Graeme Thickins' Takeaways

Great post over at ReadWriteWeb regarding Web 2.0 Technologies. I've copied pretty much the entire article and have made some comments below:

Web 2.0 Is Going Beyond the Consumer Market: There's no doubt these technologies will be increasingly applied within enterprises, and that's a good thing. The big vendors see this and were all over this venue - exhibiting, presenting, and otherwise.

  • It's about time. I've always wondered why companies had not internalized sites such as Dells outward facing idea site. I wonder what type of value could be derrived from internal Web 2.0 sites. Is it time a company like Facebook got into Enterprise group stuff?

The VC Investment Model for IT/Software Is Changing: Because new Web 2.0 ventures don't need much money to get going, the VC business is being somewhat disrupted. A new style of early-stage VC firm seems to be gaining. It's becoming obvious that the big funds don't fit in here. These days, a mere $250-750K is all that's needed to prove assumptions, one VC said. And angel investors are newly energized.

  • Does this mean they can now invest 750K and sell for $1.65 Billion? Will this limit new startups that would otherwise require more cash (see anything over 750K as something MSFT or GOOG should do)? YCombinator!!!!!!

We Are Not a Market: One of the best quotes I heard at this event was by one of this new brand of VCs, Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital: "The TechCrunch audience and this group here is not a market (for a startup). Success in this group might be necessary, but it's not sufficient. The real world doesn't understand this stuff."

Marketing Is Rising: And one of the next best quotes I heard was in that same panel, from VC Jeff Clavier of SoftTech: "We need to start seeing real money spent on marketing." The signs are good. Everywhere at Web 2.0 Expo, I saw evidence that a large part of the conversation, and in fact the event's program, was about marketing. Kudos to the producers for that!

SEO Is Rising: A corollary to the above is that SEO, far from declining as one noted blogger/entrepreneur posited recently, is becoming a major focus in the marketing world - hand-in-hand with skills in social media. This is the new sandbox for marketers; and that is exciting. Widgets are emerging as well - another important and related marketing medium.

  • Will be interesting to see how widgets affect the digital advertising market. Wonder if Ads will become generic placeholders where content is positioned after or on page load (EX// company purchases spot and can control their ad at runtime).

Another Reason Not to Get Cocky: Lest we think that we as Internet users are so much in control today, consider this: there are only one billion PC users, while two billion people worldwide use mobile phones. The Web is far from universal yet and certainly it will be some time before the advances that we call Web 2.0 become widely used worldwide - on desktops, $100 laptops, cell phones, or whatever. Maybe next year's Expo should be in China or India?

  • This is not news to me. I don't understand how people can focus on the below when there are millions of mobile phones to tap. This is where my money is - the extension of social networks to mobile phones.

Offline Web Apps Are a Next Big Thing: The demo of Apollo, by Kevin Lynch of Adobe, was awesome - even though it is still in alpha. And Etelos, another event sponsor, had a great way to position their new offline offering: "Apps on a Plane." Who wouldn't like that?

  • I really hate to say this to people: Microsoft was pushing RIA's back in 2000 and it is now news because of all these JavaScript sites. Anything that allows you to code an interface in HTML / Flash could be considered an offline web app. We built these types of things 6-7 years ago and people slept on the technology. Why will this be any different? How will this be any different?

Parts of this story were reposted from ReadWriteWeb!

Thanks goes out to S R

S R. Thanks for the Joost Invitation!

I appreciate it, and I appreciate any other bribes anyone else wants to give me.

Please note I wrote the below article before I got the Joost invite from S R. I will write another review of the service once installation is complete and I've slept with it a couple times.
I don't believe in Cable TV and still use an antenna at my house to recieve air stations - so let's wait and see how it compares to free air channels.

Joost™ the best of tv and the internet

What's Joost promotion video

Over and Out

Viacom Boosts Joost: Say No To YouTube?

I blogged about this the other day when Viacom stiffed Google on an advertising deal pertaining to all of it's digital properties. I thought it was a possible response to Google's inability to curtail copyright content on YouTube which resulted in Viacom's billion dollar lawsuit against the search giant. Further I thought we'd see media firms rally against YouTube. Well folks, it's happening!

In February, Reuters reported that Viacom signed a video deal with Joost to port hundreds of hours of programming to the startup's IP TV on demand platform. As CyberNet is reporting today Viacom Turns on YouTube, now Greets Joost with Open Arms:

"Viacom has made a new deal that involves the licensing of hundreds of hours of programming from networks like MTV, Comedy Central, Spike, and even movies from Paramount. What makes Joost more appealing for Viacom is that users aren’t able to upload content themselves. That may not be very appealing for some users who’d like the option for uploading their content, but what is appealing is that Joost will be running full episodes, and to boot? High-quality resolution, which is something you wouldn’t find from YouTube."

I'm fairly certain this will be a trend for media companies who are looking for more control over their digital content. In Fact, there are rumors on the Joost blog that CBS is jumping into the Joost mix with their premier shows: CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, CBS Sportsline, and Survivor.

Advertising innovators have embraced Joost and it shows with some of the big names they have sold spots to. Globally they have such clients as Coca-Cola, HP, Intel and Nike. In the USA they have signed deals with Electronic Arts, Esurance, Garnier Fructis, Kraft, Lionsgate, Microsoft Corp, Motorola Inc, Nestle Purina PetCare, Procter & Gamble, Hugo Boss Fragrances, Sony Electronics, Taco Bell, United Airlines, US Army, Visa, and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Further in Europe they have deals with GM, IBM, L'Oreal Paris, Nokia Nseries, Unilever, Virgin Money, Vodafone and Warner Brothers.

