In addition to the weekly Monday Note, you'll get QuickNotes, short bursts of news with links to relevant stories and documents.

- At launch, the application displays the latest 30 stories (that's about 15 weeks of Monday Note). Stories are stored in the device for offline reading.
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Some of our most read stories


- our watch list for 2010 for media and tech

by Jean-Louis Gassée (all stories here)


- The Apple Licensing Myth

- TOPIC: ANDROID
- The Nexus One Puzzle
Android Week
The history of the mobile phone, chapter 2.0
Android: First Impressions
The 2010 Tech Watch List
Google and Apple are robbing us!


- TOPIC PAGE:  VENTURE CAPITAL
- JLG announcing his Ares Ventures project
- Ares Ventures Blog (in French)
- The Venture Capital Money Pump (Parts: 1 , 2 , 3 ) and its business model


by Frédéric Filloux (all stories here)

- A new Gallic Idea: taxing Google
- Learning from Free Classifieds
>
- The Battle between Google and the Publishers: Parts 1
& 2
The Web's design problem >
- French Young Readers already hooked on subsidies >
- "Coopetition" or the End of Walled Gardens >
- TOPIC PAGE: Having readers pay for content >


SEE ALSO FRÉDÉRIC'S BLOG ON SLATE.FR


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learned that The New York Times will make an announcement later today that it plans to cut the number of sections it has in the paper during some days of the week and it will fold in the Metro Section and Sports section into other sections of the newspaper.

According to newsroom sources, the Metro Section is moving into the A-section and the Sports section will move into the Business section for some portion of the week.

The move is being made to save money on printing. According to one newsroom source, neither metro editor Joe Sexton nor sports editor Tom Jolly was "thrilled with the decision, but they understood."

According to the source, no content will be lost in either section. And though the placement of both Metro and Sports will be affected, the section consolidation will apparently allow for later deadlines for some days, and allow for the possibility of more breaking news in the paper.




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  • Morbi et leo mauris. Nam justo sem, bibendum vitae porttitor eu,

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rem auctor tincidunt. In vulputate aliquam blandit. Duis vitae odio tellus. Donec auctor convallis velit, eu posuere risus cursus a. Aenean pulvinar sodales tincidunt. Donec mauris neque, imperdiet vitae semper id, pharetra in augue. Nunc commodo nunc sed ante placerat congue. Nullam vitae placerat ante. Morbi et leo mauris. Nam justo sem, bibendum vitae porttitor eu, pretium adipiscing libero. Aliquam erat elit, ultricies eu condimentum sed, facilisis in neque. Vestibulum bibendum erat nec urna porta tristique. Sed neque neque, condimentum nec malesuada non, bibendum vel risus. Nam ultricies metus orci. Vivamus erat massa, iaculis ut dapibus sed, pharetra eu magna. Aenean tristique felis et nisl sollicitudin dignissim. Praesent elementum tu
rem auctor tincidunt. In vulputate aliquam blandit. Duis vitae odio tellus. Donec auctor convallis velit, eu posuere risus cursus a. Aenean pulvinar sodales tincidunt. Donec mauris neque, imperdiet vitae semper id, pharetra in augue. Nunc commodo nunc sed ante placerat congue. Nullam vitae placerat ante. Morbi et leo mauris. Nam justo sem, bibendum vitae porttitor eu, pretium adipiscing libero. Aliquam erat elit, ultricies eu condimentum sed, facilisis in neque. Vestibulum bibendum erat nec urna porta tristique. Sed neque neque, condimentum nec malesuada non, bibendum vel risus. Nam ultricies metus orci. Vivamus erat massa, iaculis ut dapibus sed, pharetra eu magna. Aenean tristique felis et nisl sollicitudin dignissim. Praesent elementum tu

sqsQSqrem auctor tincidunt. In vulputate aliquam blandit. Duis vitae odio tellus. Donec auctor convallis velit, eu posuere risus cursus a. Aenean pulvinar sodales tincidunt. Donec mauris neque, imperdiet vitae semper id, pharetra in augue. Nunc commodo nunc sed ante placerat congue. Nullam vitae placerat ante. Morbi et leo mauris. Nam justo sem, bibendum vitae porttitor eu, pretium adipiscing libero. Aliquam erat elit, ultricies eu condimentum sed, facilisis in neque. Vestibulum bibendum erat nec urna porta tristique. Sed neque neque, condimentum nec malesuada non, bibendum vel risus. Nam ultricies metus orci. Vivamus erat massa, iaculis ut dapibus sed, pharetra eu magna. Aenean tristique felis et nisl sollicitudin dignissim. Praesent elementum tu

