Monday, May 31, 2010

FT.com / Technology - Rival tablets ready to bite into iPad lead

Think different

The international launch of the iPad at the weekend is set to be swiftly followed by the release of a raft of rival tablet PCs, costing a fraction of Apple’s $500 device.

Tablets priced at about $100 will be unveiled at Computex in Taiwan, which begins Monday – the first major trade show since the release of the iPad in April.

Such low-cost tablets are part of a trend in the PC industry as component costs fall, with laptops and netbooks attracting low-cost competitors from relatively tiny companies across Asia.

FT.com / Technology - Rival tablets ready to bite into iPad lead

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains (Wired)

Excerpt from The Shallows, which is likely to be an influential book. I only skimmed the article :) (I’m waiting for my copy of the book to arrive, hopefully early next week.) See this page for links to more info, reviews, etc.

What kind of brain is the Web giving us? That question will no doubt be the subject of a great deal of research in the years ahead. Already, though, there is much we know or can surmise—and the news is quite disturbing. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.

Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, R - Flash Player Installation

Digital Domain - YouTube Wants You to Sit and Stay Awhile - NYTimes.com

Just what the world needs…

This fall, YouTube says it will introduce a radically different, uncluttered look, with YouTube Leanback. It will have a separate Web address and will start playing a video the moment a user clicks on the site. When one video ends, another will start automatically, eliminating those dreaded “decision points” that invite abandonment. Viewers will be able to select channels, but the flow of programs, whether short or long, will be continuous.

“There’s no browsing, no searching, no clicking. It behaves like you would expect television to,” said Hunter Walk, a YouTube program manager who provided a brief peek this month at Google’s developer conference.

Digital Domain - YouTube Wants You to Sit and Stay Awhile - NYTimes.com

Healing by 2-Way Video - The Rise of Telemedicine - NYTimes.com

See the full article for more details

Although telemedicine has been around for years, it is gaining traction as never before. Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs have been reimbursing doctors and hospitals that provide care remotely to rural and underserved areas. Now a growing number of big insurance companies, like the UnitedHealth Group and several Blue Cross plans, are starting to market interactive video to large employers. The new federal health care law provides $1 billion a year to study telemedicine and other innovations.

With the expansion of reimbursement, Americans are on the brink of “a gold rush of new investment in telemedicine,” says Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., managing partner at Vesalius Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Houston. He has worked on telemedicine projects since he helped build medical systems for NASA during his days as an astronaut in the 1990s.

Healing by 2-Way Video - The Rise of Telemedicine - NYTimes.com

If you’re not worried, you’re not Googling | Good Morning Silicon Valley

Something to ponder

But though in many ways the 18-to-29 set is the canniest controller of online presence, they’re a lot more lax about one piece of information: birthdate. (Which is required by Facebook, and which many Facebook users leave public.) Fifty-nine percent of social network users in that age group say that their birthdate is available online for others to see.

It may not affect reputation, but birthdate is a frequent entry point for identity thieves. The Pew report cites studies showing that “the vast majority of Americans (87%) can be identified with only three pieces of information: gender, ZIP code and date of birth” and that “the acquisition of a birthdate, particularly when combined with location information for younger users, can be used to successfully predict Social Security numbers.”

If you’re not worried, you’re not Googling | Good Morning Silicon Valley

Knowing the enemy, one avatar at a time - The Boston Globe

Sign of the times

The program, which loosely resembles the game SimCity, is part of a US government effort to develop sophisticated computer models of real Afghan villages — complete with virtual people based on actual inhabitants — in an attempt to predict their reaction to US raids and humanitarian aid.

The project, spearheaded by a University of Pennsylvania engineer at the behest of an undisclosed US government agency, straddles the line between research and intelligence as part of a wider US effort to design software capable of forecasting human behavior in war zones.

Knowing the enemy, one avatar at a time - The Boston Globe

Palm VP defects to Google - Computerworld

Small world

Matias Duarte, formerly vice president of human interface and user experience at Palm, has left to take a job with Google, marking one of the first defections since Hewlett-Packard announced plans to buy the struggling phone maker.

Duarte will serve as user experience director for Android, Google said.

Prior to Palm, Duarte worked for Helio, a mobile virtual network operator, and before that Danger. Danger's co-founder, Andy Rubin, now heads development of Android for Google.

Palm VP defects to Google - Computerworld

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One on One: Brian Lam of Gizmodo.com - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Interesting analogy…

Do you have any regrets about the iPhone 4G story?
There were some very contentious internal debates about writing about Gray Powell, who lost the phone. We struggled trying to decide whether to write this story. In the end, it became a story about a guy who made a very normal mistake that we’ve all done before and it added humanity to the entire story of the phone. The phone was just a thing, a simple part of the equation; it was important to show the humanity of it, too. It reminds me of an old set of keys that recently sold at an auction for over $100,000. To some people they just look like keys, but the back story is that they were the keys to a binocular case on the Titanic that a night watchman who was switching shifts forgot to hand to another watchman. They were just keys, but the fact that this simple human mistake played a pivotal role in the Titanic made it a fascinating human interest story.

One on One: Brian Lam of Gizmodo.com - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Apple iPad outshines the Mona Lisa as global sales launched - The Boston Globe

The iPad is a nice device, but it’s in large part Apple’s marketing and press choreography that are “magical and revolutionary” imho…

In the basement of Paris’s Louvre museum, the early line for Apple Inc.’s iPad far surpassed that for entry to see the Mona Lisa.

Hundreds lined up at the Apple store in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center in the museum complex, with staff cheering every purchase, as sales outside the United States of the tablet computer began yesterday. In Sydney, fans braved the chill of the Southern Hemisphere autumn to be among the first to buy the device, while in Tokyo people waited for as long as 40 hours to make a purchase.

Apple iPad outshines the Mona Lisa as global sales launched - The Boston Globe

Friday, May 28, 2010

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Death by Foxconn - Cringely on technology

Yikes – see the full post for more details

Were these people worked to death? Were they worked insane? In one case was the suicide the result of a suspected leak of Apple intellectual property? What kind of sweat shop is Foxconn, anyway?

I don’t know and nether do you. What we do know is the annual suicide rate per 100,000 people in China is about 13.5, with slightly more women than men taking their own lives (the only major country where that is the case, by the way). That means the Foxconn factory, with 300,000 workers, ought to be experiencing almost 40 suicides per year, while the reported numbers are a lot less than that.

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Death by Foxconn - Cringely on technology

Thursday, May 27, 2010

FT.com / Media - Google misses German WiFi deadline

Interesting times

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a US-based digital privacy campaigner, which slammed Google as “too mature to be making these kinds of rookie privacy mistakes”, shared the company’s concerns about further exposing private information.

“Calls from some quarters for Google to simply turn over the data to the US or other governments are wrong-headed,” EFF said last week. “To allow a government to investigate a privacy breach by further violating privacy is senseless.”

FT.com / Media - Google misses German WiFi deadline

FT.com / Media - Publishers wary of Apple’s e-book service

Check the full article for more details

Concerns among some book publishers about Apple’s iBookstore could take the shine off the international launch of its iPad on Friday.

Several publishers are holding off signing Europe-wide contracts with Apple’s e-book service, owing to commercial misgivings and fears that its minimum pricing conditions could fall foul of UK law.

FT.com / Media - Publishers wary of Apple’s e-book service

One Laptop Per Child Project Works With Marvell to Produce a $100 Tablet - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

More details on the OTPC vision

The price of the tablets is supposed to hover around $100, but Mr. Negroponte said the ones distributed by the project could cost less, possibly $75. “The consumer marketplace is what will help drive the volume to help drive down prices,” he said.

The new tablets will offer a bevy of high-tech parts, including a full high-definition video encoder and 3-D graphics chip, which will enable them to interact with software like Adobe Flash. In addition, the tablet will have a built-in video and still camera, a multitouch display and a soft keyboard similar to that of the Apple iPad. Mr. Negroponte said the new keyboard would also have haptic feedback so users will feel the keys vibrate on the screen as they type.

