Top Web Products, Services of 2008

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Top Web Products, Services of 2008

by eWEEK

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Launched formally at Demo in January, Ribbit lets developers add voice and automation features to most Web-based apps or social networks. BT was so enamored with this VOIP platform, which let users add the communications element to business apps carriers have been lacking, that it would acquire the company in July for $105 million.

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Also launching from beta at Demo in March was Blist, which lets users create databases called Blists that employ spreadsheet front-ends. Users create the Blists to store information for private use and for groups to collaborate.

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Google App Engine

It seems simple enough. Google on April 7 launched the test version of Google App Engine, a tool designed to let programmers build Web applications on top of Google's infrastructure. Seen by some as an alternative to cloud computing infrastructure from Amazon Web Services, the play was really about extending Google's presence as a premier Web platform provider.

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Semantic search startup Powerset launched its first product May 12, a search engine focused on finding articles on Wikipedia. The technology wowed analysts, some of whom proclaimed it a potential Google killer in the hands of Microsoft, a company capable enough to wield it. Microsoft would go on to acquire Powerset in July.

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Yahoo Open Strategy Starts Climb with SearchMonkey

YOS is Yahoo's attempt to modernize its traditionally siloed search and e-mail applications. The company started this process May 15 with SearchMonkey, which lets developers make Yahoo Search results more useful and visually appealing to drive more relevant traffic to their sites.

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Google Health

After a splashy unveiling by CEO Eric Schmidt at a healthcare conference in Orlando in February, Google May 19 launches the first public iteration of Google Health, the company's online health portal. The service lets patients access their personal health records no matter where they are, from any computing device, through a secure portal hosted by Google.

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Google Chrome

Launched formally Sept. 2, Google Chrome is the search engine giant's answer to Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and any other Web browser Google doesn't fancy as fast or reliable enough.

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Google Android Appears in the G1

T-Mobile in October rolled out the G1, the first smartphone to run on Android. Finally, users could enjoy the speedy Webkit-based platform Google intended as an alternative to mobile platforms such as the iPhone, Windows Mobile, Nokia Symbian and Palm. How many units will T-Mobile sell? It could determine who else supports the platform.

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YOS 1.0

Launched Oct. 28, YOS 1.0 is the next leg of the rewiring of Yahoo. There are many layers to YOS 1.0, but the core benefits users enjoy include the universal profile where users can manage the new applications they want to use and the social connections they have across Yahoo, as well as the ability to make their address book available to other Web sites. Will YOS be enough to save the struggling company in 2009?

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Voice and Video Chat for Google Gmail

Google Nov. 11 continued boosting the value of its Web e-mail application by launching voice and video chat for Gmail. The feature lets users converse with and see their contacts on their desktop computers in real time. This should put to rest speculation that Google could buy Skype. Why buy when you can build in this depressed economy?