Monday Note's Main Topics
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


TOPIC: ADVERTISING >
TOPIC: JOURNALISM >
TOPIC: MOBILE INTERNET >

TOPIC: APPLE AND THE IPAD

iPad Media Apps: can do better by FF
Which way do you lean? by JLG
- iPad Second Impressions by JLG
- The Adobe-Apple Flame War by JLG
- Wanna See my Japanese etchings — on my iPad? by JLG
-
Catching the iPad Wave: seven thoughts by FF
- Publishers look for the winning formula by FF
- iParanoid Scenario by FF
- iPad Thoughts by JLG
-
The Apple Licensing Myth by JLG
-
The iPad Media Expectations by FF
-
The e-book real tractor application by FF

columns by Frédéric Filloux (all here)

TOPIC: REINVENTING NEWSPAPERS
- Reconciling efficiency and serendipity
-
The magazine components of newspapers
- Euthanazing the newspapers? Not yet


TOPIC: PAYWALLS FOR ONLINE NEWSPAPERS
- Aligning the digital planets
-
The numbers behind the paywall
- The death of Joe Average
- Learning from Free Classifieds

TOPIC: GOOGLE VS. THE PUBLISHERS
- The misdirected revolt of the dinosaurs
- Not on the same page. Ever.
- A new Gallic Idea: taxing Google


columns by Jean-Louis Gassée (all here)


TOPIC: ANDROID
- The Nexus One Puzzle
- Android Week
- The history of the mobile phone, chapter 2.0
- Android: First Impressions
- The 2010 Tech Watch List
- Google and Apple are robbing us!


TOPIC: VENTURE CAPITAL
- JLG announcing his Ares Ventures project
- Ares Ventures Blog (in French)
- The Venture Capital Money Pump (Parts: 1 , 2 , 3 ) and its business model
- Our watch list for 2010 for media and tech



The Monday Note is also available via RSS Feed.


_______Click here to unsubscribe


The Monday Note is edited from Paris and Palo Alto
© 2007-2010















Titre A1 Titre A2 Titre A3 Titre A4
Titre B1 Valeur B2 Valeur B3 Valeur B4
#124 - New Interfaces - Correc JLG

Proposition: The future of content navigation

Let’s forget business models and monetization -- just for a brief moment. Instead, we’ll focus on one key issue: the interface, the way you access, browse, spot, save relevant information. The interface is pivotal. A good one will allow you to rope in your readers / viewers, and make them loyal to your brand, your contents. Pouring money and resources into an editorial effort, striving to get the best out of your team, buying the best contributions, pictures, multimedia features available… All of this is pointless without an effective interface. With this in mind, let's see what's lies ahead of us in the interface world.

Last week, I spent a couple of days at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, near Seattle. I was part of a small group of foreign journalists given access to Microsoft Research scientists and top engineers. Every year, in Redmond, they hold their Techfest reunion, a private, by invitation only gathering. This is the venue where they show off their work and exchange their findings.

In a way, Microsoft Research functions more like a university where a group of 900 PhDs is encouraged to publish in science journals or to speak at conferences. These are not product people, they’re more like scholars in disciplines such as oceanography or molecular biology. Those fields can be quite far away from Microsoft core business – even though the proportion of hard core computer scientists is significant. Engaging such people in discussion is an exhilarating experience. I'll come back to it in an upcoming Monday Note.

Of my many meetings, a notable one entailed a visit to the Microsoft Live Labs. The group aggregates about 80 people, two thirds of them engineers, on the 12th floor of a building in Bellevue, ten minutes away from the Microsoft campus. The Live Labs are a kind of intermediate layer between research people and product teams. They focus on transformative web experiences (read their manifesto, here). Their work stems from three technologies : Photosynth, which allows the user to stitch digital photos into 3D models; Pivot, a stunning way to organize large collections of data (to get an idea, watch this excellent TED's talk by Gary Flake, Live Labs founder). The third pillar is Seadragon a technology acquired by Microsoft in 2006 and refined into an actual product now integrated into some Microsoft services, something anyone can play with.

The most spectacular integration of Photosynth and Seadragon can be seen on the latest version of Microsoft's Bing Maps (if you connect from the US). As I visited with the Bing Maps group in Seattle, they showed me its newest features: a mash-up with the huge Flickr digital photo library and, even more spectacular, the prospect of integrating live video into the navigation experience. Go to this newly released TED presentation by Blaise Aguera y Arcas, mind blowing.