One Laptop Per Child Project Works With Marvell to Produce a $100 Tablet - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

$100 Laptop Project Switches to Tablets - WSJ.com

The OLPC “$100 laptop project,” after more than a decade of work and selling ~$200 laptops, plans to release a tablet device for … around $100.  I wonder if the organization’s name will change.

The nonprofit organization that has tried for years to produce a sub-$100 laptop for children in the world's poorest places is throwing in the towel on that idea—and jumping on the tablet bandwagon.

One Laptop Per Child's next computer will be based on chipmaker Marvell Technology Group Ltd.'s Moby tablet design. Marvell announced a prototype of the device earlier this year and said it costs about $99.

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child, is optimistic his organization will be able to keep the price under $100 in part because Marvell plans to market its tablets widely to schools and health care institutions.

$100 Laptop Project Switches to Tablets - WSJ.com

Japan's iPad Frenzy Signals a Sea Change - WSJ.com

Thinking different

Japanese electronics companies Sony Corp. and NEC Corp. have already expressed interest in creating similar devices, while Dell Inc. has unveiled plans for a tablet computer of its own, but some consumers believe the iPad launch could be a historic moment for Japan.

In one Twitter exchange, Mitsuru Yoshii, who works at a music school in Tokyo, sent a message to Softbank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son saying that the iPad was the "21st century's black ships."

In response to the historical reference to the U.S. Naval fleet that opened up Japan to the West in 1853, Mr. Son, who aggressively sought out Apple to bring the iPhone and now the iPad to the carrier's network, wrote back: "Indeed!"

Japan's iPad Frenzy Signals a Sea Change - WSJ.com

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook acquires DEMO startup ShareGrove | VentureBeat

Hmm… (via Richard Eckel)

Facebook has acquired ShareGrove, a small startup focused on creating private spaces for close friends and family to share content.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company, which debuted at the DEMO conference last fall, offered a private real-time space where a small group of friends or colleagues could interact. It used Facebook Connect to build an area that was like a hybrid between email, a Facebook wall, and group chat. In some ways, it resembled FriendFeed, a startup founded by high-profile Googlers Paul Buchheit and Bret Taylor, which Facebook acquired last year.

Facebook acquires DEMO startup ShareGrove | VentureBeat

Microsoft Researcher Calls for Information Literacy - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times

"Information is power, but interpretation is more powerful," said Danah Boyd, speaking at the at the O'Reilly Gov 2.0 Expo, being held this week in Washington, D.C. "We want this information out there. We want people to make informed decisions. But we also want to give them to tools to interpret what we see," she said.

Speaking before an audience of mostly government executives and supporting contractors, she had stated that it is not enough to provide information to the people -- as government agencies are doing through efforts like Data.gov and Data.Gov.UK -- because tools must also be provided to aid in the interpretation process.

Microsoft Researcher Calls for Information Literacy - NYTimes.com

New King of Technology - Apple Overtakes Microsoft - NYTimes.com

Strange days indeed

This changing of the guard caps one of the most stunning turnarounds in business history for Apple, which had been given up for dead only a decade earlier, and its co-founder and visionary chief executive, Steven P. Jobs. The rapidly rising value attached to Apple by investors also heralds an important cultural shift: Consumer tastes have overtaken the needs of business as the leading force shaping technology.

Microsoft, with its Windows and Office software franchises, has dominated the relationship most people had with their computers for almost two decades, and that was reflected in its stock market capitalization. But the click-clack of the keyboard has ceded ground to the swipe of a finger across a smartphone’s touch screen.

New King of Technology - Apple Overtakes Microsoft - NYTimes.com

Facebook Introduces Simplified Approach to Privacy - NYTimes.com

Stimulus-response…

“The settings have gotten complex, and it has become hard for people to use them to effectively control their settings,” said Mr. Zuckerberg at a press event at Facebook headquarters. “We wanted to make it really easy to change privacy in just a couple of clicks.” Facebook said it would give its users a simple control to determine whether their information was visible to only friends, friends of friends or everyone on the Internet. Those settings will be applied retroactively to everything users have published on Facebook in the past.

[…]

But Mr. Zuckerberg added that the company was taking the feedback over the recent changes seriously.

“We have a strong opinion on the direction that things should go, but we always listen,” he said.

Facebook Introduces Simplified Approach to Privacy - NYTimes.com

Dell will roll out a device to rival iPad - The Boston Globe

One to watch; see the full article for more details (I’ll wait for a >= 8” version, however…)

Dell Inc. yesterday unveiled plans for a computer tablet based on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Called Streak, the tablet will have a 5-inch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and work on a 3G network. Users can download music; interact with social-networking sites; send e-mail, text and instant messages; and make phone calls. It has turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps, a 5-megapixel camera with flash, and a removable battery.

Dell will roll out a device to rival iPad - The Boston Globe

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - Toilets and Cellphones - NYTimes.com

Check the full article for a timely snapshot (via Mitch Kapor)

I was intrigued to learn the other day that there are now more cellphones in India than toilets. Almost half the Indian population, 563.7 million people, is hooked up to modern communications, while just 366 million have access to modern sanitation, according to a United Nations study.

This can be seen as skewed development favoring private networks over the public good. It can be seen as an example of markets outstripping governments: Nimble cellphone companies profit while lumbering Indian authorities are unable even to stop the propagation of water-borne disease through defecation in the open. Or it can be seen merely as the choice Indians have made about their priorities.

Op-Ed Columnist - Toilets and Cellphones - NYTimes.com

Amazon Tells Shareholders That It's e-Reader Is for Readers - WSJ.com

Another Kindle snapshot

Speaking at the company's annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday in Seattle, Mr. Bezos said Amazon's approach to digital reading was focused on two fronts: devices and being an e-book retailer. For the device business, he said Amazon would focus on building a Kindle that appealed to serious readers, as opposed to devices like the iPad that try to serve several different purposes.

"There are always ways to do the job better if you are willing to focus in on one arena," Mr. Bezos said. He also acknowledged that "90% of households are not serious reading households."

Amazon Tells Shareholders That It's e-Reader Is for Readers - WSJ.com

Business & Technology | Amazon CEO: Color Kindle `still a long way out' | Seattle Times Newspaper

A timely Amazon snapshot (see the full article for Kindle-related updates)

Also Tuesday, Bezos said that Amazon Web Services, which sells Web hosting and data-storage services to other companies, has the potential to be as large as Amazon's retail business eventually. He called the overall market for such services a "very, very large area" that is generally not being done efficiently.

"Whenever something is done inefficiently, that creates an opportunity," Bezos said.

For now Amazon's Web services division has a long way to go. It is part of a group that had $188 million in revenue in the first quarter, while Amazon's retail operations brought in nearly $7 billion.

Business & Technology | Amazon CEO: Color Kindle `still a long way out' | Seattle Times Newspaper

Microsoft | Ballmer says India, not China, better Microsoft bet | Seattle Times Newspaper

A timely reality check

"There are two things that make a country interesting. One is it buys a lot of PCs, the other is they pay for the software that gets used on those PCs," Ballmer said. In China, "there is no software market to speak of."

In its annual report last month, The American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing said it expects an increase in trade tension between the U.S. and China. While China should move toward a more flexible currency, the U.S. should focus more on pressing the Chinese government to better enforce intellectual-property laws, change rules that limit foreign ownership and reduce tariffs.

Microsoft | Ballmer says India, not China, better Microsoft bet | Seattle Times Newspaper

U.S. Inquiry on Apple Music Tactics Reported - NYTimes.com

Hmm…

The Justice Department is examining Apple’s tactics in the market for digital music and has sent staff members to talk to a number of major music labels and Internet music companies, according to several people briefed on the conversations.

The inquiry is in the very early stages, these people say, and the conversations have revolved broadly around the dynamics of selling music online.

