Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 

Apple introduces Intel-based Mac Mini, IPod stereo

NOW APPLE IS TRYING TO TAKE OVER HOME ENTERTAINMENT, WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN IN APPLE VS. INTEL?

By Connie GuglielmoBloomberg NewsPublished February 28, 2006, 3:17 PM CST

Apple Computer Inc., maker of iPod music players and Macintosh personal computers, introduced a home stereo and new Mac Mini PCs designed to give the company a bigger foothold in living rooms.

The iPod Hi-Fi stereo system is $349 and goes on sale today. The Mac Mini with chips from Intel Corp. is two to five times faster than earlier models, Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said today at the company's Cupertino, California, headquarters.

The two products signal Jobs wants a bigger role in home entertainment. The Mac Mini connects to televisions and has a remote control. Jobs is also trying to maintain momentum for the best-selling iPod and use its popularity to spark interest in Macs, which are more profitable than music players. The faster Intel chips may win buyers who hadn't considered Macs.

``This is their move into the living room,'' said analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray Cos., who rates Apple's shares ``outperform.'' ``The Mac Mini will be the first media center that will work. The remote control is the key, bridging the gap between the technical and non-technical user.

Shares of Apple fell $2.50 to $68.49 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. They have fallen 20 percent since a Jan. 13 peak on concern Mac sales may slow as customers delay purchases until the Intel transition is complete.

Some analysts, including Shaw Wu of American Technology Research, had predicted Apple would also introduce a revamped line of iBook laptop computers.

Seventeen analysts suggest buying the shares and 11 recommend holding them.``For underlying sales and fundamentals, the Mac Mini is the most important, but from a strategic point the iPod boom box is interesting because it signifies they want to move more into the living room,'' analyst Robert van Batenburg of Louis Capital Markets said today in an interview.

Jobs said the iPod Hi-Fi has audio quality comparable to portable music systems that sell for $800 or more. Apple is delivering home-stereo quality ``for the first time in the iPod ecosystem,'' said Jobs, dressed in his trademark jeans and black turtleneck. ``A lot of work went into this.''Apple began switching its Macs to chips from Santa Clara, California-based Intel last month with an iMac desktop PC, and followed that up this month with two versions of its first Intel- based notebook, the MacBook Pro.

Jobs, who turned 51 last week, is moving all Macs to Intel's chips by the end of this year in a switch from processors made by Armonk, New York-based International Business Machines Corp.

The company has switched half of the Mac product line to Intel chips within the past 60 days, said Jobs.The new Mac Mini, Apple's lowest-priced PC, can use a TV as its display. It is sold without a keyboard, mouse or monitor. The model with Intel's Core Solo chip, designed for lower-priced machines, is $599. The model with the faster Core Duo chip is $799. Both are available starting today.With Front Row software, customers can use the Mac Mini to display photos and videos on TVs, and pick and choose songs using the remote control.``They are doing reasonably well on the Intel transition, and the strength of iPod has provided a window of opportunity'' to sell more Macs, Ken Smith, who manages $1 billion including Apple shares at Munder Capital Management in Birmingham, Michigan, said before the product announcement.

Jobs has boosted sales at Apple with the iPod, shipping more than 42.2 million players since he introduced the device at a similar invitation-only event at the headquarters in 2001. They contributed to a 65 percent rise in sales and near doubling of profit in the last quarter.Apple today also introduced $99 leather cases for iPods.

IPods and music sold through Apple's iTunes online store accounted for 60 percent of sales last quarter, up from 40 percent a year earlier. Apple said last week it has sold more than 1 billion songs at 99 cents each since opening iTunes in April 2003 and more than 15 million videos, at $1.99 each, since adding them in October.

 

Google Pontiac

It looks like my earlier post was lost in the midst of larger postings. it is here.

Take a look at it and post your reactions.

 

Microsoft Project Aims to Build Portable Entertainment Device

By ROBERT GUTH in WSJ February 27, 2006; Page A8

Microsoft Corp. is working on a project code-named Origami that involves various partners to build services and software for a new portable entertainment device.
A person familiar with the project described the device as an "ultra-portable PC." There has been much speculation lately about Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., making its own portable music player to compete with Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod.

The device being developed in the Origami project isn't a music player but would be a broader-use device, said the person familiar with the project. The device would be styled after Microsoft's Tablet PC, which is a portable pen-input PC. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has been a huge promoter of the Tablet PC, which is geared more toward business users than consumers and hasn't sold in high volumes. The Origami project appears to be an extension of the Tablet PC into the consumer market.

During the past year, Microsoft has been working on the marketing of the project with a company called Digital Kitchen, which also has done marketing for Microsoft's Xbox videogame machine.
A Microsoft spokesman said the details of the Origami project would be announced sometime in March.

Microsoft has struggled to field hit products in consumer entertainment and recently reorganized its entertainment division, giving executives who built the successful Xbox business more say over the company's broader efforts in that area.

Write to Robert Guth at rob.guth@wsj.com

 


 

Bringing down MSFT is hard

In class we mentioned that an interested analysis would be what to do to bring down Microsoft, or Google, or some other big company. Well, inadvertantly I attempted to protest Microsoft but pretty much failed...

I lost my hard drive a while back, so when it came time to rebuild I decided to rebuild with Linux instead of Windows. So what would things be like if there were no MS Windows? Not bad actually, the Linux platform is very well functioned and while not easy to get up and running, it wasn't terribly difficult. Once I was running things were quite user friendly. However, that is only what it seemed... in actuality, nothing was really completely functional. I learned the hard way that MS has extremely close ties with all the component companies, such that drivers are produced just for Windows. It took me days to get my wireless card working, and then it was adjusting the video, and then realized that my SD card reader would never work unless a new Open Source project was started.

This went for applications and websites too... it took me days to be able to use XM Radio online because they use MS Streaming video which is not released for Linux. However, once you hassle with the right software you can get that working too. But the right software means downloading this, in order to download that, so that you can get the library for this, and 10 downloads later, now you can try to install your original. So what I'm saying is that the functionality is pretty much there, but disperseness of Linux platforms means that nothing comes in a nice little package. You cannot produce one product that works on all Linux flavors, so each one has to download something different. And there's no guarantee that actually exists. If you're lucky OpenSource developers (via SouceForge) have made what you're looking for -- like a wireless driver, but they haven't made my SD driver.

And then I was quasi happy after almost a month of setup. Still I launch VMware (virtualization software) so that I could run MS Windows for whatever. Now that I think could be the way of the future, but laptop speeds prohibited me from much work. What I'm saying is that I had trouble running Windows on VMware on Linux. It worked great, just slow because I had limited resources on a laptop. So in the future I can see that working better, but for now it didn't.

And why did I need to run Windows at all... well it came down to Word. Here I am at school and 70% of everything I turn in uses Word at some point in time. Passing files back and forth with teammates requires Word, etc. OpenOffice, the opensource version, has great functionality, and can open Word stuff, but not perfectly. And when I need to write something that gets handed in, or worse yet, delivered to my internship, I can't just hope that when OpenOffice saves it as a Word doc that it will look okay. I have to know Word users will see it perfectly. So Word was my eventual killer.

Finally, I decided to go back to windows and I'd use VMware to run Linux instead. The process that took me almost of month of setup in Linux was done pretty much overnight with Windows!

So how would I kill MS? Well it is pretty darn tough now that I realize what it means to have companies developing just for you, and to have proprietary standards on some technology like streaming standards, and to have the killer app that almost everyone uses in Word. But I'd say it is doable. What you need to basically flood SourceForge.net with developers. You'd probably have to start paying them to develop stuff faster for your OS... but that won't win the battle, it will just let you OS work, and hopefully your Office product be 100% compatible. You need to come up with a reason for driver makers to develop for your OS instead of for MS.

