Monthly Archives: December 2007

Google introduces Android

One month ago, the much expected G-Phone was presented as Android, a SW platform for mobile phones, backed by the Open Handset Alliance. The Alliance includes vendors as Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC, as well as Operators and software partners.

Although the first commercial handsets will only be available by end 2008, and despite Nokia downplaying Android’s impact, the industry is anxious about what Android can bring.

In the clip below, Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz discuss the availability of the SDK,  planned to be open source. They also demo applications on the Android platform

For more, see the Android Developer Channel in YouTube.

Nokia, the leader in a considered mature handset market, has seen iPhone rapidly occupying the mindset of the consumers as the premium No.1 Mobile Phone. Microsoft Mobile has also been growing market share consistently. With Android open platform, and its similarities to iPhone, I would be really worried in Nokia’s shoes.

No doubt Net-heads and Bell-heads are converging, but Net-heads (Apple, Microsoft and Google) seem to be gaining terrain in a battlefield so far dominated by Bell-Heads (Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson).  Mobile Operators, beware of the impact on this new devices in your business – both an opportunity and a threat.

Internet TV going mainstream

2007 has been the year for Internet TV. And YouTube / Google have played the main part in bringing it into the mainstream. But they are not alone: Joost, Apple TV, Amazon Unbox and many others, including Microsoft, fight for a piece of a market in constant evolution.

Read Write Red has posted an excellent report on Internet TV in 2007.

As with many other new products/services, piracy has help Internet TV to “cross the chasm” and go into mainstream.

It already happened with PlayStation 2, where the wide availability of pirated games, helped many to choose PS2 over Xbox or Nintendo.

And it helped Microsoft Office to displace Wordperfect and Lotus 123, when pirated copies of Office were easily found. Microsoft might have lost some revenue, but they won the ubiquity of Office in every PC.

The illegal use of copyrighted content made YouTube increasingly popular, as people could watch Madonna video clips, football match highlights, or recorded TV shows

User generated content (UGC) alone would have taken a bit longer to bring YouTube to a mass market. Thanks somehow to pirated content, users are already educated on how YouTube works and content owners are opening to new models- e.g. based on advertisement.

Once Internet TV has gone into mainstream, the smartest companies will adapt their business model to benefit from an application that has already “crossed the chasm”. CBS, NBC, Viacom and other broadcasters are already positioning in that direction. Interestingly, the TV industry is even using piracy as a measure of success.

2008 will bring us many exciting news regarding Internet TV.

Entrepreneurship 2.0

Thanks to Internet, entrepreneurship is getting much easier and less risky than ever.

In the past, to create a start-up, the first steps were to put the team together, gather an initial investment, work on a prototype, test the market, and sell your vision to seed or venture capital, to fund your growth.

Now, more entrepreneurs are having a different approach, as they aim at turning an idea into a business on a low budget. This is called “bootstrapping“, and Globalization and Internet are enabling it.

Tim Ferriss, in his book “The 4-hour workweek“, gives some interesting hints to bootstrap an start-up.

1) Customers first. Select a narrow segment of customers you want to serve. Select a nich that you know weell, because of your job or because as a consumer, you are part of it.

2) Define your Product and your Unique Value Proposition, for your selected niche. Look for high margins (product price should be between 4 -8 times your cost)

3) Test the Market, before you start any manufacturing or any investment into the product

– Use eBay to test the market price. See what prospective customer would be willing to pay.

– Build a simple web page for your Product. You can find developers in www.elance.com to create a professional site. The message should get across in only 1 page. Even if not ready to ship yet, add a “order now” button to track how many of your visits would turn into an order

– Use Google AdWords to drive a test campaign – do not spend more than $500, over a short period. This will drive traffic to your product website.

Check how many visits turn into orders, and do your numbers to see if your product passed the Market Test and keeps profitable.

4) Orchestrate your Business. In case the market test flies: Outsourcing,outsourcing, outsourcing…

 
You should aim at no employees in your company. Outsource:
– Virtual Assistant to YMII or Brickwork
– Web design, and software development: www.elance.com,
– Contract manufaturing. See a list in www.thomasnet.comAvoid inventory, only build product once customer order is received. As the business scales, you might consider additional functions to outsource: Customer Care, Marketing Campaigns, Credit Card handling, etcThere is much more than this in Tim Ferriss book, which is a good reading for those dreaming of becoming New Riches, not only in financial terms but, more importantly, in free time.
 

The 25th Anniversary of Commodore 64


When I was a teenager, Commodore 64 was my first computer, as it was for a generation.
Great for gaming, it also had some serious features, like BASIC programming, Assembler, or even a modem to connect to the boards of those times. I even remember composing music with the Commodore 64, which was fun and easy.

All these things, apart from gaming, helped justify the investment on my first computer to my parents, which probably gave a return. This first computer had an influence in me to decide upon my career. It even help my at the engineering school, for the programing exercises on Motorola micro processor 6502 – the same instruction set as the 6510 on my C64.