U.S. Inquiry on Apple Music Tactics Reported - NYTimes.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

PLATO History: What Today's Tech Elite Were Doing in 1973

An interesting way to frame the PLATO history topic; see the full post for details on people such as Steve Jobs (then 18, and hanging out at Reed College) and Mark Zuckerberg (who wouldn’t be born for another 11 years)

In 1973, the year social computing began on PLATO, the PLATO system got the perfect storm of apps that would forever change the use of the system: PLATO Notes (message forums), Talk-o-matic (chat rooms), and TERM-talk (instant messaging).

What were some of today's tech luminaries doing in 1973? Let's have a look:

PLATO History: What Today's Tech Elite Were Doing in 1973

Drilling Down - Texting Surpasses Calling Among Teenagers - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times

OMG, W8 til U read this: one in three teenagers sends more than 100 text messages a day, and 72 percent are now text-messagers, compared with 51 percent in 2006, according to a recent Pew Internet report. Nearly half who take phones to school text at least once a day in class.

Texting trumps all other forms of communication, with only 38 percent and 30 percent of teenagers talking daily on a cellphone or landline, respectively.

Drilling Down - Texting Surpasses Calling Among Teenagers - NYTimes.com

What Facebook does when something's rotten | The Social - CNET News

I suspect that all will be forgiven, for most Facebook users, if Facebook follows through in a timely manner and stops jerking its users around on privacy policy and controls

Facebook is now approaching half a billion active users, making it more populous than every country on Earth except for India and China. So what's a global superpower to do when it looks, more than ever, like it's run by a young monarch with little regard for his subjects? It's the oldest trick in the book: Paint the awkward 26-year-old as a fallible boy-king instead. He's not a conniving conqueror of user privacy, the company wants us to understand, he's the dauphin on the eve of battle. That's the image that Facebook put forward Monday in a Washington Post op-ed authored by Zuckerberg about the company's recent product changes that ignited a firestorm of user unrest over the state of private user data.

Either way, he's still extraordinarily powerful.

What Facebook does when something's rotten | The Social - CNET News

Microsoft Delivers on Interoperability Principles With Office Outlook: New open source technologies facilitate interoperability with popular Outlook data files.

A deep commitment to interoperability; see the full post for documentation details

Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of two new open source projects that complement technical documentation recently released for Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders (.pst). Combined, the documentation and tools advance interoperability with data stored in .pst files, reflecting customer requests for greater access to data stored and shared in digital formats generated by Microsoft Outlook and for enhanced data portability.

Developers can use these resources to more easily build solutions, including competitive products, that run on top of the .pst file format, unlocking data stored in .pst files in simple scenarios, such as extracting photos stored in .pst files to create an album, as well as more complex scenarios, including archive search, e-discovery and corporate compliance, and uploading data to the cloud.

Microsoft Delivers on Interoperability Principles With Office Outlook: New open source technologies facilitate interoperability with popular Outlook data files.

Fake BP Twitter Account Draws Followers With Oil-Spill Satire - Digits - WSJ

A satirical social software snapshot

A Twitter user with an account dubbed BPGlobalPR is posting satirical entries about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — and already has more than twice as many followers as BP America’s actual account.

With posts such as “The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct. #bpcares,” the stream of tweets from the account is long on dark humor and subtle outrage at BP’s actions. It’s also peppered with responses to twitterers who did not know that the account was fake and were angered at the thought that an oil company would post content such as “If we had a dollar for every complaint about this oil spill, it wouldn’t compare to our current fortune. Oil is a lucrative industry!”

Fake BP Twitter Account Draws Followers With Oil-Spill Satire - Digits - WSJ

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Business & Technology | Facebook continues to be surprised by backlash to changes | Seattle Times Newspaper

A timely Facebook reality check

You'd think if a company got whacked by a bat in the face as many times as Facebook has, certain lessons would begin to sink in. Lessons such as: Don't surprise your users, especially when it comes to their data. And: Expect some blowback and have some plan for responding beyond again circling the wagons. Hopefully, this time they will.

[…]

Their actions triggered the usual round of posts across the blogosphere. And that was picked up by the mainstream media, which began to do stories about the Facebook privacy storm without much evidence there actually was one.

But this appears to have moved beyond the parlor debates of a few tech insiders. A parent at my son's school, for instance, recently forwarded to our school's listserv an e-mail from liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org warning members about the dangers of Facebook.

Business & Technology | Facebook continues to be surprised by backlash to changes | Seattle Times Newspaper

Dalai Lama Holds Q&A With Chinese via Twitter - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times

Just like most walls, there are ways around, over, under and through the "Great Firewall" of China. While the Dalai Lama would never find himself having a government-sanctioned chat with the Chinese populous, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader will be answering questions from Chinese Web users via Twitter on Friday.

Dalai Lama Holds Q&A With Chinese via Twitter - NYTimes.com

Regulators Are Watching Google Over Antitrust Concerns - NYTimes.com

Excerpts from a timely Google reality check 

IN the 1990s, Gary Reback, a Silicon Valley lawyer, almost single-handedly brought the antitrust weight of the federal government down on that era’s high-tech heavyweight, Microsoft. Now Mr. Reback contends there is a dangerous new monopolist in the catbird seat: the search giant Google.

[…]

Google is the “arbiter of every single thing on the Web, and it favors its properties over everyone else’s,” said Mr. Reback, sitting in a Washington cafe with the couple. “What it wants to do is control Internet traffic. Anything that undermines its ability to do that is threatening.”

Regulators Are Watching Google Over Antitrust Concerns - NYTimes.com

Independent bookstores see glimmers of hope - The Boston Globe

A hopeful snapshot for bookstore fans

Independent stores have been on the wrong end of some of the biggest trends: the spread of superstore chains; the emergence of Amazon.com and other online retailers; the rise of the e-book, a tiny market three years ago, but now, for some major publishers, approaching 8 percent of total sales.

Teicher credits last year’s turnaround mostly to the smarts of the independent community and a willingness to experiment, such as the literary day camp at BookPeople in Austin, Texas, or the clothing store in the Northshire Bookstore in Vermont. ABA president Michael Tucker, co-owner of Books Inc. in San Francisco, says the economy may have helped some stores, making it less costly to find retail space in downtown locations.

Independent bookstores see glimmers of hope - The Boston Globe

Friday, May 21, 2010

Google Apologizes for Google Wave Confusion | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

I watched the wave instances during the I/O keynotes – there wasn’t a lot of activity or information value-add; in general, I think Google still has a long way to go, if it wants to convince the mainstream market there’s a significant role for Wave

"When we put it out there, we did so in sort of a raw form ... what are the set of use cases, how can we make them more useful and more productive, can do it all in Wave," Lars Rasmussen, the head of Google Wave, said in a press conference here Wednesday. "No longer do we need to have the discussion here and have instant messages over here. Can we do it all in one tool?"

The lesson that Google learned was that it needed to do a much better job of explaining Wave, Rasmussen said. A year ago, Google offered an hour-long demo preview of what the technology could do, "but we failed to answer the question of what can I actually use Wave for, right now, right here," he said.

Google Apologizes for Google Wave Confusion | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

I/O, I/O, it’s off to Internet dominance we go | Good Morning Silicon Valley

An interesting twist

The announcement with the biggest implications down the road was the unveiling of WebM, an open-source, royalty-free video codec based on VP8. It’s being positioned as the standard for video in HTML5 rather than the proprietary H.264 or the royalty-free but problematic Theora. Yep, you with the glazing eyes: Adoption of H.264 could mean fees imposed on content distributors and providers, though so far the license holders have waived collection. Those license holders include Microsoft and Apple — and Apple is the notable abstainer in the chorus of support for VP8. Could get interesting.