Let's go back to our topic du jour: new ways to navigate news contents. Note that I'm merely discussing a browsing experience here — exactly as you do when you flip through the pages of a publication, in a random, non sequential fashion, which is actually the best way to graze our daily information fix.

Seadragon is based on a simple concept: infinite zooming. To jump from one element to the next, instead of navigating through links and pages, you zoom in and out. To grasp the power of Seadragon, just look at the image below.

pastedGraphic.pdf

This is called a gigapixel image. While your digital camera typically captures a 10 million pixels image, this one is 2.6 billion pixels big, 260 times larger that the one you'd shoot staying at the same Sierra Nevada vantage point. Translated into the physical world, obtaining such resolution (i.e. being able to see the white Jeep) would require a 25 meters wide image.

This is what Seadragon is about: it lets you dive in an image down to the smallest detail. All done seamlessly using the internet. The Seadragon deep-zooming system achieves such fluidity by sending requests to a database of "tiles", each one holding a fraction of the total image. The required tiles load as we zoom and pan. And because each request is of a modest size, it only needs to cover a fraction of our screen, the process works fine with a basic internet connection. You can actually try on this map + photos of the Yosemite National Park.

To understand what it means for media, Bill Grow, manager of Live Labs group and Beatriz Diaz Acosta, senior engineer, showed me what lies ahead. In a prototype, they used a set of 6400 pages of the final editions of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the local daily that folded few months ago.

Let's picture this: a one year of a daily newspaper entirely shown on one screen. 365 days x 50 pages of newspaper on average, that is about 17 800 pages to navigate. At first, this collection is represented using a series of thumbnails that are too small to be identified.

One click breaks up the stack by month, another click organizes it in a much more manageable set of weeks. Now, I pick up an issue and dive in. The only tool I'll use is my mouse’s scroll wheel, or whatever system allowing me to go deeper. It could be a trackpad, it could also be the stunning Microsoft Surface interface, a sort of coffee table covered by a large 30 or 40 inches glass top allowing multi-touch manipulations.

Unlike the hyperlink system I use when going from one page to another, in the Seadragon-based interface I'm not leaving my "newspaper". I'm staying inside the same zoomable set of elements. As I land on a page of interest, again, I can zoom in to a particular story (which, in passing, reconstructs itself in order to avoid the “old-style” jump to the article’s continuation on another page).

Back to monetization and business models: A key byproduct of this innovative browsing experience is its ability to reinvent the online advertising. As I mentioned in a previous Monday Note (see The Web Design Problem), online advertising suffers from an inherent flaw: its main purpose is to take the reader away from the content page. Imagine a TV commercial forcing you to switch channels to see the ads. Seadragon’s resolution yields the ability to zoom in down to the fine print of an ad. From there, the same add is blown up to the size of a billboard. This breeds really new ways to advertise in the Web. As Bill Grow takes me through the navigation experience, the endless zooming can be used to display more layers of information such as rates or detailed offers that become discernible only if you zoom deep enough. See this example of the Yosemite map, with the enlargement of the box in the lower right corner of the map.



Microsoft's Live Labs Bill Grow emphasized the demo is not a product, it's a prototype. But it relies on technologies already available and implemented elsewhere. And, in an indisputable way, it shows how much room for improvement the internet browsing experience still offers. The web as we know it? It’s just the beginning.

frederic.filloux@mondaynote.com







TWO FEATURES STORIES IN LE MONDE MAGAZINE



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Ut in risus volutpat libero pharetra tempor. Cras vestibulum bibendum augue. Praesent egestas leo in pede. Praesent blandit odio eu enim. Pellentesque sed dui ut augue blandit sodales. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Aliquam nibh. Mauris ac mauris sed pede pellentesque fermentum. Maecenas adipiscing ante non diam sodales hendrerit. Ut velit mauris, egestas sed, gravida nec, ornare ut, mi.
Aenean ut orci vel massa suscipit pulvinar. Nulla sollicitudin. Fusce varius, ligula non tempus aliquam, nunc turpis ullamcorper nibh, in tempus sapien eros vitLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed non risus. Suspendisse lectus tortor, dignissim sit amet, adipiscing nec, ultricies sed, dolor. Cras elementum ultrices diam. Maecenas ligula massa, varius a, semper congue, euismod non, mi. P
roin porttitor, orci nec nonummy molestie, enim est eleifend mi, non fermentum diam nisl sit amet erat. Duis semper. Duis arcu massa, scelerisque vitae, consequat in, pretium a, enim. Pellentesque congue. Ut in risus volutpat libero pharetra tempor. Cras vestibulum bibendum augue. Praesent egestas leo in pede. Praesent blandit odio eu enim. Pellentesque sed dui ut augue blandit sodales. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Aliquam nibh. Mauris ac mauris sed pede pellentesque fermentum.