"Joost has attracted partners from every major brand category because we offer an advertising platform that is similar to TV, with high-quality programming; and we're providing unparalleled user statistics and insights, as well as an unmatched level of interactivity, targetability and measurability," said David Clark, executive vice president of global advertising, Joost. "Our launch partners and their creative teams are a tremendous asset for Joost, as we work together to create inventive ads that allow them to reach and interact with consumers in new and compelling ways."

I'm sure this is where Google would have liked to take YouTube but unfortunately for them, Joost beat them to the punch. The question is, when Joost launches to the public will YouTube continue to thrive? And how will the sharing features stack up to YouTubes?

One of the huge challenges for YouTube is how to license clips exported from copyright material. These clips are only legal if the original copyright holder has granted permission for them to be uploaded. Further, the law around DMCA states no firm may reap profits (ads) off illegally posted content, and further safe harbours these copyright offenders through something called a take down request. So YouTube allows this illegal content to be posted, knowing they cannot be held liable, and when copyright owners request the content be removed, YouTube must do so ASAP or be taken to court.

There have been rumors in the mix about the big networks collaborating on a clip sharing site which would rival YouTube but have 100% high quality legal content. This is something that Joost is doing now, and it will be interesting to see if the big media companies embrace their idea, or continue to go down their own road.

Unless ALL the networks collaborate on a video application it will be very tough to take on Joost once it gains traction (and increases program availability). And again as CyberNet has reported:

"Joost was started by Niklas Zennstrm and Janus Friis. Recognize those names? They were the two founders of file-sharing service Kazaa, and Skype. They swept up $2.69 billion when Skype was acquired by eBay, so clearly they’re not running into problems financing the Joost deal."

Over and Out!


Hack a Mac To Own A ProBook and $10,000 USD

I am always up for a good ripping of Apple.

According to their advertisements they are obviously the most secure OS in the world RIGHT????

In January two guys released 1 massive mac bug everyday for the entire month! This became known as the Month of Apple Bugs. Yes many were those critical types that you know, let people take control of your computer.

Then on April 18th a contest was announced by CanSecWest where hackers were told to try to break a Mac Probook with all updates and patches installed. They were given 3 days.

Obviously, it made sense that Apple would release a set of 25 security patches to fix vulnerabilities found in OS X in January on April 19th, one day before the competition began. If they didn't, I'm sure both PC's would have been exploited within the early morning hours on the 20th (say between 12:01AM and 12:10AM Pacific Time both awards would have been given away). OK, it took hackers a day to find new bugs.

First thing day 2 a Safari bug was exploited: the first box required a flaw that allows the attacker to get a shell with user level privilages. The second box, still up for grabs, requires the same, plus the attacker needs to get root.

This hole was a zero day threat. Zero-day attacks can be considered extremely dangerous because they take advantage of computer security holes for which no solution is currently available.

The other box up for grabs has not yet been comprimised, it requires the hacker access the root and I suspect if the hack is zero day, it will not be announced until Apple comes up with a fix.

Over and Out

Buying back into Yahoo Today

Yes it is true ... I should have done it on Friday!

Toll based Syndicate Internet has arrived in Canada

For $5 per month I subscribe to a TV service on my Blackberry Pearl. For another $3 per month I can get unlimited access to Rogers Newsclip which delivers syndicated content and related media to my Blackberry Pearl without using a mobile web browser. For $10 per month I can install TeleNav GPS Navigator which promises to provide voice guided turn-by-turn driving directions.

If I go the Rogers Vision route, embedded in the plan is Video On Demand for access to the top commercials (cough cough) sorry videos on YouTube, plus news updates, (sponsored) music videos, (sponsored) movie clips and more. Further you can access Rogers music store and purchase and download unlimited music without paying the download cost. And if I'm running late, I can watch my new TV shows with my 25 stations of live TV on the go.

In another year I'll probably be able to lease an application for $15 a month that allows me to connect to all of my favorite social networks, integrates my instant messenger platforms under one app, and interoperates with my device content and functionality.

Until Canada gets some more competition in the wireless space the Toll Based - Syndicate content internet is here to stay. And it’s going to be ushered in VIA mobile carriers who are trying to monetize every aspect of their digital delivery systems.

Why would I want to purchase video from the Rogers Music store when I could download from iTunes or xBox Live? Why would I want a limited assortment of YouTube clips when I could just subscribe to Joost? Why would I want “syndicated content” over being able to browse thousands of sites and pick which blog or article to digest? Why should I pay for TeleNav GPS Navigator when I have a GPS built into my phone, and can integrate that into Google maps for free (expense of data)? If I have digital cable at home, why should I pay extra to have TV service on my blackberry on the go when I could pipe it over broadband?

All the above alternate technologies are feasible given one thing: unlimited network bandwidth (or the wireless equivalent of broadband: HSDPA).

The carriers don’t want to give you unlimited bandwidth because they already subsidize your phone, the network is anything but cheap, and to be quite honest, because there is no competition forcing them to provide these plans. So they will continue to charge end users fee’s to access syndicated content.

The people providing the phones don’t want to give this to you because it nominalizes the value of their service offerings, limits their growth to hardware innovation, and will result in more support services being required (say, to help install a mobile video player on their phone). So they continue to work with the carriers on digital delivery channels.

These digital roads are just being paved in Toronto. They require collaboration between the carrier (Rogers), the hardware supplier (RIM, Nokia), the software vendor (creator of mobile application), and the content owner. Once all of these people can agree on the details – you have a service offering you can sell to consumers.

As mobile continues to grow, services will become the differentiator that closes the deal when an end user purchases a phone and then a plan. It is just a matter of time before we see phones (or even wireless data plans for laptops) sold around recreation or lifestyle based service offerings. For example you can get a Blackberry Pearl for Financial Analysts – where tons of financial information is delivered to the advice. A Blackberry Pearl for Media Lovers Plan which comes with a bigger memory stick – and an unlimited pipe to a bunch of media sources – and possibly online storage. People will decide to purchase an iPhone with a Media Lovers Service Plan because the screen is bigger, but others would rather the Sidekick.