I/O, I/O, it’s off to Internet dominance we go | Good Morning Silicon Valley

Google mocks Jobs with Flash on Android • The Register

It was interesting to see more Apple bashing than Microsoft bashing, during the Google I/O keynote sessions

"It turns out that on the internet, people use Flash," Google vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra said this morning as he unveiled the new Android at the company's annual developer conference in San Francisco. As he demoed Froyo - and hailed the continued expansion of the Android platform - Gundotra slipped in more than few sideways jabs at Steve Jobs and Apple.

At one point, Gundotra said that if Android hadn't arrived, the mobile world faced a future controlled by one man and one carrier - and as he spoke, a slide appeared behind him that read "Not a Future We Want. 1984."

Google mocks Jobs with Flash on Android • The Register

Oracle buys database firewall provider | Business Tech - CNET News

More DBMS platform manifest destiny

Geared for both Oracle and non-Oracle databases, Secerno's DataWall firewall product analyzes how databases are accessed to allow database administrators to set up policies to control that access. Using active monitoring, the firewall can detect and block any suspicious attempts to hit the database, according to Secerno. The company also offers auditing features to help businesses make sure they're in compliance with regulatory standards.

With its focus on firewall security, Secerno has competed in the marketplace with such vendors as Imperva and Guardium, which was acquired in December by IBM. On its end, Oracle sees the acquisition as a way to combine its own database security products with Secerno's DataWall to help customers make sure their data is private and protected.

Oracle buys database firewall provider | Business Tech - CNET News

Google: A new consumer electronics power broker | Relevant Results - CNET News

Another take on the Google news 

As we alluded to earlier in the week, Google is reaching a point in its evolution where it is bringing the tech industry into its own orbit. Consider this: Intel and Sony played second fiddle to Google Thursday in an announcement that highlighted their own failures to produce such a product.

And however Google's ruling triumvirate might feel about Apple CEO Steve Jobs and all he has accomplished over the years, Google could not have drawn clearer battle lines on Thursday: it wants to be as prominent a consumer electronics software company as Apple, and it is going about that strategy by marshaling industry support, rather than going it alone.

Google: A new consumer electronics power broker | Relevant Results - CNET News

Google Moves to TVs With Help From Intel and Sony - NYTimes.com

A pessimistic perspective on Google’s latest big adventure

The effort is likely to face formidable challenges. Google must persuade television manufacturers other than Sony to use its software, and retailers other than the electronics chain Best Buy to sell the devices. And consumers have demonstrated little interest, so far, in connecting to the Web through their TVs.

What they have shown is price sensitivity, and the high-powered Intel Atom chips that will be at the heart of devices running Google TV are likely to add to their cost. Intel has spent billions of dollars developing those chips over the last few years in a high-stakes push to crack the market for consumer electronics.

The companies declined to discuss prices.

Google Moves to TVs With Help From Intel and Sony - NYTimes.com

Digital Revolution Shakes Foundations of Book Retailing - WSJ.com

Excerpt from a book retailing snapshot

But the digital revolution sweeping the media world is rewriting the rules of the book industry, upending the established players which have dominated for decades. Electronic books are still in their infancy, comprising an estimated 3% to 5% of the market today. But they are fast accelerating the decline of physical books, forcing retailers, publishers, authors and agents to reinvent their business models or be painfully crippled.

"By the end of 2012, digital books will be 20% to 25% of unit sales, and that's on the conservative side," predicts Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of the Idea Logical Co., publishing consultants. "Add in another 25% of units sold online, and roughly half of all unit sales will be on the Internet."

Digital Revolution Shakes Foundations of Book Retailing - WSJ.com

Skype expects 1 billion users by 2015 - The Boston Globe

Aiming high

Skype Technologies SA, the largest provider of international calling, said the number of registered users will nearly double to 1 billion by 2015.

Half of Skype’s registered users by that time will be business customers, who bring in 20 percent to 30 percent more revenue on average than consumers, said David Gurle, a Skype vice president.

Skype expects 1 billion users by 2015 - The Boston Globe

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Capgemini Group to Sell Microsoft BPOS

A timely Google partner/enterprise momentum reality check

Microsoft and Capgemini Group today announced that Capgemini will market and sell Microsoft BPOS (online versions of Exchange, SharePoint, OCS, and Live Meeting) within its Infostructure Transformation Services group.

The interesting thing here is that back in September 2007, Capgemini made a big splash in announcing that it would market and sell Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE). The market interpreted that announcement as giving an air of legitimacy to GAPE–after all, major league consultants such as Capgemini were signing up to sell it. However, other than a press release announcing that it had installed GAPE at its own customer support center, I haven’t heard a peep out of Capgemini in the intervening 2+ years about its success with GAPE. In six months, it will be interesting to see which Capgemini program has more installs: GAPE or BPOS

Capgemini Group to Sell Microsoft BPOS

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » TV after YouTube - Cringely on technology

Another insightful Cringely reality check

But in my view Veetle actually does have many of the answers.

Here’s why.  YouTube has those two billion downloads per day yet just manages to break even.  Commercial TV has less than two billion viewers per day, yet manages to be a very profitable industry with at least $20 billion in annual sales.  The question to ask is not why YouTube is so popular by why it is so unprofitable?  It is unprofitable because most of the content is crap.  It is unprofitable because distribution costs are still too high.  It is unprofitable because the ad model isn’t clear.  It is unprofitable because the average video is still less than four minutes long so this is not a medium for story telling in any strict sense.  Oh, and did I mention that the content is crap?

Commercial or even non-commercial TV, in contrast, may be too dumb, too simple, and too obvious for the most part, but not all of it is crap.  Find a way to reach the non-crap while preserving the best of traditional TV and you’ll have something.  You’ll have Veetle.

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » TV after YouTube - Cringely on technology

Facebook CEO’s latest woe: accusations of securities fraud | VentureBeat

The Facebook lawyer full-employment act continues to expand

The ConnectU cofounders are arguing that Facebook executives and lawyers presented the cash-and-stock offer’s value as $65 million, relying on a valuation of $15 billion that Microsoft paid in 2007 when buying preferred shares in the company. The settlement, however, was to be paid in common shares, not preferred shares, which Facebook itself valued at roughly 75 percent less for the purposes of calculating taxes on stock-based compensation — cutting the settlement’s offer roughly in half.

The real question here is why Facebook’s lawyers haven’t succeeded in making this lawsuit go away. Before, ConnectU’s founders were just after a piece of the Facebook pie. Now, the stakes keep getting higher as the case drags on. An actual indictment on securities fraud would make it impossible for Zuckerberg to remain Facebook’s CEO if it were to go public. However unlikely that is, why take the risk?

Facebook CEO’s latest woe: accusations of securities fraud | VentureBeat

Microsoft not opposed to Google Web video plan | Deep Tech - CNET News

An IE update

"When it comes to video and HTML5, we're all in. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows," said IE general manager Dean Hachamovitch.

[…]

"We are strongly committed to making sure that in IE9 you can safely view all types of content in all widely used formats. At the same time, Windows customers, developers, and site owners also want assurances that they are protected from IP rights issues when using IE9," Hachamovitch said.

Microsoft not opposed to Google Web video plan | Deep Tech - CNET News

Bids for Novell Expected This Week - WSJ.com

Apparently planning for disintegration at Novell

Novell has four separate businesses, each of which could be attractive to a rival technology company. However, it's unlikely that a tech company would bid for all of Novell, these people said. Private equity firms, however, could break up Novell and either sell off the pieces or run them as standalone businesses.

Novell, which currently carries a $2 billion market capitalization, held close to $1 billion in cash and short-term investments on Jan. 31. A private buyer could acquire Novell for about $500 million in cash and take on debt to cover the rest of the cost, the people familiar with the matter said.

Bids for Novell Expected This Week - WSJ.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bill Gates Told Steve Jobs About the iPad in 2007 - Bill Gates - Gizmodo

Check the full post for video and more details

Watch SeƱor Bill Gates describing the future of computing, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs next to him: An iPad-like device being used alongside an iPhone-like device. Then watch Jobs saying that, actually, the future was the PC.