Maecenas adipiscing ante non diam sodales hendrerit. Ut velit mauris, egestas sed, gravida nec, ornare ut, mi. Aenean ut orci vel massa suscipit pulvinar. Nulla sollicitudin. Fusce varius, ligula non tempus aliquam, nunc turpis ullamcorper nibh, in tempus sapien eros vitae ligula. Pellentesque rhoncus nunc et augue. Integer id felis. Cura. Sed non risus. Suspendisse lectus tortor, dignissim sit amet, adipiscing nec, ultricies sed, dolor. Cras elementum ultrices diam. Maecenas ligula massa, varius a, semper congue, euismod non, mi. Proin porttitor, orci nec nonummy molestie, enim est eleifend mi, non fermentum diam nisl sit amet erat. Duis semper. Duis arcu massa, scelerisque vitae, consequat in, pretium a, enim. Pellentesque congue.
Ut in risus volutpat libero pharetra tempor. Cras vestibulum bibendum augue. Praesent egestas leo in pede. Praesent blandit odio eu enim. Pellentesque sed dui ut augue blandit sodales. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Aliquam nibh. Mauris ac mauris sed pede pellentesque fermentum. Maecenas adipiscing ante non diam sodales hendrerit. Ut velit mauris, egestas sed, gravida nec, ornare ut, mi.
Aenean ut orci vel massa suscipit pulvinar. Nulla sollicitudin. Fusce varius, ligula non tempus aliquam, nunc turpis ullamcorper nibh, in tempus sapien eros vitLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed non risus. Suspendisse lectus tortor, dignissim sit amet, adipiscing nec, ultricies sed, dolor. Cras elementum ultrices diam. Maecenas ligula massa, varius a, semper congue, euismod non, mi. P
roin porttitor, orci nec nonummy molestie, enim est eleifend mi, non fermentum diam nisl sit amet erat. Duis semper. Duis arcu massa, scelerisque vitae, consequat in, pretium a, enim. Pellentesque congue. Ut in risus volutpat libero pharetra tempor. Cras vestibulum bibendum augue. Praesent egestas leo in pede. Praesent blandit odio eu enim. Pellentesque sed dui ut augue blandit sodales. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Aliquam nibh. Mauris ac mauris sed pede pellentesque fermentum.
Maecenas adipiscing ante non diam sodales hendrerit. Ut velit mauris, egestas sed, gravida nec, ornare ut, mi. Aenean ut orci vel massa suscipit pulvinar. Nulla sollicitudin. Fusce varius, ligula non tempus aliquam, nunc turpis ullamcorper nibh, in tempus sapien eros vitae ligula. Pellentesque rhoncus nunc et augue. Integer id felis. Cura

—frederic filloux Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed non risus. Suspendisse lectus tortor, dignissim sit amet, adipiscing nec, ultricies sed, dolor. Cras elementum ultrices diam. Maecenas ligula massa, varius a, semper congue, euismod non, mi. Proin porttitor, orci nec nonummy molestie, enim est eleifend mi, non fermentum diam nisl sit amet erat. Duis semper. Duis arcu massa, scelerisque vitae, consequat in, pretium a, enim. Pellentesque congue.
Ut in risus volutpat libero pharetra tempor. Cras vestibulum bibendum augue. Praesent egestas leo in pede. Praesent blandit odio eu enim. Pellentesque sed dui ut augue blandit sodales. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Aliquam nibh. Mauris ac mauris sed pede pellentesque fermentum. Maecenas adipiscing ante non diam sodales hendrerit. Ut velit mauris, egestas sed, gravida nec, ornare ut, mi.