Or better yet, you need to some adaptation of VMWare, such that you just make a driver and it doesn't matter what OS you made it for, it is just for the hardware and all OS' can now use it. That basically puts VMware in Microsoft's shoes. Which is why it is not surprising that MS has Virtual PC, doing basically the same thing. So my thoughts is that the virtualization race is the key race to kill MS.

 

Microsoft Vista Release

Red Herring


Vista To Come in Six Flavors

Microsoft plans to release six versions of the Windows Vista operating system, in a move that could pave the way for price hikes.
February 27, 2006

Microsoft said Monday it plans to release six versions of its Windows Vista operating system targeted at businesses, home users, and emerging markets, paving the way for the world’s No. 1 software maker to raise prices on its OS after holding them steady for a decade.

Microsoft said all versions of Windows Vista are scheduled to be available in the second half of the year or at the approach of the holiday season, when computer sales peak. The revamped OS is expected to be Microsoft’s biggest revenue generator in the next few years.

The Windows Vista product lineup consists of six versions, two for businesses, three for consumers, and one for emerging markets. Microsoft currently has the same number of versions available for its current OS, Windows XP.

The lineup also resembles the picture that emerged with a leak last week when Microsoft accidentally posted information about the Vista package online (see Vista Versions Leaked).


“We live in a digital world that is filled with more information, more things to do, and more ways to communicate with others than ever,” said Mike Sievert, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management and Marketing at Microsoft, in a statement. “With our Windows Vista product line, we’ve streamlined and tailored our product lineup to provide what our customers want for today’s computing needs.”

Microsoft shares rose $0.53 to $27.16 in recent trading.

Business customers can choose from two versions, Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise, based on the size and scale of their organizations. The Business version is targeted at small businesses.

Home users can pick from the basic version or the premium version that includes media center features, and integrated DVD burning and authoring tools. Microsoft will also offer the Vista Ultimate, which will include entertainment and business features.

Finally, Microsoft will offer Windows Vista Starter in emerging markets, which has been designed specifically for lower-cost computers.

Move to Raise Prices

Analysts said Microsoft’s decision to release multiple Vista flavors could be part of the company’s strategy to create more differentiation among its products and to generat’ greater excitement around Windows in different market segments.

It could also help Microsoft raise prices of its desktop operating system, which has pretty much remained the same since Windows 95 was released, said Joe Wilcox, an analyst with Jupiter Research. A home edition of XP costs $199.

“The version strategy may also allow Microsoft to do something not done in more than a decade—

raise desktop operating system prices, a tact that can be difficult to take in a market where one product dominates and where monopoly and a contentious antitrust case cast long shadows,” said Mr. Wilcox.

Microsoft hasn’t disclosed the pricing for Windows Vista yet.

Consumers are expected to drive the initial spend in Vista, and businesses are likely to adopt the operating system at least a year later, said Heather Bellini, an analyst with UBS Investment Research.

Ms. Bellini said in a research note that the bank expects the company’s client revenue growth to accelerate to double digits in fiscal year 2007 from 5 percent in fiscal year 2005 and 8 percent in fiscal year 2006 (see Vista Upgrade a Tough Sell).




It will be interesting to see whether this release will be as popular as they are projecting. Although the article mentions that XP has 6 versions to0, i can't seem to remember all of them or whether all 6 played a major role.


 

IT 2010 (with %) - Chuang, Gaerlan, Nguyen, Tewari


Monday, February 27, 2006

 

IT 2010 (with %): Barooah, Gupta, Morrison, Turla

Please click on the image to see a larger version of it


 

Google chase could trip up Microsoft

Google chase could trip up Microsoft

By Ina Fried and Mike Ricciuti
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: November 1, 2005, 4:00 AM PST

Microsoft has talked about accelerating its business by offering services, but some analysts worry its race to compete with Google and others could leave Microsoft's very profitable business model in the dust.

Tuesday morning, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and services chief Ray Ozzie are expected to outline the company's new push to offer myriad online services on top of its existing software lineup.

Analysts say the move is probably necessary to help the company compete with rivals that threaten to offer online equivalents to some of Microsoft's cash cows, like Office. However, depending on how far Microsoft takes the strategy, it could also put the company in competition with its existing--and already lucrative--way of doing business.

"It's not so much about how you're going to beat Google," said Gartner research fellow Tom Bittman. "It's more about how you are going to beat the Google model. Microsoft is going to be forced to compete with Google, forced to compete with its own business model."

Bittman and others fear that any online offerings from Microsoft could potentially cannibalize sales of the company's shrink-wrapped software, like Windows and Office, which make up the bulk of the company's profits.

Historically, most of Microsoft's services have come from its MSN unit, which has been largely consumer-focused. But Microsoft sees a clear opportunity to offer online tools to businesses as well.

"For enterprises, I think we've just barely scratched the surface about which systems can...be brought into the cloud in some way, shape or form," Ozzie said at a technology conference last week.

Ozzie was put in charge of Microsoft's services push as part of a major reorganization of the company that took place in September.

In a September interview, Gates suggested that while many companies may continue to buy server-based software, some of those same software capabilities could also be delivered through services. Gates pointed to some of the early work the company has done with hosted versions of its Exchange e-mail software and its SharePoint portal software.

But, he said, most of the services that Microsoft has offered on its own have been rather basic--and often free--products.

"Our services have started out as very inexpensive but not feature-rich," Gates said. "Our servers are very feature-rich. So as we bring these things together, we give you the richness and also the choice of having it as server or as a service."

While Bittman believes Microsoft needs to do this, he questions whether the software maker can profitably make the switch.

"Can high-volume, high-margin software compete against high-volume, low-margin advertising?" he said. "It's the clash of two models."

But Microsoft sees services as a way to address two key challenges: One is to compete with Google and other online rivals like Salesforce.com. But the other, also important role that online services can play, is to offer a means of updating software more quickly than Microsoft can do with its traditional packaged software.

"We need to have service offerings associated with each of our products that allow us to feed innovations that are appropriate to the market on, let's just call it a six-, probably more realistically a nine-month cycle," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at October's Gartner Symposium/IT Expo.

The services push has been brewing for some time. At July's financial analyst meeting, several of Microsoft's individual business unit leaders discussed opportunities for services in their areas.

Eric Rudder, then head of Microsoft's server and tools business, pointed to the company's acquisition of FrontBridge as an example of how the company can sell services that are built on top of existing software--in that case Exchange. With FrontBridge, corporate e-mail is delivered to an intermediate server, which can strip out viruses, archive messages, and manage compliance issues.

"I think Microsoft can win, but in the end it means Microsoft loses, unless there is some other magic there we don't see."
--Tom Bittman, research fellow, Gartner

"So the opportunity to add value with services--not necessarily replacing the server, but complementary value streams--is quite significant, and I think you'll see us first grow in that area with Exchange," Rudder said. "But we're looking at how to complement hosted services to all of the server businesses."

Jeff Raikes, who leads the information-worker business, which includes Office, did not go into detail, but said services would be increasingly important as Microsoft attacks a bigger part of the business software market.

"Those show very little revenue now as a percentage of the overall IW business, but we see them as big opportunities," he said.

Even Windows is gaining a services component, of sorts. As part of its effort to combat piracy, Microsoft last year kicked off the Windows Genuine Advantage program, in which the company requires that any customer who wants access to most Windows downloads to prove that copy of Windows is legitimate. As part of that effort, the company has slightly expanded the range of online freebies that one can get as part of a Windows purchase.

