About this Author
Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
About this Site
Moores Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moores Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moores Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesnt apply. In this blog well take a daily look at new implications of Moores Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
February 21, 2006
News that David Edmondson, the CEO of Radio Shack, had to quit after a week because he phonied-up his resume was sad to read.
The more I thought about the story, the sadder I got.
That's because Radio Shack had every opportunity to be a dominant player in the computer space. Back in the early 1980s, when investors thought Microsoft CEO Bill Gates needed "adult supervision," a Radio Shack executive named Jon Shirley was hired to provide it. Before that, Radio Shack was one of the very first PC makers,
Its TRS-100 was still one of the best portables I ever had -- $400, an internal modem, a decent keyboard, 4 pounds in weight, and enough storage to deal with most writing assignments. During a 1984 documentary on the failed Gary Hart campaign, "The Boys on the Bus," the TRS-100 stole the show. As time went on the boys started ignoring the story around them and gathered around the machine, exchanging tech tips.
Even after leaving the PC business Radio Shack remained a very vital retailer, surfing from PCs to cellphones to satellite dishes, and keeping up its quirky stock of electronic parts -- batteries, headphones, etc. In many small American towns, in fact, Radio Shack is the only game in town.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | History | marketing
February 14, 2006
Yahoo tried to draw some favorable press coverage today.
(That's actress Charlize Theron, but she's very small, hard to recognize. That's deliberate, as you'll see.)
In the wake of a scandal over the fact its Chinese affiliate cooperated with authorities to silence dissidents, the story Americans were told by Yahoo today was that it will do everything it can to fight Web censorship.
That’s not the way the story was carried in China. An American correspondent to Dave Farber’s list wrote:
“In my Beijing hotel room this morning CNN aired a piece about Yahoo calling for search engines to cooperate to deal with China's ‘search engine rules.’”
As the TV correspondent was about to say the word censorship, this writer added, the sound went blank, so it might have appeared to Chinese that Yahoo was, in fact, continuing to cooperate with its government. The Farber correspondent used asterisks in writing the word censorship, in order, he said, to get it past possible Chinese censorship. It got through.
The use of asterisks, of inference, of badda-boom badda-bing, in discussing subjects like freedom in China is widespread. It’s titillating – as sex was in America under the Hays Office. The level of sex in America didn’t decline under the code, but many Americans who were alive then say it was enjoyed more than it is in today’s era of free Web porn.
Could this be true for freedom as well? Chinese people share the government’s fear of anarchy. Americans, fortunately, have not faced the prospect in centuries, and this generation firmly shied away from it in the 1960s. We still prefer Nixon to Woodstock.
Should the Chinese be any different? Must they be?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Security | blogging | ethics | faith | law | personal
February 12, 2006
By ignoring what blogging is about, The Wall Street Journal has created a scandal out of whole cloth.
Here's the conflation, in a nutshell. Journalists can blog, and blogs can be journalism. Thus many journalists assume all blogging is journalism.
Uh, wrong. Much blogging, perhaps most blogging, is anything but journalism. Experts can blog, executives can blog, little children can blog, players in a story can blog about the games they are playing.
Thus, Rebecca Buckman's "story" claiming corruption in that Fon has a number of bloggers on its advisory council, who blogged about Fon once the company announced its entry into the market.
She hangs her charge on a single dubious claim by The Poynter Institute, which does have some claim on journalists but not on anyone else:
Some lawyers and academics with expertise in the Internet said the disclosures by the FON advisers were adequate and appropriate. But Bob Steele, an ethics specialist with the Poynter Institute, a journalism organization in St. Petersburg, Fla., says bloggers with financial ties to companies -- disclosed or not -- have "competing loyalties" that could taint their independence as writers. "It's still a problem," he says. While many bloggers don't consider themselves journalists, anyone putting information into the public domain about people or companies has certain ethical responsibilities, Mr. Steele says.
Over at Roughtype, Nicholas Carr calls this "unsavory buzz."
Some news for Nick, Rebecca, and the rest:
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | ethics
February 05, 2006
AOL and Yahoo have begun offering corporations "preferential delivery" of their marketing e-mails to users for prices ranging from .25-1 cent per message.
The scam is being run by Goodmail Systems, whose home page advertises "if it's certified, it's safe." (The illustration, from the Goodmail Web site, is an animated .gif of the company's "partners.")
The claim is that this is "opt-in" only and "not spam." But the incoming lists aren't audited. This is, in fact, a pay-off to let "spam that is not spam" through the company's spam filters.
Here's the real Clue to what is going on, from the New York Times piece found on the International Herald Tribune:
The two companies also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.
Get it? They want to charge protection to spammers.
For outfits which have been part of the Internet for a decade and more, Yahoo and AOL don't know much about the Internet, do they?
I run a mailing list which may be subject to the charges, and I can tell you right away it's no sale. No operator of a free e-mail newsletter service is going to pay protection on what is legal opt-in traffic.
Who will? Marketers .
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | spam
February 02, 2006
Verisign CEO Stratton Sclavos is a big investor in incumbency. And he gets value for money.
OpenSecrets.Org reports that he gave $84,000 in political contributions during the 2004 cycle, and has (with his wife) given another $24,700 in 2005. The Verisign PAC, meanwhile, has spent another $36,200 this cycle, in hard money contributions.
That’s not all. The same Web site reports Verisign put out $124,000 in “soft money” contributions during 2002, and $88,600 in the 2000 cycle. While some of the money (about 15%) goes to Democratic incumbents, the vast majority goes to Republicans.
That's just the money I found searching OpenSecrets under Verisign and Sclavos. It doesn't count other money that may have been sent from Verisign executives, or their families, or third parties under Verisign's direction.
What does Verisign get for this money? It gets the full legal authority to rob the Internet, to take you, for everything it can grab.
And it's grabbing with both hands.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | personal
February 01, 2006
Change is the one business constant. Those who embrace it succeed, those who resist it fail.
But change also dislocates.
Workers threatened by change organize unions and seek protection from government. The Luddite movement was a call by workers to smash the new textile mills that threatened their jobs.
Business calls against change are heeded more often, because they may speak the language of change and back it up with cash. In autocratic societies the cash is called a bribe. In a democracy it’s called a campaign contribution.
History proves that in every case, the public interest governments must follow is to embrace change. This is tough when the threatened industries have enormous political power.
Yet America has done this for 200 years.
- 19th Century Whigs embraced change as “public works,” ports, canals, and (later) railroads and telegraph companies that needed scarce capital.
- Turn of the Century Progressives embraced change as antitrust, worker protection and (perhaps most important) the income tax, which replaced the tariff as the funder of government and made America the world’s business leader.
- Mid-century Europeans forged free trade agreements, starting with Iron and Steel, evolving into the European Community. America embraced this movement through the WTO and such treaties as NAFTA.
Cars replaced railroads, oil replaced coal, suburbs replaced cities, and as the American blackboard was erased, rewritten and erased again, incumbents were allowed to wither away.
Today Google is the face of corporate change. Google has become a corporate stand-in for the changes the Internet makes necessary. Thus the incumbents have their knives out for it:
- Telephone companies threatened by the Internet’s end-to-end principle, in which services are defined at the edge, want government to give them power to define services within their networks that everyone – including Google – will be forced to pay for.
- TV and movie studios threatened by the fact that video can be passed as bits have demanded, and gotten, the power to halt distribution of bits they own.
- Newspapers threatened by the Internet’s power to organize everything and make it available through links want government to make Google (and then the rest of us) pay for “linking rights.”
These forces are made more powerful by the fact that networks, studios, and reporters have no new business models to replace what’s lost as Google and its followers (Level 3, Craigslist, eBay, Amazon) march forward.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law
January 30, 2006
A few years ago some wags talked about people having a "right" to Internet service, and they got laughed at.
Let's try it another way.
America's economic future requires every citizen have access to Internet resources, and full freedom to use them.
Everyone needs Internet access, and literacy, to be part of the modern world.
FAST Internet access. Just as it's stupid to tell someone an 8086 machine is equivalent to a modern computer, so it is sheer ignorance to claim the availability of dial-up means everyone has Internet access. It's got to be fast enough so all modern applications run.
In a recent essay Visicalc co-founder Bob Frankston compares the Internet to roads. In a recent piece here at Mooreslore , I offered something similar. What if the railroads had a veto over road development, I asked, even after the car became popular?
But this dramatically underestimates what we're talking about.
The Internet is becoming a universal database, a universal discussion, almost a hive mind for humanity in the 21st century. If you don't have access you can't contribute. And you can't benefit, either.
This is the Century of the Mind. We've already seen business gravitate to those cities with the best connectivity, with the best chances for minds to connect. That's what Silicon Valley is about. That's what Boston is about, what New York is about, what Atlanta and Austin and Washington are about. Connections.
But with the Internet it's not just cities which are judged on their connectivity. It's nations.
And we're falling behind. Already, just in the last few years, we've fallen to 19th in broadband penetration. We're about to be passed by Slovenia, for God's sakes! Slovenia! Slovenia was, in the 1990s, part of Yugoslavia, a country which destroyed itself in civil war. Now Slovenia is passing us in the access its citizens have to the Essential Resource of our Time.
Why is this? Simple.
We've allowed Internet service to be monopolized by two sets of companies - Bell companies and cable operators - who are paying for obsolete infrastructure, who are forcing us to pay for that infrastructure before they deliver more, and who think only in terms of billing for specific services, not selling bits.
The Internet is just bits. Video bits, sound bits, e-mail bits, Web bits, text bits. The meaning of the bits are defined at the edge, on the computers that exchange them. All producers are consumers, all consumers can be producers. But the gatekeepers won't accept that. They see the Internet as services - TV, phone, e-mail - billable events which they define and they control.
And so, with Internet connectivity held hostage to these so-called "service providers," your ability to be part of the future atrophies, disappears, dot by dot, bit by bit. So does America's competitiveness.
Frankston calls the process through which this has happened the Regulatorium. He's talking about a network of political connections, state and federal agencies, think tanks and Bell-sponsored "consumer groups" who push the Bell-Cable duopoly more effectively than Jack Abramoff's K Street Project dreamed of.
Here, he says, is what we need instead. Some simple statements:
- Connectivity is fundamental. The Internet is not a service. The Regulatorium doesn't have the language for this. Giving it the language is the leverage point.
- Speed is useless if you can't communicate. It's easy to speed up the network - what we need is pervasive connectivity. This means that wireless connectivity - be it Wi-Fi or other protocols is our basic right.
- Rather than giving carriers the ability to define our services, connectivity must be infrastructure like roads and power lines and "just be there". We can then create services and solutions.
This is light years from the way the world works today. But we have to get there.
I've written a lot about these issues here, tangentially. Moore's Law drives the world, not just as it relates to chips but as it relates to telecomm technology too. Moore's Law of Fiber shows that optical fiber capacity can grow exponentially, just by changing out hardware. Moore's Law of Radios shows we can have the same capacity increases using the air that we have with fiber.
All the laws and rules we have in place for telecommunications are based on the idea of scarcity. Capital to build networks is scarce, so only a few big companies can play. The frequency spectrum is a scarce good government must distribute.
I don't know of a better way to say this, so I'll just say it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | law
Google has to obey the law.
Doesn’t matter if the law is oppressive, as in China. If Google wants to do business in China, it must obey the law.
Google can fight stupid laws, as in the EU Google can argue in court against some laws, as it’s doing in the U.S.
But Google must, in the end, obey the law.
I’m sick and tired of sanctimonious claptrap from people who state, baldly, that Google’s stated intent to “do no evil” means it must defy the law. Google is a public company. Google can’t do that. No public company can.
You can complain all you want about Google’s actions within the law. People do. They complain about its cookies, about its tracking usage patterns. They complain about its habit of leaving projects out to dry if they don’t work, about how some projects aren’t worth the spin that’s placed on them. They complain about its lack of lobbying prowess, or how little it has spent lobbying.
But Google has to obey the law.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | marketing | online advertising
January 29, 2006
This week's issue of A-Clue.Com is on-topic (for once).
It's about e-commerce, and about how to make start-ups work.
Specifically we're talking about what it takes to get a start-up launched and the character of a successful entrepreneur, who is at its heart.
You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.
I learned a great and terrible lesson recently.
While it's true that anyone can launch a business, an entrepreneurial business must be a team from the start.
Sure, you need the entrepreneur, the idea person. You need someone who can find the money, who can sell the scheme, who can adjust to events, who can lead. You need someone of boundless energy, determination, ambition, and (especially) ruthlessness.
If your business is going to be on the Internet, you need a content guy. Having an Internet business without a content guy is like having a restaurant without a chef. On my latest venture, I'm the content guy (not the entrepreneur).
The content guy is committed to the editorial mission of the site (and even stores have an editorial mission). The content guy has contacts, a voice, an understanding of what's needed to attract attention and credibility. A content guy might be able to run the whole show himself, if this were a small business. But it's not, so keep the content guy in his place.
There's a third team member needed, and many businesses fail to plan for this. That's the tech person. In a restaurant this would be the maitre 'd. In an old-line manufacturing business this would be the engineer. In retailing it's a number cruncher. A geek, in other words. Gotta have a geek.
While today's Web tools are much more powerful and simple to use than ever before, they're still tools. Every step toward simplicity is matched by a step toward power. While users may use your Web site to simplify their lives, or even their own creation of content, that's not how it works inside the site business.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
January 25, 2006
Everyone hates spam. But there has been no political constituency potent enough to fight the well-organized Direct Marketing Association, which has successfully defended spammers from meaningful regulation for a decade.
Now Matthew Prince, a young Chicago lawyer, thinks he has the answer. Porn. Well, anti-porn.
Using the Christian Right as his political base Prince’s company, Unspam Inc., has gotten laws passed in Utah and Michigan that could both make him rich and make most e-mail disappear. While fighting for the law in a Utah court, he has taken his show on the road to Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, trying to get identical laws passed there.
The laws create a “do not porn” registry, run by Unspam, that e-mailers must filter their messages through. Anything in an e-mail deemed “harmful to minors,” even in a link, becomes a felony. Not just porn offers, but alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms and illegal drugs are covered. Parents on the list get the right to sue for up to $1,000 per message (Utah) or $5,000 per message (Michigan). There are also criminal penalties, including jail time.
Prince spends money through his “base,” using Susan Zahn’s WDC Media (the same folks used by Christian broadcasters) for his PR, and emphasizing the porn angle in his releases. An Unspam press release sent out via Webwire identifies only the porn industry as fighting the new laws.
But the direct mail industry is now energized as well. WindowsSecrets editor Brian Livingston put out an article on Earthweb last year blasting Prince as essentially a patent troll. (The company has filed U.S. patent application 20040148506 to protect its registry, he says.) Prince claims he wins his registry contracts through competitive bids, but if you got the law through and patented the required technology, well, you figure it out. (I should note here that WindowsSecrets is an e-mail newsletter, so Livingston would have to filter his lists through Unspam if the law holds up in court.)
A recent Wall Street Journal story on Unspam estimates compliance costs this way:
Businesses are charged $7 for every 1,000 email addresses examined each month in Michigan, and $5 per 1,000 in Utah. Companies must have their lists examined once a month. A company with a list of 100,000 emails would pay $14,400 annually to have its list examined by both states. Unspam receives the majority of the revenue to administer the registry, and the rest goes to the state.
Livingston disputes the WSJ conclusions. He says monthly screening won’t protect e-mailers, that 85% of the money goes to the state. He then offers two illustrations of how easy it would be for the law to be abused:
- A conservative activist puts her e-mail address, which is also used by her daughter, on a state registry. The listing takes 30 days to become effective. She then e-mails a health clinic for information about morning-after pills. If the clinic replies with the information, the sender is guilty of a felony.
- A liberal activist registers his and his son's e-mail address. After 30 days, he e-mails a gun dealer, asking for product listings. If the dealer replies with details, he's guilty of a felony.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law | marketing | online advertising | spam
January 21, 2006
NOTE: The following entry is being mirrored at the new Infrastructure Held Hostage blog.
We live in an uneasy relationship with the past.Photograph courtesy RPI
The whole past is available to us, there to teach us lessons, to give us Clues that can help us avoid yesterday’s mistakes.
We can find multiple analogies within it. While our politics may seem, to some, analogous to those of the early years of the Cold War, in terms of technology they’re far more like those of the early Progressive Era, the early 1900s.
So imagine if the railroads of that time controlled all the roads.
That’s precisely what AT&T and Verizon, aka Bell East and Bell West (making Qwest and BellSouth into Bell North and, what do you know?) are doing to the Internet right now.
Jay Gould should have been so clever.
They’ve gotten away with it (so far) because the Internet uses the old phone network (cars using the old railroad tracks) for transport. As with railroad tracks and cars, the phone network brings irrelevant, even obnoxious, artifacts with it.
Take out the frequencies used for phone calls (which you can easily do with VOIP) and your DSL line could handle up to 7 Mbps down, no problem, without changing out the underlying technology.
Still don’t believe me? If you have a home LAN (and millions do) you’re assigning IP addresses to each PC on the network, creating your own private Internet.
Your transport to the Internet backbone could be delivered just as easily with a cable modem as with the phone.
- When the cable company offers you phone service they’re not rebuilding the old infrastructure, just modeling it on data.
- Internet transport could be delivered over power lines, and where my inlaws live, in Flatonia, Texas, it is.
- Internet transport could even be delivered using radios, through a Wireless ISP (WISP) using the shared unlicensed WiFi frequencies your home network (and garage door opener, and cordless phone) use.
Whether that WiFi cloud is owned by your city or a private company is irrelevant – it would work.
Many large companies create their own networks, linking to the Internet only at competitive peering locations where they can get the best prices on fiber transport. Long distance fiber remains a competitive market (for now). Their fear is that, with so much of the U.S. transport market now held by the Bells, their prices could be squeezed just as yours are.
Given that the cable operators have powerful lobbies, and cable does not cover everyone, the phone companies are, in their own lobbying for privilege, allowing them to exist. It’s also convenient. Their current efforts at “improvement” are aimed solely at delivering TV to homes, as cable does, not at improving Internet service.
By allowing this dual-monopoly on consumer Internet transport, or duopoly, the cable and phone monopolies mask reality. Having a choice between only cable and a Bell for ISP service is like having a choice between only Coke and Pepsi for the liquid you need to live. It’s a false choice.
In his book $200 Billion Broadband Scandal, Bruce Kushnick details how we got from the open, competitive market of 10 years ago to today’s duopoly. But I’m more interested in how we get out of this, and what a truly competitive Internet market might look like.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce
January 20, 2006
This week's issue of A-Clue.Com is another one of those policy cum history cum politics ruminations I know some of you don't like.
But it's my newsletter. And some of the subscribers enjoyed this one.
You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.
There are many circuit breakers in life. They all have the same general purpose.
They're there to keep you from getting hurt.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | History | Politics | Telecommunications
The Walt Disney Co., including ABC, ESPN, the movies, the theme parks -- the whole shebang -- is presently valued at about $50 billion. That's actually about one-sixth less than it was worth five years ago.
Apple Computer Corp., by contrast is worth $65 billion. That's about eight times more than it was worth five years ago.
I decided to note this after reading about how Disney wants to make a move on Pixar, for $6.7 billion, and how that would result in a "pivotal" role for Jobs at Disney, with Steve as Disney's largest shareholder. But before he bought that pig in a poke, you'd think Steve would consider how becoming the "largest shareholder" of a media company worked out for Ted Turner.
Uh, uh. Instead of selling Pixar, Jobs could easily offer a three-way Apple-Pixar-Disney tie-up, in which Jobs and his team would own about two-thirds of the resulting company.
So the question occurs, does Jobs want to run Disney?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Investment | fun stuff
January 18, 2006
Video is NOT the future of the Web. (This picture, by the way, comes from a fine student project at the University of North Carolina on Webcasting rights. Go Tar Heels.)
It’s part of the future, no doubt. It’s even part of the present.
But the assumptions that Internet traffic is growing mainly in response to video, that Internet-capable networks must give video 99% of their capacity, or that Internet Law must be changed to accommodate video are fictions.
The Video Fictions are relics of the pre-Internet age. They’re wrong for three reasons:
- Video is passive -- When you’re watching a video you’re watching, you’re not interacting. The Internet is all about interaction. It’s about ideas. It’s about interruptibility. It’s about cutting your attention into as many pieces as you can, multi-tasking in order to do more. Video takes all your attention, and demand for it is limited by audience attention.
- Video is expensive -- A quality blog item, like this one, can be created by one person in a few hours. A quality video takes the work of many people over many days, and bad video takes just as much time to make as good video. You can’t have both good video and interactive video. Good video just takes too long to make.
- Video has plenty of channels – Most of your cable bill is taken up by worthless nonsense already. There isn’t enough quality programming to fill the DirecTv and Dish Network satellites. Broadcasting has worked for almost 90 years. All these deliver more programming at far less cost than the Internet ever could. The Internet, as a video medium, is best served for tiny niches, with low demand, and it already does this.
The assumption that “the future of the Internet is video” is driving just about all the stupidity we see among big companies and policymakers today.
There are video applications which have value on the Internet, but they don’t need the bandwidth or Quality of Service (QoS) up-sells of true video. Videoconferences are of value (sometimes) and video VOIP calls can be of value (to long-separated family members). But the idea that we need the Internet to watch the same TV that comes to us via satellite and cable is nonsense.
There are also some applications that can use QoS standards, and payments. Interactive games can use QoS, especially when players are going against one another in real time. Medical applications can use QoS, although those applications that really need it should be done in clinics or hospitals with ample bandwidth, not the home.
Meanwhile, there is an enormous, and growing bandwidth shortage in the average Internet home. I face it every day. Why?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | computer interfaces | law
January 15, 2006
The Windows Metafile Format (.WMF) dates from 1990.
Personally, I'd hate to have to take responsibility for what I did back in 1990, but I haven't made $50 billion in the last 15 years so I don't have to.
The WMF format was designed to move graphics among Windows programs, and one of its features was to allow the execution of code within images. I'm calling this a feature because, at the time it was written that's what it was. What we now know is it was also a flaw.
It means that exploit code can be hidden in any Internet graphic, not just those with the .wmf extension. And it will run. It can turn into a keylogger, or a virus, or any other type of malware. And since the relevant code has now gone online, malware authors are hard at work creating exploits, all of which will continue to steal from innocent people until Microsoft finishes testing and distributing its own fix.
This has a lot of people, like the folks at Softprose, very mad at Microsoft. But it's not the code, or the vulnerability, which troubles me. It's the process.
I understand the need to be certain before pushing out a cure that may be worse than the disease. But we're not talking about a flu vaccine here. We're talking about code and a computer feature.
The easy thing to do, as Google software engineer Matt Cutts notes, is to turn off the vulnerable code. "You’ll lose some thumbnail previews and such, but if you want to be safe until a patch is available, click Start->Run and then type “regsvr32 /u shimgvw.dll” to disable the vulnerable DLL."
Of course, this can cause other problems, Cutts admits, but there's a way around those
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Linux | Security
January 09, 2006
The news business is going to try cracking down on the Web this year.
Already, I'm seeing all news pictures, even common mug shots of celebrities, given labels. They're small, usually in a corner. They read AP or AFP or Reuters. But they mark these pictures as property, and allow the rights-owners to track them as they're used on other Web sites.
The next step, of course, is to send out RIAA letters to Web sites, demanding that the pictures be taken down or (more likely) that the news agencies be paid cash money for their use.
Personally, I'm avoiding the issue by avoiding the pictures, but that's not likely to be viable over the long run. Because just about every image file out there is owned by someone, and most don't have Creative Commons logos on them.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Internet | Journalism
January 06, 2006
Ever play the old board game Risk?
There were two winners at the end, and one ultimate winner. The first kid would pile all his counters up in one spot (usually Greenland, because it was big on the Risk board) and place one or two on adjacent squares. The second kid, the one who won, would right their way across the board strategically, taking on the first kid only at the end. Once the final battle started, and everyone knew how it was going to go (the first kid was going down), they'd walk away, someone would upend the board, and the first kid would claim he won, or got a draw, or something.
In computing Bill Gates is the first kid. The desktop is Greenland. Everything is focused on Windows and Office. And when computing was based on the desktop -- in the early days of the Great Game -- Gates looked dominant.
But the world is connected. Larry Page is playing the role of the other kid. He's sweeping the board right now, thanks to the Google Bubble, and today at CES he showed the hand he'll play against Gates over the next year.
The talk is going to all be about Google TV, and the scuttlebutt will all be about the Google PC, while software types (like me) will look really closely at the Google Pack of software.
It's what the Google Pack doesn't contain that most intrigues me.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
January 05, 2006
When Paul Otellini was named the CEO of Intel last year, he promised major changes.
As the first non-engineer to rise to the top at the chipmaker, he said he would push platforms, and communications, and low power, and change the corporate culture. He would also push more product internationally, and put consumer products (not just ingredients) under the Intel brand.
Whether he is moving rapidly enough remains an open question.
There are enormous claims of movement this week at CES, where Intel built a booth that would have made its former Comdex managers blush, and changed its slogan besides. But is Intel really leading? Or is it following?