[…]

But it's funny to see that, back then, Bill Gates was the one truly believing in a future beyond the PC, while Jobs was still playing the "PC as the digital hub" tune. I wonder if the latter ever anticipated the iPhone effect. If only I had a time machine. I could go back to 2007 and send him an email asking him about it.

Bill Gates Told Steve Jobs About the iPad in 2007 - Bill Gates - Gizmodo

Flash Co-creator: Apple Is Destroying the Open Web

A timely reality check

Flash Co-creator and former Macromedia CTO Jonathan Gay is disappointed that the media is letting Steve Jobs trash Adobe’s Flash as a closed platform while Apple is at the same time advocating for H.264 and a closed app environment that doesn’t support and cross-platform development. Gay, who left Adobe in 2005, told Cold Hard Flash in a lengthy but very interesting interview (hat tip to Flashstreamworks) that Jobs’ attacks could be a sign for many partners and customers asking Apple to support Flash on its devices. He also said that Apple’s anti-Flash stance is not about openness at all.

Flash Co-creator: Apple Is Destroying the Open Web

Why Apple Should Not Offer iPhone Tethering « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

Check the full post for more details. I suspect the demand control is deliberate. E.g., if Apple did make it possible to go with the Pre-style "there's an app for that" instant wireless access point model, why would anyone who owns an iPhone ever consider a wide-area wireless-equipped iPad? Think different... until customer and competitive requirements force you to do otherwise.

According to Engadget, iPhone OS 4.0 may offer tethering on AT&T. Welcome as the ability to use an iPhone as a gateway to the internet will be, this is a mistake. Tethering is a terrible technology and introducing it at this late date is just stupid. There’s a much better way.

Palm had the right idea with the Pre (and apparently Google has the same idea for the Froyo version of Android.) Instead of tethering, turn the handset into a Wi-Fi hotspot, sort of a do-it-yourself MiFi.

Why Apple Should Not Offer iPhone Tethering « Steve Wildstrom on Tech

LifeLock CEO’s Identity Stolen 13 Times | Threat Level | Wired.com

Perhaps time to change the company’s advertising campaign theme

Apparently, when you publish your Social Security number prominently on your website and billboards, people take it as an invitation to steal your identity.

LifeLock CEO Todd Davis, whose number is displayed in the company’s ubiquitous advertisements, has by now learned that lesson. He’s been a victim of identity theft at least 13 times, according to the Phoenix New Times.

That’s 12 more times than has previously been known.

LifeLock CEO’s Identity Stolen 13 Times | Threat Level | Wired.com

CBS Sitcom Inspired by Justin Halpern’s Twitter Page - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times…  (Check out the book sample on Amazon)

Yes, the anyone-can-make-media spirit of the Web has made it to prime-time network television, and probably not in the form Internet tycoons would have predicted. The CBS show inspired by a popular Twitter page — whose actual name is decidedly more profane than the “Bleep” title — is an old-fashioned, multicamera, studio audience comedy, in the mold of CBS’s hugely popular “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

The only difference, perhaps, is that the actor playing the title dad, William Shatner, will be reading lines supposedly uttered by Sam Halpern, 74, a retired doctor, and posted online by his son Justin, 29, who started the Twitter page in August at the insistence of a friend. More than 1.3 million people subscribe to the page, which inspired a book and now this show.

CBS Sitcom Inspired by Justin Halpern’s Twitter Page - NYTimes.com

A Data Center Power Supply That Moos - NYTimes.com

Interesting times

With the right skills, a dairy farmer could rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuel systems within two years, Hewlett-Packard engineers say in a research paper to be made public on Wednesday.

“Information technology and manure have a symbiotic relationship,” said Chandrakant D. Patel, the director of H.P.’s sustainable information technology laboratory, which wrote the report. “And having these data centers locally will give farmers a new opportunity.”

A Data Center Power Supply That Moos - NYTimes.com

Jive Software Hopes to Juke Toward an IPO - Digits - WSJ

Some big bets for Jive

While much of the recent IPO talk centers on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, a smaller player trying to apply the same principles to the business world is starting to talk about going public as well. That company, Jive Software, is naming Tony Zingale as its fulltime chief executive. Mr. Zingale, who had been serving in that post on an interim basis, is an industry veteran whose experience includes running Mercury Interactive and engineering that company’s $4.5 billion sale to H-P. The company also plans to move its headquarters from Portland Ore., to Palo Alto, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Jive Software Hopes to Juke Toward an IPO - Digits - WSJ

Facebook Grapples With Privacy Issues - WSJ.com

The latest Facebook saga continues

In recent days, executives and other employees have hunkered down in Facebook's Silicon Valley headquarters, debating how to address the backlash to two recently launched features. One encourages users to share more about their online activities with Facebook, while another personalizes other websites with information about users' Facebook friends.

Participants are discussing whether to implement new controls that allow users to conceal their profiles more universally, according to people familiar with the matter. Such tools would represent a big shift from Facebook's current approach of giving users multiple controls for specific parts of their profiles, and are an option Mr. Zuckerberg has resisted.

Facebook Grapples With Privacy Issues - WSJ.com

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Google buys VOIP engine behind Yahoo, AOL, WebEx, Lotus conferencing | ZDNet

Small world…

One interesting thing to note about GIPS is its customer list. On its site, GIPS touts Yahoo, IBM Lotus, AOL, WebEx and Baidu as customers. All of those companies compete with Google products. For instance, Yahoo uses GIPS VideoEngine PC product to deliver real-time voice over Yahoo Messenger. Is that really going to last when Google owns GIPS? It’s the same story for AOL Instant Messenger. Simply put, Google will own the technology powering video and voice on the biggest IM clients. On the Google Apps front, WebEx uses GIPS VoiceEngine and so does Lotus Sametime. On the China front, Baidu also uses GIPS technology.

Google buys VOIP engine behind Yahoo, AOL, WebEx, Lotus conferencing | ZDNet

Kickin' It in the Cloud (Windows IT Pro)

The final paragraphs of Paul Thurrott’s take on Google/Microsoft cloud competition

Google has some interesting services, yes, but truth be told Microsoft is kicking Google where it hurts—in the cloud computing markets that matter. And while Google's advertising dominance provides the company with the financial resources to artificially prop up its underperforming other products (i.e., all of them) that's not exactly the kind of business model that companies or individuals should embrace when they're looking for solutions on which to bet their future.

My point here is simple. I'm not saying that Microsoft has all the answers. If anything, I wish the company were more aggressive. But if you look at this market objectively, it's pretty clear that Google has none of the answers. Unless, of course, you're looking for creepy technology that can match sponsored links to the content of your email.

Yeah, Google has that one all locked up.

Kickin' It in the Cloud

Kindle Arrives on Android This Summer (Mashable)

Somehow I suspect we won’t see an Apple e-book app on Android (or any non-Apple device platform) real soon now…

Kindle is already available on the iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry, but Android(Android) will join the mobile lineup in the next few months. The free app comes with all of the features you’d expect in a Kindle app: access to Amazon’s half a million e-books, automatic sync of bookmarks, notes, and highlights, and the ability to read books in portrait or landscape mode.

While Kindle for Android seems very similar to its iPhone and iPad counterparts, it does come with an additional feature: the ability to buy books through the app itself. iPhone and iPad users currently have to buy Kindle books via the Safari(Safari) mobile web browser because Amazon doesn’t want to give up 30% of its book sales to its new e-book rival.

Kindle Arrives on Android This Summer

The Windows Blog Re-inventing Windows Live Hotmail

Office Web Apps + Hotmail = contextual content; see the full post for more new Hotmail features

Documents work just like photos. If you receive a document, you can now open it with the full power of the new Office Web Apps, right in Hotmail. Just click and view. Just as you do with photos, you can send up 200 Office documents of up to 50 MB each. Send PowerPoint presentations embedded with videos, Word documents rich with images, and more.