Aenean ut orci vel massa suscipit pulvinar. Nulla sollicitudin. Fusce varius, ligula non tempus aliquam, nunc turpis ullamcorper nibh, in tempus sapien eros vitLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed non risus. Suspendisse lectus tortor, dignissim sit amet, adipiscing nec, ultricies sed, dolor. Cras elementum ultrices diam. Maecenas ligula massa, varius a, semper congue, euismod non, mi. P
roin porttitor, orci nec nonummy molestie, enim est eleifend mi, non fermentum diam nisl sit amet erat. Duis semper. Duis arcu massa, scelerisque vitae, consequat in, pretium a, enim. Pellentesque congue. Ut in risus volutpat libero pharetra tempor. Cras vestibulum bibendum augue. Praesent egestas leo in pede. Praesent blandit odio eu enim. Pellentesque sed dui ut augue blandit sodales. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Aliquam nibh. Mauris ac mauris sed pede pellentesque fermentum.
Maecenas adipiscing ante non diam sodales hendrerit. Ut velit mauris, egestas sed, gravida nec, ornare ut, mi. Aenean ut orci vel massa suscipit pulvinar. Nulla sollicitudin. Fusce varius, ligula non tempus aliquam, nunc turpis ullamcorper nibh, in tempus sapien eros vitae ligula. Pellentesque rhoncus nunc et augue. Integer id felis. Cura _________________________
MONDAY NOTE'S MAIN TOPICS
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



APPLE AND THE IPAD
SF: An Apple-Curated App Store by JLG
- Which way do you lean?
by JLG
- iPad Media apps: can do better by FF
- iPad Second Impressions by JLG
- The Adobe-Apple Flame War by JLG
- Wanna See my Japanese etchings €” on my iPad? by JLG
- Catching the iPad Wave: seven thoughts by FF
- Publishers look for the winning formula by FF
- iParanoid Scenario by FF
- iPad Thoughts by JLG
- The Apple Licensing Myth by JLG
- The iPad Media Expectations by FF
- The e-book real tractor application by FF

Columns by Frédéric Filloux (all here)

ON THE EBOOKS INDUSTRY
- all stories are here

REINVENTING NEWSPAPERS
- New media valuation metrics
-
A Toolkit for the Cognitive Container
-
Reconciling efficiency and serendipity
- The magazine components of newspapers
- Euthanazing the newspapers? Not yet

PAYWALLS FOR ONLINE NEWSPAPERS
-
Aligning the digital planets
- The numbers behind the paywall
- The death of Joe Average
- Learning from Free Classifieds



GOOGLE VS. THE PUBLISHERS
-
The misdirected revolt of the dinosaurs
- Not on the same page. Ever.
- A new Gallic Idea: taxing Google

Columns by Jean-Louis Gassée (all here)

SMARTPHONES
-
Nokia's New CEO: Challenges
- SF: Nokia goes Android
-
The Nexus One Puzzle
- Android Week
- The history of the mobile phone, chapter 2.0
- Android: First Impressions
- The 2010 Tech Watch List
- Google and Apple are robbing us!

VENTURE CAPITAL
- The Venture Capital Money Pump (Parts:
1 , 2 , 3 ) and its business model
- Our watch list for 2010 for media and tech.


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THREE  FEATURES STORIES
IN LE MONDE MAGAZINE




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Monday Note #XXX

Month dd, 20yy

Edited by Frédéric Filloux editor@mondaynote.com
Monday Note logo








Story 01 title here.


by Frédéric Filloux


Paste article here.

Story 02 title here.


by Jean-Louis Gassée

Paster article here.

-


Monday Note’s Main Topics

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


TOPIC: APPLE AND THE IPAD

- Which way do you lean? by JLG

- iPad Second Impressions by JLG

- The Adobe-Apple Flame War by JLG

- Wanna See my Japanese etchings €” on my iPad? by JLG

- Catching the iPad Wave: seven thoughts by FF

- Publishers look for the winning formula by FF

- iParanoid Scenario by FF

- iPad Thoughts by JLG

- The Apple Licensing Myth by JLG

- The iPad Media Expectations by FF

- The e-book real tractor application by FF

columns by Frédéric Filloux (all here)

TOPIC: REINVENTING NEWSPAPERS

- Reconciling efficiency and serendipity

- The magazine components of newspapers

- Euthanazing the newspapers? Not yet

TOPIC: PAYWALLS FOR ONLINE NEWSPAPERS

- Aligning the digital planets

- The numbers behind the paywall

- The death of Joe Average

- Learning from Free Classifieds



TOPIC: GOOGLE VS. THE PUBLISHERS

- The misdirected revolt of the dinosaurs

- Not on the same page. Ever.