Intel needs to be defining new platforms, based on families of chips. This week, all it's doing is the same-old same-old.
Oh, and word to the media.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Investment | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
January 04, 2006
The AP had a headline yestoday that Luddites and the RIAA will love. "File-Sharing Barons Face Day of Reckoning."
The story is that old file-sharing sites are closing up shop. The RIAA beat them.
But what really beat these shops was technology.
Systems like BitTorrent don't depend on a central site. Its legitimate uses -- for distributing software, and for breaking international censorship regimes -- are compelling. Many copyright holders, like GE, have found that releasing videos (like CC-Chronicles of Narnia) directly to sites like YouTube is good for business. MySpace (and its imitators) are giving music lovers what they really wanted, community. A host of companies are now working to make file sales online a legitimate business, and some, like Apple, are succeeding.
This is what users wanted. They wanted access to files, they wanted the copyright industries to come to them. Gradually, grudgingly, the industry is obeying the market. But the market won't sit around and wait forever. That's why music sales are declining. (That and things like Sony's Rootkit fiasco, which causes people to distrust all CDs and DVDs they see.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | ethics | law
January 03, 2006
The U.S. government approved yet-another auction of spectrum last week. (The picture is of bids in an Australian spectrum auction.)
But there's a problem.
The big hoarders of spectrum -- phone companies -- are choking on what they already have. Prices are going to be down.
The key word in the above paragraph is hoarders. The phone companies are acting in regards to spectrum just like teenagers grabbing free music from the Internets. They're barely using what they have.
Consider the MMDS spectrum space. This was originally sold for cable television back in the 1990s. Then it was inherited by Sprint and MCI, for broadband. Is it being used? Uh. no. Yet it's extremely close (just a little "south" in spectrum parlance) to the highly-popular 802.11B region.
What will it take for people to get the hint? You get more economic growth, more innovation, and more taxes, more of everything in the long run, when you deregulate the spectrum, when you allow anyone to use it subject to basic rules on non-interference which can easily be implemented through technology.
Instead, we're getting another auction.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces
January 02, 2006
Folks who were wondering how Rupert Murdoch and Fox would try and capitalize on the purchase of MySpace over the summer don't have to wait any longer.
They're doing it by trying to break network neutrality, from inside a Web site.
Net neutrality is a basic principle of the Internet. It means you can go where you want. But if you are a registered user of Murdoch's MySpace today, you can't go to YouTube, which MySpace has deemed (without telling anyone) a competitor.
Alice Marshall's Technoflak reports that Murdoch's site has blocked access to YouTube from MySpace users, giving them white space instead. The site has also erased all references to YouTube from MySpace posts.
I thought that as word of this gets around the MySpace site it would be interesting to see how enthusiastic people are to remain there, and how many might be looking for a new online home. Oh, wait, it's already getting around. (Things happen fast in the blogosphere.)
Here is the story at the BlogHerald, with more details (the idiots are even modifying user profiles to erase references to YouTube) and while the rebels tried to get organized against this, they made the mistake of trying to launch their campaign from within MySpace.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
December 28, 2005
I always wanted to write that headline, and finally got the chance today.
Om in this case is Om Malik, whose broadband blog has become one of my regular stops in daily newsgathering.
Om's view? Speed doesn't matter. Who cares if it's 1 Mbps or 2 or 10 or 20? The applications are all the same. What are you going to do with it?
Well in one sense he's right. The faster speeds being sold and claimed by cable and Bell companies right now are bogus. I switched to cable a few months ago and I'm switching back. The cable claims it's running at 5 Mbps, but not really. It's like a hose that sputters and drips. Sometimes it works at that speed, but usually it doesn't. When it comes to such things as latency and real throughput, an ADSL line, like the one I had before, is faster. (I'm sorry Earthlink. I'll hurry home as fast as I can.)
But in the broader sense, he's full of, well, the remains of holiday food. Because just as faster chips meant new applications (and interfaces) in the 1980s and 1990s, so faster broadband can mean that today.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Politics | computer interfaces
December 27, 2005
George Soros (left) has emerged as one of the primary boogeymen of the Right Wing. Not only do the Warbloggers invoke his name in order to justify their continuing to wear Vast Leftwing Conspiracy tinfoil hats, but so do corporate conservatives, who resent his interference in their feeding at the Republican trough, and the scare he helped put into them during 2004.
But in fact Soros has been quiet since Kerry lost. Very quiet. Too quiet. On the whole he's gone back to doing what he did before, make money arbitraging currencies and commodities. This is a noble profession that dates back to the days of George Peabody. (Maybe you heard of the man Peabody left in charge of his enterprises. Junius Morgan. No? How about Junius' son, the one he named for the preacher, J.P.? Getting warmer?)
Anyway, George may be looking for a good, cheap way to turn America into a new, more profitable direction, and here's one right here. Fund TeleTruth.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | law
December 21, 2005
One of my favorite Web bugaboos has always been bloatware. (This cute guy came up in a search for the term, but he's a blowfish, delicious batter-fried with tarter sauce. Like an aquatic drumstick.)
My first run-in with this imperative was over a decade ago now, at the old Interactive Age. The art director wanted to force folks to go through her home page before getting to my daily news hole. The home page was pretty, a mock-up of each magazine's cover. But it was bloatware.
Bloatware wastes time without providing value. And it's creeping into the Web again.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
Not literally. Nowhere in this blog item does Sun COO Jonathan Schwartz even mention Intel.
CORRECTION: Jonathan did mention it in passing, in terms of what not to do. Since I've been getting hammered in the comments on this one (no offense, keep hammering) let me add that Intel's market share, and the effort required to turn the entire corporation into the direction of low-power, are vital elements to the story.
But he's complaining about something Intel has turned its entire corporate ship around in order to deal with.
Intel made a big decision in 2005. It would no longer follow Moore's Law toward tighter-and-tighter chip densities, if that meant generating more-and-more heat, and requiring more-and-more power. Instead it would re-define Moore's Law in order to emphasize something better.
And one of those somethings better was low power.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
December 20, 2005
The eBay Myth is that you are somehow safe there.
This has never been true. From the beginnings of the service, in the 1990s, eBay deliberately tried to hold its security expenses to a minimum.
First, "the community": was to be relied upon. Then you were told, it's your risk. The eBay financial system has never been a member of Visa because achieving that level of security would be too expensive. So eBay bought PayPal and tried to turn it into a private bank -- only it lacked banking security.
It is natural to rely on cops in the financial world -- after you have done everything possible to protect yourself. That costs money, and money is something eBay has always been reluctant to spend, at least on computer security.
Now eBay admits that many accounts are being hijacked by crooks, and it acts surprised. Once again, they seem to blame crime victims and "phishing" e-mails when in fact it's their own security (or lack of it) that is at fault.
Successful eBay merchants have been pushing-back on this story, with letters claiming they're happy bunnies, but they're insiders here.
The fact is that eBay has never paid-out what was necessary to assure any level of security. It has pocketed that money as profit, and now it's reaping the whirlwind for that.
Want to prove me wrong?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Security | e-commerce
December 19, 2005
Like an addict going into a bar after just getting out of jail for their last bender, Time Warner is going for the Internet funny money again.
This time it's Google, which has promised to rescue Time Warner's AOL investment by valuing the failing online service at $20 billion.
For Google, this is funny money. When your stock is like gold, while you know it's water, it's easy to give everyone a drink. Bubble companies always go through this phase. Yahoo did, Microsoft did, and now Google could buy Time Warner about five times over so why not toss it a bone?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Investment | marketing | online advertising
December 16, 2005
Google has launched a music search service, just a week after the Music Publishers' Association launched a legal move to close lyric sites and put their owners in jail.
Google has been at the forefront of the Copyright Wars and has always taken an aggressive position in favor of the free flow of information. It has yet to back down in court, although it has watched some things (newsgroups and Blogger) wither on its watch.
In this case, Google insists it will only act as a link, using legitimate "music partners" like iTunes and providing only snippets of data on its own, like song lists. In fact, there is no Google "tab" as there is with News, for instance. Instead, a "search music" button appears when you do a search on a relevant term in the regular Google search box. This can be based on a specific term, or the button can lead you to music-related results even on a general term.
By combining with other tech companies in this effort, Google seems to be pushing a compromise on the recording industry, which has tried to force users into accepting its technology choices, its terms and conditions.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Podcasting | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
December 15, 2005
I was attracted to Windows Live by a Web blog I respect, but whose name I have somehow lost.
The claim which struck me was images with Windows Live were clearer than those with Google Earth. Some examples were shown.
I tried it. The differences are marginal. In many ways Google Earth is better. In some ways Wndows Live is better.
But I'm left with a question. Why is Microsoft wasting money copying what someone else is doing, when it could be using that money doing what no one else can? This is a question that has been bothering me ever since Google rose to challenge Microsoft.
The only answer I can come up with is that this is the way Microsoft has always operated. It copies others' innovations, then crushes them with its marketing might. The difference is that Google operates on the Internet, not inside a client Windows can crush. Netscape, the challenger a decade ago, offered a browser, a client program which Microsoft could copy, throw inside its operating system, and crush.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Software
December 13, 2005
In The Wizard of Oz the Wicked Witch of the West writes "Surrender Dorothy" in the sky. But she can be destroyed by a bucket of water.
Microsoft's problems can't be solved that easily. And their best course at this point is for Bill Gates to retire.
As chief software architect and board chairman, Gates is in the way of what Microsoft must do in order to grow again.
I mean no insult by this. It's simple historical fact. Every businessperson, no matter how brilliant, has one act, one great achievement. Gates' was Windows, and all the politicking and marketing savvy needed to give it control of your PC. (Steve Jobs is the exception that proves the rule. The iPod is simply a reflection of his one true craft, which is consumer electronics marketing.)
But if a company is to survive and become a real institution it must have a second act, another life. And you get that with new leadership. IBM, Microsoft's arch-nemesis, has had three lives over the years with three great leaders:
- Thomas Watson Sr. built the company around the punch card machine.
- Thomas Watson Jr. re-built the company around the computer.
- Lou Gerstner re-built the company again around services.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | History | Software | personal
December 12, 2005
The sale of Dreamworks to Viacom's Paramount unit, for cash and the assumption of debt, is teaching the media and the Bellheads the wrong lesson.
They lesson they're hearing is that distribution trumps production. Phone companies hear this and think that, if they can force information providers to pay for reaching "their" customers (something they can already do with cellular) that they will be in the same "catbird's seat" Viacom and the other media behemoths (Time-Warner, GE, Fox, Disney) are in now.
The background to this deal proves that is not the lesson.
- Dreamworks co-founders Steven Spielberg and David Geffen come out of this with $1 billion cash and their debts cleared.
- Viacom itself is splitting in two, with its distribution arm being separated from its production arm. This is because its growth has been sub-par -- the parts are worth more than the whole.
- Jeffrey Katzenberg, the third member of the Dreamworks triumvirate (the K in SGK) is not part of this deal. His production capacity remains intact. So does Geffen's record company. The only production asset moving is that of Spielberg.
- Even the assumption this is all about the "library" is bogus, because the library is being spun-off, which Viacom thinks will net nearly $1 billion.
What's really happening is simple:
Spielberg is being hired to run Paramount for $600 million in debt. It's Dreamworks' movie operation that is taking over Viacom's, not the other way around. It takes a peculiar genius, a rare talent, to make money in the movies consistently. Spielberg proved, through his time with Dreamworks, that he has that talent. And that is what Paramount is acquiring. Spielberg will have his own studio, just as Geffen retains his, and Katzenberg retains his. Everybody is happy. It's just that Spielberg's studio will be called Paramount.
Now what should this teach the Bellheads?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | History | Investment | Telecommunications
December 09, 2005
In this week's issue of A-Clue.Com we take a new look at Moore's Law, the process that stimulated The Blankenhorn Effect: How to Make Moore's Law Work for You. I come to some new conclusions, about this and other things.
You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.
We live in an analog world.
Moons cycle around planets cycling around Suns cycling around the black holes of galactic cores.
Electromagnetic waves cycle in frequencies ranging from visible color and sound through invisible radio frequencies reaching toward infinite speeds.
We live our lives in cycles, from youth and strength to decay and death. Yet DNA assures that death is always replaced by birth. Evolution continues, species cycling through.
Our digital age masks this, in our time, by delivering binary on-off, yes-no choices. Most analysts think the Intel microprocessor is the most vital part of our era, but that's wrong. The most vital part is the Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP), which let us model the analog world much as calculus lets us model curves into algebraic forms.
Since the 1980s DSPs have worked their magic in real time, compounding the impact of Moore's Law, giving it depth and dimension in the analog realm. Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in my book "The Blankenhorn Effect" (other than the title) was not naming this Kilby's Law, after TI's Jack Kilby.
Now that we can model and even accelerate analog change through Moore's and Kilby's Laws, it's time to take the blinders off the way we've thought of change and the future.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | History | Journalism | Moore's Lore | Politics | law | personal
The market isn't stupid.
The market understands Moore's Law. It sees through the Bells' rhetoric.
The market understands that the three-year, replaceable property of a wireless network is a better economic bet than the 30-year old depreciation schedules the Bells must keep.
The market votes with its dollars, and those with a Clue follow.
AllTel, in Little Rock, has been accused of many things over the years, but stupidity is not one of them. So look here. They are dumping their wireline business and becoming a wireless outfit. It's all being spun-off to some schlubs in Texas, and even though AllTel shareholders will own 85% of the resulting firm the meaning here is clear -- sell it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Telecommunications
December 07, 2005
America's biggest tech companies are focused today on the problem of creating, not technologies, but platforms.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Intel and Microsoft and Cisco all rose to prominence with platforms. The first two had "WinTel," a marriage now on the rocks (Windows works fine with AMD, Intel will make Apple chips). Cisco had the Internet platform.
These companies changed the world. But the world is a funny place, a "what have you done for me lately" place. In business, it's a "what are you going to do for me next" sort of place.
Microsoft, like it or not, has defined a platform strategy. To that extent, Windows still works. The problem is seen most visibly at Cisco and Intel. Let's tackle Cisco first.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications | computer interfaces
December 06, 2005
One of the hidden ironies in the present Web 2.0 boom is that it occurs against the backdrop of a continuing Web 1.0 bust.
Companies that arose in the 1990s in such niches as e-commerce have never really recovered from the dot-bomb of 2000. In particular online department stores like Buy.Com, Overstock.Com and eCost.com have come to look as faded as old Penney's and Sears department stores did a decade ago.
Nothing unusual here. The reason we've had so few recessions in recent decades, and such short ones, is that new booms pile on behind the old ones, so that a failure in one segment is matched by the rise of another.
Anyway, Buy.Com is planning an IPO because they need the capital, eCost is being de-listed, and Overstock.Com lost money in its last quarter.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
December 05, 2005
Wired phone assets are plunging in value.
It's that simple. Wireless assets are rising in value, wired assets are plunging in value, so the Bells figure if they can run the wired like the wireless they'll create more value.
The problem is they're looking at the wrong lesson. As usual, the Bellheads are being dumber than dirt.
The light bulb went off in my head when I saw, today, that NTL (a cable company) offer abougt $1.5 billion (817 million pounds in real money) for Virgin Mobile, which is no more than a reseller.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Telecommunications | cellular
November 30, 2005
CBS was one thing.
But can the blogosphere cause the break-up of Sony?
Sony's marriage of content to technology was always a dicey one. It's been underway for nearly a generation, since founder Akio Morita led the purchase of what was then Columbia Pictures from Coca-Cola.
Early failures were blamed on the consumer electronics part of the business. Eventually Howard Stringer was named CEO, because he came from the content side.
But now the scandal launched by the blogosphere is getting completely out of control. California and Texas have launched lawsuits. Eliot Spitzer of New York, who is already running for Governor, is now sniffing around the company.
The smart financial play at this point? Spin-off the content arm.
Separating the content from the technology arms of Sony would hold many advantages:
- It would "unlock value" as the investment bankers say, another way of saying it would generate enormous fees for Wall Street.
- It could get many lawyers off the company's back.
- At minimum it would lay off any liability on the content side of the business.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment
November 29, 2005
Maxell is planning to release a holographic disk next year that can hold 300 GBytes of data, and transfer it at speeds to 160 Mbps. (The animated chicken is from Krittercards. Get yours today.)
Meanwhile, Sony and Toshiba are continuing to play competing standard games with Sony's Blu-Ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD.
While they've been competing to be "the next standard" for optical storage, in other words, they've been leapfrogged by a better, faster, more data-intensive technology.
They've both lost what I'll call the game of Moore's Chicken. Neither blinked. Neither compromised. Both fought this out over years while the technology clock ticked, and Moore's Law of Optics continued to run.
And they both got leapfrogged. They both lost.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | marketing
November 28, 2005
Mapquest, the AOL-owned first-mover in online mapping, is about to fall.(That's their map of Cancun to the right.)
The Clue here is an AP story that looks like it was ordered-up by the AOL marketing department, but which can't resist showing cracks in the veneer.
The headline is about Mapquest pushing mobile mapping (which is good). The unwritten story is how Mapquest may be signing carriers to exclusive deals that keep rivals off, something that is possible since mobile "Internet" service is not Internet service at all, but private networks controlled by carriers.
Still, there are big problems revealed here, such as:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
November 24, 2005
AT&T and MCI are a giant step closer to pricing power over the Internet backbone because of a 2003 visit to a topless bar.
The visitor was apparently Savvis CEO Rob McCormick (left), , who with just three friends ran up a bill of $241,000, paid for it with an AmEx card, then disputed the charge for two years.
McCormick, 40, was canned Wednesday.
But this was no ordinary lover of the dance. McCormick transformed Savvis after joining it in 1999 from Bridge Information (later bought by Reuters).
Back then St. Louis-based Savvis was a medium-sized backbone and hosting provider whose big innovation was the use of Private Network Access Points (PNAPs) to reduce latency. McCormick transformed the company, taking it public in 2000, then buying Cable & Wireless' U.S. assets in 2004 for a reported bargain basement $155 million. While Moore's Law of Fiber was turning backbone provision into a killing field, in other words, McCormick was one of the killers.
Savvis is now known as a data center company and tthe leader in what McCormick calls "utility computing" -- virtualizing services and breaking the link between the applications and the hardware they supposedly run on. Here's how he put it to Infoconomy in July:
"You should not buy from someone who says they can cut your spending by 3%. The real problem is to cut your spending in half, or you are not going to get anywhere. Unless you fundamentally change something, rather than incrementally change it, then you are not going to fix it."
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
November 22, 2005
What's in a name?
A lot. History. Image. Attitude. Branding. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but might not sell so well. Patagonia toothfish sounds nasty. Chilean seabass, on the other hand, we'll hunt that practically to extinction.
Names, in other words, have meaning. In the case of the new AT&T, the old SBC, the older Southwestern Bell, the name means control. Control of your telecommunications experience, of what comes out of the wire or through the air, control like the old Ma Bell had. (A gracious good afternoon...)
But control is beyond the reach of any phone company in an age of Moore's Law. Moore's Law of Fiber makes it impossible to control the backhaul market. Moore's Law of Radio makes it impossible to control the wireless market. The only way to maintain control, in order to pay-off capital costs, is through government fiat.
The Bell System, the old AT&T, had that kind of control because capital was short and beause it accepted strict regulation of its rates. The new AT&T can never have that control, because capital is abundant and because it refuses to accept rate regulation.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Journalism | Telecommunications
November 21, 2005
Where competition is limited, service sucks.
Competition for mobile services are limited by government fiat. Services have to buy the frequencies they use. In fact, most service is held by a small oligopoly, often Verizon on one side, Cingular (soon to be AT&T) on the other. Sprint and T-Mobile are secondary players.
The limited number of suppliers have complete control of their channels. It's hard for a consumer to know whether the store they're in is company-owned or a franchise. And it doesn't matter. Customer service is terrible regardless.
Want proof? NPD says only one-fourth of consumers, 24%, are satisfied with their mobile phone retail experience. This despite the fact that the service has become so essential in modern life that just about everyone has a phone.
The biggest problem? Turnover. No one knows anything. There are no incentives in place for anything except getting contracts signed. And since sales remain strong, there seem to be few incentives for anyone to get better.
This is a general problem throughout the chain retailing industry. Everyone wants to be Wal-Mart and keep costs as low as possible. No one has any ties to the community or loyalty to the customer.
Yet this doesn't have to happen.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | cellular | marketing
November 15, 2005
There's a lot of hyperbole there. (Patrick Henry, right, was nothing if not hyperbolic.)
But the fact is that the tools and technologies needed to create a "hot zone" -- an area that can get 802.11 wireless coverage -- keeps going down.
There is no need for such zones to be defined by political boundaries. There is no need for there to be just one such network in an area. There are tons of places near me that have multiple networks in reach. That's the beauty of the unlicensed band.
What you need to deliver a HotZone to a corner, a neighborhood, or a development are:
The biggest danger to this vision is coming, the mergers of local and Internet backhaul outfits to be known as Verizon and AT&T.
If those companies are allowed to consolidate and control Internet backhaul and sell it through an eye-dropper, as they now sell broadband through an eye-dropper, then they can halt the American wireless revolution in its tracks.
But there's a dirty little secret for these boys.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Politics | Telecommunications
One of the strangest aspects of the post Bell break-up era has been the continuing Bell fascination with content.
The reason for it: cable envy.
While phone service, and Internet service, take money only for bits, cable companies have long made money three ways. They make money on the bits they transmit, they make money from the content companies sending those bits, and they make money from local advertising.
Seen from that point of view, Ed Whitacre’s nonsense about charging Google rent for reaching “his” customers makes a little sense. It makes more sense when you look at history. ADSL was first launched a decade ago as a way for phone companies to offer cable service. BellSouth, Sprint, and MCI all bought MMDS bandwidth in the 1990s to deliver wireless cable service.
The triple play has nothing to do with consumers, in other words. It has to do with revenue streams.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | History | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications
November 12, 2005
There are two salient points about the Sony scandal you will only read at Mooreslore. (Or at least you'll read them here first.)
The first point you've already gotten. Who's behind the scandal? It's not a Japanese.
It's a U.S.-based executive, Howard Stringer. He became chairman and CEO in March, after heading up the company's film and TV units. (He was pictured in my previous note on this topic.) Before joining Sony Stringer was at another American company, CBS.
Stringer is the key to the motive. Go back to that first link again.
As manager of the U.S. Operations, Stringer cut back a total of $700 million a year since 2001, and overhauled the studio operation by cutting TV producer deals and sharing costs on films.
Stringer reached his position of eminence by cutting budgets and cutting deals. Previous Sony chairmen were Japanese gadget heads. Stringer is a card carrying member of the American Copyright Autocracy.
The motive, then, is a simple truth about DRM systems.
DRM systems aren't about software. DRM systems are about hardware.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Software | computer interfaces | law
November 11, 2005
eBay is going down.
The collapse of its stock price may be followed by the collapse of the entire company. Certainly a fire sale is in the offing.
I can say this with some certainty because eBay has bought itself an enormous political problem with Skype, a fight it can't win because of its diminishing goodwill.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | law
November 10, 2005
Two press releases came in today and demonstrated to me that the biggest problem we have in this world right now is a lack of ethics.
In one a business research group, Info-Tech, is asking us to ban eBay's Skype from corporate system, saying the software is dangerous. In the other, the Electronic Fronter Foundation basically wants us to boycott Sony CDs because they're secretly installing malware disguised as a DRM that keeps people from fairly using what they thought they bought.
What these stories share is an assumption, a very dangerous assumption in an interconnected world.
The assumption is a lack of ethics by all. Sony is treating all its customers like criminals, and acting in a criminal manner in response. Info-Tech is assuming that Skype, along with other "peer to peer technologies" such as "IM," (as noted in their press release) is dangerous and must be outlawed from corporate networks.
We can speculate over why this has happened, but a fish rots from the top. CEOs get the big money because they're responsible. So in the case of Sony Corp., it rots from Howard Stringer. In the case of Skype, it rots from eBay CEO Meg Whitman. If we can't assume good ethics in their products, nothing their employees do matters much.
It's one thing for large institutions to be on guard against consumers or employees, to take precautions against theft. It's quite another for them to take the law into their own hands, or to take on the characters of a police state in response, to assume by their actions that everyone is a thief.
Once that line is crossed, all bets are off and the market becomes a war of all against all.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | ethics
November 09, 2005
Easy to say, tough to do.
- One thing. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) must be simple, powerful, easily understood by everyone you do business with -- employees, suppliers, customers.
- Fulfill the promise. Do what you say you will do, always, Any failure to meet your USP can be fatal. But failures will happen. Meet them with kindness, and redemptive behavior. Think of the result as customer make-up sex.
- Don't lie. This starts with no lieing to yourself. Delusion is the first temptation of success. Always keep someone close who will tell you the truth about yourself, and let them. It's going to come out, whatever it is. The rule is not, don't let it. The rule is, don't do it.
- Identify with your customer. It's not just, the customer is always right. It's, you're the customer. Your interests are their interests.
- We're all publishers now. Your job is to organize and advocate a community or lifestyle. That's your business. Organize what your customers want into one place, and be an advocate for their interests.