Office Web Apps

With the new Hotmail, you can attach an Office document to an email and have it stored on SkyDrive. Hotmail then sends the document via SkyDrive, so that you – and the people you send it to – can access it from anywhere regardless of whether they use a PC or Mac, have Office installed, use Hotmail or don't, or have smaller attachment limitations than the 10 GB per message allowed by Hotmail. No more worrying about whether that document is stored on the computer you have with you, the computer you use at the library at your office, in your dorm room, or elsewhere.

The Windows Blog: Re-inventing Windows Live Hotmail

Technology Review: Is Your Car Safe From Hackers?

Sign of the times

The researchers point to a recent report showing that a typical luxury sedan now contains about 100 megabytes of code that controls 50 to 70 computers inside the car, most of which communicate over a shared internal network.

"In a lot of car architectures, all the computers are interconnected, so that having taken over one component, there's a substantive risk that you could take over all the rest of them. Once you're in, you're in," says Stefan Savage, an associate professor in the department of computer science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego, who is one of the lead investigators on the project.

Technology Review: Is Your Car Safe From Hackers?

Mozy online backup gets faster and goes local | Deep Tech - CNET News

Terabyte drives for less than $100 – an interesting sign of the hardware times, and an attractive dynamic for Mozy to build on

EMC's Mozy online backup service just got a lot more compelling--because it's not just online anymore.

Version 2.0 of the cloud backup service, released late Monday, adds a very useful option to store your data on an external hard drive, too. Storing data remotely is well and good, but a local backup is easier if you need to restore files, and setting it up was as easy as plugging in a drive and telling the software to use it. External USB drives are economical these days--less than $100 for 1TB--and it's nice not having to configure two different backup systems.

Mozy online backup gets faster and goes local | Deep Tech - CNET News

Microsoft's new Hotmail takes aim at Google | Beyond Binary - CNET News

See the full article for more Hotmail news

A key feature in the coming update to Windows Live Hotmail is an improved ability to share photos and Office documents using a combination of Web-based editing tools and cloud file storage. The new version, which will begin being offered to most users in July or August, aims to offer a better alternative to the standard attachment. Instead, Hotmail will offer the option of uploading a file or photo to Microsoft's SkyDrive service and e-mailing a link, as opposed to the file itself. The approach has several advantages, including avoiding issues related to file size limits that often make it hard to share videos, presentations, or large collections of photos. Recipients can then either download the files, or, in the case of photos, view an online slideshow.

Microsoft's new Hotmail takes aim at Google | Beyond Binary - CNET News

Monday, May 17, 2010

Input from Mike Godwin, Wikimedia General Counsel

As sent to Dave Farber’s distribution list:

The notion that the Wikimedia Foundation is enduring some kind of "chaos" and that the organization somehow has "no one at the wheel" is simply nonsense. The Fox News campaign against Wikipedia has certainly led to some reactions, of course, but our Board and executive director remain in charge, and in fact we spent more time last week rolling out an interface redesign for Wikipedia than we did thinking about Fox News's attacks. Whether one takes Gizmodo's gestures at journalism very seriously or not, surely it should give you pause to note that Gizmodo's conclusion is based on an unnamed "source" who very likely has no connection at all to the Wikimedia Foundation nor any knowledge of our day-to-day operations.

Furthermore, anyone who thinks that Jimmy's voluntary decision to limit his own editing powers means that no one is in charge suggests a profound ignorance of how the Wikimedia Foundation operates.

In short, the Gizmodo piece seems aimed primarily at exceeding Fox News's sloppiness and inaccuracy regarding Fox's original self-congratulatory anti-porn-on-the-Internet campaign.

Listbox.com: Input from Mike Godwin, Wikimedia General Counsel

Wikimedia's Wales gives up some top-level controls | Digital Media - CNET News

This is a classic journalism 2.0 case study – Fox News apparently ran an incorrect story on Jimmy Wales, based on “anonymous sources,” and didn’t even both to fact-check it with Wales.  Let’s see – which should we trust more, Fox News or Wikipedia?…

However, multiple representatives from the foundation say Fox's report is not entirely accurate. Rather, Wales voluntarily gave up his special account status, according to Wikimedia Foundation's head of communications, Jay Walsh. Wales had been the lone person holding a unique "founder" status, a position above both registered editors and various levels of administrators in the editorial hierarchy within the largely volunteer community. He has now given up that special status; specifically, that means he will not be able to block users, delete pages, or "protect" pages. However, he still plans to participate as a regular user, according to Walsh. He said the decision was a good faith effort on Wales' part--made in order to keep policy discussions about pornographic content in Wikimedia Commons productive.

Wales himself tells me he remains final arbiter of major disputes and that he still has the final say on various policy matters.

Wikimedia's Wales gives up some top-level controls | Digital Media - CNET News

YouTube, Now 5, Shows Signs of Growing Up - NYTimes.com

A YouTube snapshot – it may even break even this year

That cornucopia of content appears to be turning YouTube — considered by many to be a risky investment when it was bought for $1.65 billion at the end of 2006 — into one of Google’s smartest acquisitions. On Monday, YouTube will celebrate its fifth birthday by announcing it has passed two billion video views a day; YouTube said it reached the one billion mark in October.

Bolstering YouTube’s growing audience is the popularity of live broadcasts, like the recent Indian Premier League cricket matches, and the integration of instructional videos directly into Google search results.

[…]

Finally, Mr. Hurley tipped his entrepreneurial hat to a chaotic, controversial and suddenly popular site that resembles the YouTube of five years ago: ChatRoulette. The site, created by an 18-year-old from Moscow, Andrey Ternovskiy, allows people around the world to engage in random, instantaneous one-on-one conversations.

YouTube, Now 5, Shows Signs of Growing Up - NYTimes.com

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Google’s Data Collection Angers European Officials - NYTimes.com

A “programming error” does not make it okay to violate privacy laws

The data collection, which Google said was inadvertent and the result of a programming error, took place in all the countries where Street View has been catalogued, including the United States and parts of Europe and Asia. Google apologized and said it had not used the information, which it plans to delete in conjunction with regulators.

But in Germany, Google’s collection of the data — which the company said could include the Web sites viewed by individuals or the content of their e-mail — is a violation of privacy law, said Ilse Aigner, the German minister for food, agriculture and consumer protection. In a statement Saturday, her ministry demanded a full accounting.

“Based on the information we have before us, it appears that Google has illegally tapped into private networks in violation of German law,” Ms. Aigner said. “This is alarming and further evidence that privacy law is a foreign concept to Google.”

Google’s Data Collection Angers European Officials - NYTimes.com

Digital Domain - World’s Largest Social Network - The Open Web - NYTimes.com

If it comes down to Facebook versus the Internet (or Facebook seeking to become 1:1 with the social Internet), instead of Facebook complementing the Internet, Facebook will lose

ON its Web site, Facebook says it’s “giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

But the online world outside of Facebook is already a very open and connected place, thank you very much. Densely interlinked Web pages, blogs, news articles and Tweets are all visible to anyone and everyone. Instead of contributing to this interconnected, open Web world, the growing popularity of Facebook is draining it of attention, energy and posts that are in public view.

Digital Domain - World’s Largest Social Network - The Open Web - NYTimes.com

Saturday, May 15, 2010

YouTube - Discovering the birthplace of social networks: PLATO

A timely social networking reality check (video interview by Robert Scoble)

Here Brian Dear, organizer of PLATO at 50 conference, looks back to the "birthplace of social media," the PLATO system, which had many of the things we have today on Facebook and Twitter albeit back in the 1970s, etc. Learn more here: http://platohistory.org/ Brian is on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/brianstorms

Google Admits Defeat in Selling Nexus One Direct - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Another Google/Facebook small-world twist

The strategy first ran into trouble when Google failed to provide customer support for the devices. Then the carriers clearly balked at Google’s Nexus One strategy, when first Verizon and then Sprint said they would not carry the phone as originally planned.