The company also has looked at services for new markets, such as antivirus software, where the company is testing its OneCare program. The program is expected to become a paid service for keeping Windows machines healthy and virus-free.

One of the many questions that surround Microsoft's move is whether the company will offer more of these services on its own or if such products will continue to come mostly from outside partners.

Today, for example, Microsoft partners offer hosted Exchange, but the company does not offer the product directly. Ozzie said last week that he sees the strategy as "a mix" between Microsoft-provided services and those offered through partners. Ozzie noted that choosing to use partners would be more likely for products that require customization, such as for a particular region or industry.

Another question is: Will Microsoft offer services mainly as new tools that sit on top of its existing products or as packaged software that offers a new way to get things that companies and individuals have gotten in the past?

Bittman noted that in the areas Microsoft has chosen to enter, it has been able to hit the ground running.

"Microsoft has proven the ability to grab market share in the Web space as quickly as they enter," Bittman said. "Look at MSN Spaces and how quickly it became very, very strong."

Bittman thinks Microsoft could eventually outflank Google but, ironically, find itself worse off. "I think Microsoft can win, but in the end it means Microsoft loses, unless there is some other magic there we don't see."

Bittman pointed to the difference between winning market share and making a good business.

"There's a lot of money to be made in Windows and Office," he said. "Is there a lot of money to be made in an MSN platform? I think that's a real question."


Saturday, February 25, 2006

 

Web 2.0 and innovation -- the enterprise strikes back

Web 2.0 and innovation -- the enterprise strikes back

Vertical search gets a welcome boost from a company you may not have heard of

By David L. Margulius
February 24, 2006
E-mailE-mail

Who says all IT innovation has to come from Silicon Valley? I don’t want to be accused of Google (Profile, Products, Articles)-bashing, but I admit that when I stumbled onto FidelityLabs the other day, I almost jumped for joy.

Lately the buzz in deep thinker circles is that IT innovation now comes from consumer companies, and flows one-way into the enterprise (AJAX, for one). The ultimate poster child for so-called Web 2.0 innovation, Google is seen as a bottomless well of invention, teeming with young smart engineers working in a super entrepreneurial environment involved with cutting edge stuff. Like the old Bell Labs or the space programs of the pre-boomer generation, but without the crew cuts.

So why with all that firepower, couldn’t Google come up with vertical search -- search that does a better job of finding results in a given domain because some human know-how’s been applied to limit the results set? My guess: It’s too boring compared with all the other fun things Google’s been doing. But in any case, good old Fidelity Investments beat them to it.

That’s right. Staid, patrician, blue blood Boston-based Fidelity run by a 74-year-old guy named Ned, now has a FidelityLabs skunk works, which has come up with a “financial search” beta that lets you search only financial Web sites. Try plugging the word “spider” (a popular new type of Exchange-Traded Fund) into both Fidelity search and Google to see the difference.

So put another notch in the bedpost for those slow-moving enterprises … add Fidelity to FedEx (innovator in IT-driven logistics), Dell (Profile, Products, Articles) (IT-driven supply chain), Wal-Mart (POS data and RFID) and a few others and suddenly -- watch out, Larry and Sergei -- we have a cogent counterargument to the Web 2.0 hype machine. Well, maybe.

Something you have, something you know: I spent a couple of days walking the floor of the RSA Security (Profile, Products, Articles) conference last week, and was struck by several things: 1) All the vendors are selling or promising the same bundles of functionality (anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, and so on), and customers are starting to smell commoditization; 2) the gulf between endpoint security people and network security people couldn’t be wider; and 3) authentication seemed to be the hot topic this year, but at least on the consumer side, enterprises are leaning toward the lowest impact, lowest hassle, and probably least secure solutions.

Gartner, in a recent report about VeriSign’s (Profile, Products, Articles) proposed “VIP” token authentication network, hit the nail on the head: “This will mean little until PayPal or eBay starts issuing OTP tokens.” Although there are all kinds of ways that soft or hard tokens could get into consumers’ hands (or ideally on their cell phones), banks seem averse to them because they’re too expensive (both distribution and support) and disruptive. Consensus on the show floor was that financial institutions will simply add a “challenge and response” layer to the current user-id and password regime in order to meet upcoming regulatory requirements for deploying “two factor authentication.”

For example (upon log-in): Authentication Gateway: “What is your name?” User: “Arthur, King of the Britons.” Gateway: “What is your quest?” User: “To seek the Holy Grail.” Gateway: “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” User: “African or European swallow?”

Hang on to those passwords, folks.


http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/02/24/75802_09OPanalysts_1.html



 

BMW given Google 'death penalty'

BMW given Google 'death penalty'
BMW HQ in Munich, Germany
Some of the suspect pages already appear to have been removed
Search giant Google has "blacklisted" German car manufacturer BMW for breaching its guidelines.

Investigations by Google found that BMW's German website influenced search results to ensure top ranking when users searched for "used car."

Google has now reduced BMW's page rank to zero, ensuring the company no longer appears at the top.

BMW admitted using so-called "doorway pages" to boost search rankings, but denied any attempt to mislead users.

BMW's activities were revealed in a blog by Google software engineer Matt Cutts.

If Google says all doorway pages are illegal we have to take this into consideration
BMW spokesman
BMW's German website, which is heavily reliant on javascript code unsearchable by Google, used text-heavy pages liberally sprinkled with key words to attract the attention of Google's indexing system.

However, once a user clicked on the link displayed in Google's results window, they were redirected to a regular BMW Germany page, which contained far fewer of the key words.

'Do not deceive'

A BMW spokesman admitted the company used the doorway pages, which are created to do well in searches for particular phrases and direct users to a final website.

But the spokesman insisted the company's intentions were honourable.

Google
Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users
Google website guidelines
"We did not provide different content in the search results to the final website," Markus Sagemann told the BBC News website.

"However, if Google says all doorway pages are illegal we have to take this into consideration."

On Google's own website the company lists a series of quality guidelines.

First among those is a requirement to design websites for users, not for search engines.

"Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as 'cloaking'," Google says.

Google confirmed that BMW.de had been removed from search results, adding that it would not tolerate any attempts to manipulate searches.

"The quality of our index and search results is of the utmost importance to Google," the company said in a statement.

Google would continue to strive to protect the accuracy and quality of its results, it added.

Testing times

The action against BMW comes as Google faces criticism over its expanding activities.

Last month Google unveiled a new Chinese site, agreeing to Chinese government restrictions on search results.

The company's shares fell sharply on Wall Street after the California-based firm announced a $9m drop in profits, falling short of expectations for the first time.

It also bought a 5% stake in AOL, worth $1bn, fuelling fears of preferential treatment for AOL within Google searches.

Google has also remained quiet over accusations that business rivals have manipulated its click-based advertising system.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4685750.stm

 

Google Page Creator

Google Page Creator is an application that straddles word processing and web publishing. It could be used to create alternatives to Microsoft Spaces and other social networking sites such as Yahoo/360 and Myspace. See comments posted elsewhere to get more details.