- Keep it simple. Don't let the complexity of a growing business tear you away from a simple, coherent message. Some profits aren't worth chasing. Stay in your niche.
Like I said, easier said than done.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | ethics | fun stuff | marketing | online advertising | personal
One word: branding.
Microsoft is not a Big Time Brand, as my friend Rob Frankel would say. It doesn't give most of us the warm fuzzies. It's not a trusting relationship. There's no love there, as there is with Apple or Google.
So while I enjoyed Russell Beattie's brilliant summing-up of the strategy, I am far more confident in Om Malik's competitor sum-up. Look at the left side of Om's chart, then look at the right. Is the right side of the chart going to collapse because the left side is tightly integrated?
Remember what's coming, please. Apples are going to be on the Intel platform next year. That means they'll be just as cheap as Dell machines, maybe cheaper, and more stylish to boot. Google dwarfs what Microsoft is doing online, because they know where their business starts (search).
It's good that Microsoft is understanding where their business starts (the desktop) but just putting extensions on that into others' turf isn't monopoly.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Software | Telecommunications | e-commerce | marketing
Intel's strategy of delivering a fixed 802.16 WiMax standard, then moving immediately to a mobile version, is fizzling.
There's not enough equipment for the fixed, because everyone is waiting for the mobile. And anything for the mobile has to face down cellular providers (potential Intel customers) who have lots of weapons to knock it down.
While hotspots are becoming hotzones, and cities are handing out franchises (exclusives on rights of way and poles) to WiFi everything in their borders, the whole thing looks ready to collapse as SBC and Verizon (AT&T and MCI) consolidate their control of the backhaul market, then squeeze prices.
Here's a dirty secret for the boys and girls at Intel. You're no good at defining standards. Your single success, the PC standard, was set by Microsoft, not by you. And now you've lost big hunks of that market to AMD.
What you need, more than anything, is a big vendor willing to place big bets on whatever wireless standard you choose to set (and you need to set one, not several). If you think you're that vendor, you're kidding yourself. You're an ingredient brand, not a product brand, that's not your business.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications
The hidden flaw, or Achilles Heel, of scaled technology systems like Amazon, eBay and Google is that the technology replaces human action.
Techdirt's recent story of the angriest eBay seller is just one example. The folks at eBay have always been lax in putting human resources against their computerized auction house, and frankly I won't do business with it as a result. A seller who threatens buyers physically should not be on the system, period.
It's an open secret that eBay is beset by fraud, on both sides of transactions, that Google results can be clickfrauded, that Amazon is robbed by identity thieves. These companies regularly calculate the cost of real police against the perceived benefits from better policing and keep the wallets in the pocket. We all suffer from that.
The danger is that every Web 2.0 start-up I've seen or heard of goes the same route. Computer interactions are replacing human interaction, cutting the costs of transactions. Perhaps we're cutting too deeply.
The problem, technocrats insist, is that people "don't scale." I can only do a certain amount of work each day. Same with you. When it comes to computer work, just put in another server, another T-3 line, and the same software's impact is multiplied.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Internet | e-commerce
November 08, 2005
When exchanging e-mails I am struck by how support for Microsoft seems to correlate with support for the Bush Administration.
It's not just the numbers, but the rhetoric. When people talk negatively about Microsoft they often use the same language, and make similar charges, as made by the Administration's opponents. Supporters of Microsoft don't always make that connection. Right now, Bill Gates is far more popular than George W. Bush.
Gates has always cloaked his personal politics in secrecy. He doesn't go to fundraisers. His foundation supports causes like health and education that some would consider liberal. The illustration, for instance, is from his foundation's home page. (Then again, Gordon Moore's foundatoin also focuses on environmental and health causes, and he's a reliable Republican.)
The politics of Microsoft seem to have shifted during the 1990s and over one issue, Microsoft. The Clinton Administration pursued the anti-trust case. Republicans opposed the prosecution, and it was quietly drop after Bush took office.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Politics
November 02, 2005
Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher wonders why bloggers haven’t joined the White House Press Gaggle.
A better question might be, why haven’t others left?
What exactly does “covering” the White House bring any reporter, or news organization (regardless of size)? You’re not told anything you can’t get out of a press release. The media spokesman lies and stonewalls. This has been the case for decades. What most White House reporters do, when they're not being lied to in person, is sit on the phones, something they could just as easily do from somewhere else, maybe with bunny slippers on.
The more important question Strupp is asking is, how do bloggers gather news. It’s true, most start with the work product of the MainStream Media. But if AP or UPI refused to link we’d still have the press releases and TV reports. (The White House Gaggle often appears on C-Span.) What most bloggers try to do, it seems to me, is go beyond the basic report. Among our resources are the Web and e-mail. These are increasingly powerful resources.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Journalism | blogging | ethics | personal
November 01, 2005
A lot of people are (rightfully) upset over SBC CEO Ed Whitacre's recent statements dismissing the concept of network neutrality.
Given that SBC will take the AT&T name once its merger with that company is complete it has many fearfully humming the theme from "Empire Strikes Back," seeing the Death Star in the sky again, preparing to see the Internet lights turned off all over the world. (The song is now a favorite of every Enormous State University band, usually played in the Third Quarter as Little Sisters of the Poor are crushed.)
Frankly, Mr. Whitacre is an idiot. There are many reasons why net neutrality, and not paid content access, will triumph in the U.S.:
- Google is one of the largest owners of dark fiber in the world. That's what their San Francisco WiFi bid is really all about. They need to fill that fiber, and WiFi can easily render wired phones (and lines) obsolete.
- Sprint has some interesting deals going with cable companies that create a "triple play" with cable networks combining phone, mobile, and television service. Network neutrality in that offering could cause millions to switch off their phones.
- Level 3 can easily link their fiber backhaul capacity to new providers via WiFi and WiMax, delivering another alternative for consumers.
- People aren't stupid. Consumers understand what the concept of network neutrality means. If it's threatened they will demand it from regulators and Congress.
- The U.S. is an increasingly small portion of the Internet. Continued slow growth will make the U.S. an economic backwater, and people know that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce | marketing
October 31, 2005
A friend tells me that Eric Schmidt isn't really in charge of Google, that it's still Sergey and Larry's show.
I don't know. That might be. If it is they have tipped their hand as to their corporate culture.
They're collectors. They collect great minds. Whether they listen to these minds is unclear. But they love to collect them. Get the whole set, like other kids collect trading stamps.
The latest "great mind" to join the collection is Elliot Schrage (above). He follows Vinton Cerf, "the father of the Internet" (so called) and Dr. Schmidt himself, the "father of Java" (also so-called).
The collectors like those kinds of titles. They like credentials. They're Stanford guys. They want proof of quality. Credentials are proof of quality.
Schrage is considered a "guru" on "sustainable sourcing." He's a lawyer, not just a PR guy, although the title he takes includes PR. He's a Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations.
He's a Big Head.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet
Hiow is this for a Halloween story?
Like Frankenstein's monster, AT&T is coming back from the dead.
The genesis of this stupidity is probably the old North Carolina National Bank. It acquired dozens of banks, large and small, and became NationsBank. That was a new, powerful brand. Then it acquired the Bank of America, based in San Francisco. After the deal was done it took that name. Now, in downtown Charlotte, there are homages to the old BofA on the cornices of its downtown office campus, along with some of its other kills. The bank thinks it's a nod to history, but I think it's more like the old hunter who puts deer heads on his wall.
In this case, it's SBC chairman Ed Whitacre who has the big ambition. He thinks that, by using the AT&T name, he can inherit the Bell System and, eventually, recreate it. Put back together what was torn asunder, only this time with no regulation, no controls, all powerful.
And in control of your Internet.
In his first move with the power of AT&T, Whitacre wants to start charging sites rent in order to reach his customers. Forget network neutrality. Forget about the nature of the Internet, which is that users route around attempts at control. If you're using SBC (excuse me, AT&T) DSL, Ed Whitacre will decide what sites you can see, what services you can use, what protocols you can support. My guess is he won't start by demanding rents from Google. He may go after smaller sites, like Corante, first, in order to set the precedent. But this is his promise.
This is the way Bellheads think, and it's good to get it out in the open. It's all about control of the customer, total control. Whitacre seems under the impression that today's political status quo will survive forever, that he will be allowed to control his customers as he wants.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce
October 30, 2005
Om Malik has an article that goes inside the Bells’ loss of DSL market share (and then phone lines).
In order to serve customers, phone companies must install expensive DSLAM equipment in each switch, and when that’s maxed-out they must install more. Cable operators, by contrast, made all their capital investment up-front. The “burden” of a higher market share is borne by the customers (who must share a limited resource), not the company.
Last week, as I noted here, I switched from DSL to cable modem for my broadband service. This was not the fault of BellSouth. It wasn’t really the fault of Earthlink, my DSL provider. A lightning strike hit my phone system, and the only way to learn that it also killed my PC’s Ethernet circuit was to come in and test it. The cable modem guy did that.
The question occurs, then, what about the rest of my phone service? I’m paying $60 for a single phone line, one I’ve used for nearly a quarter century, one I’m known for. That’s a lot to pay for a brand that, in theory, I can switch to a cell phone.
A decade ago, when I was with Interactive Age my employer, CMP Media, made me install an extra phone line they would be billed on. BellSouth actually had to replace the box outside my house with a new unit that could handle as many as six lines. Now one line lives where six were supposed to…and it’s hanging by a thread.
Is it time for me to kill my personal Bell?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications | personal
October 28, 2005
Wal-Mart is under fire for its lack of benefits. It's running ads where an employee calls the company her "support system" after a liver transplant. Oil companies are under fire for price-gouging. They run ads claiming to be green. Mutual fund operators who've pled guilty to stealing from customers run ads saying they've earned our trust.
This is par for the course in corporate America. Advertising is used to make people forget. As the press moves on to other stories, it often works.
But it doesn't work in the blogosphere. There is no business model corporations can use to induce forgetfulness among bloggers who oppose corporate actions.
That's why Forbes has placed, behind its registration firewall, a front-page feature on "dealing with blogs" through lawsuits and intimidation. There have long been powerful weapons employed against whistle-blowers and individual muckrakers. Forbes suggests these be deployed against individual bloggers.
But there is a problem with that, the same problem that befits the copyright industries. Copying.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | marketing
October 25, 2005
The headline is a pun.
Intel's new chip road map, announced today, implements a commitment to lower-power processors the company announced earlier.
But in some ways the headline is not a pun. Intel really is losing some of its power, the power to define markets, the power to control them. Much of this power is being lost to AMD.
But Intel is willing to lose this power in order to rationalize its chip line and prepare for the real chip end game, which begins once a Chinese chip company decides to abandon the Intel road map and go out on its own.
Seen from that angle, everything Intel is doing looks prudent. Pruning the line, emphasizing lower-power in higher-speed processors, it's all very reasonable based on Moore's Second Law, the fact that, as designs become more complex, they become exponentially more difficult to implement.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
The naming of Chris Anderson as AdAge's "Editor of the Year" caps one of the biggest comeback stories in publishing history.
While Wired wasn't tjhe biggest boom-and-bust magazine story of the 1990s (The Industry Standard holds that honor) its sale to corporate America was seen as an ending. I (and many others) wrote often that Wired is Tired, using a cliche from the magazine's own pages. The magazine's horizons shifted inward, from revolution against the corporate system to service on its behalf.
Under Conde Nast, Anderson has turned that around. He has made Wired relevant again. He did this in part by thinking big thoughts himself, as in his own Weblog-book The Long Tail. But this is a team event. Anderson built a great team, which managed to produce many articles that turned heads.
I have great respect for this award, and new respect for Anderson, because I once wrote for AdAge and I know the process that goes into making this kind of announcement. AdAge's staff is putting its own prestige on the line by honoring Anderson. It does not do this lightly.
Congratulations, Chris. You obviously earned it. You're obviously Clued-in. Keep up the good work. And best of all, you're a Truly Handsome Man.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | marketing
October 21, 2005
In my spare time I'm helping a start-up.
This has given my e-commerce newsletter, A-Clue.Com a realism it never had before. (Subscribe here.)
Now, as in this week's issue, it's the thinking of a real entrepreneur, inside the process. Strange days, indeed.
Young people are naturally entrepreneurial.
I have two in my house. One wants to be a lawyer. The other isn't sure what she wants to be. But both work very hard, they are on the lookout for opportunity, and when something comes along they grab it.
I wish one of them knew PHP.
An aging society naturally has fewer people who will grab for a chance, who will move, who are willing to learn new things in order to make something happen. As the pool dwindles, many young people start getting old habits. They grow lethargic. They want to be shown. They want a guarantee. We see it in Japan, we see it in Europe, we see it in the U.S.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | personal
When Craig Newmark sold 25% of his Craigslist to eBay last year, there was some skepticism. "This is a mistake. eBay bad and robotic, Craig's List human and good. And now on the way to selling out."
Well, that writer need not have worried. Craigslist can be robotic, too.
Before, and since, eBay bought an early executive's stake in his company, Newmark has been busy trying to control what the Internet says you can't control -- links.
Techdirt has a summary of the latest. Just as eBay blocked out people who tried to link its auctions with those of other companies, Craigslist has forbidden aggregation, even searches across multiple Craigslist sites.
Had Craigslist not sold its stake to eBay it might be difficult for it to get away with this. But lawyers are wonderfully useful creatures, able to stop even obviously-legal things, like linking into the site, by firing papers and money over the bow.
The queston isn't, is this right. (It's not.) The question is, is this helpful to Craigslist?
The simple fact is that, in the short term, it's not, but in the long term, it may be.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | law
A childhood friend of Warren Buffett is engaged in a power play that could raise your Internet bills.
NOTE: I have been informed by commenters, and confirmed, that Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sold its Level 3 stake in November 2003. Level 3 founder Walter Scott, however, is a childhood friend of Buffett's, and a member of the Berkshire-Hathaway board. The correct headline should thus be "Walter Scott's Internet Power Play." I deeply regret the error.
He's doing it through Level 3. Buffett
owns bought a big, quiet stake in Level 3, through secured notes bought by Berkshire- I Hathaway in 2002. Also, Level 3 chairman Walter Scott is on the Berkshire-Hathaway board.
Level 3, one of the largest Internet backbone operators not owned by a Bell company, is losing money. It's trying to change this by getting tough on peering, the linking of its network to other ISPs.
Specifically it cut connectons with Cogent Communications, a smaller backbone provider, early this month, and plans to do it again next month. The effect is to render 15% of the Internet invisible to Cogent customers, and vice versa.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
October 18, 2005
My friends at ZDNet have another one of what I call "Business Week" stories about how big companies are fated to inherit the Earth.
This time the subject is Web 2.0. Jeff Clavier says that small innovators, like Jason Calacanis, are right to "flip" their companies now, because they're about to be crushed by GYM (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft).
I have seen this story repeated endlessly the last decades, and looking at that list of "big powers" should put the lie to it. Microsoft is 30 years old, Yahoo 10, Google barely 5. Yet they're fated to succeed and smaller companies should get out of the way?
Having written this before, I don't just want to bitch about it again. I want to explain why I'm right.
It's true big companies can move quickly, act quickly, implement quickly, and throw lots of money at problems like Web 2.0 (which, after all, simply requires adapting database techniques to what folks want from the Web). The speed of action, and its scale, do not determine success or failure.
What determines it is often the speed of deciding.
Once any company achieves success, and becomes filled with successful people, the decision-making process naturally slows down. It has to. People must compete for resources, and a single management's attention, in order to get their projects priority.
Good ideas don't reach market quickly in this environment.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics
October 17, 2005
Let's set the wayback to the year 1973, shall we?
I was 18, a kid really. And I had arrived at this strange institution called Rice University. I played in the band, I was interested in journalism, I was full of myself and insufferable.
My first editor at the newspaper, The Rice Thresher, was a short, hyperactive genius named Steve Jackson. (The picture is 30 years old, but that's how I remember him.)
Steve had a habit of pacing back-and-forth in the small office we used back then, and firing Xacto knives unexpectedly at the door. He missed me several times, for which I am eternally grateful.
After graduation, Steve came within a course or so of being minted as a lawyer by the University of Texas Law School, before deciding that the passion he'd had at Rice should be where he made his living. (This lesson helped validate my own career choice of journalism.)
Steve's passion, as you may have guessed by now, was gaming. Back in the 1970s games were designed with tiny slips of cardboard, punched out of larger sheets. Steve's innovation, which came out in 1977, was a game that cut production costs nearly in half. It was called Ogre and one of the two players had just one piece.
If Steve could find one of those old game boxes and ship one to Bill Gates right now, I'm certain Gigadollar Bill would get the reference. Because right now, that's the game Gates is playing in real life. And he's the Ogre.
For proof, check out this long David Berlind feature on Massachusetts, and its decision to exclude Microsoft's XML file formats from future state purchasing contracts.
This was the meat of the story for me:
"The Massachusetts Enterprise Technical Reference Model (MA ETRM) proceedings are where some of Microsoft's biggest competitors (IBM, Sun, HP, Novell, and Adobe) gathered to make sure that Microsoft was checkmated with a devastating weapon that they themselves have been unable unleash on the American chessboard: Democracy. "
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | History | Software | personal
October 14, 2005
Yahoo has begun offering some blogging results on its News search page. This, they think, puts them a step ahead of Google, which isolates blog results caught in the RSS net to a separate blogsearch page. (Both sites are in beta.)
Yahoo thinks this puts them ahead of Google in an important functionality. I think the folks at Yahoo would actually use a word like functionality.
But it does them little good (or this is barely alpha software):
- Most blogs aren't indexed. This blog isn't indexed in Yahoo News.
- No more than the first page of results are really available in any search that comes up with blogs. I got timed-out repeatedly trying to get past the first page of results today.
- Blog results are segregated to the right of the news results. I think this will continue.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | online advertising
We're back on task at A-Clue.Com , discussing our original charter -- electronic commerce.
Of course, if you had (subscribed already these thoughts would be in your inbox right now.
Still, better a few hours late than never, right?
The recent agreement between Google and Sun highlighted a fact that has struck the tech industry in the gut, the effectiveness of the open source business model.
Marc Andreesssen, Bingo Bango Software in Atlanta, and even I (watch this space next week) are all working along the same path. Ad sales and e-commerce, when properly scaled, can pay for a lot of development. Those development costs can be spread so thinly that people can use powerful tools for literally nothing.
There are strict limits to this, I believe. A lot of entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, look at the success of Google AdSense, they read about big companies ramping up their online ad spending, and they figure the same stuff they've been doing before will now start making big bucks.
There are some key variables I believe will make the difference between success and failure in this space. One of the most important is the value you can derive from each page view.
Raising that value does not mean throwing ever-more-intrusive ads in front of people, or demanding personally identifiable information from each reader you then will share with advertisers.
What it means is making the offers on each page so relevant to the reader's interests that they will proceed down a sales funnel. How far will they go? That's where I part company with the "experts" in terms of strategy.
I'm proposing we think of three key elements in raising the per-page value of content::
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Investment | Linux | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
October 13, 2005
The Macintosh interface has been around, in one way or another, for 30 years. It has been the dominant computing interface for 15 years.
Jakob Nielsen (left), the King of Internet Usability (my title for him), says it is time for this to change.
The first attempt at that, he adds, will be in the next version of (wait for it) Microsoft Office.
The new interface displays galleries of possible end-states, each of which combine many formatting operations. From this gallery, you select the complete look of your target -- say an org chart or an entire document -- and watch it change shape as you mouse over the alternatives in the gallery. The interaction paradigm has been reversed; it's now What You Get Is What You See, or WYGIWYS.
I don't know how far this will get. We already have elementary versions of this interface in blogs. Blogs are based on templates, which specify typefaces, page design, and other elements before the writer starts to work. Here at Corante, these specifications are made centrally, and all Corante blogs look similar. That's also the way it works with such community network services as Drupal. Drupal calls such designs "themes," and the theme you choose for your community is the design every user gets -- reader, writer or administrator.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Moore's Lore | Software | blogging | computer interfaces
Nothing, per se.
Technically, it's fine. Strategically, it works in the Great Game against Microsoft.
But it's not something I want. It breaks the first law of the original design.
Quite simply it's an attention hog.
The older iPod, with its clickwheel design, required you to look at it only on occasion, when you wished to change the order of your songs, or find a new one.
The new one, with its insistent color screen, demands your full attention while the device is playing.
This is not a problem with Apple. It's in the nature of video. It requires full attention.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Moore's Lore | computer interfaces | marketing
October 07, 2005
Never buy a TV guy's stock picks. They've already gone up by the time you hear about them, and if you do your own due diligence on those picks after you hear of them you have missed the move completely.
Right now James Cramer is the most popular TV stock picker out there. And last week, in New York, he got Prechterized. By that, I mean he sounded a warning as any ever uttered by Robert Prechter, the Elliott Wave theorist I wrote about earlier this week.
Cramer's bearish analysis isn't based on waves, like Robert Prechter's bearish analysis. It's based on the performance of the Bush Administration. (Cramer also seems to admit in the column that he's a Democrat, so if you're not, you now have your excuse to ignore his advice, analysis, TV show, columns, and Web site.)
Cramer is scared, which should scare you. In his column he recommends a gold stock called GoldCorp, a minerals trader called Rio Tinto, a French oil outfit called Total, a South African energy technology outfit called Sasol, and the Fording Canadian Gold Trust.
I don't know about any of these outfits, but there's a trend here. They're not from the U.S. They deal in hard assets. They're hedges against our inability to sell new debt and the inflation that would result from that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Investment
October 06, 2005
Internet businesses are easy to get into, easy to compete with, easy to replace.
This is a truth Internet entrepreneurs know and big media companies have yet to find out.
That's why Jason Calacanis sold out Weblogsinc after just two years. That's why the owners of MySpace were willing to take Rupert Murdoch's money so quickly.
They know they can come up with another idea quickly, and compete effectively with it quickly, if they get unhappy with their new corporate parents. They also know that their peers in this business know this, and would gladly sell out to the same companies if they don't.
Thus, as soon as a position is a established, and a big company thinks, "ah hah, a barrier to new competition," the owners of those companies are going to take the money.
They know there's no such thing as a "barrier to entry."
The cost of building a scaled Web site is falling, not rising. It's attention and talent which are the quantities in short supply. So talent will take the money and look for the exits every time, knowing that, since no one online knows you're a dog, no one knows that you've slipped your chain, either.
What does this mean about today's Weblogsinc deal?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
San Francisco is hopping this week over Web 2.0.
What is it? It's a database.
When you use a database as your basic site design template, then everything becomes a database call or a database interface. Thus, you can do anything. You can do blogging, you can do identity, you can do customization, you can do community.
The problem is getting stuff into that database. Can you share data among databases? Users don't like that. But how do you get permission for all the relevant, needed data to get into the database?
The obvious answer to that is that users have to live inside the database. A lot. This restricts choices, because time is limited. It means there are only a few "winners" -- a few sites will scale to get everyone's data and everyone else will lose out.
Thus there's a self-liimiting aspect to Web 2.0 trials. Unless....as with Sxip, you can take your personal data (the stuff that would fill a database) with you, and control it. Then you point that data to whatever database you choose to be a member of.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
The dot-boom ended when AOL bought Time-Warner. (People forget that AOL shareholders got 60% of the combined company's shares.) Will the blogging boom also end with an AOL purchase?
I ask because friends of mine in the business are thrilled over AOL's purchase of Jason Calacanis' Weblogsinc for a price reported to be $25 million. (Russell Buckley thinks AOL overpaid.)
Calacanis' company is probably the biggest in this space, but $25 million is less than the cost of a single good magazine title.
The bloggers are happy because they assume this means they now all have high-paying jobs with AOL. I don't know if that's true or not.(Jobs, yes. Highly paid? I don't know.) I'm wondering, however, just how big a business phenomenom rolling-up the news end of blogging can be, if the top group in the field is worth only that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
October 05, 2005
That's the issue no one will approach. No one will touch it.
Yet it has to be touched. And now.
According to energy experts, we need to see demand for gasoline drop 5% or else we'll be drawing down stocks at an unsustainable rate in the next few weeks. So far it's down 3.5%.
So how do we get the rest? A Republican Governor in Georgia has ordered gasoline stations not to "gouge," to keep their prices in line with costs, and he's even sent out the cops to enforce this. The result is that many stations around me are out, at any price. One grade out, two grades out -- how many grades have to be out before we have massive gas lines all over the country? (Speaking of grades out, Perdue also asked schools to take two "snow days" in September to ease a short-term diesel crunch. What happens in January, Governor?)
So what are our alternatives?
- Refineries can do what they've been doing, raising prices to force demand down. How far must they go. $4/gallon? $5/gallon? And what happens to that money?
- We could set priorities. That means rationing coupons, A cards and B cards and C cards. Think George W. Bush is going to go for that?
What we've got from everyone so far is denial, and that ain't just a river in Egypt.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | personal
I wrote something today suggesting that Dr. Eric Schmidt leave Google.
I was told, by my editor, that it was over-the-top. "A series of cheap swipes," "rather than a reasoned case."