- A new Gallic Idea: taxing Google

columns by Jean-Louis Gassée (all here)



TOPIC: ANDROID

- The Nexus One Puzzle

- Android Week

- The history of the mobile phone, chapter 2.0

- Android: First Impressions

- The 2010 Tech Watch List

- Google and Apple are robbing us!

TOPIC: VENTURE CAPITAL

- JLG announcing his Ares Ventures project

- Ares Ventures Blog (in French)

- The Venture Capital Money Pump (Parts: 1 , 2 , 3 ) and its
business model


- Our watch list for 2010 for media and tech



The Monday Note is also available via RSS Feed.


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MN 184 JLG Google NFC of May 30th 2011

Google NFC: BFD or NFW?

After weeks of rumors, Google finally announced its near field communication payment system, christened Google Wallet. It must be big because PayPal sued, but how big?

Let’s start with the basics.

First, the ostensible goal is to get rid of the antiquated multiplicity of insecure credit cards and replace them with your smartphone...your smartphone is your wallet.

Second, “near field” really is just that: Short-range (4cm, 1.5”) wireless communication between the Point Of Sale (POS) terminal (calling it a “cash register” no longer seems fitting) -- and the smartphone.

The use scenario is obvious: In line at Safeway, after all the articles for the Memorial Day BBQ have been scanned, I wave my smartphone and off we go. Quick and simple.

The prospect of contactless debit/credit transactions has been around for a long time. Decades ago, GSM phones, which contained a reasonably secure SIM module using SmartCard technology, were seen as a replacement for plastic payment cards. A bit later, I remember a Northern Europe vending machine demo: Each item was associated with a phone number; dial the number and the beer can falls. Next month, the transaction appears on your phone bill, as the carrier agreement dictates...just like with Minitel transactions. (Note the carrier role, to be revisited.)

These old examples don’t involve near-field communication, but they point to an old desire: We can do better than cash and cards. Other companies -- Vivotech, Verifone -- have tried to either replace or supplement the debit/credit card.

The basic idea is unchanged: The card is a token, a unique number encoded in a magnetic stripe. The latest notion is to store the number on another medium, one that can be read without contact, through a short-range wireless connection.



It sounds simple, logical, fast, and safe.

But, so far, contactless replacements for debit/credit cards have failed to take the market by storm.

One reason for the modest success of NFC payment systems is the consumer’s entrenched habits and cognitive obstacles. “Plastic” is well understood, it works, it’s accepted everywhere around the world -- and each card is a totem of a distinct account. Well-meaning experts saw that the “magstripe” had more than enough room to store the information for a dozen credit cards and tried to promote multi-account cards. It didn’t work. Merchants and customers found the invisible abstraction of a “multi-card” difficult to manage. By the same token, pardon the pun, consumers today see little benefit in making their familiar, physical cards disappear into a contactless device, whether it’s a dongle or a cell phone.

Nonetheless, the desire to do better than the old, dumb, insecure plastic refuses to die.

Enter the smartphone. As Brian Hall, the Smartphone Bard, likes to say: The smartphone destroys everything. Particularly business models.

Smartphones have taught us the benefits of a multi-use device: Multiple accounts for email, Facebook, iTunes, Amazon, in addition to the phone, camera, and mp3 player. Further training is provided by uses such as smartphone boarding passes that are displayed and scanned at the gate: A nice example of a reasonably secure method of authenticating a transaction.

(Speaking of transactions, smartphones play an ever larger role in commerce. AdMob, Google’s mobile advertising arm, receives 3.5 times more requests than a year ago.)

In November 2010, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon -- the usual suspects -- formed a smartphone contactless payment alliance called Isis. American Express jumped in the fray, and Visa followed with its own contactless payment proposal. Other smaller but more agile players such as Mopay and Boku, to name but a few, will make the fight between incumbents and newcomers interesting to watch -- and perplexing for merchants and consumers.
Perhaps the big carriers were reacting to rumors that Google and Apple were getting into the NFC payments game, or maybe they authentically sensed the possibilities, the torrents of money, a chance to increase the sacred ARPU by getting a cut of contactless payments. In any case, they had a concept. As for the implementation… Visit the news section of the Isis website and you’ll see how far these carriers are from an actual solution.