"It's as easy to create a page on the web as it is to create one on a word processor," said Justin Rosenstein, product manager for the new tool.
Google Page Creator allows you to arrange text, images or other types of web content and upload the web pages with a single click, without the need to know web programming languages such as HTML or Javascript, or how to configure and transfer pages to a web server.
Rosenstein says the service was the result of frustration he experienced when friends or family members wanted to create web sites but were stymied by technical challenges. He said that he assembled a team within Google to create a simple, easy to use tool as part of a "20% project," in which Google engineers are encouraged to spend a day a week working on non-job related projects.
Google Page Creator is a web-based application that runs on any computer or operating system. To use it, you must have a Google account and a Gmail address. Pages that you create are stored on Google servers using a URL convention of gmailname.googlepages.com.
Each user is provided with 100 megabytes of free storage space, and while there is a limit on the amount of bandwidth a site is allowed, Rosenstein says he doubts most people will ever reach the limit. The limit is primarily in place to foil the efforts of spammers, he said.

What do you think?


 

Google Page Creator

Google Page Creator is an application that straddles word processing and web publishing. It could be used to create alternatives to Microsoft Spaces and other social networking sites such as Yahoo/360 and Myspace. See comments posted elsewhere to get more details.

"It's as easy to create a page on the web as it is to create one on a word processor," said Justin Rosenstein, product manager for the new tool.
Google Page Creator allows you to arrange text, images or other types of web content and upload the web pages with a single click, without the need to know web programming languages such as HTML or Javascript, or how to configure and transfer pages to a web server.
Rosenstein says the service was the result of frustration he experienced when friends or family members wanted to create web sites but were stymied by technical challenges. He said that he assembled a team within Google to create a simple, easy to use tool as part of a "20% project," in which Google engineers are encouraged to spend a day a week working on non-job related projects.
Google Page Creator is a web-based application that runs on any computer or operating system. To use it, you must have a Google account and a Gmail address. Pages that you create are stored on Google servers using a URL convention of gmailname.googlepages.com.
Each user is provided with 100 megabytes of free storage space, and while there is a limit on the amount of bandwidth a site is allowed, Rosenstein says he doubts most people will ever reach the limit. The limit is primarily in place to foil the efforts of spammers, he said.

What do you think?


 

Google's Payments


It looks like Google is making significant progress to be a central player in the payment part of the transactions that it enables. Official statements from Google (through their blogs) seem to confirm the rumour that has existed for sometime now. As a service platform (search-linked-advertising), it does not make sense for it to not to be a key part of the payment exchanged. Recall eBay's logic in buying paypal: significant information in addition to fees.

This paragraph from the blog is particularly illuminating:

If you take a look at the history of Google's advertising programs and online services, one thing you notice is that online billing and payments have been a core part of our offerings for some time. To run our ad programs, Google receives payments every day from advertisers, and
then pays out a portion of those funds to advertising partners. Over the past
four years, Google has
billed advertisers in 65 countries more than $11.2 billion in 48 currencies, and made payments to advertising partners of more than $3.9 billion. When one of our consumer services requires payment to us, we've also provided users a purchase option.
Google's ability to close the loop between search and actual purchase puts them in a much stronger position to dominate commerce than letting that part of the business be handled by the traditional banking industry. Closing the loop requires powerful technology infrastructure (which Google has) to extract data and information (which they know how to do).

If you have not taken a look at it before, see Google Store. Looks a lot like what Amazon was a few years back. Amazon's success is based on their superior information technology functionality and sophisticated supply chain and fulfillment process. How will Google develop the physical fulfillment?

Network-era competition in dynamic timeframe. Another powerful illustration of blurring boundaries and interlinked competencies in the network era.


Friday, February 24, 2006

 

Apple's itunes milestone: 1 billion legal downloads



Interesting milestone in the transformation of the music industry to the network era.

 

Pontiac TV Ad Urges Audience to Google

This seems to be an interesting way for Google to get into assessing the quality of the TV ads as well as get closer to linking advertising to search and ultimately purchase. Look at the AD here.

Apparently, Pontiac did seek their permission to use Google in the ad. Google did not pay to be in the ad, nor was it any type of comarketing activity. Says Google:

"We are happy that Pontiac has featured Google search in their television ad campaign. This is evidence that mainstream brand advertisers are increasingly realizing the close relationship between broadcast advertising and search usage."

Have you seen similar ads anywhere that creates the link between traditional media and Internet search?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

 

slightly off topic - it predictions

This Cnet article has two Gartner analyst predictions that are worth watching.
First, as companies look to hire IT versatilists:", people like us will be in demand this year (an hopefully far into the future). Second, we heard about programs that would push laptop purchasing from the corporation to the employee during the Winter intensive, well Gartner thinks that 10% of compaines will switch to this method during the next 2-3 years.


cnet

 

the deal architect

I stumbled across interesting blog while researching (shall i say googling) for another class.
The blog is too big to consume in one sitting but I found his "Vendor Bias and Influence" post quite revealing. My first take away is that the $8.7 Billion Microsoft spent on marketing and advertising last year may influence printed news more than bloggers (since they didn't get a cut). But my second take away is that Google earned $5 Billion. Google may have shocked Microsoft, but if they can afford to drop almost $9 Billion on marketing in 2005 Microsoft will be tough to bring down.

BLOG

Monday, February 20, 2006

 

Google vs. Microsoft

SEOGuru SEOGuru is offline
Peon

Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 24
SEOGuru is on a distinguished road
The bigger question is, "What is Google going to do with they launch their new version of XP (even before they get to Longhorn), that has SEARCH built into the OS?"

People (including myself) talk about Google and Yahoo all of the time and forget that Microsoft can take them both out. When you have 50 billion in CASH you can do virtually anything you want. They even invest heavily in their competitors like SUN, Apple, and several companies whose purpose is to destroy Linux. Right now it is Google that is set in the middle of their crosshairs. They are gunning for them and Google WILL lose.

But you gotta love the mindset of Bill Gates. Instead of getting into the whole battle of the Search Engines, Microsoft is going to bypass the whole thing. You will use their search without the use of any browser. Built right into the OS and Microsoft products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) you will be able to search for anything.

Plus "Uncle Bill" has been buying up the rights to content for over a decade. He has been using hundreds of little corporations to accumulate information. There are some things that you will ONLY be able to find on MSN. He owns countless rare works of art that he has locked away and has done high quality scans of. There are thousands of volumes of encyclopedias he owns the rights to. He has been accumulating literary masterpieces and internet publishing rights to millions of books, manuals, journals, research reports, etc.

There is no question that he knows where this is going. Search is in its infancy stage and as big as people THINK that Google is, they are still a site that is solely dependent on the relevancy, accuracy, structure, and format of OTHER PEOPLE'S information.

Bill knows that the Internet is growing SO fast that soon it will be impossible to find anything of relevance using traditional indexing. Even now there are often countless pages of information you need to sift through to find what you are looking for. And THAT is from the biggest search engines; the "industry leaders".

Will MSN have everything? No, but they don't want to. Bill's philosophy is basically: If you want to find information on Norwegian Yaks, go to Google. If you are looking for anything else of relevance come to us.

I don't even like Microsoft very much, but I have to respect his vision and endless determination to dominate every industry he enters.

Believe me, this whole Google vs. Yahoo thing will be nothing but a side show compared to what Microsoft is going to do. Not an IPO, a "Gmail" system, or a product search will be able to save Google. And certainly not their Toolbar.

That is just the sad reality of it. Larry and Brin got greedy. They think they are invincible when they should have cashed out a year ago.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

 

constantly shifting layers?

here is an article about cisco buying into the chinese game developer shanda.
it is interesting to see to firms that could have formed an alliance turn towards a stakeholder situation. 9.7% isn't much but it is a signal. first, that cisco isn't happy to stay put in the router connectivity business. and second, that shanda needed their help (or their money) enough to forgo an alliance and enter into an ownership agreement.

the article

 

Gates calls for better PC security

Security represents Microsoft's biggest investment in the development of its upcoming Windows Vista operating system, Bill Gates told an audience of cyber-security experts at the RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose Tuesday.
Microsoft will start selling a consumer security product in June, Windows OneCare Live, for $49.95. Also, the next version of Microsoft's operating system, Vista due for release late this year will include many new security features.