Maybe it was. I didn't post it. I wrote something much milder, more humble, more seeking of counsel rather than snarky and smart. (I like editors. They save us from ourselves. They're very important people. Buy an editor lunch today.)
But like many people here I feel a personal kinship to Google. And I think that is the company's chief asset. Mess with my GoogleLove, and you're messing with your own GoogleSelf.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | online advertising
September 29, 2005
Funding effective long-term research -- cutting-edge stuff that helps your bottom line -- is where nearly every company falls down.
Microsoft has been pouring billions into its research effort for nearly a decade, but in terms of breakthroughs it has brought to market from that we're still waiting for a pay-off. The bang-for-buck there is negative.
We've seen this before, with Xerox PARC especially. Even when great research does happen, institutional inertia keeps the company that paid the bills from grabbing the benefits.
So Google has a different idea, partner with someone who is already doing cutting-edge research, but who is hard-up for cash. Specifically, NASA.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Futurism | Science | Space
September 28, 2005
News that Palm is in the Windows Mobile business is not that big a deal.
Palm has been faltering for years. Even before it split off from its operating system unit, PalmSource, it was losing market share in big hunks. Palm was killed by steady investment from Microsoft, which took away its corporate market, and by mobile phones, which took away the rest of the market.
The fact that Palm owners are going to be orphaned, left without upgrades, is not even tragic, since Palm for years has offered a Palm Desktop program that lets users transfer their files directly to a PC.
What's happening is that Microsoft, which continues to flail about in the mobile phone space, is putting out yet-another mobile phone, and dragging the Palm name along for the ride. Palm has nowhere else to go, so it's going.
But this is not big news. Want to know what the big news is?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | History | Software | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces
September 27, 2005
Back in the 1970s most people who were at the age I'm at now were convinced these "PC" things were going nowhere.
It was left to teenagers -- teenagers -- to lead the world into the future.
Young people are essential to technology because they approach problems without preconceptions. Their new eyes often find solutions where older eyes find nothing but problems.
Take the problem of hit and run drivers. It's a big problem. But there are so many hurdles in the way of a solution -- privacy hurdles, timing hurdles, etc. -- that corporations just haven't tried to do anything.
Well, some kids at York University at Toronto have done something. Cameras and sensors were combined with a mobile phone into a system that snaps the car who hit you, and sends the owner an MMS message immediately.
It's primitive, it's not even a product -- it's a class project -- as Techdirt notes. But it's a prototype, something that can be productized and easily sold at prices car owners will accept.
This is the dirty little secret of science, that most scientists make their breakthroughs at relatively young ages, and then spend the rest of their lives sliding through on their reputations. How old was Einstein when he came up with general relativity? He was in his early 20s. (That is him, at the top of this item, from the Space and Motion Institute.)
Don't just bring in young people. Listen to them, give them autonomy, give them whatever you have to. Just get them.
There are benefits to age. I know about many of them. But there are also benefits to youth. And the best teams know how to mix the two.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Investment | computer interfaces
September 26, 2005
Last week's tirade by Motorola CEO Ed Zander, set alongside the nasty noises about Apple from music publishers , Microsoft's noise about its entry into the market and iSuppli's autopsy of the iPod Nano design all point to one salient point.
Apple's friends are foreign.
Over half the device's hardware cost is going to Samsung, which supplied the flash memory. Samsung is giving Apple a 40% discount on that memory, according to iSuppli, meaning Apple can cut its prices on the existing device if sales remain soft. The iSupply analysis does not reveal who supplied the plastic case, which is drawing strongly negative reviews.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Investment | Semiconductors | computer interfaces
Regular readers here will recall how I called Rupert Murdoch's deal to buy the owner of MySpace, well, ill-advised.
It may be worse than that. The company now finds itself fighting a rear-guard action by former CEO Brad Greenspan, who wants to buy a controlling interest for more than Murdoch's paying.
But it doesn't stop there. Greenspan is also making some serious charges against Intermix management in his Web site on the deal, Intermixedup. He charges, among other things, insider trading the price-kiting, essentially saying they used pump-and-dump tactics.
Despite all this chicanery, Greenspan charges that MySpace is worth far more than Murdoch is paying, and he could get a better price. Which leads to some questions:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising
September 25, 2005
With The New York Times' new Web strategy having been in place for a week now, and with its having been debated for months before implementation, it amazes me that no one has identified where that strategy came from.
ESPN has been a part-pay site for years now, and did it the same way the Times is trying to, by putting what it considered valuable content behind a paid firewall.
Even the tiny thumbnail "in" icons used on the two sites to designate content that is behind the firewall are nearly identical.
So, why did it work for ESPN but it isn't working for the Times?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Telecommunications | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
September 21, 2005
Well, nearly, judging from the latest re-org news coming out of Microsoft.
The retiree in this case is Jim Allchin (right), who has been the Windows guru there for years. What struck me was his age, 53.
I'm going to be 51 in January. And I'm launching a start-up.
Seriously, Microsoft is going through the middle-aged crazies, and the solution is in many ways typical. That is, push decision-making down the stack, toward younger managers. Let a hundred flowers bloom and all that.
The other big headline in here is that Ray Ozzie, the former Lotus executive who joined Microsoft last year as a chief technical officer, is being given line responsibilities for what's called the "software-based services" strategy.
Unfortunately, Microsoft's middle-aged trouble goes a little deeper than that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Software | fun stuff | marketing
Apple has released iTunes 5.0.1, which it says fixes problems found on iTunes 5.0.
I was frankly surprised at the number and vehemence of responses to my earlier item about iTunes 5.0 The reason? Reports on the problems have gotten very little traction in the mainstream press.
George W. Bush must envy Steve Jobs in some ways. Kanye West, who famously dissed the President during a Katrina fund-raiser, actually sang at the Apple iTunes 5.0 announcement, and didn't go off-message either. This story is being carried mainly in the blogosphere, where there are currently 176 posts under iTunes 5.0 problem (although not all are on-point).
Instead, Jobs and Apple continue to be hailed as heroes in the mainstream press:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Podcasting | computer interfaces | e-commerce
September 20, 2005
Let me take a stab at explaining Google's grand strategy.
My friends at ZDNet call this the Google PC, or a network computer.
Well, sort of. You may, instead of buying Microsoft Office, suscribe to Google's GMail and have a rudimentary office system with a gigabyte or two of storage.
But to say Google is going after Microsoft, the way we said Microsoft was going after IBM, is really to damn with faint praise.
If that were all there were to it, why would Google be planning on building out WiFi, or build out an optical network?
Google isn't aiming at Microsoft, or at IBM. It's aiming at the entire computing-telecommunications complex, building out what I'll call the Google TeleComputing Environment.
The idea is to take advantage of not only the Internet's ability to disintermediate clients, but its ability to disintermediate the phone network at the same time, and to do this in an entirely open source way.
What do I mean? Here are the ingredients:
- Universally-accessible applications, based on search.
- Universally-acessible networks, at broadband speeds.
- Universally-competitive systems, worldwide.
Google is flattening the world. More on what this means after the flip.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce
September 19, 2005
Americans are finally following the rest of the world toward the controlled interface of the cellular phone.
This has profound implications. Mobile carriers are not Internet Service Providers. They control where you go and what you do on their networks. They act as gatekeepers, and take a proprietary attitude toward every bit transmitted.
The difference between the Internet and a mobile network is like the difference between a downtown city center and a shopping mall. There is nothing inherently wrong with a shopping mall, but it is controlled by the mall owner, and everything which happens there must be aimed at making the mall owner (and his tenants) money, all assumptions of liberty to the contrary.
In other words, cellular turns the Internet into a shopping mall, neutering it, and making it solely a means toward a commercial end.
Thus, is has been difficult for mobile (Americans call it cellular) to gain the kind of reach and use that we find even in Africa. But that is changing:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Internet | Telecommunications | cellular | e-commerce
The winds of change are blowing hurricane-force in Washington. Every politician in town knows it. So the natural inclination is to push the envelope as far as possible, knowing that it will be pulled back fairly quickly.
This is as true regarding the Internet as anywhere else. The Bell-cable duopoly hangs by a thread. Wireless ISPs have Moore's Law on their side. The incumbents need something very strong to counter.
This is precisely what they're going for with a bill in the House that would raise entry barriers to the sky and prevent independent ISPs from ever gaining a market toehold. (That's the chairman of the committee proposing the legislation, Joe Barton, up above.)
Naturally they call it "pro-competitive," but in the Orwellian Washington of today those with a Clue should never listen to what they say but look at what they do.
The bill is also filled with goodies for broadcasters and TV networks, such as:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications | law
September 14, 2005
Amidst all the wailing over the Times' experiment in forcing people to pay subscriptions for Internet newspaper content, an important fact is being lost.
The International Herald Tribune.
I have seen no announcement that the IHT is changing its policies, or changing what content it offers. (The Tribune is owned by the Times Co., which bought out The Washington Post Co.'s interest a few years ago.) Here's today's opinion front page.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce
Here is the situation:
- If blogging has a business model, it is based on advertising.
- Blogs are posted on Web sites, which carry the advertising.
- RSS feeds are increasingly adding ads to the feeds, BUT
- The revenue from the ads goes to those providing the feed, not to the content creators.
Below is a typical Feedburner RSS ad, which appears in Newsreaders but not on Web pages. We'll discuss it after the flip:
UPDATE: After this was posted, Feedburner vice president-business development Rick Klau wrote the following. It is directly on point (as the lawyers say):
While I can only speak for FeedBurner, we only splice ads into feeds for publishers, on behalf of the publisher. We never splice ads in a feed that the publisher didn't ask for, make money from, or know about, ever. It's the same type of model as web advertising solutions that you use on your site, and you make most of the money.
FeedBurner is a publisher service. We only perform those services on a feed that a publisher wants us to perform, and that goes for everything, whether it's splicing ads, applying a stylesheet, or tracking statistics.
No blog site manager running our service can be unaware that their feeds have ads in them because it is impossible to get ads in your feed at FeedBurner without either directly contacting us or selecting the AdSense for Feeds program and providing us with all the details needed to splice in those ads.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
September 12, 2005
Skype, like most VOIP companies, is a tax arbitrage play.
The idea is that you avoid the tax costs of telephony by running your voice calls over an Internet connection. As everyone gets broadband, telephone service dies a natural death.
But neither the Bells, nor the governments they feed, are willing to go away quietly. I've written often about how it's done here. But it's done everywhere.
The same day eBay announced it would buy Skype, China started cracking down harder on Skype, and its Internet-Phone version SkypeOut. Unlike the situation with, say, Falun Gong, this is an effort where telephone firms are, not reluctant, but eager co-conspirators.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | Software | Telecommunications
"I'll take Bubble for $100, Alex." (That's 2004 Jeopardy mega-winner Ken Jennings, whose 15 minutes of fame are now up.)
And the answer is, "The final proof of the second Internet bubble, in 2005."
"What was eBay's purchase of Skype."
"Correct. eBay paid $2.6 million in cash and stock for a company that had few revenues, no profits, and hardly any business model, and whose operations were completely incompatible with eBay's own."
"I could understand the stock, and even understand the press claims the deal was worth $4.1 billion. It's the cash that gets me."
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Investment
September 09, 2005
After $2 billion, Rupert Murdoch's Internet strategy has become clear.
Murdoch finished off his buying spree by putting $680 million into IGN, which runs Web sites devoted to video games. This followed his earlier purchases of Scout Media, which runs sports sites for various sports teams, and the company that owned Myspace.com, the music fan site.
Murdoch has called a special "summit" of his top corporate chiefs for this weekend at his California ranch. Prince Alwaleed bin Talals Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia has apparently endorsed his strategy. (Didn't know the Saudis had their hooks into Murdoch quite that deeply, did you?)
So, is this going to be a gusher or a dry hole?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising
September 08, 2005
The folks at Google write that they've appointed Vinton Cerf as their Chief Internet Evangelist, and brag on his nickname "Father of the Internet."
But what is he going to do? And what can he accomplish?
While Cerf was a fine engineer in his day, his record as an executive leaves a lot to be desired. Those with memories recall that he was with MCI all through the Worldcom disaster. He gave speeches, he took awards, and he had nothing to do with the fraud. He was out of the loop.
He was lipstick on that pig.
Will he be any closer to the loop at Google? Or does this mean Google is about to turn itself into another MCI?
The sad fact is that Google is rapidly becoming a bureaucratized mess. Current CEO Eric Schmidt ignored Blogger, he gave his corporate credibility a padding, he has loaded up on his personal fortune and generally made a hash of those things it was in his power to make a hash of.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | ethics
In an era where money is magnetic ink, even the rich of New Orleans may not be safe.
A friend forwarded an American Banker feature (all content is behind their firewall, only the headlines are in front) that explains all this.
The story, by Steve Bills, details the problems banks had in the impacted area, and as many as five banks were still out of action as of Tuesday.
Those banks hurt worst were small community banks that did not outsource their financial processing.
Customers of those banks who managed to escape may be unable to get to their money, although they may not all know that because financial networks do have a limited ability to "stand-in" for their absent customers.
This could happen again-and-again, because only 40% of small banks out-source. Would out-sourcing solve the problem? Not necessarily. One of the bigger outsourcers, Fiserv, has operations in New Orleans (fortunately they're based in Wisconsin) and eight employees are still missing.
Given all this there are some basic things that need to be required:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Security | e-commerce | ethics
August 29, 2005
The fight has barely begun for control of the new Internet interface, the RSS reader.
NOTE: We were honored to get two important responses to what follows.
Markos Moulitas says he never had an "exclusive" on Cindy Sheehan (I usually reserve the term for the first to get a story, but Sheehan's words have since been on many other blogs) and that there are RSS feeds to Dailykos diaries. (My point is the feeds are separate from the main subscription.)
Nick Bradbury, creator of FeedDemon, wrote to say that FeedDemon inserts no ads in feeds, that those ads are placed by sites. (This may mean the New York Times has a major ad campaign underway, using blogs as delivered by feeds. If you use another reader, let me know if you see Times ads.)
CORRECTION: Upon further investigation, I have learned that the Times ads come from Feedburner.Com, which is in the feed creation-and-management business. So Nick's right.
Please note that the data in parantheses does not question the honesty or truthfulness or veracity of either correspondent's words, but simply describes the responses I gave them, and the thoughts I had in writing this post.
We're always honored here at Mooreslore when newsmakers respond to our posts about them, when they correct what I write or report. Thanks again. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled post.
But already it's getting interesting.
I have written before how publishers have been placing ads in raw RSS feeds. this means my e-mail list of RSS stories is cluttered with "brought to you by" notices. This is on top of the outright advertisements sent as RSS, which if they hit a keyword you like means they're coming right at you.
What's more interesting, perhaps, is what's happening in stand-along RSS readers.
There are many in the market, but the examples here are going to be concerning FeedDemon (logo at left), now owned by Newsgator, which I have been using a few months:
- Some advertisers, notably the New York Times, have taken to advertising within these products. I have gotten a steady stream of Times ads in FeedDemon, a reader I paid for. (Before, ads only came in shareware.)
- Some site owners, like that of Josh Marshall, have begun truncating their RSS feeds to near-meaninglessless, in order to force users to go from the reader to the site, which then displays in the feeder's window, exposing you to their ads. Full disclsoure demands I mention that Corante is a leader in truncation. If you see Mooreslore through FeedDemon you see just a few lines of content, not enough to know what the story is about.
- Other sites, like TPMCafe, meanwhile, publish everything in a feed, but without the paragraphing. Go figure, since TPMCafe and TPM are run by the same people.
- Sites that use "diaries," based on Scoop, don't automatically send out RSS on what's in the diaries, only what's on the main site. Dailykos, which at first seemed to have an exclusive on the thoughts of anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, may have lost that because of this. (That's speculation on my part, but on a blog you speculate, and if you're wrong someone writes to correct it. Hint, hint.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Software | blogging | online advertising
If you have a mobile phone, and it claims you have Internet service on it, you may not.
Mobile service providers have become increasingly aggressive in stopping access to services and sites they don't like, writes DeWayne Hendrick.
This is especially true for Vodafone, which owns half of Verizon Wireless of the U.S. (Verizon, in turn, has been the most aggressive in pursuing the "Walled Garden" approach here.)
According to DeWayne, Vodafone has summarily blocked access to all Voice over IP services, and even the main page of Skype, a VOIP procider. In the UK Vodafone is blocking access to all content that isn't "Vodafone-approved." (Translation: anything that might lose money for Vodafone.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Telecommunications | cellular
August 28, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
August 27, 2005
Thanks to Moore's Second Law (complexity causes costs to scale exponentially) competition in the semiconductor business is held in an ever-thickening mud, which represents the cost of building new capacity.
The number of company-owned fabrication plants, or fabs, must decline over time, as their cost rises above even corporate affordability. The decision to build one must be taken with increasing care, with an eye toward a far-off future. It's the opposite of what happens in the product cycle, at the other end of the factory floor, where things are constantly accelerating.
While Intel has played its hand in Asia, AMD has chosen Europe, specifically the former East Germany. More specifically Dresden, firebombed during World War II, left for dead during the Cold War.
In 2003 AMD broke ground for its second Dresden Fab, AMD 36. The plant goes into volume production next year, at a point where AMD's designs seem to be excelling those of Intel.
Market share, in other words, could make a big swing next year.
At the very same time, AMD is advancing in court, forcing Intel to defend an already-fading monopoly. A few years ago Intel had knocked AMD practically out of the ballpark. With the Dresden Fab 36 that won't be true, but AMD figures Intel must still have a case to answer for, because its hyper-competitive marketing department never changed tactics.
Evidence will likely show that Intel did have a near-monopoly under Craig Barrett, and that it did abuse its position in its dealing with big customers. But a court finding for AMD would still be a mistake.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | law
August 26, 2005
One sad headline from this year is how Google has become so opaque and observers so suspicious that its moves are now studied the way Microsoft once was.
CEO Eric Schmidt did neither himself nor his company any favors when he cut-off News.Com reporters, after one of them questioned the privacy implications of the service by Googling him.
The launch of Google Talk (in beta) and the official launch of Google Mail (out of beta) sent this into overdrive.
I contributed with a positive comment on Google Talk, helped by a Pakistani friend. Other observers noted how Google Mail is now open to cellphones.
But not all the commentary was positive, either to myself or to Google. In fact, ZDNet colleague (and longtime friend) Russell Shaw gave me a right padding:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications
August 25, 2005
There's a chain of bookstores in South Georgia that hold a secret.
I discovered it on the way back from a convention in Orlando one day, desperate for some present to give my book-loving wife.
Stacked floor-to-ceiling in these stores are "best-sellers," nearly every "big" title from a right-wing hack delivered over the last decade or more. There's Laura Bush's autobiography, alongside the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry and titles from the whole Fox News pantheon. There are right-wing preachers, firebreathers, and a ton of get-rich-quick books by folks who, if they really knew that much, would have gotten rich some other way.
I think about those stores whenever I see "books" like Kevin Trudeau's Natural Cures or Neal Boortz' Fair Tax Book topping things like The New York Times best-seller list, week-after-week.
Do you know anyone reading this dreck? You might not.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Journalism | Politics
August 24, 2005
NOTE: Many of the claims made in the item below have been questioned by Russell Shaw. See the full story here.
It's ironic, but my first invitation to use Google Talk came from Pakistan. From Karachi, actually.
Specifically it was from a long-time online friend named Tariq Mustafa (known as Tee Emm), who works in the high-tech sector there.
I am really excited on this Google IM thing (and so would be tens of millions of users very soon). I think I was ahead of you just because of the time-zone difference. Anyway, here is the summary I wanted to share with you of the excitement.
Why the excitement? IM has been around for ages.
The excitement is because this isn't really IM. Or it's not just IM. It's VOIP, integrated from the start with IM.
What this does is absolutely kill international long distance in a way Skype only dreamt of. I'm actually a naive user, but I was able to download, and load, a VOIP client (with IM) in less than a minute.
So can anyone else, anywhere else.
More from Tariq after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications | fun stuff
August 22, 2005
Where Bill Gates bests Steve Jobs, and always has, is in his willingness to build ecosystems.
Windows is an ecosystem. Microsoft is the biggest fish in that ecosystem. Since 1995, Windows has been eating the other fish in that ecosystem, but fish do that. It's still an ecosystem.
Apple has never been comfortable with living in an ecosystem. Apple builds products, not ecosystems. There were never any second-source Macintosh hardware producers with Jobs in charge, and they were all killed off when he returned.
You will never see Steve Jobs, or any of his lieutenants, jumping around a stage yelling "developers, developers, developers, developers." It's not going to happen.
But if it did, if Jobs ever learned to share, imagine the threat he'd be then?
Here's an example of how he can.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Podcasting | computer interfaces | marketing
Birds are twittering about Verisign's moves to integrate WiFi, VOIP and cellular over campus-wide networks.
The idea is to give cellular carriers their own "triple play" -- combining paid WiFi (through controlled real estate), VOIP (long distance) and cellular service on one bill.
I understand why Verisign is on to this. What I don't understand is why the carriers are getting in bed with them.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Telecommunications | cellular
Krystal restaurants (think White Castle with mustard, Kumar) have finished a full year with their free WiFi hotspot program, and have decided to extend it to all 243 company-owned restaurants (as well as recommend it to their 180 franchises.)
The evidence of increased sales are anecdotal, but CIO David Reid told CMO Magazine he has already tracked a bottom-line advantage.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | marketing
August 18, 2005
When people are throwing money at you, then you're really foolish not to take some of it.
At nearly $280/share, Google is Bubble-Priced. So it makes sense for Google to take some of this money. Over 14 million shares means more than $4 billion in cash, a Microsoft-like horde (especially as earnings continue to accelerate).
How can they do better with this cash than Microsoft has?
Analysts are already speculating on what Google will do with the money. It's burning a hole in the M&A pocket. Will they buy China's Baidu? Will they take out American start-ups, like Technorati? Who will they hire next? How plush can the offices be made? (If spokesman David Krane were given enough money to buy me a beer and a nice dinner, I wouldn't object.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment
Verizon has begun selling one of the dumbest machines I've ever seen, a "DSL modem," (their term), wireless router and cordless phone combination dubbed Verizon One.
Essentially this ties together the obsolete telephone network with the Internet Verizon is actually selling and tells customers it's the same thing. It pushes fancy PBX capabilities on residential customers who don't need them. (Just to make things a little better, it locks them into its cellular service, too.)
The FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) can be easily seen in the phrase "DSL modem." DSL is a digital service. It doesn't need modulation or demodulation to trick an analog line into taking a digital connection, which is what a modem does. It is an oxymoron.
Dave Burstein wrote in to say this is a Westell device. Westell has a long history of making things on-demand for phone companies, so Verizon gets all the "credit" for this piece of nonsense.
What's ironic is I happen to know Verizon was talking to Netopia two years ago about a massive contract for DSL gateways that would have been far superior to this piece of nonsense. (Here's a 2001 press release, delivered in the early days of the relationship.) I have one of these gateways in my house now, a review unit. What would have made them powerful was a promised co-branded service providing full security to home users, saving them as much as $200/year on "security suites" from various software vendors. (There are currently no Netopia press releases, going back to 2002, referencing Verizon.)
More on what a truly clued-in person feels after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | marketing
August 10, 2005
There's an interesting case study up right now about what blogging does to journalism.
In simple terms, it reduces the distance. You're no longer a star. They're no longer the audience.
The example today is that of MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, who has been writing a blog (actually, a series of columns) for about a year now. When Peter Jennings died, Keith didn't think (like most careerists) "wow, now there's a job opening for me!" He was genuinely moved.
Then he looked for the hidden lesson -- smoking. Olbermann was once a smoker, and it gave him a tumor. Fortunately the tumor was benign. So he blogged about it. And given that the non-distancing becomes a habit to one who enters the blogosphere, he talked about it on his show as well.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Journalism | blogging | ethics
August 09, 2005
SMS.Ac is hoping for a PR boost from a press release offering a cellular customer bill of rights. (The release went out over the signature of CEO Michael Pousti, right. from sms-report.com.)
But this had many of us falling out of our chairs laughing. As Oliver Starr of the Mobile Weblog notes (and my experience is identical) the business of SMS.AC is built on spam.
Here's Oliver's charge:
This is a company about which DOZENS of websites have multitudes of individuals complaining of things such as spamming everyone in their personal address books, which they exposed to SMS.ac during what can only be described as a deliberately deceptive sign-up process where unsuspecting people, many of them young or speaking English as a second or third language unwittingly provide the username and password to their primary email accounts, thus making it possible for SMS.ac to scour their friends and family member's addresses and solicit them with messages that look as if they come not from SMS.ac directly but from the known individual that subscribed to the service.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | cellular | ethics | spam
Like many protective laws, the HIPAA law covering the protection of your medical records comes with a small business exemption.
The exemption works both ways. Small businesses who fund their own plans don't have to comply. Neither do medical providers who don't computerize. As an NFIB alert on the law states, "Health-care providers -- such as doctors, nurses, on-site clinics, etc. -- are exempt from these regulations if they do not transmit electronically, but this exemption applies only to providers, not to group health plans." (Boldface is mine.)