Google Wallet takes the concept much further. They’ve looked at the problem through the lens of their one and only business: advertising. With Google Wallet (I don’t know if they’ll claim ownership of the latter word) on your smartphone, you’ll get much more than a contactless credit card replacement. You’ll see ads and receive promotional emails, store coupons for this weekend’s deals -- from pizza to electronics -- and be able to use payment alternatives such as Google Checkout. Compare this with the “old” process: see an ad in the Sunday supplement, clip the coupon, make sure you stuff it in your wallet, go shopping, whip out the coupon at the cash register, pay with your card. For merchants, Google’s NFC is the link to a seamless marketing campaign: Lure customers with special offers and then offer a smooth transition from promotion to “e-coupon” to purchase and payment.

This could be big...if Google can get it to work. They have the means to do it, to make it a standard, and they could reap massive amounts of payment processing revenue and additional advertising as a result.

But...matters of implementation are likely to interfere.

Even if consumers continue to accept the concept of a unified account device, there’s still the problem of the “physical plant”, the infrastructure of tens of millions of credit card terminals around the world. Going NFC means replacing these well-debugged and cheap magstripe readers with hybrid contactless + magstripe machines -- a hugely expensive proposition. Who’s going to pay for the hardware upgrade: the merchant, the payment processor, or the customer?

And the (big) carriers might get in the way if they perceive (as they should) that Google is trying to disintermediate them. Currently, Google Wallet is only available through the Sprint Nexus S phone. Visa/AT&T/Verizon are conspicuously absent in the announcement. For Google Wallet to succeed, carriers will have to distribute Wallet-enabled Android phones, or perhaps Google will “openly” force every Android licensee to carry the Wallet (hardware + software).

Google is right: Replacing credit cards with smartphones is a great idea. Further, Android being Google’s way to break into the new business models created by the smartphone revolution, Google Wallet is a logical outgrowth, an unavoidable tentacle.
(On Google’s overall disintermediation strategy, read Bill Gurley’s terrific and, for some, terrorizing piece: The Freight Train That Is Android.)
But, as we’ve seen with social networking -- ad with Google’s older payment system, Checkout -- simply being a logical component of Google’s arsenal doesn’t always mean success.
—JLG@mondaynote.com
Business Exchange, a professional social networking site being built atop a proprietary content management system. Employees blamed BusinessWeek’s bloated tech investment for the company’s financial demise and eventual fire sale to Bloomberg, which paid a paltry sum—reported as between $2 million and $5 million—for the it in 2009. “To figure something out like that is a massive thing,” says one

Business Exchange, a professional social networking site being built atop a proprietary content management system. Employees blamed BusinessWeek’s bloated tech investment for the company’s financial demise and eventual fire sale to Bloomberg, which paid a paltry sum—reported as between $2 million and $5 million—for the it in 2009. “To figure something out like that is a massive thing,” says one

Business Exchange, a professional social networking site being built atop a proprietary content management system. Employees blamed BusinessWeek’s bloated tech investment for the company’s financial demise and eventual fire sale to Bloomberg, which paid a paltry sum—reported as between $2 million and $5 million—for the it in 2009. “To figure something out like that is a massive thing,” says one

Business Exchange, a professional social networking site being built atop a proprietary content management system. Employees blamed BusinessWeek’s bloated tech investment for the company’s financial demise and eventual fire sale to Bloomberg, which paid a paltry sum—reported as between $2 million and $5 million—for the it in 2009. “To figure something out like that is a massive thing,” says one Go to GEN

2011: Shift Happens

by Jean Louis Gassée

Whatever 2011 was, it wasn’t The Year Of The Incumbent. The high-tech world has never seen the ground shift under so many established companies. This causes afflicted CEOs to exhibit the usual symptoms of disorientation: reorg spams, mindless muttering of old mantras and, in more severe cases, speaking in tongues, using secret language known only to their co-CEO.

Let’s start with the Wintel Empire

Intel. The company just re-organized its mobile activities, merging four pre-existing groups into a single business unit. In a world where mobile devices are taking off while PC sales flag, Intel has effectively lost the new market to ARM. Even if, after years of broken promises, Intel finally produces a low-power x86 chip that meets the requirements of smartphones and tablets, it won’t be enough to take the market back from ARM.

Here’s why: The Cambridge company made two smart decisions. First, it didn’t fight Intel on its sacred PC ground; and, second, it licensed its designs rather than manufacture microprocessors. Now, ARM licensees are in the hundreds and a rich ecosystem of customizing extensions, design houses and silicon foundries has given the architecture a dominant and probably unassailable position in the Post-PC world.