Bill Gates's speech induced arguments about Microsoft making consumers to pay for the security problems that Microsoft has caused due to its monopoly of O/S on PC.

It is a very interesting topic. Below are the linked to two related articles. Check it out.

  • Gates calls for better PC security


  • Gates Says Security Is Job One For Vista

  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006

     

    where do business and personal users diverge?

    Here is an article on the use of WWAN in business pcs. The article suggests that by 2010 business pcs will predominantly use WWAN for internet connectivity. I wonder if the same can be said for personal pc users (the non-business consumer).

    I started to think back to our discussion today. I wonder if there is a split between business users and personal users on the horizon. I am pretty concerned about security but if I were running a business, I might be even more concerned about hosting my data on the web. So what do you think? Is there a point at which the industry diverges? Or can both markets coexist?

    the article

     

    Google Links with BearingPoint

    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/best-practices.html

    http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2006/02/practice-makes-perfect.html

    Google and BearingPoint are working together to make enterprise search easier. Interesting in the context of what we discussed about the different layers of capabilities and linkages across layers.

     

    IT 2010



    Media Team: Aaron, Corrin,Dominic,Dave, Taylor

     

    Nokia-Sanyo venture

    Print

    Nokia, Sanyo to Form Venture to Make Mobile Phones (Update5)
    Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj, the world's biggest cell- phone maker, and Sanyo Electric Co., the largest handset-battery producer, will form a venture to make mobile phones, targeting annual profit of 30 billion yen ($256 million) within two years.

    The companies plan to make handsets based on the CDMA2000 standard, the main format used in the U.S., Osaka-based Sanyo and Espoo, Finland-based Nokia said in a joint statement today. The venture will begin operations as early as July in Osaka and Tottori prefectures in western Japan and San Diego, California. No financial details were provided.

    Nokia and Sanyo aim to raise their sales by bringing together Nokia's dominance in low- to mid-range phones and the Japanese electronics maker's expertise in handsets with high- speed Internet access that can download music and video. The venture may also help Sanyo, which received a 300 billion yen bailout from banks, by improving the company's sales in the U.S.

    An alliance ``would be positive news because there's severe competition in the North American market and grabbing market share has been an issue for Sanyo,'' Eiichi Katayama, an analyst at Nomura Securities Co., wrote in a report before the announcement. He rates Sanyo shares a ``sell.''

    Nokia also expects to benefit from increased demand for more advanced phones, as markets in Europe and the U.S. near saturation and prices drop. Yesterday, Nokia said it will start selling a handset that lets customers make calls over the Web.

    Goals

    The venture plans to sell 35 million handsets in the first year, Takenori Ugari, the president of Sanyo's mobile-phone business, said at a news conference in Tokyo today.

    ``That's our goal for the first year, but the real challenge will be when we can reach 50 million units,'' said Ugari. Sanyo can compete globally by teaming up with Nokia, he said.

    Ugari said the venture will also target sales in BRICs countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- where mobile- phone penetration is lower than in the U.S., Japan and other parts of Europe.

    Nokia's third-quarter U.S. market share was 13.7 percent, behind Motorola Inc.'s 33.5 percent, LG Electronics Inc.'s 19.8 percent and Samsung Electronics Co.'s 15 percent, according to Framingham, Massachusetts-based researcher IDC. For the CDMA standard, Nokia ranks third globally behind Samsung and LG, and Sanyo is fifth behind Motorola, Ugari said.

    ``Our goal is to grow faster than the market,'' Nokia Japan Co. President Tyler McGee told reporters. The alliance will combine ``Sanyo's expertise in mid to high-end phones and our strength in the low to mid-range phones.''

    Job Cuts

    The venture will have about 3,500 employees, Nokia Chief Financial Officer Rick Simonson said today at a press event in Barcelona, Spain. ``A couple of hundred'' jobs might be cut at Nokia as a result of the venture, Simonson said.

    Nokia President Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, who takes over as chief executive from Jorma Jaakko Ollila on June 1, in August said he expects to revive Nokia's fortunes in the U.S. Nokia aims to win clients with phones tailored to specific telecommunication companies to boost handsets kept in stock by operators, Jari Honko, an analyst at eQ Bank Ltd. in Helsinki, said last month.

    Sanyo last month said it will sell preferred stock to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. to fund job cuts and other restructuring programs. The share sale will give the three banks 49.8 percent of Sanyo and five of nine board seats, and is pending approval from shareholders on Feb. 24.

    Sanyo needs cash to pay for a three-year plan to cut 15 percent of its workforce, close factories and invest in solar panels, rechargeable batteries and other environment-related businesses. The company is also looking to raise money by selling real estate and shares of other companies it owns, and reducing executive salaries.



    To contact the reporter on this story:
    Daisuke Takato in Tokyo at dtakato@bloomberg.net

    Last Updated: February 14, 2006 07:44 EST



    Print

     

    HealthCare Stack - Chuang, Gaerlan, Nguyen, Tewari

    Here is our thoughts on the healthcare stack.



    Monday, February 13, 2006

     

    Chuang, Gaerlan, Nguyen, Tewari

    I am having difficulty posting images, so I will recreate our stacks/layers as best as I am able to with text only.

    2006
    IT Consulting - IBM, Accenture, KPMG, Bearing Point, Sapient
    Web Services - Google, Microsoft, Yahoo
    PC Applications - Microsoft, Adobe, Intuit, Symantec
    Dev Tools - Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, IBM
    OS - Microsoft, Linux, Palm, Symbian
    Networking/Storage - Cisco, Dell, EMC, Microsoft, Novell, 3Com
    Peripherals - HP, Canon, Sony, Lexar
    Computers/Mobile - Dell, HP, Lenovo, Apple
    Processors - Intel, AMD, IBM, SUN, Motorola


    2010
    IT Consulting - IBM, Accenture, Google (Automated Google Knowledge Base)
    Web Services (Search, Tools) - Google, Microsoft, Yahoo
    Content Providers - Comcast, Verizon, Akamai, Walmart
    PC Applications - Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Intuit, Symantec
    Dev Tools - Google, Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, IBM
    OS - Microsoft, Google, Linux
    Networking/Storage - Cisco, Dell, EMC, Microsoft, Novell, 3Com
    Peripherals - Dell, HP, Canon, Sony, Lexar, Microsoft
    Multimedia Convergence Device - Dell, Sony, Microsoft, HP, Apple, Lenovo, Nokia, Motorola
    Processors - Intel, AMD, IBM, SUN, Motorola

     

    An alliance to screw the consumer?

    Also from Slashdot:

    "Raenex writes "CNET is reporting that Intel and Skype have signed an exclusive deal that would cap the number of conference call members on all but Intel architecture. Skype will only offer 10-way conference calls on specific Intel chips while other chips, including all AMD chips, will only offer 5-way conference calls. From the article: 'Though few would argue that a niche feature like that is going to be a deal breaker for most PC buyers, the importance of the Skype-Intel alliance goes well beyond VoIP conferencing. Indeed, it's the latest, and certainly most prominent, example of Intel's new take on marketing: Lock in software partners as well as the PC makers.'"


    I find this offensive and detrimental to the consumer's experience: software with disabled functionality according to the user's chipset? This is pure bullying - plain and simple.