The result of this is that small practices now have a major incentive not to computerize, and not to transmit anything electronically. Thus, they don't.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Internet | law | medicine
I was giving more thought to yesterday's rumors of Cisco buying Nokia (or part of it).
The more I thought about it, the more I realized there is a very smart M&A move Cisco could make on today's technology board, something that would give it an infusion of both technology and backbone, plus get it into the mobile markets it seems so hot for.
Broadcom is worth over $14 billion, but that's barely 10% of what Cisco is worth today. Institutions hold two-thirds of Broadcom's shares.
But what's in it for Cisco? Plenty.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Semiconductors | Telecommunications | cellular
August 08, 2005
When old business patterns die, those who lived by them become confused. They often start throwing money in a variety of different directions, many of which they probably know are Clueless, in hope of picking up the scent of profit. (This picture, from Pravda, came up in Google Images when I entered the keyword mystery.)
It's unusual for many industry leaders find themselves in this position without a full-on economic panic ensuing. In fact, the economy is in pretty good shape right now.
But the tech portion of the U.S. economy is in full-on crisis mode, as you can easily see by looking at a few headlines:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Investment
Intel holds the telecommunications balance of power in its hand.
Here's how The Register puts it, with its usual hyperbole:
Intel is throwing its financial, technical and lobbying weight behind the rising tide of municipally run broadband wireless networks, seeing these as a way to stimulate uptake of Wi-Fi and WiMAX and so sell more of its chips and increase its influence over the communications world.
And Intel is not going to back down. As ZDNet notes today, there's money to be made.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications | law | marketing
August 06, 2005
Back in the 1980s, Wall Street played a game on Microsoft's duo of Gates and Ballmer, demanding "grown-up supervision" for the then 20-something computer software duo.
Fortunately, Bill and Steve did not take the hint (get lost). They kept their stock, kept control, isolated a succession of adults, and finally came out the other side, billionaires and still in control to this day.
Well, I think Google has now outgrown its grownup.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin not only founded Google, but set many of its most important standards. They understand Google's corporate direction in their bones. But, like Gates and Ballmer back in the day, they were forced by Wall Street to get "adult supervision" in the form of Dr. Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt is, at heart, a computer scientist, and a good one. He is known as the "Father of Java," for his work on that language while at Sun. Then he went to Novell, and nearly rode the thing into the ground. (This should have been a hint, boys.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | computer interfaces | e-commerce | ethics | online advertising | personal
August 05, 2005
The mystery is, how are these people still in the game?
Overstock is a money-losing Amazon clone which seems to spend its entire marketing budget on cable television.
Maybe it's the salt water. Overstock is based in Utah, former home of Novell, current home of SCO, the place where me-too tech ideas get a family-friendly makeover, then die.
The TV ads are mostly image pieces, a spokesmodel in her 30s oohing about the various departments -- clothes, office supplies, video, jewelry. (Her name is Sabine Ehrenfeld, and she's actually 42. She's done some other work, but she's best known for these ads.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce
August 04, 2005
Two really stupid predications crossed my desk this morning. (The image is by Katie Guenther. From the University of Vermont.)
- Laptops are about to be replaced by mobile phones.
- Mobile phones are going to take the music download market from the iPod.
While a straight look at technology and the desires of consumers could lead you to these conclusions, they're dumber than dirt.
Let's start with the first one.
Even if people start leaving their laptops at home, laptop sales are not threatened by mobile phones, because laptops are replacing desktops. It's basic ergonomics. Where does your lap go when you stand up? If you're standing, or walking, you can't use a laptop, you have to use some sort of handheld device. As PDA functionality moves into phones, as the two markets merge, then, yes, phones become the handheld of choice. But that doesn't mean they replace laptops. It means they replace PDAs.
Now for the second prediction.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces
August 01, 2005
News that Armstrong Williams is making a comeback, that he is back on the air (that he hardly ever left), leaves a nagging question in my mind.
What do you got to do to get fired around here?
The question is serious. Unless we have a way of getting rid of those who violate some ethical standard, why should anyone believe any of us? Why have any standards if we can't get rid of violators?
For those who don't know, Williams got caught in January taking bribes from the Bush Administration for touting its education policies. Yet the next month, WWRL in New York put him back on the air, in afternoon drive. Now he's got a book coming out, one which calls liberals like myself racists.
If being a racist means hating crooks who happen to be black, I'm a racist. (It doesn't mean that, so Armstrong, take your black skin outta my face.) Armstrong Williams is a crook, corrupt. He should be on an unemployment line alongside Jayson Blair and hundreds of others -- of every color -- who can't be trusted. Yet he's heard loud and clear while honest men (and women) aren't. Including honest black, male conservatives, many with great speaking voices and stories to tell. Just look around the blogosphere for five minutes if you don't believe me.
Williams tells The Hill that he's "changed," that he doesn't harrangue Democrats anymore.
But that wasn't the point of the scandal. It's like a bank robber telling me he doesn't beat his wife anymore. It's irrelevant.
Armstrong Williams put himself out as a journalist, as an independent voice, when in fact he was in the pay of the government. That was the scandal. That remains a scandal.
But there is no way to fire people who violate even such basic ethical precepts anymore. If nothing else, he could go out and blog -- make big bucks like Andrew Sullivan. Who'd know? Who'd care?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | History | Journalism | Politics | ethics | personal
July 31, 2005
Sam Walton was devoted, first and foremost, to his employees. (That's the cover of his autobiography at right.)
He was famous for driving around the country, arriving unannounced at stores, leading employees in cheers. It was almost Japanese.
People forget today, but Wal-Mart salaries in its early days represented big raises for rural people who otherwise faced lives of poverty, absent the small luxuries city folk took for granted. Thanks to Sam Walton, Wal-Mart employees could afford to shop at Wal-Mart. He transformed America from a land of rich city-poor country to one of middle class uniformity, and if you once lived on the poorer side of that divide it made him a great man.
Henry Ford was the same way. His River Rouge plant didn't just turn out a low-cost car (the Model T) . It turned out well-paid workers who could buy those cars. Ford, too, revolutionized America, making this a nation on-the-move.
My point today is that, in both cases, there were side-effects, which demanded renewal and change. And the refusal to change just delayed these crises -- it didn't prevent them.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | History
July 30, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Investment | marketing
July 29, 2005
The big trend of this decade, in technology, is a move toward openness.
It started with open frequencies like 802.11. It then moved into software, with open source operating systems and applications. Now we have open source business models. The ball keeps rolling along.
Open source has proven superior in all these areas due to simple math. The more people working a problem, the better. No single organization can out-do the multitudes.
But this simple, and rather elegant, fact, is at odds with all political trends.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Politics | Security
July 27, 2005
Rebecca McKimmon (left, from her blog) took a shot at Cisco's China policy recently, confirming through a spokesman that the company does indeed cooperate with the government.
This is not news. So does nearly every other U.S. tech company.
The U.S. policy is, and has been, full engagement with China. This has already hurt Cisco. Back in the 1990s one of the prices for getting into the market was to share technology. Cisco did so, and a few years later Huawei, a Chinese company, had routers and bridges very similar to Cisco's old stuff, along with most of the Asian market (thanks to lower prices).
McKimmon's point now is that
China Cisco is cooperating with the worst excesses of the China government, which is seeking to have both the world's best Internet technology and full control over what people do with it.
That is a good point, but I don't think you
don't go after Cisco to make it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | Semiconductors | Telecommunications
July 23, 2005
I'm a big fan of both Marc Canter (right) and Joi Ito . (NOTE: The picture, by Dan Farber of News.Com (and ZDNet fame), was taken off Marc's blog.)
They're both brilliant. They're both A-list bloggers. They're both rich. I've known both for about two decades.
But I think Marc has a vital Clue Joi has missed, about one of the most important trends of our time, the rise of the open source business process.
Here's why I think that.
Joi has put a lot of money into SixApart, which runs Movable Type, which powers this blog. It's good stuff. But it's being left behind because it is, at heart, proprietary. It doesn't interconnect with other software. It isn't modular, scalable, and it can only be improved by the SixApart team.
In other words, it doesn't take advantage of the open source business process, and thus there are whole new worlds it hasn't been able to scale into. It's not a Community Network Service (like Drupal), and it's not a social networking system (like MySpace).
Marc, on the other hand, has just released GoingOn. It's a new engine for digital communities, like MySpace. He launched with Tony Perkins, who will use the system as the new heart of his AlwaysOn network (no relation to my wireless network application idea of the same title).
Marc calls GoingOn an Identity Hub, something to which other identity systems can connect. (It's interoperable with Sxip Networks, for instance.)
But Marc also understands that his stuff can't be the be-all and end-all. Let him explain it:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | B2B | Business Models | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Software | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
The Bells promised to serve us broadband if we let them run over Wireless ISPs. Done. No broadband.
So they promised us broadband if we would give them absolute control over their lines, ending any requirement for wholesaling. Done. No broadband.
Then they promised us broadband if we'd stop cities from buildig out wireless networks that might compete with them. Nearly done. Still no broadband.
Now, Qwest is pushing a plan in Congress to tax your broadband access and hand it the money, promising broadband in rural areas.
It's amazing anyone would believe such hollow promises, given the history. Color Democrat Byron Dorgan and Republican Gordon Smith (both represent areas covered by Qwest) as believers. The National Journal reports the two Senators are working together on just a Qwest-subsidy bill.
Here's a quote from the National Journal article:
Aides to Smith said the bill would make money in the Universal Service Fund available so telecommunications providers could build out broadband facilities. "It would be built into the same structure, and might end up as a stand-alone fund, within the current system next to the high-cost fund," an aide said.
Here's why this is not only theft, but stupid.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Internet | Politics | Telecommunications
July 21, 2005
That headline could have been written about me. (But let's see if I can't make it up to you right now.)
It's the oldest dodge in the blogging world. You call another reporter lazy in order to cover up the fact you haven't looked at a story.
The usually-reliable Rafat Ali (right) did just that this week in his PaidContent, calling out The Guardian's Emily Bell for her skeptical take on Rupert Murdoch's $580 purchase of Intermix.
Just how lazy is that? Click below and find out.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
Amid the hullaballoo over CardSystems International, here's a little story that you missed.
Wal-Mart's opening a bank.
Not just any bank. A special kind of bank. An industrial bank, in Utah.
No offices, no direct deposit. Mainly, they exist to handle credit cards and other consumer loans. I'm sure the terms are very favorable, because big corporations are hotter for these than Donald Trump is for endorsement dea.s GE, Merrill Lynch, American Express and Target all have them. Berkshire Hathaway is setting one up to make loans for its R.C. Willey Home Furnishings stores. (Betcha didn't even know Buffett sold furniture.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | e-commerce
July 19, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Podcasting | e-commerce | medicine
I was pulled from a deep sleep this morning by another reporter, from CBS Radio News, asking for lessons from the latest H-P lay-offs.
Since Mark Hurd left NCR to run the mess Carly Fiorina made of Hewlett-Packard in March, he has been fighting to turn the old boat around. The company turned in solid numbers in May, he hired away Dell's CIO, Randy Mott, and now he has the credibility with his board needed to prune the deadwood.
H-P has a lot of deadwood.
In buying Compaq, her signature move, Fiorina took on a lot of old, tired, even worthless brands, like DEC and Tandem. Compaq's latter-day strategy had been to buy these outfits for their book of business, and Fiorinia's deal was the apotheosis of this old-line industrial strategy. She insisted at the time there would only be a few survivors of the PC wars, and buying Compaq was the only way to make sure H-P would be one of them.
She was wrong. What works in steel does not work in tech. A book of business is worthless, because computers are short-term capital goods. It's not what you did for me, or even what you did for me lately, but what you're going to do for me tomorrow that counts.
But enough about the past.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Moore's Lore | marketing
July 15, 2005
I'm not trying to start a rumor here. I have no insight into whether Dave Sifry (left, from Marc Cantor's blog) has considered any offers for his Technorati site, nor how he would react if one came in.
But since Barry Diller bought Bloglines (via AskJeeves) Technorati's performance has been falling behind that of its rival.
Robert Scoble (who works for a possible acquirer, Microsoft) offers the numbers, three times as many links to Sifry's own blog from Bloglines as from his own engine.
There is a vital lesson here about the technology space:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing
For people who like gaming, their games (or online environments) are their main interface to the Web. This has been true for some time, and unremarked upon.
There are other new interfaces that many people depend upon. The iTunes player can be an interface, when linked to Apple's Music Store. Any music player, or multimedia player, is a separate Web interface, which may or may not connect to a Web page at any time. People who swap files use those programs as interfaces.
The point is in many niches the Web browser has already been replaced as the main interface to the Internet. Microsoft's five-year campaign to dislodge Netscape was worthless, which may be why they're letting Firefox run off with so much market share.
And now, even readers are getting their own, separate interface, the RSS reader.
I use FeedDemon. Steve Stroh uses NetNewsWire on his Mac and calls it fabulous. This field has yet to shake out.
I have noticed some big differences occur in my work when I'm using FeedDemon instead of the browser as my interface to the Web:
- I'm seeing more content, faster.
- I'm seeing fewer ads.
- I'm finding great differences among sources in how they react to readers. Some post just a few sentences to the reader, others let the whole article run. The latter sites are seeing far fewer "hits" on their pages than the former, thus far fewer page-views overall, and far-fewer ad reads.
- Publishers are waking up to this by shortening, even eliminating, the text that goes into the "newspaper" format of feedreaders. The Wall Street Journal is especially aggressive in this. US News is especially lenient.
Steve Stroh has more after the break:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | blogging | online advertising
July 13, 2005
CBS has decided to do a Web log.
It sounds stupid, but isnt necessarily. The Public Eye will be written by Vaughan Ververs, formerly editor of The Hotline, which has been drawing crowds of paying customers for The National Journal since 1992.
In its earliest incarnation the Hotline made Mike McCurry a star. McCurry was then the spokesman for candidate Bruce Babbitt, and his missives there gave Babbitt a boomlet. Later he was a Clinton press secretary. The point is there's a history of online financial success here.
The point is that Ververs, rightly or wrongly, is being given credit for some long-term success, and told to duplicate it on a larger stage, just as local anchors are often given the network gig and expected to produce big numbers.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising
July 12, 2005
A reporter can make a good living just covering Microsoft.
This is not a good thing.
One fact that attracted me to technology journalism in the first place was its social mobility. I often write about companies I call "Clueless" and find they have disappeared practically before I can get the piece into digital print. Those that are "Clued-in" can also fall quickly, corporate management in this space being much like tightrope walking.
Intense competition makes for rapid evolution. Call this Dana's First Law of Competition. Markets in India and China are intensely competitive. You can't let your guard down for an instant. This is a very good thing.
It's not what human nature wants, of course. As people we want to relax, to enjoy our lives, to set the competition aside sometimes so we can, say, raise our families, get more education, or retire with dignity.
Both Microsoft and the government had opportunities to prevent this, to re-ignite competition. They chose not to take these opportunities.
Bill Gates had one vision for Microsoft, but the company has gone beyond it. He was wise to pass the baton to his majordomo, Steve Ballmer. Ballmer is all sales, all the time, a whirling picture of aggression. (He's also, admittedly, what we call on this blog a Truly Handsome Man (grass don't grow on a busy street) but looks ain't everything.)
Ballmer's vision isn't really about technology. It's about exploiting advantages and making money.
So at Microsoft's recent Worldwide Partner Conference in Minneapolis (Minneapolis?) we got headlines like these:
- This used to be about software partners. Now it's mainly about hardware partners, like tablet PC makers. This is an important change.
- Microsoft continues to eat its young, entering profitable small business niches, aimed at engulfing and devouring them.
- Ballmer told his software developers to "stick it to IBM" even while Microsoft sticks it to them.
- Microsoft is telling its partners to "push Office ugrades," more evidence that the idea of Windows as a "software ecosystem" are ending.
This is just one corner of the news Microsoft made last week.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | Security | Software | marketing
July 11, 2005
The papers are full today with stories about "citizen journalists." (That's Will Ferrell as Anchorman Ron Burgundy to the left.)
Here's one in the Wall Street Journal. Here's one in The Washington Post. Editor and Publisher ran the official AP story. The Salt Lake Tribune copied the Chicago Tribune's coverage.
All these stories convey a common misconception. They assume this is a trend, and they assume that mainstream media will be able to dominate this new field.
Both assumptions are wrong.
In many ways this is a fad. It's a fad because, as camera phones proliferate, the volume of such pictures available is just going to become overwhelming. Making sense of what's out there, and getting rights to the good stuff, are going to be keys to success.
Also there is nothing really new here. Cable shows have been taking calls from individuals at news sites for decades. Talk radio is all about the callers. What's new here are the means the the medium, not the phenomenon.
But there's a more important point being missed in all the self-congratulation:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising
The search for online business models is a continuing fascination of mine at A-Clue.Com.
This week I returned to the theme, and readers of A-Clue.com got an earful. (You can get one too -- always free.)
Most online stores fail their editorial mission. (That's Joseph Pulitzer to the right, from his eponymous journalism school at Columbia University in New York.)
You may have great merchandise, you may have great service, you may have a nifty shopping cart. But if you can't bring the values of your shop floor to your Web site, you won't succeed online. Over time you may not succeed offline either.
An editorial mission replicates the value of your store online. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? For Amazon it's a database, a huge variety of merchandise. Works for Amazon, works for Wal-Mart, but it won't work for you.
In fact, Wal-Mart's failures online can be attributed to this editorial mission failure. They were unable to replicate the values of a real Wal-Mart in their online efforts. While the store looks a jumble, regular shoppers know you can actually get what you want there fairly quickly. What they should have enabled was a form of "shopping lists" that people could print-and-use at home, adapting to their own needs, then input regularly on the site, along with a delivery service.
The difference between editorial values and commercial values is that the one defines what you are, and the other puts your name in mind. If branding is to be worthwhile you must deliver the values the brand promises. That is exactly how editors think, too. What you call your reputation they call credibility.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
July 08, 2005
The blogosphere's quick reaction to the London strikes was driven in large part by the mass market in camera phones and video phones.
Within minutes of the bombs going off pictures and short videos began appearing online. In many the smoke from the blasts was clearly visible. Cameras worked even where phone functionality was absent, and images could be sent as soon as connections returned.
A second notable fact was the willingness, especially at the BBC, to get this footage up quickly. One amateur picture, of a double-decker bus with its top end ripped off, was the site's feature picture for most of the day. (That's the picture, above, from the BBC Web site.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Journalism | blogging | war
July 05, 2005
Given the direction of antitrust law recently I was surprised to see the recent suits by AMD and (more recently) Broadcom. They left me scratching my head.
But there is an answer to my quandary.
Antitrust has become a process. It's not a goal, but a weapon in the business war.
The idea that Qualcomm has a monopoly in the mobile phone industry is laughable. It may abuse what position it has, charging chip makers like Broadcom the equivalent of an "intellectual property tax" in areas which use CDMA (and its variants). But GSM is the major world standard. It would be like calling the Apple Macintosh a monopoly.
The Broadcom antitrust suit comes right after it filed a patent suit against Qualcomm, accusing it of violating Broadcom patents regarding delivery of content to mobile phones.
The first shot didn't open up the Qualcomm ship, maybe the second will. All lawyers on deck!
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Moore's Lore | cellular | law
June 30, 2005
T-Mobile has become the first cellular operator to offer full Internet service on its mobile phones.
The service will be sold under the name Web'n'walk, with Google.Com as the designated home page. (Yeah, I know, in the real Internet world you could change the default to, say, http://www.corante.com/mooreslore. But one step at a time.) New devices, with larger screens, will also be sold as part of the campaign.
The decision is critical, because up until now all cellular providers have offered only their own "walled gardens," sometimes using a small i (for Internet, customers think) on their phones, but in fact offering only a tiny fraction of the Internet connectivity customers are used to.
But as phones move to offering true broadband speeds, and some users use cellular broadband on their PCs because of its better coverage, this is finally breaking down.
It will be interesting to see how, and when, T-Mobile starts advertising this feature, and what Verizon and Cingular will say (or do) in response. T-Mobile, while owned by Germany's formerly state-owned phone company, is the smallest of four major operators in the U.S.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | cellular | computer interfaces
June 29, 2005
Cellular operators love to go on about how much better their walled data gardens are than that nasty Internet, because consumers are safer.
Jamster and mBlox created the Crazy Frog phenomenon with a very addictive, and heavily advertised ringtone that topped the British pop charts for five weeks.
But there was a sting in the tail. People (mostly kids, but at least one BBC reporter as well) found they didn't just buy a 3 pound ringtone, but a "premium SMS" service that charged them as much as 3 pounds more for each add Jamster then sent them.
The two companies are being investigated but according to the BBC the maximum penalty could be a mere 100,000 pounds to mBlox, plus loss of its British business license. It's estimated the scam has earned over 10 million pounds so far.
But do you want to know the rest of the story, the bit the Brits don't know (yet)?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | cellular | e-commerce | ethics | law | marketing
It's nice when "real" (paid) market analysts agree with one of your premises. Especially when it's a key premise to you, as Always On is to me. (This is advertised as an Always On Server, from Virtual Access.)
So I was pleased to read Chris Jablonski's recent piece at ZDNet, Forget P2P, M2M is where the next party is.
M2M stands for Machine to Machine (ironically this sits right below an item about how poor most tech nicknames are) but we're talking about the same thing, intelligent sensors linked to wireless networks. Programming the sensors to deliver some result, then automating delivery of the result in some way (sending an alarm, telling the user, etc.) is what I mean by an Always-On application.
As I have said here many times the tools are already at hand, and cheap. We're talking here about RFID chips, WiFi and cellular networks, along with standards like Zigbee that let these things run for years on a single battery charge.
There are problems with every application space, however:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Security | medicine
June 28, 2005
AMD is the most infuriating company imaginable.
If Intel is the big dog of the chip world, AMD is the little dog jumping around it, nipping at its heels, acting like it (not Chipzilla) owns the street.
Its latest legal assault may be its dumbest move yet.
Strictly from a timing standpoint, it sucks.
This Administration does not look kindly at anti-trust claims. They settled with Microsoft, they gave the cables and Bells a duopoly (leaving America a third-world broadband country), and they seem content to let China monopolize world trade while India gains control of services. All this is in pursuit of an ideology that becomes less-and-less distinguishable from Putinism and Kleptocracy by the day.
Short form. If they had a case they should have filed it in Europe.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
The Supreme Court has decided that cable networks, created under government franchises, under monopoly conditions, are entirely the property of their corporate owners who don't have to wholesale. (That's the BrandX rocket ship -- they lost the case. What follows is directed to them as much as anyone else.)
Some ISPs bemoaned this bitterly. In the near term it means most of us have two choices for broadband service, the local Bell and the local Cable Head-End, both known for poor service, high prices, and loaded with equipment it will take decades to write off.
Smart folks, however, should be celebrating.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | law
June 17, 2005
We returned to the topic of e-commerce, and the effort to make money in journalism, with this week's A-Clue.Com, which went out to subscribers this morning. (You can get one too -- always free.)
The topic this week might be called the new media's old media problem, with a proposal for solving it. (I have no idea whether the book here is good or not. If someone can send me a link to sales, we'll see.)
In software terms blogging and commerce are incompatible. They're two trains running on different tracks.
Bloggers aren't really thinking of making money. They may put up begging bowls, and they make take BlogAds, or put in Google AdSense, but their Achilles Heel is that, when they think of money at all, it's in Old Media terms.
Let's sell ads.
Community Networking Systems like Scoop, Slash and Drupal also share this problem. They have an advantage over blogging systems in that they can scale. They can take a lot of traffic, and a lot of users. Those users are empowered to create their own diaries, or polls, or multi-threaded comments. But again commerce is secondary, in this case even tertiary. The most successful "commercial" community sites are those, like DailyKos and Slashdot, that direct people off-site to give money or time to important causes. There is no built-in business model.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising
June 16, 2005
For the last few months I have had a keyword search on Newsgator covering topics of interest here, things like cellular telephony and open source. (Last call to buy the book.)
I have watched as it has gradually become worse than useless.
I'm getting nearly 500 e-mails a day on this feed, but the signal-noise ratio keeps going up. Newsgator has begun designating some of these posts as spam, but they're missing most of them, including this one.
Even some of the "editorial" hits on this list are worse than useless. Here's one. No offense to the writer but it doesn't belong in a keyword feed for cellular, despite the fact that one of the entries in this list is "I have a mobile phone."
It gets worse, but maybe I have a solution.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | blogging | spam
June 15, 2005
A note came in today from a friend I've known even longer than my saintly wife. "How does this fit into Moore's Law?" he asked.
The link was to a story about a holographic storage system being marketed by Optware of Japan. It's called a Holographic Virtual Card (HVC) and claims to store 30 Gigabytes on $1 worth of media. (That's the Optware reader to the right, from a 2004 GearBits article promising commercialization in 2005.)
The kicker is that readers will cost $2.000 and read-write devices may cost five times more. Optware has promised standard kit by the end of next year.