See interview with Jack Tramiel, the man behind Commodore 64.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_64

iPhone: Friend or Foe? Can Mobile Operators avoid turning into pipes?

There are two major conflicting trends in Telecommunications :

1) Internet driven: the intelligence and applications move to the end-devices (Smartphones, laptops, Servers…)

2) Telcos driven: Operators need to retain control of the Services delivered through their networks

On example of these two trends are: Skype vs IMS.

Skype corresponds to trend 1). The application is running on PCs or handsets, and the Service is offered directly by Skype, independently of the Operator that provides simply IP connectivity.

IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) is standardized by the telco industry – 3GPP and others-. It aims at providing multimedia services over an IP network, with the Service fully controlled by the network Operator that guarantees reliability, interoperability with other Operator’s networks and Quality of Service. Something that Skype can not offer, due to the nature of Internet.

So far, Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) have fought to retain control of their services and to own the customer, while opening their networks to Applications partners.  MSPs have been relatively successful in monetizing all premium content services delivered through their networks, including: ring-tones, games, wallpapers, logos, videos, TV-shows televoting and other SMS premium services. This business model is based on revenue sharing with Application/content partners.

While MSPs have successfully keept Service control, the usage of mobile Data Services has not gone into mainstream yet, mainly because the data capacity offered by GPRS/EDGE was too limited and charges were too high.

With 3G and HSDPA widely commercial in many markets, MSPs re-position their Data Services as Mobile Broadband with flat fees, volume capped to avoid congested spectrum.

Some Operators see the increase in data capacity as an opportunity to sell more premium content than before, including bandwidth intensive video applications, or music -e.g. KDDI selling music, Testra launching a Rich Media video service for 3G-. But some other MSPs seem to be giving up, as they accept a mere Internet Pipe role and give away the applications to Internet players, losing any option to monetize those applications offered through their networks. e.g. MS messenger, mobile Gmail, Google maps or even Skype for VoIP… and iTunes for Music.

Mobile Operators have a trusted billing relationship with their clients which should enable them to easily monetize any Services accessible through the mobile to the clients they own.
That was the theory over the past years. In reality, today Internet players are also building a trusted relationship and do not need the Operator anymore.

MSPs worldwide rush to sign exclusivity agreements for iPhone launch, but apart for the short-term gain of signing-up the higher-ARPU subscribers that will own an iPhone, Operators are giving Apple the full control of the applications .


iTunes songs will be sold over the MSPs networks, same as it is in fixed broadband today. What revenues will the MSP get from those songs sold by Apple? Zero.

With iPhone, Windows Mobile and Android coming into the picture, the situation is not likely to improve for MSPs.

Mobile Operators will get a higher demand for flat fee Data Access, which is already  good, but they can start forgetting about monetizing premium content, unless they seriously invest to reverse the trend.

Fixed Broadband operators with IPTV, are showing that the trend can be reversed. As Telefonica’s Imagenio IPTV Service illustrates, the Operator can play a key role in content distribution over their networks. Again, it requires vision and determination, as Telstra, KDDI or Telefonica have, to transform themselves and become a player in the entertainment industry.

Video: Linux MCE vs Microsoft MCE and other alternatives

Two more impressive videos to enjoy with the possibilities of Linux MCE.

Many people will be reluctant to move to linux because of lack of official support. Yet you can get tons of support from the many Linux Forums.

On the other side, other options fighting to be the center of home entertainment have significant flaws:
– apart from the infamous red circle of death, the Xbox 360 does not support Xvid and Divx, so a big part of my media library in my PC can not be accessed from the Xbox 360 in the living room – unless trancoded, with loss of quality.
PS3. No support either from Xvid and DivX. The interesting alternative is to install Linux on the PS3, and use VLC to watch your media
Wii is not really an option as a Media Extender. You can only receive streamed video by installing ORB on your streaming PC, set videos to transcode to flash, and access them from the Opera browser in the Wii. Low quality video and no convenient access to library
KiSS Players. Not a bad option, but until recently the SW to install on your PC was not Vista compatible
Apple TV. No Xvid, nor DivX, and no games…Nice design but not open. Not taken seriously by Apple.

Linux MCE will let you easily record TV shows, rip your music and DVD to your media storage with no DRM issues, and on top it will integrate with Home Automation systems and Voice over IP providers (e.g. FWD) among other possibilities.

Linux MCE Video Demo: Impressive!

You can download this video in high-def with the text sharp and readable: http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/Video

Running on Kubuntu, Linux MCE is probably the most advance Media center in the market, and probably the best option for your digital home… if you are a Linux savvy.
I must admit that installation for the Linux MCE is straight-forward. Now, the configuration of many of the features in the video, including simply to discover media in other PCs in your network, might take some more time and IT skills.

Nonetheless if I get it to do what it promises, this is really the Media Center and Home Automation system of my dreams.

There is a more simple option that installing yourself:  Fiire builds HW with Linux MCE pre-installed. Fiire is the vendor of the gyro and the thin media extenders in the demo video.

Although somehow overpriced, I must admit that the product definition from the Fiire guys is outstanding.