     

    Online Ajax Pages The New Web Desktop?

    From Slashdot:

    "With our existing models for operating environments aging badly, how do we manage our information and software as we get increasingly mobile and short on attention? In a ZDNet piece, Dion Hinchcliffe discusses the rise of the new dynamic, online, roaming Ajax desktops like Netvibes, Live.com, Protopage, and Pageflakes. Will concerns about privacy and reliability kill these or is this the wave of the future?"

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

     

    Financial Services Industry: Barooah, Gupta, Morrison, Turla


    Please click to enlarge

     

    Netflix caught giving different levels of service to different customers

    Saw this article on CNN.com:

    SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Manuel Villanueva realizes he has been getting a pretty good deal since he signed up for Netflix Inc.'s online DVD rental service 2-1/2 years ago, but he still feels shortchanged.

    That's because the $17.99 monthly fee that he pays to rent up to three DVDs at a time would amount to an even bigger bargain if the company didn't penalize him for returning his movies so quickly.

    Netflix typically sends about 13 movies a month to Villanueva's home in Warren, Michigan -- down from the 18 to 22 DVDs he once received before the company's automated system identified him as a heavy renter and began delaying his shipments to protect its profits.

    The same Netflix formula also shoves Villanueva to the back of the line for the most-wanted DVDs, so the service can send those popular flicks to new subscribers and infrequent renters.

    The little-known practice, called "throttling" by critics, means Netflix customers who pay the same price for the same service are often treated differently, depending on their rental patterns.

    "I wouldn't have a problem with it if they didn't advertise 'unlimited rentals,' " Villanueva said. "The fact is that they go out of their way to make sure you don't go over whatever secret limit they have set up for your account."

    Changing the rules

    Los Gatos, California-based Netflix didn't publicly acknowledge it differentiates among customers until revising its "terms of use" in January 2005 -- four months after a San Francisco subscriber filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company had deceptively promised one-day delivery of most DVDs.

    "In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service," Netflix's revised policy now reads. The statement specifically warns that heavy renters are more likely to encounter shipping delays and less likely to immediately be sent their top choices.

    Few customers have complained about this "fairness algorithm," according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

    "We have unbelievably high customer satisfaction ratings," Hastings said during a recent interview. "Most of our customers feel like Netflix is an incredible value."

    The service's rapid growth supports him. Netflix added nearly 1.6 million customers last year, giving it 4.2 million subscribers through December. During the final three months of 2005, just 4 percent of its customers canceled the service, the lowest rate in the company's six-year history.

    After collecting consumer opinions about the Web's 40 largest retailers last year, Ann Arbor, Michigan, research firm ForeSeeResults rated Netflix as "the cream of the crop in customer satisfaction."

    Once considered a passing fancy, Netflix has changed the way many households rent movies and has spawned several copycats, including a mail service from Blockbuster Inc.

    Netflix's most popular rental plan lets subscribers check out up to three DVDs at a time for $17.99 a month. After watching a movie, customers return the DVD in a postage-paid envelope. Netflix then sends out the next available DVD on the customer's online wish list.

    Customers catch on

    Because everyone pays a flat fee, Netflix makes more money from customers who watch only four or five DVDs a month. Customers who quickly return their movies to get more erode the company's profit margin, because each DVD sent out and returned costs 78 cents in postage alone.

    Although Netflix consistently promoted its service as the DVD equivalent of an all-you-can eat smorgasbord, some heavy renters began to suspect they were being treated differently two or three years ago.

    To prove the point, one customer even set up a Web site -- www.dvd-rent-test.dreamhost.com -- to show that the service listed different wait times for DVDs requested by subscribers living in the same household.

    Netflix's throttling techniques also have prompted incensed customers to share their outrage in online forums such as www.hackingnetflix.com.

    "Netflix isn't well within its rights to throttle users," complained a customer identified as "annoyed" in a posting on the site. "They say unlimited rentals. They are liars."

    Hastings said the company has no specified limit on rentals, but "`unlimited' doesn't mean you should expect to get 10,000 a month."

    Netflix says most subscribers check out two to 11 DVDs a month.

    Growing risk

    Management has acknowledged to analysts that it risks losing money on a relatively small percentage of frequent renters. And that risk has increased since Netflix reduced the price of its most popular subscription plan by $4 a month in 2004 and the U.S. Postal Service recently raised first-class mailing costs by 2 cents.

    Netflix's approach has paid off, so far. The company has been profitable in each of the past three years, a trend its management expects to continue in 2006 with projected earnings of at least $29 million on revenue of $960 million. Netflix's stock price has more than tripled since its 2002 initial public offering.

    A September 2004 lawsuit cast a spotlight on the throttling issue. The complaint, filed by Frank Chavez on behalf of all Netflix subscribers before Jan. 15, 2005, said the company had developed a sophisticated formula to slow DVD deliveries to frequent renters and ensure quicker shipments of the most popular movies to its infrequent -- and most profitable -- renters to keep them happy.

    Netflix denied the allegations, but eventually revised its terms of use to acknowledge its different treatment of frequent renters.

    Without acknowledging wrongdoing, the company agreed to provide a one-month rental upgrade and pay Chavez's attorneys $2.5 million. But the settlement sparked protests that prompted the two sides to reconsider. A hearing on a revised settlement proposal is scheduled for Feb. 22 in San Francisco Superior Court.

    Netflix subscribers such as Nathaniel Irons didn't believe the company was purposely delaying some DVD shipments until he read the revised terms of use.

    Irons, 28, of Seattle, has no plans to cancel his service because he figures he is still getting a good value from the eight movies he typically receives each month.

    "My own personal experience has not been bad," he said, "but (the throttling) is certainly annoying when it happens."


    Clearly Netflix didn't anticipate that its customers would be clever enough to catch on, but since they are a network era company, they should have. The question now is will enough people care?


    Friday, February 10, 2006

     

    Computer Industry 2010: Barooah, Gupta, Morrison, Turla

    Please click on the image to view a larger version of it.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

     

    Photo-editing software as a service

    We mentioned Google Picasa as a threat to Adobe's software product. Take a look at PXN8: A web-based photo editing tool (supported by Google Ads).

    What do such developments mean in terms of the shifts to cash registers and locus of value?

     

    The death of traditional applications?

    Check out the Yahoo Widget Engine: it totally destroys the traditional concept of "open application -> do work -> save and close." At the very least it should make you rethink what function a web browser will server 12 months from now...

    http://widgets.yahoo.com/info/

     

    Boston unveils WiFi push

    By Robert WeismanGlobe Staff

    Mayor Thomas M. Menino this morning said Boston will mount an effort to bring wireless Internet access to the entire city. A new task force announced today will report to Menino by mid-summer on a plan and a timetable for rolling out wireless Internet.

    The task force will be co-chaired by Joyce Plotkin, president of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council; Jim Cash, a former Harvard Business School professor; and Rick Burnes, co-founder of Charles River Ventures.
    "Technology should be the greatest equalizer, a community resource that gives everyone the opportunity to enhance their lives," Menino told about 260 people at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council at the Copley Marriott.

    Other cities are farther along in their quest for wireless Internet access. Within the United States, San Franciso, Philadelphia, Annaheim, and Portland, Oregan are moving forward with WiFi projects.
    "California will do it first," Plotkin acknowledged. "We'll do it right."
    Plotkin's task force will include representatives from business, academia, city government, and community groups. While there's currently no cost estimate for the Boston project, some task force members projected that it could cost between $10 million and $20 million.