All this related to what my book calls Moore's Law of Optical Storage. Instead of storing data on a fairly flat substrate, the Optware design uses all three dimensions. Think of the storage medium as a cube rather than a circle.
There's a long way to go before this threatens the CDs we're used to. Right now, however, the high price of the readers may be an advantage, making this perfect for applications like physical security.
Imagine the depth of personal knowledge that could be input on a 30 GByte substrate for an entry badge. Connect that to a variety of biometric readers so the bad guys can't hide their identities behind, say, phony fingerprints or contact lenses. Add a human guard to the mix and your entry portal could be pretty darned secure (for a time).
But the best news here may be this, the fact that there's competition in this space from Inphase Technologies, a spin-off of Bell Labs. They're looking at issues like the speed of data transfer, issues that could make holograms an alternative for the archiving of Web data.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Futurism | Investment | Moore's Lore
June 14, 2005
Writing about Microsoft earlier today got me thinking more deeply about the company. (The image is from the Pioneer Theater Co., at the University of Utah.)
A decade ago Microsoft reached a tipping point. Maybe this came with its release of Windows 95. It was obvious in its obsession over destroying Netscape.
Before 1995 Microsoft was about creating capabilities for others. Since then its mission has been embracing and extending, bringing the great ideas of others into its own operating system, destroying rather than creating niches.
It all sounds like a Jon Stewart set-up. "Aw, Bill, it used to be about the world domination." But in truth, at some point, people do come to dominate their worlds.
And then it all starts to go wrong.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | History | Journalism | Moore's Lore | ethics | personal
The people you want working for you are not necessarily the people who want to work for you.
This is one of those hard truths that everyone knows and no one talks about.
Gretchen Ledgard of Microsoft recently told this truth, and God bless her for it.
Because it's not just a truth at Microsoft.
Ledgard's post, which she later felt duty-bound to soften, told a real truth, and the fact she felt compelled to soften her tone speaks loudly to just how bad the problem is -- across corporate America.
The people doing the hiring, and the people seeking those positions, both think working at Microsoft (or wherever) is the greatest thing since pasteurized milk. In some ways it is. Look at the medicine cabinet you get to use at Microsoft (at the top of this item). Look at the salaries, the benefits, the family-friendly attitude. It's paradise.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | blogging
June 13, 2005
Due to low salaries and high turnover, journalism continues to face the problem of reporters seeing failed trends repeated, not spotting them, and repeating the same failed cliches of earlier years, mainly due to orgnaizational inertia.
First, from the Financial Times, a piece on Internet sites being bought by media companies, "falling prey" to them being the operative cliche. On the whole these are market losers cashing out. The buyers aren't getting much, and the story doesn't examine the track records of the sellers. There's a story here, but not the one written.
Second, we have the BBC with the idea that consumer demands drive tech developments. If the iPod were possible 20 years ago does anyone deny we would buy it?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce
June 09, 2005
When evolution accelerates size becomes a disadvantage.
It's true in nature, and it's true in technology as well.
The Bells (and Comcast) are the big bottlenecks in our technology universe. With Moore's Law sweeping through the telecomm landscape they are competitive liabilities in our economic ecosystem.
There is no malice in saying this. The Bells can't help being pointy-headed bosses. They are bureaucrats. Their loyalty is to the inside of their system, not to the customer. In a stable environment the ability to retain such people is a boon. In an unstable one it's disaster.
More proof comes today from Techdirt. It's a so-called BellSouthWiMax trial. But it isn't WiMax. It isn't new technology. It's an excuse to keep charging $110/month for DSL ($60 for the phone line) when the phone component is (with VOIP) unnecessary.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | personal
June 06, 2005
Not only is Apple switching its chip supply contract from IBM to Intel, but it is moving to Intel processors in the bargain.
In making the announcement this morning, Steve Jobs said he didn't see how he could continue making great products beyond next year "based on the Power roadmap."
Right after his speech he had a cagey interview with CNBC's Ron Insana. "Its not as dramatic as youre characterizing it," he insisted.
"This is going to be a gradual transition. Hopefully a year from today well have Intel-based Macs in the market. Its going to be a two-year transition.
"As we look into the future, where we want to go is different (from IBM's product roadmap). A year or two in the future Intels processor roadmap aligns with where we want to go.
"I think this will get us where we want to be a year or two down the road." Jobs refused repeated requests by Insana to explain what he meant by that. (Jobs is also shaving even more closely than this picture shows. He's down to tiny stubble around a a still-brownish moustache. Hey, Steve, I'm 50 too.)
What I think he means, simply, is video.
Beyond this, most of what I wrote last week holds. This deal is not material to Intel, which continues to face loss of major market share to AMD among Windows and Linux users.
But there are also vital lessons here for followers of Moores Law, lessons I need to impart.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | marketing
June 05, 2005
Assuming Apple does switch to Intel chips tomorrow, as News.Com reports, the value of Intel stock will likely rise.
That would be a mistake.
Intel is making a big investment here to gain a very small amount of market share. Meanwhile it's losing far more market share to AMD in what used to be called the Windows world.
WinTel has been broken. That should be the real headline here.
Microsoft is perfectly happy to have AMD supply chips for Windows machines. People are very happy to buy them. And right now AMD has a price-performance advantage there.
This move toward Apple will, if anything, accelerate that shift. Intel should be spending all its time addressing its loss of share in the Windows world, and in the Linux world, instead of wasting energy with a tetchy, demanding Apple, an outfit that even IBM couldn't please.
One more point.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Investment | Moore's Lore
June 03, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | law
May 31, 2005
Here's something you probably already knew.
National business magazines are deader than Mr. Pinstripe Suit.
Actually I added the word "national" to the sentence above. The New York Times failed to. Because local business newspapers are doing just fine thank you very much. The Times, as usual, has about half the story.
National magazines are out of favor because (ironically) they never created a real business proposition for the advertiser. Look at the ads. They're all corporate self-congratulation. Where's the business in that? It doesn't exist.
Beyond that Forbes, Fortune and Business Week mainly existed to tout stocks and stock touters. The collapse of the dot-bomb meant bad news for both, and in fact the Dow Jones has yet to match its pre-bust high. (The NASDAQ remains at about 40% of that high.) Fast Company, Red Herring and their ilk had an even weaker business case -- they pre-touted what vulture capitalists pushed.
But like I said, this is just half the story.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Journalism
Chris Anderson's blog, The Long Tail , is a "public diary on the way to a book" about the economic impact of mass customization.
As the graph shows, the phenomenon is familiar to anyone who blogs, and the challenge is to find a way to profit from it.
Stuff on the left side of the curve has business models. Stuff in the middle is struggling for a business model. Stuff on the right has no business model.
As you can see by looking at the endorsements on the left side of Anderson's blog, the Digirati are reacting like Anderson just discovered fire. And the Long Tail is no less obvious.
What's non-trivial is finding a way to profit from these atomized markets.
Google does it. TiVo does it (sometimes). But must those who profit from the "market of one" all be scaled? What about the creators? And what are the consequences of that?
What we've seen in the market, since the rise of the Internet, is an increasingly-shorter tail. Middle market books don't sell. Independent movies are having more trouble getting produced, not less. Musicians who used to live decent lives on record company contracts find today they can't get a sniff.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
May 24, 2005
I'm generally all in favor of anything to fight spam. And regular readers of this space will recall how much I like my own anti-spam tool, Mailwasher from FireTrust.
But this pissed me off.
UPDATE: After posting this I learned the spam database I'm about to describe is not necessary for Mailwasher to work. My complaint here is solely regarding issues of marketing and notice. Mailwasher remains my anti-spam solution of choice.
The latest version of the product, Version 5.0 to be precise, supports a company spam datebase, called FirstAlert! This is a commendable thing, on balance.
But in order to pay for maintaining this database, FireTrust has changed its business model. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially they're going to a subscription model built around FirstAlert!
I was asked to download the "upgrade" to Mailwasher, by FireTrust, roughly a week ago. I did so. It's now a $37 product but, if you want to maintain your own POP3 mailbox and a public e-mail address, it's a necessity. Upgrading was transparent, easy-peasy.
Suddenly this morning I get a pop-up, inside Mailwasher, reading "your subscription to FirstAlert has expired," with a link to renew. The link goes to a page inside the FireTrust site, and they want $9.95 for the subscription. The page doesn't indicate how long this "subscription" lasts.
Because of the way in which this was done, it can look to a consumer like a classic bait-and-switch. I bought this thing just last week and now you want MORE money?
Fortunately it's very easy for FireTrust to fix this:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Software | e-commerce | marketing | spam
May 23, 2005
I have been criticized soundly here by the early leaders of the blogging business community,(Pictured is one of these leaders, Jason Calacanis. From Vertikal.Dk.)
And why should these people listen? They have what they consider success. I'm a "low traffic blog." If I'm so clever I should be doing it, not talking about it, right? (Right.)
But the plain fact is, most of today's top blogs are using the wrong business model.
Their model is a media model. I tell you, you listen, and maybe I advertise to you on the side. This is what newspapers do, what magazines do, what radio does, what TV does.
But is the Internet a newspaper? Is it radio or a magazine or TV? No, it is not. The IN in the word Internet is short for Intimate. So why then should a business model imported from one of these other industries be appropriate? Only because, like TV entrepreneurs in the late 1940s, you can't think of a more appropriate one. You don't have the right vocabulary. You weren't born to this medium.
What would work better?
The community business model would work better. This is driven, not so much by what bloggers want to say as what their readers want to say. There are many high-traffic sites now using the community model -- Slashdot, Plastic, Groklaw, DailyKos. What they have in common is true community software -- Scoop, Slash, even Drupal.
The problem (and this is the nut of the issue) is that most of these community sites have deliberately shied away from having a business model. The only site I mentioned above that has a true business model is Slashdot, and Slashdot is so unusual people with an editorial background can't get their arms around what that business model is.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
May 21, 2005
In last week's issue of my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com, I took a look at business models , following a weekend at beautiful Belmont University in Nashville (left).
This week I continued the discussion, asking why so many responded to that piece denying they had any such thing as A Clue, let alone A-Clue.Com.
There was an interesting reaction to my piece last week, denial.
Many of the leaders in the blogging business read it, and all of them denied its inherent truth, namely that they had A Clue.
I'm not a business, insisted Jason Calacanis. Never mind that he has 65 blogs, a uniform look-and-feel, that his writers don't even get their pictures on their blogs and, when they leave, they leave with nothing. No, it's all about passion, he insists. We do this for love, he says. Business? We're not building one of those.
So it went.
I'm not a success, insisted Rafat Ali of Paidcontent. I'm not powerful, insisted Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos. I'm a dilletante, said Glenn Reynolds. I'm only here for the beer, said Dave Winer. I'm no one at all, said Pamela Jones of Groklaw.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising | personal
May 20, 2005
Despite his ponytail and his sometimes counter-cultural language, despite being what I like to call a Truly Handsome Man (it's a brighter term for bald, people) Ted Waitt was always a follower, not a leader. (The picture is from a 2002 profile in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Argus-Leader.)
Waitt was Gimbel's to Michael Dell's Macy's. He wanted to be Pepsi to Dell's Coke.
But computing lacks the stability of the retailing or the soda business. So when Waitt announced his resignation today (at 42 it wouldn't sound right to call it a retirement) it wasn't big news.
Waitt and Gateway did well in the 1990s, following Dell into mass customization. He made his big mistake when he tried to out-think Dell, opening a chain of retail stores that caused $2.4 billion in losses, according to The New York Times.
But I personally think the mistake was more basic than that.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | History | Investment | Moore's Lore | computer interfaces
"One of our regular posters here (OK, it was Brad) suggested that our piece yesterday on changes at Google were just a way to track clickthroughs.
We both underestimated it. In the biggest change since the service launched Google will scrap its small clean interface and, just for you (because they like your smile) let you produce a personalized My Google page all your own.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | marketing
May 19, 2005
I was planning on writing this afternoon about Broadcom's new patent suit against Qualcomm. Regardless of the merits, it looks like a good corporate strategy, creating uncertainty about a market opponent just as you're entering their space.
But in researching the story I learned something new about Google that may distress you. And that's a better blog item than the one I started with.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
"Dad, the Internet's broken again."
update I finally surrendered in this case and renewed my daughter's antiviral, for $55. I would rather have her choose when to make the Linux switch. The anti-viral did, finally, get rid of all the malware, although we lost a second evening to it and she wound up writing her last paper on my own machine.
Actually it had been breaking for some time, I learned. My lovely daughter is a big fan of Fanfiction.Net, a site where kids are allowed to post their own stories based on popular characters. (Think Harry Potter meets the Three Stooges.)
It's a harmless avocation but it comes with a price. Fanfiction is filled, absolutely filled, with spyware and malware. Ad pop-ups were filling her screen, and no matter how many I clicked away (even if the browser was turned off) more appeared. She had been running an anti-spyware program, but it had not been updated. And her anti-viral had just expired.
The solution seemed simple enough. Her anti-spyware program was updated and deployed. But here's a dirty secret of our time. Most adware today is no different from a virus.
All the tricks of the virus creep were deployed to keep crap like eZula infesting my girl's PC. Copies were hidden in memory, in the restore directory, in directories under program files. (None had ever asked permission, nor told her what it would do.)
When I deployed Spybot in normal boot, the spyware was so thick (download this, click here) the program actually stopped -- the pop-ups and demands to download more garbage were a primeval forest. When deployed in "safe mode," there were several "problems" that couldn't be eliminated. Re-boot and start Spybot again? Well, dozens more spy-virii popped up during the re-boot.
But wait, there's more.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Security | Software | personal
May 18, 2005
I didn't blog much yesterday because I was researching the state of play in Always On. (The illustration is from Georgia Tech.)
I had a book proposal before Wiley rejected out of hand. But when I then suggested to step back and do a book on RFID for the home, I got real interest. Just make it a hands-on book, I was told.
Thus, the research.
As regular readers here know well there are many Always On application spaces, that is, functions fit for wireless networking applications.
- Medical monitoring
- Home Automation
Absent this understanding that a unified platform already exists so that all these applications can be created together, what is the state of play specifically regarding Radio Frequency Identification? (Or, if you prefer, spychips, although since I'm talking about home applications you're spying on yourself.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Consulting | Futurism | Internet | Science | cellular | computer interfaces
May 16, 2005
There's a reason why journalists should be paid, one that people like Fuad Kircaali ignore at their peril.
Corruption. Another word for it is payola. (The illustration is actually the cover of an album by the eponymous German band. Rock on, jungen und madchen.)
If you're a "volunteer" (unpaid) editor at a Sys-Con publication, and a vendor offers you money to spin a story their way, what's the risk in your taking it? Sure, if the boss finds out you might lose your job. But you're not being paid. And this assumes that you're being closely monitored -- the quid pro quo of being a volunteer editor is generally that you're not.
On the other hand, if you're a working journalist and your income (thus your family) is dependent on pleasing the publisher, we have a different calculus. Now a vendor approaches you with an offer and you see a risk in taking it. Not only will you surely lose this job, but you're likely to lose all hope of future employment. (If you're a volunteer editor your employment is not in journalism, remember.)
You can only hold professional journalists to journalistic ethics. Publishers who don't pay editors hand their good name to people beyond their control.
Where does blogging fit into this?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Journalism | blogging | ethics | personal
May 14, 2005
By and large publishers do not share journalism's ethical sense.
Instead they apply business ethics.
While a journalist's ethics, like that of any other claimed profession, may hold them well short of what's illegal, businessmen must go right up to the legal line, even risk crossing it, to stay ahead of the competition. Businessmen who don't think that way are easily crushed by those who do.
In journalism, business ethics often push journalists over lines they should not cross. Robert Novak practices business ethics. The National Enquirer practices business ethics. Those who choose to believe Novak or the Enquirer accept it.
And Fuat Kircaali (right), CEO of Sys-Con Media, has apparently chosen to apply business ethics in the Maureen O'Gara scandal. (He has hinted at this before.)
This weekend this blog was told that Kircaali accepted the resignations of three senior LinuxWorld editors -- James Turner, Dee-Ann LeBlanc, and Steve Suehring, rather than personally release and renounce O'Gara.
UPDATE: "We were unpaid editors but we devoted a lot of time and energy to it," according to Suehring's blog. This makes sense given Kircaali's business model, as we will discuss later on.
Apparently, Kircaali even approved O'Gara's assault on Pamela Jones of Groklaw in advance. Here's what he told Free Software Magazine.
"The language of the story is in the typical style of Ms. OGara, generally entertaining and easy to read, and sometimes it could be regarded as offensive, depending on how you look at it. I decided to publish the article. It was published because it was an accurate news story."
More after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Linux | e-commerce | ethics | law | marketing | personal
May 13, 2005
B.L. Ochman (the picture is from her Whatsnextblog) has already broken this, but this week's a-clue.com newsletter features a piece on blogging business models, written following the Blognashville conference.
I spent the weekend at Blognashville, a gab-and-egofest for about 100 (mostly male, mostly middle-aged) bloggers at Belmont University in Nashville (a pricey pimple on the bottom of Vanderbilt) to fuss over Glenn Reynolds (much nicer in person than online) and to search for meaning.
The big question: how will we make money off this?
People are investing a ton of time and effort in blogging. Volunteers get burned out if they can't find money. All institutions are built on money. At Nashville we all felt we were in the gold fields and no one seemed to have made a strike.
There's a Clue there. Nearly all those 49'ers (and Alaska 98'ers) who went in with pick and shovel failed. It was those who went in with a business model, professional mining companies or merchants such as Levi Strauss, who succeeded.
Some 99% of blogs (including mine) go about the publishing question backwards. That is, we look at the process from the writer's point of view, not the reader's. This is forgivable in that bloggers are writers, but this is one of the key differences between writers and publishers. Publishers create for the market.
That is, publishers define the readers they want, the content those readers need, and the advertisers they will hit-up to pay the bills. They then order the production of the product, and keep an eye out to make sure it meets the readers' requirements.
In other words, the difference between blogging and journalism lies entirely on the business side of the shop. Publishers are just as likely to pay for lies as bloggers are to make stuff up. The difference is the publishers create lies that appeal to their audiences, while bloggers write lies that appeal to themselves.
This is easy to understand when you look at the professional blogs that are run by publishers - Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, and Paid Content. Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and Rafat Ali defined the readers they wanted, created a business model, then hired writers to fulfill the mission.
In contrast I found, at blognashville, that even the most-popular bloggers are mere dilletantes. This is a term Glenn Reynolds applied to himself. Dave Winer, with whom I spent pleasant hours, is also doing his blog on-the-side - his business is RSS. I was surprised to find myself the most knowledgeable businessperson in the room, and I'm a complete failure.
When you're led by amateurs you can't expect professional standards to be upheld. Yet, on the editorial side, blogs often do just that. It's on the business side where they all fall down.
Still, I saw several potential business models at the conference:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising
The U.S. is in the process of losing its last friends, the Brits.
I'm not just talking here of recent elections, where Labour lost much of its majority specifically due to its support of the Iraq war.
No, I'm talking about Malcolm Glazer.
Malcolm who, you ask? Glazer owns the Tampa Bay Bucs. You may remember his eldest son Avram from the dot-boom, as the head of some nonsense called Zap.com, which tried to roll-up a bunch of disparate Internet assets into some super-duper-something. They got less than nowhere. (The parent outfit, Zapata Corp., had as its co-founder one George H.W. Bush. We'll just let that one sink into the heads of Manchester's tinfoil hat crowd.) Zap.Com also gives us an excuse for discussing this sports story in this here tech blog.
Anyway, yesterday daddykins bought England's true crown jewel, the Manchester United football club. And he seems to have bought it the way LBO artists did it in the 80s, aiming to "unlock value" by dumping his debt onto the books. Needless to say you don't want to be wearing a Bucs' hat in Greater Manchester this afternoon.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | fun stuff
May 12, 2005
Many think the secret of Fox' dominance of news is political. A generation brought up on the myth that an objective press is biased to the left, then given a right-wing Pravda, sees the latter as "fair and balanced."
That's a small part of the story. Identifying a niche and serving it is as old as the magazine business. Older. It's as old as Poor Richard's Almanack.
The real secret is much simpler. The "network" is actually a studio. Few bureaus, no big investigation team, no bench, little support. Who needs writers when most hosts can wing it. It's talking heads. It's radio economics.
No, it's blog economics, or Blogonomics.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism
May 11, 2005
With CNN's decision, now reflected on its air, to become a national version of local TV news, with "it bleeds, it leads" sensibilities and a complete emphasis on simple stories told in front of courthouses rather than anything researched, the word needs to go out.
They have surrendered to the blogosphere.
With local TV news no longer covering politics or policy, and with cable news now virtually ignoring it, what other conclusion can be drawn?
It's not as if politics has no audience. Political blogs have the highest audiences, and highest degree of audience participation, in the blogosphere. Many are profitable, some wildly so. Many also break real news stories, either through the efforts of the people running them or just from common posters who do their own investigations and report the results.
In the history of journalism this is big news.
But it's not being reported as such.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging
May 09, 2005
One thing I got my first crack at over the weekend was the actual practice of Wi-Fi-in'. (The picture comes from a Free WiFi hotspot list site.)
While I have had WiFi in my home for years now I only recently got a laptop that can truly take advantage of it on the road. I brought it to Nashville with me.
Wi-Fi'-in means opening up the box, booting up, and hoping for an unsecured 802.11 connection you can log into. It's best done in a city, preferably close to a University campus. But don't expect to do this on the campus itself -- most college systems these days are secured, at least by passwords.
It was amazing to me how lost and alone I felt when I couldn't find a free spot around me. My hotel advertised the service, but during the day the radio waves couldn't reach my room. (This is a fact of life with radio -- the bands are all more crowded during the day.) As I noted the campus where I was hanging on Friday had their access password-protected, and I'm not into breaking-and-surfing (yet).
But all was not lost. I was about to learn a powerful lesson.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | personal
Googlejuice is that precious elixir which makes the difference between a site or blog that has tons of regular traffic, and those that don't.
Getting Googlejuice, legitimately or not, is a real industry. It iranges from Search Engine Optimization to spamdexing.
Google is constantly adjusting and re-adjusting its algorithms in this area to be fairer, and keep people from playing games with it. Just last week it sought a patent on new Google News technology it claims will enhance that site's credibility. This may backfire, because the major media certain to get more Google Newsjuice out of this are the same companies looking to charge for links.
But that's another show.
One of the great ironies of my recent mistake here was that it actually increased this blog's Googlejuice. Between those who linked to complain, my responses in apology, and those who followed up on my explanation saying they hadn't seen my apology, the incoming link traffic here actually rose 50%. If some of those people stick around (maybe wondering when I'll fall on my face next) it's actually a good thing.
Jonathan Peterson, who did the Amateur Hour blog here for a while, made this observation to me over the weekend.
I think there are a few good lessons - the most important of which you
already knew - the firestorm around an error is good for your link
popularity. Andrew Orlowski has been playing this game at the Register for years (and it's the reason I stopped
reading The Register, but his anti-blog idiocy brings in the googlejuice.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
The real difference between blogging and journalism is on the business side, not the creative. (That's Henry Copeland of Blogads on the left of the picture, taken last year from Dan Bricklin's blog.)
On the creative side, blogs are just as likely to care about journalism, public service, and lies as any other media.
On the business side, however, nearly all bloggers do things backwards.
That is, we look at the content from the writer's point of view. Journalism looks at all content from the reader's point of view.
This is no small point. You can see it clearly in examining the "blog journalism" companies which have found success -- Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, and Paid Content. Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and Rafat Ali all defined the readers they wanted, created a business model, then hired writers to fulfill the mission.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising
May 05, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | blogging | fun stuff
The secret's out.
Intel is re-interpreting Moore's Law. Not repealing it. Not rejecting it.
They're reinterpreting it. That's the significance of the change incoming CEO Paul Otellini (right) is making.
Before Moore's Law was like Samuel Gomper's famous quote about what labor wanted. More. More circuits, more speed, more cycles, more bits. More.
This led to mistakes like the Itanium, which Intel is still living down.
As of today Intel's new direction is better. Better doesn't always mean more. In the case of microprocessors it can mean putting more computers on each chip (multi-core) or running with lower power. In terms of communications it can mean a host of attributes, from security to coverage to throughput.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Investment | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications
May 04, 2005
The strength of an economy, like that of a society, depends on social mobility. That means the poor can rise to wealth. It also means the wealthy can end up poor. (This old cartoon, from what folks like to call THE Ohio State University, pre-dates Wal-Mart by generations.)
A recent online conversation with Vijay Gill brought this home to me. The topic was actually our recent piece on The Myth of Scarcity. I liked it, posted it to Dave Farber's list, and Vijay responded quite thoughtfully, his point being that telecommunications is hard, some parts are scarce, and real technical knowledge is even scarcer. Maintaining total connectivity in the last mile without protecting the monopoly is harder than I make it sound.
This set me thinking in two directions at once.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Telecommunications
May 03, 2005
Why is it that politicians have done a better job on the Internet than publishers?
It has to do with a concept I call Pitch Credibility.