As these roads, or Service Plans, become more popular - they get more crammed – they have to build bigger roads – then they have to build entirely new highways. In urban planning when the costs of the transportation system outweigh the budgeted value of its inputs, roads are turned into Toll roads. Consumers are charged to drive on these roads as a consequence of getting to where they are going. They have no option.

For any content owner, content delivery is a priority. If these mobile carriers continue to pipe service offerings through their digital channels (specialty roads), then content owners will eventually be forced to pay service providers to allow their content to travel down the carriers roads. These fees are like Tolls on Toll roads, just the only difference at this point is the only content you can gain access to without paying an arm and a leg is syndicate content.

Kind of like living in a city that has highways’ connecting a bunch of disconnected roads. The only way you’ll ever get anywhere is to pay the highway toll.

Over and Out


Blackberry JDE Installation


2nd time I'm complaining about Research in Motion's complete and total lack of support for developers. When a company releases an SDK that uses over 15 licenses from open source projects, yet links none of the prerequisites required to install the SDK in it's install instructions it makes me wonder why.t.f. I am even bothering trying to develop an application for them.


How To Install Blackberry JDE

1) Uninstall all previous attempts to install all components on your system.

2) Download and install the Java(TM) SE Development Kit (was version 5 Update 1 for me). You can find a link here (top link in the previous release download list).

3) Download and install the Blackberry Java Development Environment v4.2.x from here

4) If the shortcuts created in windows do not work in launching the IDE then your JDK path variable is not properly setup. Take the following steps to set your path variable

a. Right Click on My Computer and Select Properties

b. In the Advanced Tab click Environment Variables

c. In the System Variables list view scroll down to the path variable.

d. Edit the path variable such the first path points to the jdk1.5.x\bin file. (ex:\\ C:\jdk1.5.0\bin;C:\nextpathinlist;D:\nextpathinlist....)

5) Click the shortcut to open the application.

6) If the shortcut still doesn't work you have the wrong version of the Java Software Development Kit (which they now call merely a JDK). Go back to sun and download version 4 or 5 JDK (Blackberry JDE Version 4 requires JDK 1.4.x while Blackberry JDE Version 4.2 requires JDK 1.5.x).

7) If you are still having trouble write a blog post and rip RIM for it's lack of end to end installation support!!!

I hope that helps! It took me about a day to figure out all the problems. I'm not a Java person so I have little exposure to all the simple things like setting your path variables.

Happy Coding!

Over and Out


Blackberry please fix your developer portal!

I hate it when I go to a site and there are a list of downloads like you can see on this page.

Then when I click on the link: BlackBerry Java Development Environment v4.2.1 it takes me to another page which has a drop down list and guess what the contents are? The exact same list of downloads I had to click through on the first page.

So I select the option BlackBerry Java Development Environment and it takes me to another super sweet page which is the exact same as the above page but now I have a link to download.

So I click download and that takes me to a registration form. Sweet baby J.C., Research in Motion, I've had to click through 4 pages to get to this registration form and I still don't have your toolkit.

So I decided to register so I could download the development toolkit - and I decided to use the persistent cookie in hopes that I'd never have to go through this again (clicked Remember me).

I can't share links to the next part because it's got a session variable that I don't care to share with you (my persistent cookie).

So after agreeing to the terms of use when I registerred I end up at yet another page called Software Download for Developers and have to agree to something else. OK RIM THIS IS THE 2nd TERMS OF USE CONTRACT I'VE HAD TO SIGN WITH YOU. WHY DO YOU MAKE ME DO THIS TWICE?

I click agree, and finally after 6 pages of click throughs' I have an image that says download.

But this is where it get's really messed up. You remember above I'm looking for the BlackBerry Java Development Environment - NOT WHAT I GOT - I got the JDE components package. So I will continue to download misc packages until I get the one I want.

Oh, and as I try to download the each other component, I have to go through all these steps again. CRAZY INSANE AND INSANE CRAZY.

Thanks for making this a process RIM. Good looking site, but not very functional. And you call yourself a tech company, you should be ashamed to put me through this hastle.

Over and Out

Yahoo, sometimes you just get lucky

I was delighted to wake up this morning to see Yahoo had once again taken a bashing on the Market. Could have predicted it the second Google purchased DoubleClick (but according to analysts I would have been wrong). I usually make one or two trades per year, usually make a big percentage, and cash out quickly. So that's what I did when I was sitting around mid January and saw the Yahoo stock sitting at just over $26 dollars. I got in and I got out. Infact, I dropped the stock last week when it was sitting at $32 - right before Google announced it's $3.1 billion purchase of the private online advertising firm Double Click.

Sometimes you just get lucky and you have to say thanks. So Thanks.

Well if you go and read any news on any financial site you'd quickly realize that investors are not citing Google's acquisition of Double Click as a reason why Yahoo's stock is down. Most financial analysts actually oppose that acquisition - I don't know if they fail to realize the importance of trend analysis coupled with their ability to enter new market's before the market hits mass. I don't know if they see this as a pure numbers game that Google would have won regardless and hence wasted $3.1 billion. I'd actually laugh at any analyst who tried to tell me otherwise - seeing a new market before anyone and having the $$ to throw into growing that market seems like a great idea (cite Microsoft for creating the PC industry - and thanks IBM). Blah Blah ... by Google purchasing DoubleClick they actually took a revenue stream out of Yahoo - as Yahoo uses Double Click for a lot of it's banner ad's (note wouldn't it make sense for Yahoo to pull out of that deal with Double Click - would that mean that Double Clicks’ market share goes down and hence Google isn't really sitting at the 85% market share mark???).

Back to Yahoo. Yahoo's livelihood depends entirely on the real economy of the real world. This is something I've been saying forever and it's like nobody's listening. When the real economy of any Geographic or Global market crashes - advertising dollars become sparse. Advertising companies see falling or flat revenues and reduced profits Companies will only spend on targeted ads. Hence, as most internet businesses are to a certain extent global - a recession in India - will hurt Yahoo just as much as a recession in China.

The real reason for Yahoo's stock fallout comes as the company reported a first-quarter earnings of $142 million, or 10 cents a share, down from 11 cents a share a year ago, and below the 11 cents that analysts, on average, had been expecting. This is not shocking to me - the company has signed some really big deals recently and have not realized those revenue streams (Vaicomm deal - minus - cost of sales cycle). Operating expenses for the quarter rose to $789.2 million, or 47% of sales, from $707.9 million, or 45%, a year earlier. Again, for anyone who works in the Tech sector - has a project really ever been delivered below cost and ahead of schedule - it happens - but is more likely the opposite. Hence, 2% on cost to sales ratio may actually be a plus - Panama will scale those costs down as it is allowed to grow. Finally, the revenue Yahoo generated for every search using its Internet search engine dipped in the quarter by about 7%. As an investor, this last number is what I'd be worried about. If they don't increase their search share they won't realize those advertising dollars.

So you may ask when I'm going to get back into Yahoo? We'll see, either I get in today or wait until the middle of next week (will probably do the latter cause it seems ultra risky right now). I believe in their new ad platform, think they will attract many big corporate contracts, and want to see what they do to build on their Pipes toolkit.

P.S., If Microsoft wants to hurt Google, the secret lies in its Defender software. Treating all DoubleClick and Google cookies (advertisements) as pernicious spyware would be like setting a phaser from stun to kill.

Over and Out


TV going down the tube? Or is it like a bunch of tubes Mr. Bush?

Why is TV so bad? Possibly because we can skip advertisements, watch the web cast version tomorrow on iTunes or YouTube, and or because of shows like American Idol stealing the ratings.

I can't write today so read the below article.

Local TV stations face Net threat

Then think about how cellular subscribers subsidize cell phones.

Then think about how amazing it would be if you could get a 70 inch LCD HDTV for $1000 when signing up for Google IP TV on a 3 year contract.

P.S., $75 billion market for TV advertising.

I'm going back to sleep.

Over and Out.


So long internet, t’was nice knowing you. Welcome to the Googlenet!

This is a full on rant and I’m not going to cite any sources and I’m not going to back anything up with fact. So hold on for the ride.

My grandfather lay in his hospital bed wanting to tell me one last thing before he passed away from Cancer nearly a decade ago. His final words have resonated in my mind ever since.

He opened his mouth slowly and whispered the words: “History repeats itself”.

At the time I wasn’t totally sure what those words meant. It’s taken nearly a decade to truly appreciate the words. He didn’t mean history literally repeats itself. He meant that the patterns in the world continue to repeat themselves. As a die hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, history literally repeats itself. We missed the playoffs and we’ll continue miss the cup finals for quite a few more years.

But as a fan of the current internet, and as someone who uses it for work and personal reasons – and envisions it as a sort of public utility – not an advertising utility - the rumored acquisition of Double Click on Friday by none other than Google sets off a tone, and a shriek. History is again repeating itself. And all we can do is sit back for the ride.

But this time it is repeating itself in a far more abraisive way. Will the quality of the internet be consolidated against advertising network revenues in the same manner as Television? Will the specialty channels come at a cost out of our pocket, or will the broadcaster be syndicating the content into one of their big networks?

I’m not about to even speculate about the proportion of the internet that is Ad supported. Most news sites are ad powered, most social networks are ad powered, most help sites are ad powered and etc. etc. etc and even if they are not they have an advertising component. We’re seeing advertising in video games, we’re seeing video games built as advertisements.

Most internet evangelists are not stupid. They realize this. The promote this. They want you to promote this – they make you think it’s better this way – and hence you probably did it that way. Shame, shame, shame – You Just bought into “the Google as an Internet Monopoly theory”.

The implication of Google purchasing Double Click Inc. is that it will create a 85% monopoly on internet advertising. Hence, it may do certain things (AT&T or Microsoft Anti-Trust cases) that do not work in the best interest of consumers. Simply put, Adam Smith’s invisible hand doesn’t work in these markets.

I cannot be more opposed to this idea for quite a few reasons:

Firstly, Google would be able to use their dominant advertising position to channel click throughs (advertising clicks), in a strategic fashion (place ads on appropriate web sites), to point / promote Google properties in which they have high growth targets for that year (EX// Google Reader in 2007). In this manner Google can basically enter any web based market, ensure they have the highest visibility in that market, push real traffic back to their site, and grow inconsequentially huge leaving nothing for the little or even medium sized guys to eat.

Secondly, If I am a web site owner who sells a product (or site) but uses Google’s advertising platform for visibility (as with the 85% rate I have no other reasonable option for advertising). Google may see: me, my target audience, the advertising click through rates, and through that - understand with precision, the nature (vertical) of my site and hence that of my customers (or their interests). They will be able to archive this information then cross reference and aggregate it to understand industry trends in an unparalleled fashion. I see this as being entirely unfair. If one company can house, analyze, and take action on this information then this information must be public for everyone. The competitive advantage is simply too unjust. Sure advertising powers most popular media – but the internet was invented as a place for publishers and authors to share information for free – we cannot forget that.

Thirdly, and I understand what I’m saying isn’t so simple, Google should not be allowed to participate in any other internet spaces other than advertising. Simply put, with their industry metrics – automatically aggregated by vertical - they may see certain trends that we can’t before they even become trends – they will be able to take action in a proactive competitive manner against these trends, and stimy any type of innovation from the little guy.

Finally, (but believe me I’m not even close to finished with this one I’m just tired of ranting), Google has cash. They have a lot of cash. They have so much cash that spending $3.1 billion on DoubleClick isn’t a big deal (but is a super “strong fit” … he he .. sorry had to get that one in). They made this cash off their own advertising platform (I really have to wonder about the skills of the owners of DoubleClick for selling such a valuable property to Google). They will continue to make more and more in revenue as the years go on – especially as the 5% of current advertising dollars being spent on the internet increases. And there is only so long a company can invest in their core before they look for something else to drop their pants for. Believe me, those things are going to be the things that we currently consume at the expense of advertisers: Television, Magazines, Newspapers, and etc.

I can’t wait for the first installment of Hockey Night in Canada, to be delivered over HDNet, where every advertisement on every channel is brought to my by the Google Advertising Kingdom.

So long internet, t’was nice knowing you. Welcome to the Googlenet!

Over and Out


Scented Phones: The I just farted hack / Worm.

Motorola just received a patent on a handset that can produce a scent similar to how a plug in air freshener works.

This is probably going to be the most immature post I ever write but it's worth it. I mean, what else can one really say about a Scented Cellular Telephone except, I can't wait for the "I just farted hack".

There would be absolutely nothing better than to be able to deliver, with the appropriate smell and acoustics', a remote fart VIA a persons Cellular Telephone.

Fart jokes are too funny. My corporation typically uses a few during each corporate meeting, from placing whoopee cushion's under the CEO's presentation chair to a remote controlled portable wireless farting machine. Sure, they are not professional, but it's a great way to keep the blood boiling in an overly long corporate meeting "so revenue is up by 17.5% YOY, that's a (fffffaaaaaarrrrrrrrtttttttt sound) 20% (pause laughter), ahhhhhhhhh , haha. OK, revenue is up by (fffffaaaaaarrrrrrrrtttttttt sound)". You can appreciate that even people who don't find fart jokes funny, or are grossed by farting can find that a bit funny.

I'd love to be able to deliver the same sort of punch remotely using what I'm going to call "the fart hack". Whereby some sort of malicious program would be installed (I'm thinking a worm), which will cause the Motorola phone to heat up the scented oil to an undesirable temperature, creating the pheromone equivalent of a fart smell. Further, If you knew you could remotely trigger the smell, the pranks could get pretty outrageous.

Sorry about this post, but it seems like it was meant to be. Let me know what types of pranks you would pull.

Over and Out

Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto, Black, Male Felon - Bragging Rights Competition for 2007

If you don't know, this is some sort of internet vote to determine who the most bad assed ghetto black male felon is. I think they may want to hold a flower growing festival next year to try to get back on track (no like violets or orchids or something).

This is a disgusting use of the internet.

Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto, Black, Male Felon - Bragging Rights Competition for 2007

"Competition between the lead players for this year's Sexiest & Hardest Ghetto Black Male Felon Bragging Rights is getting fierce. While Michael 'Turtle' Thorpe has continued to hold a comfortable lead because of his alleged slaying of slave owner heiress Jennifer Ross in the 2005 Christmas eve pursejacking that inflamed Savannah, Georgia, supporters of Lemaricus Davidson & Letalvis Cobbins, Knoxville's sexy carjackers, are pointing to the brothers' 'rap' sheets as reasons why they feel the they should be placed above Thorpe."

Main Page

Over and Out

Google Expands on Mission, Vision wants more Crazy.

A while ago I wondered where Google was going as a business. I wondered, how can a company invest so heavily in building products and services that don’t push up the bottom line? For example when Google acquired JotSpot for an undisclosed sum, JotSpot had about 2,000 users each spending between $5 and $200 on services per month. This puts JotSpot’s revenue at a maximum of about 2000 x 200 x 12 or $4.8 million dollars or as little as $120 K. Given the server and employee costs, JotSpot was probably just scraping by running in the black, they were probably still be paying down some of the original investments in the company, it’s even conceivable they were not yet making a profit.

For a company like Google, and considering JotSpot was earning at most 4.8 million dollars per year in revenue, is this what Google is looking for in an acquisition target? Is this the type of crazy their chief has put a come one come all invitation out for? Initially when Google purchased JotSpot they did so citing "a strong fit" with the Google Groups discussion forum and the Google Apps suite of hosted communication and collaboration applications. Good for Google. After all that is what I look for when I buy my jeans – but then again I’m not making any money of my jeans – or could I if I had the right type of sculpted muscular male body … ahhhhh … I dunno …. I have to admit it is a very strong fit and Google’s enormous muscular body may be able to pull it off.

Building on this Crazy, almost as Crazy as Google’s next move which was to release it’s premier line of Apps attempting to target Micorosoft’s Office Suite in an enterprise productivity environment. Great for Google if they manage to steal even a small percentage of the enormous market. But one thing that must be considered is Microsoft can meet and even beat Google’s price target of $50 per user for it’s office productivity suite. It can do this with a far more feature rich set, it can hedge some of it’s costs against the other Microsoft things that your coroporation is guaranteed to use, and it can do so at a profit. Further, it can probably do nothing to the product for 5 years and watch Google pour money into their product, and still come out with a more robust toolkit.

As Ricky Bobby would say, Google wakes up in the morning and pisses excellence. At least that’s how the internet community seems to see them. How can an advertising giant do any wrong in innovation, and is there really a ceiling you can put on this type of business?

Sure, most firms would probably be happy making $928 Million dollars in ad revenue in 2006. But it seems the company isn’t satisfied. When the director of corporate development Salman Ullah comes out with a statement like ``We look at everything very carefully,'' and follows that with a ``The really crazy ones do really well.'', I really have to think that their growth strategy is totally and completely lunatic – well, OK not lunatic – possibly just bursting at the seams.

I think this is best left up to Mr. Balmer in quote, talking to Google’s other plan to double their employee base in 12 months : "They are trying to double in a year," … "That's insane in my opinion." … but he adds … "it doesn't mean they won't do it well."