    Among the technical challenges the city will face is utilizing assets such as street lights and buildings to create a wireless system. For example, it is easier to equip WiFi antenna to street lights that have individual switches than those attached to bank switches, said Steven J. Gag, the mayor's technical adviser.
    Boston residents can now access WiFi in 28 public libraries and in several of the city's Main Street Districts. Plans are also underway to provide WiFi access along portions of the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

    Rick Burnes is a BU MBA alum. What does this mean for Comcast, Verizon and others?

     

    Pressuring Microsoft, PC Makers Team Up With Its Software Rivals

    Pressuring Microsoft, PC MakersTeam Up With Its Software Rivals
    Dell Is in Talks With Google To Use Search Services; Winning Loyalty at Set-Up
    'A Magic Time for End Users'

    By ROBERT A. GUTH and KEVIN J. DELANEY Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    February 7, 2006; Page A1

    It takes only about five minutes to set up a new personal computer by clicking through a series of introductory screens. In that time, however, many consumers choose software and services they will often use for the life of their machine. Historically, Microsoft Corp. held great sway over this "first-boot sequence" as well as other software preinstalled in the factory.

    Now PC makers including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. are beginning to take more control over this crucial real estate. They increasingly are trying to sell this space to service providers and software makers, such as Google Inc. After a year of sometimes tense negotiations with Google and PC makers, Microsoft has ceded ground on some key technical details.

    In what would be the most significant example of this shift, Google is in serious negotiations to get its software installed on millions of Dell PCs before they are shipped to users, according to people familiar with the matter. Under the deal being discussed, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., could pay Dell fees approaching $1 billion over three years, these people estimate. The terms might change and the discussions could fail. Any agreement would be the latest in a series of similar deals with computer manufacturers the giant Internet search company has signed.

    PC makers are turning their computers into the equivalent of a supermarket, capable of stocking products made by many companies -- for a price. The idea is similar to the way food companies pay grocers a fee to get space on store shelves and could help shift the balance of power in the software world.

    Robert Guth discusses1 Google's negotiations with Dell to install its software applications.The company that stands to lose the most is Microsoft, which garners its largest source of revenue and profit from PC software. Microsoft for years has been able to exert significant control over what appears on the desktop because it produces the PC-industry's dominant operating system, the software brains behind a computer.


    Microsoft managers warned Chairman Bill Gates a year ago that if Google started paying PC makers to carry software, Microsoft's PC-software business could become "increasingly defunct," according to a company report viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The managers worry that PC makers will demand lower prices as they package software from rivals that duplicate elements of its operating system.

    Already, a consumer setting up a new H-P computer, for example, has the option to sign up for Earthlink's broadband access, AOL's online service, Symantec antivirus software and videogames from a start-up company named WildTangent. Those companies pay H-P a set fee or a share of revenue, say executives at the companies. H-P also auctions off its space: Google pays it $1 for every PC that ships with a Google toolbar -- a strip that sits atop a browser and enables users to easily operate Google's search engine -- and another 75 cents the first time a home-computer user taps the service, says a person familiar with the matter.

    Under a scenario Google and Dell are discussing, Dell would set up PCs to run a few Google products straight out of the box, including software to search PC hard drives and its toolbar browser.

    A Google spokesman says the company is "looking at testing various technologies with Dell" but wouldn't provide further details. A Dell spokesman says only that the PC maker is testing Google's software. H-P, Palo Alto, Calif., declines to comment on its relationship with Google.

    Microsoft says it thinks the game will be won by who can deliver the best products, not those who best control users' preferences. "The desktop is readily available to anyone who wants to offer good software to customers," says Microsoft Senior Vice President Will Poole. "The customers are going to use it or not depending on how good it is."

    The first few minutes after a consumer plugs in a new computer are critical for software makers. Alex St. John, chief executive of online-games company WildTangent Inc., says 70% of consumers who bought a computer preinstalled with his company's software played one of its games online within 30 days.

    After setting up a new PC, consumers often don't switch to the competition or change any of the settings. The technical hurdles often are daunting, especially for home users who can't call on a corporate information-technology department for help.

    Ten years ago, Microsoft used PC makers' reliance on its operating system to block competition from a browser offered by Netscape Communications. Its tactics led to a landmark antitrust suit against the software giant that eventually restrained Microsoft from using its hold on PC software to close out or limit rivals. The ruling granted PC makers greater freedom to pitch non-Microsoft software on the PC's earliest set-up screens.

    Continuing Influence

    Still, last summer, executives at Google, H-P, Yahoo and other companies started to worry about Microsoft's continuing influence. Early versions of Microsoft's newest web browser, which is due out this year, featured a built-in box for searching the Internet that automatically directed PCs to Microsoft's MSN search service. They feared Microsoft was using the feature to put rival search companies at a disadvantage. (A browser is the software that enables users to view Web pages; a search service trawls the Internet for requested information.)

    At Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer discussed a test version of the browser with executives from Internet giant Yahoo Inc., including co-founder Jerry Yang and Chief Executive Terry Semel. The Yahoo executives left concerned that Microsoft's plans could hamper their search business, according to people familiar with the meeting.

    A Microsoft spokesman and spokeswoman for Yahoo, Sunnyvale, Calif., declined to comment.

    Similar concerns surfaced at a Google board meeting in July: "Microsoft will limit access to Google, try to gain default settings," read a slide presented at the meeting that was made public in connection with a recently settled lawsuit between Google and Microsoft over an unrelated matter.

    Google representatives voiced their concerns at a July meeting at Google's offices, arguing that Microsoft should make it easier for consumers to choose other search services, say people familiar with the meeting. Microsoft representatives pushed back and later said Google's requests raised privacy problems for users, among other issues.

    Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of Microsoft's browser team, wasn't at the meeting but received a series of text messages from his colleagues who were. "Not sure they're hearing us," read one message describing the Google group, he recalls.

    After months of back and forth, Microsoft backed down on some, but not all of the debates. Mr. Hachamovitch recently demonstrated the latest test version of Explorer. The built-in search box features options such as "Get Search Providers" and "Change Search Defaults" that enable users to select search engines from AOL, Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN and Yahoo. "Our overriding principle from the get-go is 'respect user choice,'" he says. "There's no desire to do anything other than that."

    Microsoft was a stickler on one matter that irked Google. Anyone who upgrades to Microsoft's new browser out this year will automatically inherit their old browser's default search options. In the old browser, that barely mattered, because it didn't include an easy-to-find, built-in box linking to a search engine. The new version does, and that is a problem for Google, which is set as the default for only a tiny fraction of computer users. By contrast, Google handled 46% of U.S. search queries in November, according to research firm Nielsen/NetRatings.

    Google wanted Microsoft to ask consumers directly which search service they wanted as a default when upgrading from older versions of Explorer -- a change Microsoft felt was intrusive. Google also wanted to know if users had already selected it as the default search provider in Explorer. "We looked at that as a major privacy violation," Mr. Hachamovitch says.

    In December, for these and other reasons, Google refused to sign an agreement with Microsoft relating to the new browser's search capabilities. Microsoft left Google off the list of alternative search services. A month later, Microsoft notified Google it would be included on the list with or without a signed agreement, according to people familiar with the matter. Microsoft says after a review of its legal position, it realized it could include Google without a formal pact.

    As Microsoft tackled complaints from rival search companies, it also came under pressure from PC makers about the introductory screens that appear on new computers. That is another crucial route to establishing users' preferences early on.