Journalists understand the concept of credibility. It's the trust readers place in us. If there is a journalism profession, it's based on this idea of credibility. I took a huge hit to my own credibility when I screwed-up an item on Ev Williams. I went through hell on that not to regain my credibility, but to minimize the losses, and in hope the damage would not spread to innocent Corante authors.
But just as editorial work must have credibility, so must advertising. That is the innovation the Internet makes necessary.
Moveon.org understood this right away. It knew that if it suggested you give to Candidate X, then Candidate X better fit the desires of the Moveon audience, or the endorsement would damage Moveon. Because it had pitch credibility with its audience, Moveon was able to gain honest information (a mailing list) from its members, and even financial support, based solely on its promise to deliver.
While Moveon failed in these last two cycles as a political force (ask Presidents Gore, Dean and Kerry) it has succeeded in creating a business model that everyone else on the Internet needs to pay attention to.
So if Roger Simon, for instance, is to succeed in his efforts to unite the right-wing blogosphere and extract money from its members, he must retain pitch credibility. He better not let anyone like me in because I'd damage it. And he better use that credibility only to solicit for products, services and people the audience will surely endorse.
Perhaps you can see now why this idea is easier for a politician to understand than a businessman. Politicians are attached to what they're selling in ways businessmen aren't.
Belief is at the heart of pitch credibility.
How can we take advantage of this in the business realm?
Click to find out.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising
The Associated Press was created by publishers to let papers share stories and reduce editorial costs, in an age where everyone knew their business model and barriers to entry were rising.
Today barriers to entry are at rock-bottom and valid business models are hard to come by.
So naturally, everyone's trying to create an AP.
This is going about things backward. Business models aren't for sharing. They must first be created by entrepreneurs, then expanded upon. Only once they're established can you expect the kind of consolidation an AP represents.
What we have, then, is a business opportunity. What is that opportunity?
A shared registration database would be a good place to start. One sign-in, and one cookie, might get a reader posting privileges at hundreds of sites. The database would provide advertisers with a working profile of the readers (demographics and psychographics) justifying a higher cost per thousand on ads. Blogs on the network could be bundled based on politics, subject matter, or geography, just as is done in the magazine business.
The result would be a brand offering the services of an ad network. It should also be able to aggregate other business opportunities for the members of the network, so it would have aspects of a talent agency as well.
How close are we to something like that? Not very close at all:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | blogging
May 02, 2005
The bidding war between Verizon and Qwest for MCI is based on a myth of scarcity. That is, both think they can make the deal pay by squeezing customers for the scarce resources represented by the MCI network.
Moores Law of Fiber rendered that inoperative many years ago. There is no shortage of fiber backbone capacity. And there are ample replacements for Plain Old Telephone Service -- not just cable but wireless.
The myth on which this deal is based is, simply, untrue.
Yet the myth persists, and not just in the telecommunications business.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | personal
I have not written much about Voice Over IP in this space because I'm not an expert in it. (Yes, I hear you say, this never stopped you before.)
Actually I didn't think I had anything original to add to the conversation. I still don't. But I want to point you to someone who does.
That someone is Tom Evslin (left). Evslin recently completed a wonderful series on the economics, politics, past and future of VOIP, on his blog, which I heartily recommend to anyone interested in this area.
Evslin calls this year a "flipping point" driven bythe mass distribution of VOIP software. It's not really free although, once you have your set-up, each call carries no incremental cost. The market battle between Skype and Vonage are driven by Metcalfe's Law, control of end points. Evslin offers the best explanation I've yet seen of Skype and its business model, which is rapidly evolving into an alternative phone network.
I have one suggestion.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Software | Telecommunications
The political battle over WiFi shapes up as a classic match between private interests and the commons.
But it is in fact a battle over real estate. (Thus, the balloon, which is the logo of a very innovative real estate brokerage.)
Verizon pulled a bait-and-switch on New York phone booths. It installed 802.11 equipment based on the promise of free WiFi service on adjoining streets, then pulled them all back into its paid network.
Politically this makes no sense. In real estate terms it makes perfect sense.
The challenge to this looks technological, but it's really political. You can see this challenge by simply turning on your WiFi equipped laptop.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Internet | Telecommunications | law
April 28, 2005
The secret to being a successful entrepreneur is learning how to handle NO.
(I don't know where this image originated. It appears to be an old poster of actor-author Dom DeLuise.)
I learned this lesson from an entrepreneurial friend of mine today, and it's so important I had to blog it.
Entrepreneurs bring ideas to businesses and people. They sell these ideas, as businesses. They take a lot of meetings. And most of the time, maybe over 99% of the time, the answer at the end of the day is No.
"You have to turn it into an opportunity," my friend said. You do that by finding someone else -- a money source, another business -- who will either run with your idea, finance your idea, or buy it outright.
And you keep moving.
The difference between entrepreneurs and other businesspeople is that most businesspeople are in the yes business. In a going concern you mostly hear yes. People do come in the door, people are satisfied, you do create systems that wind up giving value for money. If you're not doing this, you're out of business quickly.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are constantly being told no. It's only when they get the yes that they have the chance to build that business they were describing, and this is usually the end of a long, long process. Yet the businesses an entrepreneur launches are often much better than those run by businesspeople, because they've been tested, vetted, and designed to grow fast.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | e-commerce | marketing | personal
Yesterday we reported on a speech by Rupert Murdoch (left, from Wikipedia) to newspaper editors in which he so much as said their industry will be killed by the Internet.
Personally I dont think this is necessarily the case. Newspaper companies will be able to use computers and on-demand pagination to mass produce paper products that are relevant to future audiences. Just as radio and TV only forced the industry to change, not disappear, so it will be in this case.
But lets assume Murdoch is right. How can incumbent newspaper companies achieve anything on the new medium? His speech read like someone anxious to learn. I'll take him at his word.
Following are some ideas.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism
April 27, 2005
The best way to understand the future is to look into how chips are changing.
Two transitions are transforming Moore's Law. The original article, in 1964, described only the density of circuits on silicon substrate.
The rule implied that chips could get better-and-better, faster-and-faster. Doubling bigger numbers means bigger incremental changes in the same time. Over the years chemists and electrical engineers learned to apply this exponential improvement concept to fiber cables, to magnetic storage, to optical storage, even to radios, so that 802.11n radios will transmit data at over 100 Mbps -- twice what earlier 802.11g models could deliver, but still 50 Mbps more.
The transitions have to do with what we mean by better.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
April 26, 2005
In The Lost Point, I wrote that Google risked being outmanuevered because it didn't pay proper attention to Blogger.
Today Duncan Riley of The Blog Herald goes further. He says the game is already over, that Microsoft won, that the field is consolidating into the three big portal players so Movable Type needs to sell out to Yahoo, quick.
Riley is right as far as he goes.
But if you click below, we'll go a bit further.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Software | Telecommunications | blogging | computer interfaces | online advertising
April 25, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
April 20, 2005
The success of Google has been based on the fact that technology drives its train. Technical success is the most-sought value.
This is becoming a problem.
In many of the new businesses Google has launched, technical values (while important) are not going to be the sole drivers of success. In blogging, in RSS, in Google News, in Google Desktop, in Google Local, and in other areas, other skills are required.
Business skills. Marketing schools. Journalism skills. Political skills. Artistic skills.
Leonardo DaVinci (celebrated above) could not get a job at Google today. In a well-rounded company, his genius would find a place.
The need for these various skills will only increase with time. Google must find a way to recruit these skills, and to reward these skills, without giving the people with these skills control of the company.
This will not be easy.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | blogging | e-commerce | marketing
The following will seem to contradict the item below it.
It does not. (That's the late, great Burt Lancaster and the still-breathing Tony Curtis in The Sweet Smell of Success, courtesy New Yorker music critic Alex Ross.)
The secret to success in every field is found in the skills of the journalist.
Whatever you wish to be -- a scientist, an artist, an entrepreneur, a preacher, an economist, a politician -- you will go further if you have a journalist's basic tool set.
Research thoroughly. Ask good questions. Listen carefully. Write clearly. Explain simply.
These are the skills of journalism. You can pick them up in a few college courses. Some are even taught in journalism schools. Most are learned in the School of Hard Knocks.
The rest of what passes for journalism education is bunk. So learn rhetoric, learn public speaking, learn writing, read as widely as you can. That's what newspapers and TV stations are looking for. They know they can teach the rest of the skill set on-the-fly. Most journalists never went to j-school.
How do I know this is true?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Copyright | Journalism | personal
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications
I have written before about advertising being inserted into RSS feeds, and that is increasing. (Image from Case Western Reserve.)
I'm not just talking about RSS items that are in fact links to ad pages, but RSS items that, while containing links to stories, have additional ads inserted into them.
Now there's another, far more dangerous abuse of the RSS system, phony links.
Phony Links are RSS items from registration-only sites. Most U.S. newspapers are now requiring registration. RSS feeds from these sites now go to sign-in pages, not to the stories themselves. In other words the link is a bait-and-switch. It doesn't go to content, but to a sales pitch.
The AP is abetting that requirement by demanding royalties for online content.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
April 19, 2005
The hole is the whole U.S.
Intel plans on mass producing WiMax chips and going into rapid deployment, offering end-user speeds far in excess of what U.S. phone outfits provide with DSL.
The problem is that's the speed limit for most backhauls. Go to most WiFi hotspots, or most home networks, and DSL is the backhaul platform. We're talking 1.5 Mbps, max.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | Telecommunications
April 18, 2005
A Cachelogic study claims two-thirds of Internet traffic is now P2P, by implication the trading of copyrighted files. (That's a Cachelogic product there to the left.)
But is this just another Marty Rimm study?
Rimm, you may or may not remember, wrote a paper at Georgetown Law in 1995 claiming 85% of Web traffic was dirty pictures. This was later disproved, but the damage was done and Congress passed the ill-fated Communications Decency Act.
Mike Godwin, the former EFF counsel who fought the Rimm study and is now senior counsel at Public Knowledge, remains skeptical, noting that the Cachelogic study hasn't gone through peer review. He also notes that, since Cachelogic sells systems to control P2P traffic, it has a natural bias.
The Cachelogic claims may have logic behind them, however. Many ISPs do report that over half their traffic is on ports commonly used by P2P applications. Brett Glass of Lariat.Net, near the University of Wyoming, says the claim seems accurate, noting that unless ISPs cut-back capacity to those ports (a process called P2P Mitigation), the applications quickly discover the fat pipe and divert everyone's traffic to it, filling it at the cost of thousands per month.
And that is at the heart of the problem.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Telecommunications | law
April 15, 2005
There are two types of chips key to the Always On world.
These are sensor chips and RFID chips.
Both contain tiny radios. The two can also be combined.
A sensor chip, as its name implies, tests specific conditions, and is reporting back with data on those conditions. A motion sensor is an example. A heart monitor is an example.
An RFID chip merely identifies the item its on. The chips that will go onto passports will be RFID chips, and RFID identification is at the heart of efforts by retailers by Wal-Mart, as well as service providers like Grantex.
Ive also written, recently, about applications that combine RFID and sensor ships. Bulldog Technologies is rolling out a line of these chips that not only identify containers in transit, but monitor their condition and shippers know the contents are safe.
Always On applications will use all these types of chips as clients on WiFi or cellular networks, with applications located on gateways that run at low power, with battery back-up, and have constant connections to the Internet.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Semiconductors
Last month Intel's mobility chief Sean Maloney was in the hunt to head H-P, a job that eventually went to Mark Hurd of NCR. (Watch out. Dana is about to criticize a fellow Truly Handsome Man.)
But how well is Maloney doing his current job?
Intel's role in the development of Always On is crucial, and its strategy today seems muddled. It's not just its support for two different WiMax standards, and its delay in delivering fixed backhaul silicon while it prepares truly mobile solutions.
I'm more concerned with Maloney's failure to articulate a near-and-medium-term wireless platform story, one that tells vendors what they should sell today that will be useful tomorrow.
Intel seems more interested in desktops and today's applications than it is in the wireless networking platform and tomorrow's applications.
Incoming CEO Paul Otellini says Intel is going to sell a platforms story, not a pure technology story. Platforms are things you build on.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors
April 14, 2005
Sun's plan to release Solaris under its CDDL open source license got a boost yesterday with an endorsement by...The SCO Group? (This cute Linux penguin keychain from Promotion Potion doubles as a stress ball.)
"We have seen what Sun plans to do with OpenSolaris and we have no problem with it," is the way eWeek's Steven Vaughan-Nichols quoted SCO's Darl McBride in a conference call yesterday.
The question is, with friends like these, does Sun need enemies?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Linux | Software | law | marketing
April 13, 2005
One problem journalists have with blogging is it does away with gatekeepers.
Printers are gatekeepers. They cost money and make you think before you publish.
Editors are gatekeepers. That's their job. They assign stories and edit them carefully so you don't mispel words.
Publishers are also gatekeepers. Traditionally their role has been to shield the poor, innocent journalist from the nasty world of business.
Mark Glaser of OJR examined this today without reaching any conclusions (as good journalists are taught to do). (The recent picture of Nick Denton is from the OJR story.)
Glaser interviewed three people whose blogging companies seem to be bringing in bucks -- Denton (of Gawker, Wonkette, etc.), Jason Calacanis (of Weblogsinc) , and Rafat Ali (of Paid Content) -- about how they pay people who work for them.
By the month, said Calacanis. By the story, said Ali. By the reader, said Denton.
Shock! Shock and dismay, responded the folks at Slate and Salon, representing the traditional industry.
To which I respond, huh?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
April 12, 2005
In a nice commentary about how Wired is now Tired, David P. Reed (left) got me thinking about what today's key economic good might be.
The answer is attention. The world is entering an attention economy.
In many ways this is not news. What's news is how we're bifurcating our attention -- splitting it into parts -- and how media must now compete for slices of it. (Would this item get more hits if I called it The ADD Economy?)
It's a worldwide phenomenom because cellular or mobile service is worldwide. Mobile service competes well in the Attention Economy. Watch people chat on their phones while driving. (It's like elephants tap-dancing -- what's amazing is they do it.)
More after the break.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Podcasting | computer interfaces | marketing | online advertising | personal
April 11, 2005
Like Kremlinologists of the past, people are now analyzing Google's every move the way they once followed Microsoft.
Exhibit A today is a piece from Jim Hedger on Google's latest patent application. But the same things can be found any day of the week. Just enter the word Google at Google News and here's what you'll come up with today:
And that's just on regular news sites. We're not yet talking about the blogosphere:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | blogging
April 07, 2005
I've seen the TV ads and maybe you have, too. "Get a free ringtone. Simply text (whatever) and get (name of hit song) as a ringtone!"
Well, it's a scam. It's not free. In fact, writes Stephen Lawson for The Industry Standard, it's a lot more costly than a regular ringtone. This is because you get multiple texts in reply, with directions for the download, and these texts cost money -- $1.99 plus call charges each. It's an easy case to make, it's simple consumer fraud, it's aimed at teenagers. A state attorney general who wants to make a name for himself (or herself) can have a field day with this.
Want to know the best part?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | cellular | ethics | law
April 04, 2005
Both Sony and Microsoft have recently announced efforts to "jump the iPod" with video downloads.
Neither effort is serious, in terms of 2005 serious. Both are attempts to place markers on the future and gain agreements with the content industries they think will mark the future.
And this is just what's wrong with them.
You don't open up a new market by focusing on the seller side of the transaction.
You open up a new market by focusing on the buyer side.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | computer interfaces
April 01, 2005
An IEEE study shows the excesses of venture capital in the late 1990s actually stifled innovation.
The image, taken from the IEEE Spectrum story, shows what a venture capitalist should be doing, looking for ideas. In fact, as the study indicated, most 1990s' VCs replaced that light bulb with a dollar sign.
It's something I strongly suspected at the time. It's one reason I called my newsletter a-clue.com, because I saw so many Clueless people drawing such fat checks and directing such big funds toward the cliff.
But it is nice to get some confirmation.
In the study by Bart Stuck & Michael Weingarten, over 1300 public offerings over 10 years were analyzed, and scored 1-5 for innovation, with 1 being very innovative and 5 being me-too.
The study's conclusion is poignant. "Based on our experience, we believe that VCs really aren't the risk takers they're often made out to be."
Here's what I think really happened.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Futurism | History | Investment
March 30, 2005
I have made few comments about the so-called conspiracy against the Apple iPhone.
The story was that Motorola was ready to release a cellular phone that was also an iPod device, but it couldn't find any carriers for it.
What's more interesting to me is the tug of war now taking place among entrepreneurs between these two technologies.
And, surprisingly, cellular is losing.
The reason has to do with business models and open standards. (Thus the picture above of standard pawns, available from the good people at Rolcogames.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment | Podcasting | cellular
March 29, 2005
The real Hardball isn't the game show on MSNBC, where politicians lie and yap at one another.
It's something far more serious, played every day, by huge corporations that masquerade as guardians of the public interest, but are in fact as corrupt as the rest of us. (That's LA Times founder Harrison Gray Otis on the right. More about Harry Otis here, near the bottom of the page. I direct David Shaw's attention to the quote from Theodore Roosevelt.)
The prerogatives of these corporations and their hirelings, who call themselves journalists (then deny this status to you and me) is under threat on this medium as never before. They're scared, and they're playing Hardball.
Their right, earned by corporate might, to define what is and what isn't news, what is and what isn't fair comment, is under threat, right here, right now.
And they don't like it one bit.
The game is being played mainly on three search engines. On MSN note how these corporations are given, not dominance, but exclusivity. The same is true on Yahoo. Note the list of "resources" at the top-right of the Yahoo page. Note too the prominence given one outfit's stories, the newspaper co-op called AP.
In both cases what you see on your screen is the result of business negotiation. News value is determined by people, meeting in rooms, and (perhaps) money changes hands (we're not told).
Is this fair? It may well be. It's certainly business as usual. And -- here is the key point -- the process is completely opaque.
On the other hand, we have Google News. What you see here looks similar but it is, in fact, quite different. While the stories of the giants do get prominent play, so do other organizations, and other types of news coverage.
At 11:15 AM for instance I checked Google's "coverage" of Laura Bush's trip to Afghanistan, sorted by relevance. Position four was held by a right-wing group, the Conservative Voice. Position seven was held by a left-wing site, Counter Currents, posting a blog item from Counterpunch.
The results on all stories change moment-to-moment, and only a small part of what we call the blogosphere is represented, but the fact is that Google News is offering a far wider set of sources than its rivals. These include "official" outlets like Voice of America and Pravda. They include newspaper sites requiring registration. They also include many sites from outside the U.S.
In some cases, they even include blogs. Yes, even this one.
But that's not the full extent of Google's challenge to the news industry.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Telecommunications | blogging | ethics | personal
March 28, 2005
The demonization of Google has begun. (Image from InternetWeekly.org.)
It's one of the great laws of politics. As soon as people decide you have power, and you can be moved, everyone and his auntie is going to try and move you.
I hinted that something might be happening more than a month ago, but it was probably the controversy over Google News that tipped it over.
With Google News, from the very beginning, Google did something it claimed it wasnt doing. That is, it exercised editorial judgement. As SearchEngine Journal noted, While an algorithm based on publishing popularity chooses which articles are found under which keyword phrases, the news-authority sources themselves are supposed to be pre-screened by a human. And some immediately started writing programs to see what those humans might be doing.
But just as I was objecting, wanting to get in, others were objecting wanting to stay out. Agence France-Presse has won an agreement from Google that News wont even spider stories sent to its affiliates, while Jeff Jarvis is crowing that Google News no longer spiders hate sites.
And now the atmosphere of controversy has spilled into the main site. French law demands that ads for competitors not be placed against trademarks. Google complies, on its French site, but continues to employ them on its U.S. site, where the standard is different. So the French sue.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce | online advertising
Of all the things that Gator (and its ilk) did, the worst may have been how they corrupted the file download process.
Click download and you get...who knows what?
Now Yahoo, desperate to catch up with Google, has corrupted the downloading of basic Web tools, by sticking its toolbar in with Macromedia Flash.
The attempts by Macromedia officials like John Dowdell (right) to explain this away speaks to a growing lack of ethics within the Internet business community.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | computer interfaces | ethics | online advertising
March 25, 2005
This weekend Slate offers a feature of Philip Anschutz, a conservative businessman (and big soccer fan) who has launched printed papers under the name the Examiner in Washington and San Francisco.
Jack Shafer syggests Anschutz needs to invest more in editorial and consider the Web in order to be taken seriously.
Correct and double correct.
I wrote about this several weeks ago, and what follows is that original copy. You can get it free
I have a love-hate relationship with newspapers. (This newsboy is advertising news of the Titanic's sinking.)
The business has been at the heart of my "profession" for a century. The whole idea of a journalist as a professional is also a product of this business. I took my graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism. Joseph Medill was the old reprobate who built the Chicago Tribune empire.
But as I've said many times here this whole idea of a "journalism profession" is a fraud. Professionals can make it on their own. Journalists can't. If you don't have a job you are not part of the fraternity. Even if you build a journalism company based on your vision of what the profession should be, you are always nothing more than a businessman.
The New York Times recently quoted a newspaper consultant as saying "For some publishers, it really sticks in the craw that they are giving away their content for free."
Here in one sentence we have the utter cluelessness of the industry. Here is an opportunity waiting for someone to exploit it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising
March 24, 2005
The big news in blogging today is not the FEC, but a concerted effort by media companies to kill it by co-opting it. (The illustration is from an Investigator.Biz feature on the slave trade.)
Companies large and small are hiring bloggers, full or part time, are launching their own staff-written blogs, or are seeking to have bloggers publish on company-owned sites.
The weapons they wield are money (I'm up for that), the machinery of publicity, and credibility.
Much of that credibility, however, is being defined by search engines, especially Google, which refuses to spider blog entries on equal terms with media-fed blogs.
If you want to find this entry, for instance, you must look in the main search engine. Specialized blog search engines get a fraction of a regular search engine's traffic, and are based on RSS, meaning they're self-organized rather than spidered.
The result is that the independent blogger today has the same problems finding an audience as an independent Web site would have had in, say, 1998.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Journalism | blogging | personal
March 23, 2005
The Gibson Safety Dance, named for sci-fi author William Gibson, involves companies changing their software simply to keep other programs from accessing it.
It's increasingly common. We've seen it in Instant Messaging, we saw it recently with Microsoft Office, and now we're seeing it with Apple's iTunes.
Jan Johansen, the Norwegian programmer who wrote DeCSS so he could play DVDs under Linux, has entered the fray with a program that breaks the iTunes DRM so Linux users can buy them from the Apple store. Apple's response has been to change the software and keep this from happening.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Software
March 22, 2005
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Semiconductors | Telecommunications | cellular
March 21, 2005
Throughout the dot-boom Barry Diller stood aloof. He promised he would never overpay for "Internet real estate," that he would grow his business by finding bargains. (The picture is from this Wired article where he displays far more wisdom about Internet valuations than displayed today.)
For several years he stayed true to that. You can justify the prices paid for Home Shopping Network, Expedia.Com, Hotels.Com, and Ticketmaster based on revenues and earnings. They sold stuff -- toasters, travel packages, concert tickets -- and earned real money.
But $1.85 billion for an outfit with trailing year sales of $261 million? That's over 7 times sales, about 40 times earnings.
Sorry, Barry, you finally drank the Kool-Aid.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising
Whatever idiot at Agence France-Presse is pushing to keep its stories from being linked widely might want to do a re-think after reading this.
AOL is far more powerful than Agence France-Presse. At one time its walled garden was the most powerful force online. Its shareholders took 45% of Time Warner's equity in 2000, and while that's now worth a fraction of what it was (thanks to the fact they weren't really worth the price), it's still a lovely parting gift (and thanks for playing our game).
Well, after spending billions of dollars and five years fighting the inevitable, AOL has succumbed.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising
When a currency becomes overvalued it gets tossed like confetti. This is what happened in the late 1990s, and it's happening again. (The allusion, of course, is to the hit song 1999 by the man at left, known again by his given name, Prince Rogers Nelson.)
Yahoo's P/E is at 54, Google's is 123. Their stocks are overvalued in a market where the average P/E is still said to be near historic highs.
It doesn't matter whether acquisitions are made with cash or stock. Cash acquisitions, after all, can easily be handled by the company selling stock. Yahoo has been especially active in this area.
Companies of all sorts want this currency, and thus we have both Yahoo and Google on an acquisition binge.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | History | Internet | Investment
March 17, 2005
Back in the 1990s (not that there's anything wrong with that) a lot of companies drew a lot of venture capital promising to target ads based on who you were rather than what you were looking at.
The ploy failed. It turned out the cost of targeting exceeded the premium advertisers could charge for the space.
On the other hand context-based ads, targetting based on the content of a page or a search, continued to draw premium prices. It still works.
So Microsoft actually took a step backward this week when it launched adCenter, which targets based on users' use of Microsoft resources, plus Experian credit scores.
They also, once again, didn't do a complete trademark search. Finding this particular example, which I don't believe has any affiliation with Microsoft, took me all of 10 seconds. (On Google.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | History | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising
March 14, 2005
The New York Times quotes a newspaper consultant as saying "For some publishers, it really sticks in the craw that they are giving away their content for free."