Google’s Nexus One group is losing one of its leaders as well. Earlier this week, Erick Tseng, the senior product manager in charge of the Nexus One debut, left Google for archrival Facebook, where he will be in charge of mobile products.

Google Admits Defeat in Selling Nexus One Direct - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Google turns Nexus One strategy upside down | Relevant Results - CNET News

Good spin control attempt on Google’s part, but have you seen a single review in which the (HTC-produced) Nexus One was rated more favorably than, e.g., the HTC Droid Incredible?

Google refused to make executives available to discuss the closing of its Web store, or the broader strategic implications. There are many: how will carrier partners be instructed to sell the Nexus One against other Android phones like the Droid Incredible or the Evo 4G? Will Google be forced to advertise the Nexus One in more traditional channels--such as television--in order to compete? Now that three of the four major U.S. carriers have refused to support the Nexus One, where exactly does Google plan to distribute this phone now that the Web store is on its way out?

[…]

It's not hard to believe that the Nexus One itself might fade off into the sunset soon after the Web store closes, a curious reminder of the limits of Google's ambition. Perhaps a few Google employees agree: just this week, Google lost two key Android and Nexus One team members, Erick Tseng and Cedric Beust, to other companies

Google turns Nexus One strategy upside down Relevant Results - CNET News

Google Admits to Inadvertent Data-Collecting - NYTimes.com

Google is fortunate to have Facebook, perceived to be more evil and/or incompetent about privacy these days, as an it-could-be-worse contrast

Google’s Street View misstep adds to the widespread anxiety about privacy in the digital age and the apparent willingness of Silicon Valley engineers to collect people’s private data without permission.

Facebook is currently engaged in a heated debate with its 400 million members about its shifting privacy guidelines, while Google has had to contend with other privacy missteps, like the introduction of its Buzz social network earlier this year that publicly exposed people’s closest e-mail contacts without permission.

Google Admits to Inadvertent Data-Collecting - NYTimes.com

Friday, May 14, 2010

Users hate Facebook's approach to privacy. They'll get over it. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out; check the full post (and comments) for a timely snapshot

Facebook's history mirrors that of other imperialist states—frequent periods of radical expansion, followed by intense conflict, grudging acceptance, and then full-throated proletarian enthusiasm. In moments like this one—when tech luminaries are slamming Facebook for flagrantly disregarding users' privacy—it's that last point that tends to be purged from our memories. It's undeniable, though, that every previous imbroglio has ended the same way: We all shrug our shoulders, consider the problem fixed, and go back to goofing off on Facebook.

Users hate Facebook's approach to privacy. They'll get over it. - By Farhad Manjoo - Slate Magazine

Google to stop selling smartphone on the Web | Reuters

The Nexus One is now officially a collector’s item.  Google will assimilate the knowledge it gained from the experiment and move on.  I suspect there is still a plan within the Googleplex to push the incumbent wireless service providers out of the picture, but we may have to wait a couple years to see the next part of that strategy play out.

Google said on Friday it will stop selling its Nexus One smartphone through its online Web store and will instead work with partners to sell the device through retail outlets.

"It's clear that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone," Google Engineering Vice President Andy Rubin wrote on the company's official blog announcing the change on Friday.

Read the full article for more on the retreat…

Google to stop selling smartphone on the Web | Reuters

Andrey Ternovskiy’s Web site, Chatroulette : The New Yorker

An excerpt from a timely reality check that’s in many ways both scary and sad.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go add chatroulette.com to the list of sites blocked by my home router…

The following summer, Ternovskiy holed up at home and began to toy with the code for a new site that would re-create the atmosphere of the store. It took him three days to construct a basic version. A few months later, it was one of the most talked-about social-networking sites in the world.

The idea is simple. When you log on to Chatroulette.com, you see a sparse white window with two boxes. One box shows your own image, courtesy of your Webcam; the other is for the face of what the site calls, somewhat ambiguously, a “partner.” When Partner appears, you can stay and talk using your voice or your keyboard, or you can click “Next,” which whips you on to someone new. The point is to introduce you to people you’d never otherwise meet and will never see again—the dancing Korean girls, the leopard-printed Catman, the naked man in Gdansk.

(Read the rest of the story)

Andrey Ternovskiy’s Web site, Chatroulette : The New Yorker

Google-and-the-News Followups - National - The Atlantic

James Fallows responds to feedback on his recent cover story for The Atlantic; read the full response (and seriously consider subscribing, if you’re not a subscriber today; imho it’s a great publication).

There is a wider variety of reaction to my current article (I've got to say it: subscribe!) than I can deal with in any comprehensive way at the moment. For now, a restatement of a central theme, then two reader dissents.
If there is a point that, above all the others, I wanted most to convey in this article, it is not "everything is going to be OK" or "Google is our friend" or even "here comes a torrent of new advertising money!" Rather it is a cultural/attitudinal argument about the press and everyone who cares about it. Far from being autumnal and despairing and mournful about a supposed golden age that has passed and fatalistic about the doomed state of public information and the resulting lapsed state of society, people who care about the media should (according to me) recognize that technological upheaval, and the resulting business shifts and forced individual innovations, have been the norm rather than the exception in our enterprise. Clever and ambitious people, especially but not only young people, will find new ways to do the work a society needs of them -- and to make a living while doing so. There will be parts of a future press establishment that will be worse than what we know now. There will be parts that are better. That is how it has always been.

Google-and-the-News Followups - National - The Atlantic

Internet Use Makes Us Happier (Time)

An interesting reality check (via Slate)

A May 12 report by British researchers from the U.K.'s Chartered Institute of IT (known as BCS) have found a link between Internet access and well-being. But some benefit more than others from tapping into the information superhighway, including those with lower incomes or fewer qualifications, people living in the developing world and, perhaps most surprisingly, women.

Overall, the study found that access to the Internet leads people to feel better about their lives. "Put simply, people with IT access are more satisfied with life even when taking account of income," said Michael Willmott, the social scientist who authored the study, at a press conference. "Our analysis suggests that IT has an enabling and empowering role in people's lives, by increasing their sense of freedom and control, which has a positive impact on well-being or happiness."

Internet Use Makes Us Happier (Time)

As Facebook Takes a Beating, a Brutal Movie Is Set to Make Things Much Worse - Techtonic Shifts Blog - Newsweek.com

More interesting times ahead for Facebook

If Mark Zuckerberg thinks this is bad, wait till what comes next. On Oct. 1, The Social Network, an Aaron Sorkin–penned movie about the site's controversial founding, hits theaters. A draft screenplay circulating now is a brutal read. Based on Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires, it portrays Zuckerberg as a borderline autistic, entirely ruthless conniver. Nothing sways public opinion like a movie—and this scorcher could counteract the entire body of good press Facebook has received till now.

As Facebook Takes a Beating, a Brutal Movie Is Set to Make Things Much Worse - Techtonic Shifts Blog - Newsweek.com

RIM tablet said to be 'companion device' | Circuit Breaker - CNET News

Think different…  Actually, I think it’s reasonable to suspend disbelief on this one, until RIM announces its plans; it’s unwise to dismiss an entire product category on the basis of one failed launch (the Foleo, in this case).

Boy Genius Report said on Thursday that it confirmed with multiple sources that the upcoming Research In Motion tablet will be a "companion device." Where have you heard that before? Oh right: The ill-fated Palm Foleo. The "best idea" Palm founder Jeff Hawkins' ever had that was canceled after its announcement but before a single product was ever shipped.

RIM tablet said to be 'companion device' | Circuit Breaker - CNET News

Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls - NYTimes.com

Sign of the times

For many Americans, cellphones have become irreplaceable tools to manage their lives and stay connected to the outside world, their families and networks of friends online. But increasingly, by several measures, that does not mean talking on them very much.

For example, although almost 90 percent of households in the United States now have a cellphone, the growth in voice minutes used by consumers has stagnated, according to government and industry data.