    H-P had a thriving business offering other companies' software and hoped to extend that concept into PCs running Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista, which is expected to hit the market this year. When a consumer turned on an H-P PC for the first time, H-P wanted a piece of software called HP Advisor to appear, according to people familiar with the company's thinking. It would walk users through offers for third-party products and ask them how they will use their PC, according to a version of the software reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    H-P discovered, however, that Microsoft required use of its own equivalent of HP Advisor as a condition of licensing the operating system. Some H-P managers thought it would give preferential placement to Microsoft products by automatically choosing them or displaying them more prominently. Microsoft's terms limited the amount of time and space it would allot H-P's Advisor software and by extension H-P's partners.

    Guiding Principle

    Microsoft executives say their guiding principle is to give PC users a quick and easy way to set up a new computer. PC makers have plenty of opportunities to add software from Microsoft rivals; "it does not need to all be piled into the first 10 minutes," says Microsoft's Mr. Poole. "That's a fairly magic time for end users and it's a time that you want to be engaging them and having them feel great about the product."

    As H-P pushed, Microsoft over the past six months gradually eased its stance. It agreed to share the screens with H-P, giving the PC maker around half of any given screen where it could present its offers. Talks concerning the other issues still are under way.

    "Our belief is we should provide our customers with choice," says H-P Executive Vice President Todd Bradley.

    Microsoft's Mr. Poole says most PC vendors are happy with Microsoft's set-up screens, which he says strike a balance between allowing PC makers to sell services and keeping installations simple. "It's always hard to please everybody," he says.

    Now Dell is in talks with Google. For the Round Rock, Texas, computer maker, the talks are an opportunity to boost revenue from software shipped on new computers. For Google, it is another opportunity to erode Microsoft's dominance of the desktop.

    This fall, Dell, the world's largest PC maker, set up a competitive bidding process for Internet companies who wanted the right to load their software on as many as 100 million new Dell PCs. Yahoo pulled out of the running, and then Google beat Microsoft, say people familiar with the matter. Microsoft wouldn't comment on the bidding.

    Google and Dell now are negotiating details of the possible agreement; Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Dell founder Michael Dell are playing central roles in the talks, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

    Under discussion is the placement of Google's toolbar and desktop search software on new Dell PCs, people familiar with the matter say. Google also wants Dell to use its service to by default run the built-in search box that will appear on the new version of Explorer. Such an agreement would circumvent some of Google's sticking points with Microsoft's new browser.

    People familiar with Google's thinking say the proposed deal with Dell wasn't designed exclusively to strike back at Microsoft, but rather to increase use of Google's services. Still, the tussle with Microsoft over the browser settings increased Google's desire to win the Dell agreement, the people say.

    One downside for Google: PC deals can be costly. Last week Google cited distribution deals for its software as one of the main reasons for a 47% climb in sales and marketing expenses in the fourth quarter of 2005, compared with the third quarter.

    Write to Robert A. Guth at rob.guth@wsj.com2 and Kevin J. Delaney at kevin.delaney@wsj.com3

    URL for this article:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB113928066242466882.html

     

    Mobile Wallet: Motorola

    This announcement today by Motorola has important implications for understanding details of customer transactions.

    Please take a look at the following sentences in the context of what we discussed about the links across distinct capability layers and the distinction between open and closed standards.

    Motorola’s M-Wallet is network and device agnostic and works with GSM, CDMA, or iDEN® technologies, and is compatible with Symbian, PocketPC, Palm, J2ME, Brew and SimTk. The solution consists of two components: first, M-Wallet is the application that consumers and merchants download from the Internet; second, the Wallet Service Center allows the operator to manage administration, registration, issuance of credit and debit cards, coupons, archiving, customer profiles and maintenance. It ensures end-to-end security throughout the platform and all of a user’s banking and credit information is stored with their financial institution.


    This clearly has implications for all the group projects. Think about what this could mean in the context of supposed launch of a payment mechanism by Google and also the existence and acceptance of PayPal (eBay).

     

    Layer images

    Because we tried to rank order the players by finances we didn't get too far with the 2006 or 2010 layer but I thought I would post our work on 2006 and my thoughts on 2010.

    The Computer/Entertainment Industry in 2006:




    The Computer/Entertainment Industry in 2010:




    And finally, liberally applying one of Hatten's models - The Retail Industry in 2006:


    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

     
    http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16005,308,p1.html

    A little article on the tradeoffs of Google's value versus other things, privacy being one of them. One interesting clip:
    "But nowhere in Gmail's "Terms of Use" does the company promise that it won't delete some or all of your mail -- now, or in the future. In fact, the termination clause of Gmail's policy gives the company the right to delete any account, for any reason, at any time, with no user recourse."
    ...
    "The mere existence of that huge archive of personal e-mail -- an archive that can neither be backed up nor deleted on demand -- should give users pause. For example, such an archive could become a one-stop-shopping destination for subpoenas in civil litigation and criminal investigations."

    At this moment I can't remember our class discussion on the topic, but I do remember one mention of younger generations trading off more privacy for features. Is this an inexperience thing (because we don't know how lack of privacy might bite us), or an experience thing (because we are more experienced with the technology we don't fear the privacy as much)? di that make sense?

    One more article about Google and privacy, but this one isn't email, but rather what can be collected from Google searches and cookies...
    http://www.technologyreview.com/InfoTech/wtr_16216,308,p1.html

    Monday, February 06, 2006

     

    Healthcare in the Network Era

    I recently attended the Healthcare panel at Saturday's Symposium, and had the opporunity to hear John Halamka speak about IT. I felt some of what he had to say was relevant to our coursework, so I am going to summarize (caveat: perhaps imperfectly) what he had to say in the context of the network era.

    As we have learned in class, the increasing ability to communicate electronically via increase in bandwidth, connections, and computers has brought about the Network Era. With the start of digitization of medical records, this has brought about an incredible opportunity for clinical data exchange between healthcare providers, payers (insurance, etc), and patients.

    However, Mr. Halamka stated some facts: on average, only 15% of clinicians are currently using medical reccords (25% in MA, but 5% in North Dakota, for example). He stated several reasons for this:
    1. Lack of standards for interoperability. Why is this? How is it that we can go to some bank across the world and access our financial information to get money through an ATM, for example yet can't easily get our medical record across the block?
    2. Politics, security and privacy issues. (a) Some patients just don't want their data in an easily accessible electronic format. (b) If a person is HIV positive or has a history of substance abuse, state law prevents the access of data - you need consent from the insurance company paying for the treatment even if the patient has a relationship with the doctor.
    3. Doctors just don't know what to purchase. With 133 different database vendors from epic in size to doctor bob's personal database, each with its own bells and whistles and data types (think proprietary digital music formats), it's difficult to get certified compliance.
    4. There is no architecture for the exchange of data. I didn't quite get what he meant by this as I was sitting on the floor because the room was packed and it was getting uncomfortable, but I believe he meant standard ways to perfectly ensure secure transmission, format for auditing, etc. In addition, if 5 hospitals have 5 different ways of coding medical records and there are 5 records on a particular patient, which do you use?
    5. There is a lack of alignment of incentives for clinicians. So if a doctor spends 10% of his income to purchase a system, but then decreases his productivity by 20% or so for a year to learn the use but at the end of the day the insurance companies reap the benefit of better information, what is the incentive?


    With the cutbacks on government funding for healthcare, it's possible that this reduction in spending will be at the expense of technological innovation as healthcare providers provide only basic services because it's too expensive for people to pay. This issue also brings to mind Dannyboy Towers' post security becoming a layer; I didn't see any other posts by our class but it is definitely something to think about.


    There are alot of issues to consider but do you think its possible? Should this successfuly be implemented, what do you guys think the impact factor would be on the healthcare industry?


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