Here in one sentence we the utter cluelessness of the industry.
Newspapers have always given away their content. Always. The money you pay for your daily paper goes only toward its distribution costs. The ink, the paper, the printing, and the entire editorial budget (which is just 8% of the total, although publishers act like it's the whole thing) -- that comes from advertising.
Where does the money come from? Many sources:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | online advertising
March 13, 2005
Of all the American entrepreneurs you read about a decade ago, which do you think is doing the best today?
Which one, do you think, is kicking back, living the life, doing what he wants, and bringing in tons of money on something that's relevant to 2005?
The answer: Thomas Dolby Robertson. He blinded them all with mobility.
As Thomas Dolby (his oeuvre is at ArtistDirect, along with this picture), Robertson had a brief vogue on the pop charts in the early 1980s. He even had a pop hit, She Blinded Me With Science.
Then, a decade ago, he morphed into an entrepreneur, doing stuff at the intersection of virtual reality and gaming. The media left him behind and left him alone. (I met him at a few trade shows during the dot-boom. He should have been a pathetic figure. He wasn't.)
It seems Robertson has a talent rare among entrepreneurs, the ability to make lemonade out of lemons. He explained what happened to the Onion AV Club. It was a piece of blinding entrepreneurial insight.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Science | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce
Cynthia Webb (left) is sporting a collection of recent U.S. media reports claiming a "renaissance" in America's consumer electronic market share.
There are more American labels around. Apple. Motorola. Microsoft. The U.S. companies are good at seeing the opportunity and writing software that works.
Our balance of payments is not helped by it.
As Cynthia notes (deep in the article), these boxes are being made in China. (Actually most of them are being made in Taiwan.) Some of the software conceptualizing is being done here, as is the marketing (although I suspect some of that software work was off-loaded to India).
Those failing, flailing Japanese outfits she mentions, meanwhile, are still doing everything in Japan. Or they're doing "too much" in Japan. Except for Sony and Nintendo Japanese companies were never good at anticipating demand. Mitsubishi, Canon, C. Itoh, Ricoh, et al -- they were manufacturing houses. They were China before China was cool.
But the Japanese are getting wise. American Howard Stringer is Sony's new CEO. He knows the game. Expect most Sony stuff soon to come with a "Made in China" label.
What's the real story?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Investment | Security
March 10, 2005
The logjam over the next optical storage standard may be about to break, as Apple has joined the Blu-ray Group.
The announcement at Germany's CeBit today means that HD-DVD, the rival technology, has lost yet-more momentum. Dell and H-P are already on the Blu-ray side.
This news is bigger than it sounds. Read on.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Moore's Lore
Bill Gates has finally hired himself a new CTO.
It's Lotus Notes inventor Ray Ozzie. While Ray may think he sold a company to Microsoft, Groove Networks, in fact his world is about to get rocked like never before.
Groove does collaboration tools, and Microsoft (an early investor) is interested in those things. But I don't think Gates signed off on this deal to get Groove's technology, otherwise he never would have un-retired Nathan Myhrvold's title. (Microsoft currently has three people with the CTO title, meaning no one really has the power.)
The bottom line is that Gates needs Ray Ozzie, and he needs him bad.
Microsoft puts more dollars into new technology development than just about anyone else in the world, but it gets less bang for its buck than any outfit since Xerox PARC. Microsoft Research has a ton of high bandwidth people, they're doing all sorts of high bandwidth things, but when was the last time Microsoft introduced anything of real importance?
That's what Ray will be tasked with sorting out.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Futurism | History | Science
Wind River is continuing its slow march toward the computing mainstream. (The illustration, from the Wind River site, shows the engagement model the company follows with its customers in producing products. It's careful and complicated.)
It's easy for someone to criticize Wind River's strategy as an attempt to maintain proprietary control in a world of open source, but the fact is there are opportunities here for the Always On world that need to be explained, and then seized.
Fact is Wind River's VxWorks is the leading RTOS out there. RTOS stands for Real Time Operating System, folks. An RTOS is used to make a device, not a system. You find RTOS's in things like your stereo, and your TV remote. What the device can do is strictly defined, and strictly limited. Your interaction with the device is also defined and limited.
An RTOS is not a robust, scalable, modular operating system like, say, Linux. And over the last few years, Wind River has been creeping into your world. VxWorks is used in most of your common WiFi gateways. This limits what they can do. They become "point" solutions. You can't run applications directly off a gateway, only off one of the PCs it's attached to.
Now, slowly, this is changing.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | B2B | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Internet | Linux | Security | Software | computer interfaces
March 09, 2005
I don't always agree with Nicolas Negroponte (right), but he made a point in Korea recently that really makes sense.
Simplicity is the secret of cellular success.
This is true for hardware, for software, and for services. Future hardware designs must make it easy to connect, hands-free. Software must have intuitive user interfaces, as simple as speech. Services need to be spur-of-the-moment.
A lot of the mobile services I see today violate these principles big-time. They're based on Web interfaces, and thus have a limited time horizon. The key is to get inside the phone, so you're bought as soon as the customer thinks of buying.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Futurism | Software | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces
Yahoo is what it has been since 1997, a portal. Google is a search service. Now, with the rise of the Mobile Internet (we're still at 1994 with this, in fact) Yahoo is gigging Google and calling it "limited."
This is not just rhetoric. Yahoo has long been a leader in mobile services. And it's extending that lead with a new games service.
But this does not mean, as Business Week writes, that Google is a "one-trick pony," that its offerings are "limited." This is pure spin from Yahoo's PR people.
Forrester (via the Pondering Primate) offers some better suggestions. Provide other ways in which people can use Google to search for things outside the Web.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | cellular | marketing
March 07, 2005
Failure to define a single standard for Ultrawideband is killing the technology. So say the experts.
This could be the week that tells the tale on that, as the FCC weighs in.
First, Rupert Goodwins of ZDNet reports that one-half of the UWB conflict, the WiMedia Alliance and the Multiband OFDM Alliance (MBOA), agreed to merge. An Intel executive, Stephen Wood, heads WiMedia.
Sounds cool, but there's still a rival out there, Direct Sequance-Ultrawideband, pushed by the UWB Forum. The latter group has demonstrated things like home networks, while the former has pushed a Firewire replacement over a distance of 2 meters. (The illustration to the left is from Intel.)
So this is more than just a technical argument. The WiMedia folks see the technology as a Bluetooth replacement. The UWB Forum is aiming at the heart of local networking.
But let's put it more simply
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics
March 03, 2005
Taiwan has the greatest OEMs in the world. They can take your design and turn it around faster than anyone.
But Taiwan is not known for its equipment designs. Taiwan doesn't dominate the brand market.
That may be about to change with the Universal.
High Tech Computer of Taiwan has sold versions of it to most major European cellular outfits. The Windows Mobile device features a QWERTY keyboard which can fold into the device, making it a touchscreen PDA. It also has two cameras (one still, one video), Bluetooth and WiFi standard.
+ TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces
Sony released its Walkman phone yesterday.
It is what it is, a phone with a half-gigabyte of storage in it, enough room for about 500 songs.
Those songs are subject to Sony's DRM, just as iPod songs are subject to Apple's. Both now face the wrath of France because their DRM schemes are incompatible. Unfortunately for France, another unit of the government had previously ruled the link between its proprietary format and its iTunes store is OK so this is going nowhere.
And the Walkman phone is going nowhere in the market.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Software | cellular
March 02, 2005
It's time for the IM wars to return.
The main feature of this market battle over the years hasn't been features, but alliances. As a result the world has divided into two warring camps, that of AOL and that of Microsoft.
Both are making moves again. This time they're going in two different directions. AOL is aiming at a bigger user base, Microsoft is aiming straight at the wallet.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Software
Samsung is bringing the science of haptics to mobile phones. (Thanks to Usernomics for passing this along.)
Haptics recreates touch and texture artificially. If your kid has a "force-feedback" joystick on their computer game console, they're getting a taste of haptics. Northwestern, USC and MIT are among the universities doing research in the field. (The image is from USC.)
It's vital that something like haptics comes to mobiles because, in a hands-free environment, you can't depend on just sight and sound. Bringing other senses, like touch (or smell) into the mix allows for communication to happen invisibly.
It's also vital for haptics to come to mobiles because this is a huge (in terms of installed base) platform. If the coding and messaging can be delivered in this space, we're talking about billions of users. And we're talking about a universal language.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Moore's Lore | cellular | computer interfaces
March 01, 2005
Is BellSouth being smart or stupid in avoiding the merger mania now sweeping its business?
Rivals and investment bankers say it's stupid. BellSouth must either eat or be eaten, they claim, and once SBC has finished eating AT&T it wll chow down on BellSouth.
Maybe yes, maybe no. It must be admitted that rivals who've merged, and bankers who are selling deals, both have reasons to diss the company refusing to dance.
But there's another way for things to go. Because while there will soon be fewer players in the telecomm space, there will also be fewer real assets.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | Moore's Lore | Telecommunications
I'll admit that when I read yesterday IBM is putting its corporate might behind PHP, creating a product that combines its Cloudscape database with Zend's PHP tools, my first thought was what's PHP?
(By the way, that PHP pinup girl comes from a Lithuanian PHP tool maker.)
Then I took a look at the recent output of this blog. All recent stories here carry the .php extension. They're no longer HTML. The output is still readable by any browser as an HTML file, they're just not written with a pure HTML tool.
The real news, however, is much bigger.
We're seeing nothing less than a mainframe revolution.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Linux | Software
February 28, 2005
As it prepares for its developer forum this week, Intel faces an audience of bankers who have not lost faith in it, but who don't understand what it means by "platform."
Credit Suisse First Boston, for instance, looks at the word "platform" and sees only desktop or server. It figures Intel is waiting for Microsoft's Longhorn to demand more processing power of computers and bail it out.
If that's the strategy Intel describes, then it is Clueless. But that's not the strategy Intel is pursuing under new CEO Paul Otellini (right).
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Investment | Semiconductors
February 25, 2005
Podcasting is the trend of 2005.
It's driven by simple facts.
- 6 million iPods today, 2 million sold last year.
- The average music collection is 10 Gigabytes, total. Of this most people listen regularly to about 1 song in 10.
- Even the smallest iPod has 4 Gigabytes of space.
- We don't just want to listen to our own music, y'know.
The result is millions of units and millions of hours waiting to be used by someone.
What else is the result?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Moore's Lore | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising
Former Corante blogger (and FOD) Steve Stroh has the goods this month on Aloha Networks, which is aiming to provide wireless broadband service in the 700 MHz spectrum area. (That's the high 50s on your UHF dial.)
Apparently, they've gotten FCC approval to test their services in Tucson. The real test is whether this lives-and-plays with existing users, and Tucson currently has TV at Channel 58.
What exactly does this mean? (FOD means Friend Of Dana, of course.)
Let Steve explain:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Business Strategy | Consulting | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | Telecommunications
February 23, 2005
Since the collapse of Lernout & Hauspie, voice has been diminished as a computer interface.
But it makes sense. It's hands-free. It requires training, meaning it brings some security with it by default. I continue to believe in it.
So does IBM.
Igor Jablatov is the man behind IBM's voice strategy. He's based in Charlotte, and has a blog, which mainly prints and links to stories and news release relating to VoiceXML. (Jablatov now heads the VoiceXML Forum.)
The Voice Extensible Markup Language brings voice into the Web standards area, and it's important for that reason. But what's more important is the extension of voice into specific vertical markets. IBM has started with things like cars and consumer electronics, and next plans a move into CRM.
These aren't the markets I would have chosen, but for now voice needs to choose markets based on their money making potential, nothing else. And I trust that IBM has done that kind of analysis here.
Where do we go from here?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Strategy | Futurism | computer interfaces | medicine
February 22, 2005
With Bluetooth viruses causing all kinds of havoc, and forcing millions to close the open ports on their phones, it seems strange to be writing about a "Bluetooth Network" connection.
But that's Wideray.
Here's the deal. Wideray customers put kiosks in the stores, and when someone comes over with a Bluetooth device they can feed whatever they want -- games, demos, product details. (It also works with Infrared or WiFi.)
I have used the system at trade shows, and its effectiveness is limited by the client device. If the device has limited power and storage, the effect of the download is minimal.
But, with even Nokia Symbian phones attaining the power and storage of older PDAs, this is changing. Wideray now supports Microsoft and Symbian, as well as Palm devices.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | B2B | Business Models | Business Strategy | computer interfaces | e-commerce
February 21, 2005
From Medgadget comes word that Always On was a theme of the Demo conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week, even if they didn't use the name.
One such exhibitor was Lusora, a San Francisco outfit that claimed to be in the security business, but also introduced a medical device.
It's all quite wonderful, but there is one big problem.
Lusora's medical gadget uses Zigbee, and its hub, on the surface, looks proprietary, even though it's based on industry standards like WiFi and TCP/IP.
I could be wrong. I hope so. I've contacted their PR folks to see if they can be helpful. And I'm certain they can be.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Always On | Business Models | Business Strategy | cellular | computer interfaces
February 17, 2005
Forbes, for once, has a great idea today.
Draft Wayne Gretzky (right) as NHL Commissioner.
Incumbent Gary Bettman must be thrown over for losing the season, regardless of the merits. His replacement must be, as Michael Ozanian notes, someone of integrity, who loves hockey, and who can find some common cause with the players.
Gretzky works on all those counts. But there's more.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | marketing
Perhaps the most vital asset to any technology company today is its reputation.
It's not money. It's not assets. It's certainly not patents.
It's what people think of you, your reputation.
Paul Robichaux recently wrote that he thinks Google is pulling a fast one, with a Toolbar feature called AutoLink that turns unlinked items on a page into linked ones, automatically.
When Microsoft tried extending its Smart Tags feature, which sounded awfully similar, into Internet Explorer, Robichaux wrote in Exchange Security, "the furor was incredible. Walt Mossberg, Dave Winer, Dan Gillmor, and a host of other influencers immediately started screaming that Microsoft was taking control over web content and generally acting like an 800-lb gorilla. The EFF even opined that the MS smart tag implementation might be illegal."
He's right. But does it matter?
Microsoft has used its power for a decade to extend its monopoly across desktop applications and into the Internet itself. As a result it has a very poor reputation.
Google, on the other hand, has offered optional services, in software, on top of its search service. It has a stellar reputation.
Google is now doing to Microsoft precisely what Microsoft did to IBM back in the day. Microsoft's price-earnings ratio today is 28. Google's is 137.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Journalism | personal
The 3GSM Conference in Cannes featured a lot of flash, a lot of optimism, even some good writing.
But Cannes is a place of fantasy, a willing suspension of disbelief. It even has Las Vegas beat in this regard. Hey, the French thought the Maginot Line would hold. Some of them no doubt think smoking is good for you. When a diet of red wine and goose fat leaves you without heart disease you'll believe anything.
What drives the optimism is what is happening in the developing world. Beyond the desktops of the Internet, mobile phones represent everything positive about the future. They're telephony and computing in one hand-held package. They have driven technological change in Africa as nothing before has, and they're just getting warmed up.
Still, if mobility wants to succeed in the developed world -- and the 3G explosion is all about Western markets -- it does have to compete. And most carriers are not yet willing to.
Obstinacy, over-expansion, and hubris killed the National Hockey League, killed it deader than Maurice Richard. They can kill 3G too.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular
February 15, 2005
A few years ago I speculated publicly about Sony buying Apple. (That's Sony chairman Nobuyuki Idei at right, from his biography on the Sony.Com site.)
It was a popular thought back then.
Sony blazed new trails among Japanese manufacturers, preferring proprietary control of its technologies, emphasizing design and its brand name, acquiring American firms and integrating them. In the 1990s, on the other hand, Apple was a troubled PC maker with a small market share.
This was before two things happened. Apple's genius returned to his throne, and Sony's faded from the scene.
Sony Founder Akio Morita, who passed away in 1999, was a legendary entrepreneur, a visionary, a genius. In Tokyo, Elvis has indeed left the building.
Still, in the first year after Morita's death, Sony could have done the deal easily. And the spirit of a man equal to Morita in vision, Steve Jobs, would be working for Japan Inc.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment
Microsoft may have as little as a year to take command of the mobile phone platform, or the opportunity will be lost. (Image from Petrified Truth.)
At the 3GSM conference in Cannes, France, they gave it their best shot.
The mobile broadband business is at what Gandalf called "the pause before the plunge." Enough equipment has been deployed so broadband can be advertised. The time has come to define the experience and see if any money can be made from it.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Investment | Software | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces
February 14, 2005
In a New Yorker profile of chef Mario Batali (left) there's a wonderful scene of Mario rooting around a waste pail, looking for what the author-turned-prep chef has tossed away.
Our job is to sell food for more than we paid for it, Mario lectures him. You're throwing money away.
Apple Computer is the greatest exponent today of what I call Batali's Clue. Your job, as the maker of products, is to get more for your creation than the cost of the electronic "food" that goes into it.
It's a vital Clue because components in the Moore's Law age spoil like dead fish on a wharf.
Here's an example plucked from today's headlines. (Well, the ad pages.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Moore's Lore | Semiconductors | computer interfaces
What's the Clue from SBC's purchase of AT&T and Verizon's coming purchase of MCI? (That's a 1949 Southern Bell logo, from the Knox County, Tennessee historical collection. Beautiful, isn't it?)
The Bells know they are irrelevant to the future. They hope to become too big to fail.
Regulators in most of the world understand that phone monopolies need to be broken up, not just for the sake of competition but for the sake of technology. The EU is spurring the development of VOIP and regularly slapping the hands of "incumbent carriers." The developing world, meanwhile, is able to create multiple wireless competitors, by fiat, and watch competition drive innovation to a degree we can only dream of.
Why are the U.S. Bells the only phone companies in the world that could truly become "too big to fail?"
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Investment | Politics | Telecommunications
February 11, 2005
I'm fascinated with how Western technology filters into the developing world and changes lives.
For instance. Back in the mid-1990s we had the idea of the "Internet Cafe." It would be flash, it would have broadband, it would have great food. We were crazy.
In the developing world, however, the Internet Cafe idea lives on (and on and on and on). There, though, it's a little shop with some PCs and basic connectivity. It's a lifeline to families, to markets. After the tsunami one was set-up quickly in the disaster area. It was a lifesaver.
Now we have cellular, or mobile service. (Whichever you prefer.) In the West, it means everyone has a phone, and they're on it all the time. Young girls drive like little old ladies. Guys look crazy seemingly talking to themselves, but then you see the little bud in their ear -- oh.
Then it filters down. Read how it filters down in Cameroon, from the Cameroon Tribune in Yaounde. (Then get the scene at the top of this item as desktop wallpaper, free, from Dane Jacob Crawfurd.)
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular
Mobile carriers are trying to make an impossible transition.
They want to move from a data world where every bit is precious, and where every file is controlled, into a broadband world where phones have PC functions. And they want to do it without changing their business models.
It can't happen. The industry's dirty little secret prevents it.
That secret is that most cellular minutes today are wasted. Perhaps as many as 80% of the minutes customers are allocated in their contracts each month aren't used. And this has been the source of immense profits. (The illustration, in time for Valentine's Day weekend, is a Korean product for women that also enables the creation of twin secrets.)
Modern cellular marketing is all built around contracts, with a fixed monthly charge for a fixed number of minutes over a fixed term. To get contracts incentives are offered, including free phones.
But look at what happens. Marketing convinces people to pay high prices for plans with high limits. Cingular's "rollover" plan costs a mininum of $40/month, which comes out to about $45 with taxes and other fees. Advertising convinces people they need high limits to deal with "ugly over-age charges." But it's difficult to measure your usage in the middle of the month, and the vast majority of customers don't come close to their limits.
When the contract term expires, usually in a year, customers can theoretically leave that carrier for another one, taking their phone number with them, and even get a new set of incentives, like a new, more advanced phone. But most are as ignorant of their contract expirations as they are of the status of their minute bucket. (Quick: what's your contract expiration date?)
Carrier profitability thus depends on ignorance, customers with old phones who don't take out new contracts and don't use their gear. And in that environment, who needs broadband? Where is the market for PC functionality?
Exactly. It doesn't exist.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular
February 10, 2005
Middleware was a very big buzzword a few years ago. (Image from the Southern Regional Development Center.)
By middleware, vendors meant software that let people below take advantage of resources above. Queries that delivered reports to managers on how stores were doing, or that placed real corporate data into neat little graphs.
But every organization of any size is based on human middleware. School principals are human middleware. Store managers are human middleware. Party committeemen are human middleware.
These people sit between the decision-makers at the top and those who carry out orders on the bottom. When we like them we call them "sir" or "ma'am." When we want to disparage them we call them bureaucrats.
America has the greatest bureaucracies in the world. We have done more for our human middleware than people in other societies. (Try getting your driver's license renewed in Mumbai if you don't believe me.)
But we can do much, much better.
Software can be part of that solution, but it's only a part.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Software | Telecommunications | blogging | cellular | e-commerce
I love the Brits. (But I love everyone.)
As executives, Brits have developed this wonderful, pugnacious, straight-talking chip-on-the-shoulder attitude in our time. It's a kind of "oh yeah, sez you" that owes more to soccer yobs than fox hunting.
And for a journalist it's great fun.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Business Strategy | Economics | Linux | Software | fun stuff
Everyone sees events through the prism of their own knowledge and expertise.
Rob Frankel (right, from his Web site) sees the fall of Carly Fiorina as a failure to understand branding.
The H-P brand is about teamwork, Frankel writes, but Carly transformed it into executive fiat. The brand became Carly, not the team spirit that built the company.
For me this is the money quote:
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Investment | fun stuff
February 09, 2005
Carly Fiorina's reign at Hewlett-Packard was defined by her acquisition of Compaq.
The merger didn't work.
She was fired today. The press release doesn't say "fired," of course. (It never does.) Various stories say the board "dismissed" her, that she "suddenly quit," that she's "stepping down, effective immediately."
She's out because her strategy was doomed from the start. She tried to treat computing as a traditional industry, where the pattern is that once growth slows to a modest level you get consolidation, companies merging together until just a few are left and profits are regular.
This doesn't work because Moore's Law prevents it. Moore's Law means the nature of systems are always changing. Companies rise because they know something about the market, and fall when they lose touch. No amount of consolidation can change that. The merger that created Unisys didn't save Univac and Burroughs, merger didn't save Digital Equipment and Compaq, and it didn't save Hewlett-Packard.
Fiorina's key ad campaign, "Invent," implying the company was going tback to its roots in the garage, turned out to be just that -- an ad campaign. What has H-P invented under Fiorina, except financial manipulation. Anything?
So she's out, for the same reason that, say, Tony Samuel (left) is no longer coach at New Mexico State. (Go Aggies.) His color had nothing to do with his firing, and her gender had nothing to do with hers.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | Moore's Lore
Yesterday, I wrote about how the PDA was rapidly being transformed into the smart phone, so the rumors of the PDA's demise are somewhat exaggerated.
I actually wrote that while looking at a post from Palm Addict about a possible new Palm design. Sammy McLaughlin was virtually hanging about the Patent Office (he's in Manchester, England but the Internet lets you do that) and found an application , from PalmOne, for a device that looks like a "candy bar" phone but flips open to become a PDA.
There is more here than just a new design.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | cellular | computer interfaces
February 08, 2005
Some big news went unnoticed last week .
Sprint's earnings nearly quadrupled.
This is fascinating because Sprint, alone among U.S. telcos, has a unique business model, at least in cellular.
Lots of companies, from Virgin to Earthlink to Disney, have gotten into the cellular game by re-selling Sprint's capacity. They all have their reasons. They all have their own branding, their own marketing, and their own niches.
The point is Sprint is profiting from wholesaling capacity to these companies. Profiting big time.
Why hasn't this been pointed out?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Investment | Telecommunications
The digirati are in a fury today over claims by an outfit called i-mature which claims to have solved the problem of age verification with a $25 device that checks a finger's bone density to determine just how old you are.
The image, by the way, is from Vanderbilt University, which has no affiliation with either Corante, i-Mature, or this blog. It describes x-rays of a finger taken at different power settings. Go Commodores.
RSA announced "a joint research collaboration" with the company. But there is skepticism over exactly how precisely a bone scan can measure age, and the more people investigate, the more questions they raise.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Investment | Journalism | Moore's Lore | Science | Security | computer interfaces | medicine
We have read for the last year about the death of the PDA, and it's true the stand-alone version (one without a phone) is fast disappearing.
As Tom's Hardware notes, PDA sales have fallen to a five-year low. I have one, but it was free.
As David Linsalata, the IDC analyst who delivered the report noted, ""Consumers don't see the need to invest $600 in a handheld device if a smart phone can do the same basic tasks."
But isn't this "death of the PDA" business simply a matter of semantics? Isn't this merely the creation of analysts who put technology in boxes, when everyone knows the first thing people do when they get technology is take it out of the box?
Maybe. Here's the headline on a recent story published in Ireland on the subject. "Smartphone and PDA sales go skyward."
Erin go wha?
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular