google?

  • Analyst Opinion - Living in Silicon Valley has its advantages.  One of them is that every once in a while a company like Netscape or Google pops up which threatens to change dramatically the way we do certain things.  I ran into such a company recently. It is called Apture and it could have the technology to change the way how we hyperlink and or embed pictures or graphs into Internet content.   

    It would have been hard to conclude that Google could be as successful as they are a few years ago, if all you knew about them was their search engine. Back in the late 1990s, there were few who actually believed that Google could make money off its text-base ads in a time that was aiming at big pictures and animations in advertising. Netscape would still be around, if the company had chosen a similar business approach as Google and implemented the business model into their portal and browser.

    Clearly I missed this early potential as well and, as a result, I’m more aggressively looking for what could be the next big thing. I believe Apture has potential.  

    Virtual hyperlinks

    For the lack of a better term let’s call what Apture does “virtual hyperlinks”.  The power of the tool is actually more on the author/publisher side of the equation than on the user. However, the user does get a better experience as well.   Like trying to explain the value of search before there was a Google, explaining Apture won’t be easy and you’ll likely have to see examples. We will get to those in a moment.

    Realize that the Web isn’t really free, it is supported by advertising dollars and Google got to where they are by figuring out how to effectively gain control over those dollars. They initially started doing this by changing something that we did not know we were doing poorly - which was the way how we were searching the Web.  It was that seed that became the foundation for Google which is now vastly more than anyone imagined it could be when it was still a little start up.
    What Apture does is to change another fundamental part of how we do things – hyperlink content.  Much like Google did for search,  Apture updates hyperlinks to make them easier to create, retain the advertising revenue on A site with the link and potentially preserve the revenue on the site that the link goes to. Done aggressively, this could actually increase the advertising revenue to the site that used the product and much like Google gets a cut of the revenue for what they do, Apture gets a cut of this additional advertising revenue the site generates.
    The company is brand new but initial metrics coming out of the initial implementation at the Washington Post indicate the potential for a strong bump in number and quality of eyeballs on related advertising as a result.  

    Ease of installation and use

    The tool is enabled by adding one line of HTML code to the target document.   Actually creating the link is faster, at least it was for me, than the more traditional way of cutting and pasting a URL because you can search for the content from within the Apture tool (yes it contains search) and link multiple items to the same word.
    To get a rough sense of the result I applied the tool to a page I’d created earlier this month talking about the possibility of Carly Fiorina being John McCain’s running mate. There are three virtual hyperlinks and it took under 30 seconds to create all of them. You highlight what you want to link and the tool gives you choices of web pages talking about the subject, videos on the subject, and other reference material clearly identified.   
    Then you select the content you identify as a match and the reader has a rich set of references but never navigates away from your site unless they want to drill down into the detail behind the summery video that appears in front of them.   Here is my modified site - click on Carly Fiorina to get a sense for what the result is.  A better example is a Apture’s site, which has a number of virtual hyperlinks.  

    The only downside to the tool is you have to use it after the page is published.  That Apture links a two step operation, one where you first publish a story and then create links.  And this evidently represents the biggest complaint to the offering.  However, this might create the opportunity for readers to build their own links and share the modified document.  I am not sure whether this would work, but the concept intrigued me.

    I think they have a lot of potential but the firm is tiny right now. However, every firm, including Apple and HP, started out being small.  In any case it is always fun to watch a new concept being born and see the potential for something great.  Who knows, they may actually become the next Google.


    Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts.  Inquiry Analysts are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic, on how to best take advantage of them.  Currently he provides his services to most of the major technology and media companies.