I personally would love to work for a company like that.

Over And Out


Viacom Stiffs Google, Gootube, and Yahoo! comes out on top

I read a very interesting post on Mark Cuban's blog back in late October entitled "Some intimate details on the Google YouTube Deal" where some insider comments were posted with respect to backroom deals that went on during Google's acquisition of YouTube.

The basic jest was that Google may have paid copyright holders equity in the YouTube deal so they would drop current all current legal suits, they setup a backroom fund (rumored to be around 1/2 the sale price of YouTube) to combat future copyright cases, and purchased a certain window (Q3, Q4 2006) in which the major copyright holders promised not to send take down notices or bring legal suits against YouTube while Google took the reins. At the time, several industry experts made sense of the Google YouTube deal as a means of Google purchasing the rights to control and monetize the advertising on YouTube (in some cool new video ad format including Adsense).

Well, it looks like that may just be coming back to bite them in the rear end.

Since that Q3, Q4 grace window ended in January 2007, YouTube has been in the news constantly for being served with take down notices (NBC, Viacom etc.) and it looks as though it is starting to harm Googles core business as Viacom (CBS network, MTV, Infinity broadcasting, Simon & Schuster, Blockbuster and Paramount Pict) has decided to partner with Yahoo over Google for search advertising on 33 of it’s websites.

This may also be a Viacom’s response to the search giant’s plans to enter some of the more traditional advertising spaces such as Radio and Television. This move has irked many of the big broadcasters who typically control advertising within their broadcasts. Such advertising ultimately allows TV or Radio shows to be aired or be cancelled (if the ads can’t pay the show’s contract the show is cancelled) and could significantly affect the quality of television should Google get into the mix and command a portion of each networks ad revenue (pay less for advertising on major networks)

Obviously, for a company like Viacom this represents a huge threat and no doubt is another reason why they would enter into an advertising deal with Yahoo!’s Panama platform. Terry Semel the head of Yahoo! responded, “Aligning Viacom’s popular brands, leading content and large audience with Yahoo!’s more targeted, relevant advertising, marks the beginning of a powerful and engaging partnership between our two companies.”

The increasing popularity of YouTube has enlightened experts to an industry trend of popular versus non-popular media on the site. In fact, at the height of YouTube – in its Q3, Q4 window of freedom - only 3 of the top 20 most popular videos on the site were user generated content. “Whats interesting is that Gootube has gone corporate. Its primary application is to host commercials. Commercials for TV shows. Commercials for Products. Commercials for cheesy websites. Gootube may host a bunch of user generated content, but thats not what people look at.“ - Mark Cuban. However according to a recent study, we’ve seen a steady increase in user generated content in the most popular feeds (if this is because there is less illegal video and hence user generated content is receiving higher popularity ratings is unknown - but the methodology of this study is being questioned).

Either way, if YouTube, the internet media giant, continues to hide behind the DMCA we will certainly continue to see more traditional media outfits (or their holding companies) rally against Google’s best interests. Especially if they believe YouTube is improperly profiting off the unlicensed content. One of the easiest ways these companies could seriously impact Google’s success in the traditional advertising space is simply by adopting Panama (Yahoo’s), Microsoft’s (Adcenter), or a Home Brewed platform to control advertising on their web sites (anything other than Google Adsense). I'd argue by adopting Panama they will further the success of Google's direct competition which is probably more in their best interests than going at it on a home brewed individual level even at the cost of higher profits (protect the industry & keep online - online). Google is known to be a one trick pony, they do search well, and their advertising platform keeps them a float. If their ad revenue stagnates whatsoever, investors will see this as a very bad sign and the stock will probably take a big hit and affect what new markets they may enter.

Currently only 5% of advertising dollars are spent online – this figure is expected to rise to 45% - 50% in the next decade so regardless these firms will continue to make money hand over fist.

I don’t know what type of creative measures companies like News Corporation, Time Warner, or Rogers Communications in Canada could do to prevent a hostile takeover of their advertising revenues. But I’m sure it could get really nasty akin to the Microsoft suits of the ninety’s. Today CBS said that it has launched the CBS Interactive Audience Network, which will distribute advertising-supported shows across Web properties including Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, Microsoft's MSN, CNet Networks Inc., and Joost as reported by WSJ but also includes deals with Cnet, Comcast’s Comcast.net and Fancast.com, Bebo, Brightcove.com, NetVibes, Sling Media and Veoh. The deals vary but include clips, full-length programs, remixes, library content, current shows. No doubt, CBS will expect to at least share the advertising revenue with these sites, and even possibly dictate the % depending on how successful this is. Obviously, CBS will also not be too quick to embrace the Google Adsense platform, saying they will use whatever unique ad platforms are required (EX// Joost is an IP TV company so they will probably run standard TV ads - possibly this will be the case accross their entire network).

Other Notes:

Since the Panama Ad Platform rollout in February Yahoo’s share price has increased from the $27-$28 mark to $31-$32 dollar mark nearly an 18% increase. Keeping in mind Yahoo’s stock is extremely sensitive to industry news – and that I’ve picked extreme highs and lows to prove my point (the Viacom deal happened yesterday) – over the same period, Google has seen its’ stock fall around 8 percent from the $490-$500 mark to the $460 mark (with extreme lows of the high $430’s).

YouTube, by far the most succesful video sharing site on the net, has emmerged into a sort of mobile video channel, where cell phone users, who may not necessarily have data plans, have an unlimited connection to YouTube and can view unlimited videos at no additional cost on their phone. The fact YouTube has been able to get to this point is pretty amazing and could seriously undermine any efforts from the big media firms in gaining traction in this market. Further it may eventually force the big media firms to license certain types of content to YouTube in a relationship where YouTube is the price setter.

If you have any comments please contribute.

Over and Out


Google vs. Microsoft: Who’s Loco? Who’s Local?