This is true even though more households each year are disconnecting their landlines in favor of cellphones.

Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls - NYTimes.com

CORRECT: Co-Founder: Flash Isn't Critical To Adobe Success - WSJ.com

Memories from a very different era

The irony of the squabble between the two companies, whose fortunes were very much aligned in the 1980s, isn't lost on Geschke.

Jobs originally tried to buy Adobe in the early 1980s, Geschke said, but Adobe eventually settled on a deal by which Apple bought 19% of the company and built its Postscript technology into Apple's first printer, the LaserWriter. That printer, said Geschke, "was critical to the early success of their company."

Then, Adobe, Apple and Aldus--the company that created the PageMaker page layout application--partnered together in 1985 to promote the idea of desktop publishing. That notion made fortunes for all of the company's founders at a time when Geschke said "Apple wasn't doing that well" in the midst of strong competition from IBM.

CORRECT: Co-Founder: Flash Isn't Critical To Adobe Success - WSJ.com

Adobe jabs Apple, lovingly, of course - The Boston Globe

Love: unlikely, except perhaps in a nostalgic sense.  Need: definitely, as a cross-platform value proposition is pivotal to Adobe’s ongoing success.

Adobe is running ads saying “We Love Apple,’’ with a bright red heart in place of the word love. “What we don’t love,’’ it continues, “is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it, and what you experience on the Web.’’

Cofounders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock also posted a statement: “When markets are open, anyone with a great idea has a chance to drive innovation and find new customers,’’ they wrote, criticizing Apple’s “opposite approach.’’

Adobe jabs Apple, lovingly, of course - The Boston Globe

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoughts on the SAP Acquisition of Sybase: In Search of Credibility | Kellblog

Dave Kellogg shares his insights on the SAP/Sybase deal – an excerpt:

SAP has a database problem.  That’s clear.  And I think buying Sybase was probably the best way out of it.  The price, at 4.8x TTM sales seems a bit high as does the 50%-ish premium.  But then again, SAP didn’t have any real alternative if it wanted to buy size and credibility in the relational database market.  The only other $1Bish company in the space is Teradata and they are data warehouse oriented.  SAP presumably wants a data warehouse DBMS, but they need an OLTP DBMS as well.  With its wide portfolio of DBMSs (e.g., column-oriented, in-memory, mobile, OLTP), Sybase fits the bill nicely.  And that’s not to mention its Sybase 365 mobile services which position it well in mobile analytics.

Check the full post for more insights on what is clearly a very risky bet for SAP.

Thoughts on the SAP Acquisition of Sybase: In Search of Credibility | Kellblog

Microsoft CTO: IT's future is about more than just the cloud | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

Excerpt from an interview with Barry Briggs, Microsoft IT CTO

Microsoft recently completed a project that encapsulates those three factors -- a master customer database, containing records for 100 million corporate customers and some 2 billion identities, Briggs said. "That's a big deal."

Outside factors like legal compliance spanning many countries globally make such efforts even more complex. In an effort to keep in line with the rules, Microsoft has a chief privacy officer for every line of its business, Briggs said. "We're fanatical about the privacy of our customers."

Microsoft CTO: IT's future is about more than just the cloud | The Industry Standard - InfoWorld

White House: Obama Was Joking About iPod, iPad | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

Another stark journalism 2.0 snapshot

Our editor-in-chief, Lance Ulanoff, reached out to the White House for a comment; they responded yesterday evening with the following:

"While the President joked that his level of tech savvy was wanting, his point was that technology offers this generation limitless opportunities and it is up to the individual if they will use these advancements simply for entertainment or as tools of empowerment that, when combined with their educations, will keep America at the forefront of technological advancement in the 21st century," Moira Mack, a White House spokesperson, said.

The comment was a bit too late. Many media outlets took Obama's original comments and ran some of the following headlines, such as Fox News's story: "Tech-Savvy Obama Now Says He Doesn't Know How to Use an iPod," and The New York Post's story, " iPad is iBad for democracy, Obama tells graduates".

White House: Obama Was Joking About iPod, iPad | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

SAP to Buy Sybase in $5 Billion Deal - NYTimes.com

So… the acquisition is about mobile and analytics; good thing, since the last time SAP offered an enterprise DBMS (SAP DB, which SAP ultimately open-sourced, and which was later briefly offered by MySQL AB as MaxDB) didn’t go so well…

The acquisition puts SAP into the database software market, where its products will overlap with those of its longtime rival, Oracle, more than ever. As such, the deal heats up competition to gather, store and analyze the huge amounts of sales, customer and employee data being produced by modern companies.

Executives of SAP and Sybase said they intended to focus on creating new types of number processing software that rely on Sybase’s strengths in transporting data to and from the smartphones of customers.

SAP to Buy Sybase in $5 Billion Deal - NYTimes.com

HTC fires back at Apple with patent complaint | Circuit Breaker - CNET News

Hmm…

Almost two months after Apple filed a patent complaint against HTC, the Taiwanese handset maker says it has a patent beef with Apple too.

On Wednesday, HTC accused Apple of infringing on five patents related to its mobile technology, and it has asked the International Trade Commission to stop the import and sale of Apple's iPad, iPod, and iPhone.

HTC fires back at Apple with patent complaint | Circuit Breaker - CNET News

Office 2010: A Tale of Decadence and Hand-to-Hand Combat - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a timely snapshot:

While they went at it, tit for tat, I kept rolling over one figure in my head: $19 billion.

That’s about how much Microsoft made last year from its business software products. Office contributes the bulk of that total, while Exchange and Sharepoint do the rest of the heavy lifting.

For some perspective, Google’s total revenue for 2009 was $23.7 billion.

Office 2010: A Tale of Decadence and Hand-to-Hand Combat - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com

IBM Turns to Software as It Reboots - WSJ.com

That goal should be straightforward to realize; IBM simply has to have its non-software businesses become less profitable and/or unload other major business lines…

International Business Machines Corp. is trying to transform itself again, as Chief Executive Samuel J. Palmisano races to stay ahead of the technology industry's fast-changing profit curve.

The top priority this time for Big Blue—which famously dumped its personal computer business in 2004 to focus on consulting and services—is software. Mr. Palmisano wants that high-margin business to account for about half of the company's pretax profit by 2015, up from just over a third in 2003.

IBM Turns to Software as It Reboots - WSJ.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SAP Nears Deal to Buy Sybase - WSJ.com

I doubt Oracle is terribly worried about this

German software giant SAP AG has agreed to acquire database software maker Sybase Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, stepping up its rivalry with Oracle Corp.

SAP has agreed to pay $65 a share for Sybase, these people said, adding that the deal could be announced as soon as today.

SAP Nears Deal to Buy Sybase - WSJ.com

Who's Ready For Office 2010? | Forrester Blogs

Another timely Office reality check from Forrester; see the full post for more analysis

So what do you need to know about Office 2010 to inform your upgrade decision? To start:

  • The pain is gone. For those already familiar with the Office 2007, the upgrade to Office is painless compared to the 2007 transition. In fact, early users say the addition of the Fluent UI to Outlook felt right and that they could easily adapt without losing a step. A bevy of new features, such as the Outlook Social Connector or video and image editing within PowerPoint, will help drive unique ROIs with benefits coming from different improvements. Office has always been a tough business case to make because the productivity gains are hard to measure, but at least with Office 2010 there is strong evidence that a case can be made for the investment.
  • Licenses make the upgrade decision a no-brainer. One-third of firms Forrester surveyed last month said they plan to upgrade to Office 2010 within the next year, primarily because it’s part of their license agreement. Two-thirds of firms plan to upgrade within the next two to three years, and those not planning to upgrade say it’s mostly because they just finished rolling out 2007. Only 3% say they are moving off of Office. For most it’s still not a decision of if, but when. And if you already have the license to upgrade, it’s hardly a decision at all.

Who's Ready For Office 2010? | Forrester Blogs