A major point of concern for MSFT has to be the huge shadow being cast by it’s Mountain View competitor. Although Microsoft has nearly double the market cap and superior technology to it’s little competitor, it’s one step behind strategy, has proven a fruitless approach to delivering any type of value against the Google brand in most competitive markets. Further, their inability to create any type of hype around the release of their products, have left them watching from the bottom of the mountain as Google continues to grow.

Microsoft released Virtual Earth, a significantly more robust web based mapping site – in comparison to Google’s product(s). The only downsides were, being a web based plugin, it required the Internet Explorer browser to properly render the 3D graphics, and had a limited proprietary API. Virtual Earth takes the ball as the superior mapping product - http://www.spatiallyadjusted.com/2006/11/07/google-earth-vs-microsoft-virtual-earth-3d-revisited/ – However, Google with their broad vision (to be nice) built some very interesting and key differentiators: 3D warehouse, Google Maps API, and most recently My Maps. These differentiators – when leveraged against their Adsense platform - have proven more engaging to customers and to the spite of it’s competitors, has driven traffic / popularity against their mapping products, built on profitable Adsense revenues, and promoted their real entry into local markets.

While MSFT tossed millions into paying developers to build their entire 3D cities (the quality of the output shows they have the best product), GOOG turned to it’s community (which had already created thousands of mashups against the web based Google Maps product) and got them to volunteer to build their cities. According to Google, millions of users create 3D models and share them through the Google 3D Warehouse. Google has created something more than just a mapping product – they have created a community of map enthusiasts, developers and have reached audiences en-mass, encouraging everyone to input the data key to the future of their local initiatives.

Google Earth is the bread and butter of Google’s line of mapping products, Google Maps it’s web based “little big brother”. Bloggers have begun comparing the Earth platform to the Second Life platform suggesting Google is attempting to create a virtual world in which avators may interact and learn more about our world.

How can we lump Google’s line of mapping products and compare them to the singular Microsoft Virtual Earth platform? Very simply. Everything comes down to data, the ability of developers to integrate this data into their products (viral spread of the platform to new use), the accuracy of that data (trust), and the cash cow: the ability of users to actually make use of that data in a controlled fashion when they want it (access).

I would argue businesses require this Geographic Information for analysis, planning and etc’s as they apply it to solve process, supply chain, marketing or etc functions. In a very simple sense, business will pay tons of money to understand how they can make better use of geography – and ultimately – this cost will be passed on to the consumers who are actually making use of the goods or services these businesses produce (or other businesses etc). GOOG and MSFT, realizing the untapped digital value of geography, are attempting to drill into these geographic markets. They are largely doing this through their mapping and location platforms.

We’ve started to see a strategy shift in the Big Co’s of the digital economy. Globalization / Global market reach was a major driver behind the internet of the ninety’s – and is what built Microsoft and Google. But now, they are global – and they can’t get much more global without serious economic changes in the underdeveloped parts of the world. Hence, they see a huge growth drivers in local markets. But how much money can really be spent over the internet on Local markets? Well, for someone like me, almost 95% of my disposable income is spent on local goods – and I’m sure this is also the case with most people.

Again, and back to the Map product debate, in the area of providing local information to map users Microsoft is the clear winner. Simply put, the interface to deliver the information is clear, easy to access and generally looks great. I find Google Maps very difficult to find local information in. The map interface is clear but nothing jumps out at me.

However Google takes a much different approach to going local, and again, they have tapped the masses and infact, have allowed their users to create local content that matters by themselves – all the while using Google’s web based map technologies. As Alex Iskold points out in his read write web article (Google The Ultimate Money Making Machine: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_the_ultimate_money_making_machine.php)

“Google - through its text ads strategy - has managed to weave itself into the very fabric of the Web. In doing this, the company freed itself from even Internet geography and became ubiquitous. By empowering companies and individuals to publish Google ads on their sites, Google solved the unlimited supply and demand problem in one fell swoop.”

And here Google goes again, doing the exact same thing with it’s mapping products (not to mention talk). They released their API for free, told us to have fun with it and gave us a fully usable model of the world to do anything with. Then came cheapgas.com a Google Map based wiki style mash-up providing information on where to find the cheapest gas closest to where you were (has only recently diverged from a mash-up site).

Further, they have partnered with firms such as Apple and RIM to push their technologies to be the “defaults” in their mobile devices. They have done what they can to push their mapping infrastructure VIA the appropriate channels, and have left it up to the developers and users to build and use the local datasets.

I see a clear path for Microsoft to monetize their mapping products (tolls, recommendations, e-Flyer stuff, Windows Mobile …), but without true ownership of their data, the Google model is more difficult to monetize. However, the fact that end users can update the local data points goes a long way to providing more accurate data to users – and it still allows the Google to get rich off Adsense. A perfect example is the mywikimaps.com cheap gas mash-up where users are continually updating gas prices all over North America. This is something that Microsoft could do through some proprietary network, but it would be costly, and would only serve to copy something that exists, and works, at next to no additional cost to Google’s infrastructure. I think I’d rather the Microsoft route – but I do not see this being a strategic option for Microsoft in it’s quest to get local – it will cost too much, only satisfy one local market at a time and is too divergent from their strategy. This model cannot work in a scale against the almost uncountable local markets.

From a purely competitive standpoint, the winner is the company who can best monetize the local dollar – and no clear winner has been defined at this point. Ironically, the winner may be decided based on who can entice who to use their Ad product. However, I do prefer the way Google gathers information over the Microsoft methodology – but it will be interesting to see how the quality of the Google information holds up over time. For example, when I registered my firm with Google they sent me a confirmation letter in the mail and once I had completed a couple easy steps I could find my business on their maps and business directory. As long as I use Google for something, and that something continues to be better than the competition (Adsense), then I will keep my information up to date in their catalogs – and their Map product will continue to have accurate listings – but when the day comes where another firm can provide a more complete or all encompassing solution to me (Microsoft ??), I will stop updating their catalogs (or may do so less frequently or at a lower priority).

There are a lot of real dollars to be had in the Local space and I’d love see these firms earning these real dollars. The unfortunate truth may be that as we drill further into local, these Big Co’s continue to realize revenue against their more traditional revenue streams (Google Adsense, Microsoft Windows + Crossbow??). Innovation will probably continue to be built on top of these platforms to keep shareholders happy. The quest to provide all encompassing local information to users will probably continue to be a cash sink until the proper bolts are found to mount it to the good old “brick and mortor” business.

For example, I can see Google only entering local spaces where they can leverage their Adsense platform against their geo-coded datasets (which is an insanely massive dataset), when they can push froogle.com to the local street level (possibly via virtual earth), where it makes sense for an innovative marketing initiative (Google Security Search at Airports), and stumble into markets (cheap gas) where there is a tremendous demand for information created by their user base. I’m not to concerned about the divergence between their Maps site and the Earth Application. Again, it’s the information that makes these products useful, and there is no doubt in my mind they will be consolidated at some point in time. There is a lot of interesting stuff that can come out of their virtual world and it will be interesting to see what happens. I also wouldn’t leave cellular services out of the picture for Google – but I wouldn’t consider them a front runner – more of a partner – lets see what they can really do with mobile that Microsoft can’t.

Microsoft on the other hand, just have to keep pushing forward integrating maps into mobile, pushing their smart phone platform, and leveraging their already large business user base with a focus on what these users need to perform their local duties (especially traveling executives). One of the more interesting opportunities for Microsoft is in leveraging its existing channels (Expedia, Health, MSN …) against these local opportunities in a similar fashion to the froogle opportunity. I see RIM as Microsoft’s next target if they really do want to go local – in fact I see any company that refuses to make a Windows Mobile version of their device a target. They need to monopolize their operating system into the palms of users they way they did with Windows. They need to make their channels the defaults on these devices, they have to leverage their seemingly “normal” (bland) local service directory based on the location of the device on the earths surface, all the while keep their platform open enough as to not continue to be seen as an evil untrustworthy company.

The next 3-4 years are going to be huge for smart phones, and internet enabled devices. The bottom line is who ever gets there first, and can exert some sort of staying power will probably control our mobile channels. However, my prediction is local will be dependent on devices not on traditional desktop / laptop personal computers. The vast array of internet tablets for instance may allow a new level of integration between the kitchen, workshops, family members and friends that is unparalleled to anything we have today.

Finally, although Microsoft holds the superior technology and has a tight business user base yet Google holds the heart (and reflex finger movements) of most consumer users. It’s tough to call who will come out on top. Having said this, and as a techie MS pro, Microsoft will be tough to beat.

Let me know what you think.

Over and Out


Day One :: Day 1 :: Day I

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I’m writing from the Great White North - Toronto, Ontario, Canada (soon to be the Great Green North). My real name is Matthew Ryan Stark and I’m slowly creeping up to that 30 year line.

I hope to try to keep a log of my general thoughts on Life, Computers and Life and Computers. I may miss some days, but will try to post at least twice a week.

In the next couple weeks you may notice that some of the entries are old. Well, I’ve been keeping some thoughts and will be entering them into this blog as time passes.

There is no doubt that the Internet has been the single largest cultural revolution for the western world in the past couple decades. I hope to provide insights, analysis and opinion on this and many more topics.

Stay tuned.

Over and Out

Brazil offers free Net access to Amazon tribes

Every once in a while I read a story that seems really out of place. Sort of like this one: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techpolicy/2007-03-30-brazil-net-amazon_N.htm?csp=34

I think it's a great idea to provide internet access to a bunch of remote tribes living in the middle of the rainforest! I can't imagine living without gmail or MSN, so why should they. Moreover, I can't imagine anything going wrong exposing them to the world VIA the internet. Change is good, and it's not like the centuries old traditions are that important.

I'm kind of stoked I could have Roberto Carlos Cinta-Largo, tribal leader of Cinta-Larga (Cinta-Larga means Broad Belt in Portuguese, a reference to the tribe’s prior habit of wearing bark sashes around the waist to cover genital regions) added as a friend on my facebook page. After all, diamonds go a long way (note to myself: remember to tell Roberto about eBay when added as a friend).

Worst case, they go online, discover Baywatch, and travel the world in search of Pamela Anderson. They develop a porn addiction and or realize airplanes are not actually real deities and probably shouldn't be worshiped. No harm done?

Best case, they make new love connections with other remote tribes women VIA Lava Life, build their important people network on hi5 - god knows it's all about connections, and sell raw diamonds really cheap on eBay.

At least, they can report the illegal mining and deforestation of the rainforest to the Brazilian government VIA VOIP instead of um ... whatever they used before VOIP and email and cell phones and MSN and ICQ and satellite phones and land lines and a um a couple cups with a piece of string .. I dunno .. however they did it - this is way better.

VOIP / GPS will be super sweet for little tribes like Funai to be able to keep in touch as they get pushed further and further into the rainforest by these logging / diamond mining white men. No longer will they have to rely on "the big tree, by the river mouth" they can find each other VIA GPS - and even give coordinates of illegal poachers to government so they can be apprehended at the scene.

My vision is a future where ...
Roberto Carlos Cinta-Largo has signed in ...
Rômulo Siqueira de Sá has signed in ...
Roberto Carlos Cinta-Largo says: Mountain Pig at 01 16.69S 60 24.47W
Rômulo Siqueira de Sá says: LOL, cooking Pirana and Frog, Good luck with Mountain Pig
Roberto Carlos Cinta-Largo says: ROTGLOL, Pirana and Frog ???????????

Over and Out