We’ll see if Intel recognizes the futility of trying to dominate the new theatre of operations with its old weapons and tactics, or if it goes back and reacquires an ARM license. This alone won’t solve its problems: customers of ARM-based Systems On a Chip (SOC) are used to flexibility (customization) and low prices. The first ingredient isn’t in evidence in the culture of a company used to dictate terms to PC makers. The second, low prices, is trouble for the kind of healthy margins Intel derives from its Wintel quasi-monopoly. Speaking of which…

Microsoft. The company also reorged its mobile business: Andy Lees, formerly President of its Windows Phone division just got benched. The sugar-coating is Andy keeps his President title, in “a new role working for me [Ballmer] on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8”. Right.

Ballmer once predicted Windows Mobile would achieve 40% market share by 2012, Andy Lee pays the price for failing to achieve traction with Windows Phone: according to Gartner, Microsoft’s new mobile OS got 1.6% market share in Q2 2011.

Microsoft will have to buy Nokia in order to fully control its destiny in this huge new market currently dominated by Android-based handset makers (with Samsung in the lead) and by Apple. In spite of efforts to ‘‘tax” Android licensees, the old Windows PC licensing model won’t work for Microsoft. The vertical, integrated, not to say “Apple” approach works well for Microsoft in its flourishing Xbox/Kinect business, it could also work for MicroNokia phones. Moreover, what will Microsoft do once Googorola integrates Moto hardware + Android system software + Google applications and Cloud services?
In the good old PC business Microsoft’s situation is very different, it’s still on top of the world. But the high-growth years are in the past. In the US, for Q2 2011, PC sales declined by 4.2%; in Europe, for Q3 this time, PC sales went down by 11.4% (both numbers are year-to-year comparisons).

At the same time, according to IDC the tablet market grew 264.5% in Q3 (admire the idiotic .5% precision, and consider tablets started from a small 2010 base). Worldwide, including the newly launched Kindle Fire, 2011 tablets shipments will be around 100 million units. Of which Microsoft will have nothing, or close to nothing if we include a small number of the confidential Tablet PC devices. The rise of tablets causes clone makers such as Dell, Samsung and Asus (but not Acer) to give up on netbooks.

In 2012, Microsoft is expected to launch a Windows 8 version suited for tablets. That version will be different from the desktop product: in a break with its monogamous Wintel relationship, Windows 8 will support ARM-based tablets. This “forks” Windows and many applications in two different flavors. Here again, the once dominant Microsoft lost its footing and is forced to play catch-up with a “best of both world” (or not optimized for either) product.

In the meantime, Redmond clings to a PC-centric party line, calling interloping smartphones and tablets “companion products’’. One can guess how different the chant would be if Microsoft dominated smartphones or tablets.

Still, like Intel, Microsoft is a growing, profitable and cash-rich company. Even if one is skeptical of their chances to re-assert themselves in the Post-PC world, these companies have the financial means to do so. The same cannot be said of the fallen smartphone leaders.

RIM: ‘Amateur hour is over.This is what the company imprudently claimed when introducing its PlayBook tablet. It is an expensive failure ($485M written off last quarter) but RIM co-CEOs remain eerily bullish: ‘Just you wait…’ For next quarter’s new phones, for the new BlackBerry 10 OS (based on QNX), for a software update for the PlayBook...

I remember being in New York City early January 2007 (right before the iPhone introduction). Jet-lagged after flying in from Paris, I got up very early and walked to Avenue of The Americas. Looking left, looking right, I saw Starbucks signs. I got to the closest coffee shop and saw everyone in the line ahead of me holding a BlackBerry, a.k.a. CrackBerry for its addictive nature. Mid-december 2011, RIM shares were down 80% from February this year:



Sammy the Walrus IV provides a detailed timeline for RIM’s fall on his blog, it’s painful.

On Horace Dediu’s Asymco site, you’ll find a piece titled “Does the phone market forgive failure?”. Horace’s answer is a clear and analytical No. Which raises the question: What’s next for RIM? The company has relatively low cash reserves ($1.5B) and few friends, now, on financial markets. It is attacked at the low end by Chinese Android licensees and, above, by everyone from Samsung to Nokia and Apple. Not a pretty picture. Vocal shareholders demand a change in management to turn the company around. But to do what? Does anyone want the job? And, if you do, doesn’t it disqualify you?

Nokia: The company has more cash, about 10B€ ($13B) and a big partner in Microsoft. The latest Nokia financials are here and show the company’s business decelerates on all fronts, this in a booming market. Even if initial reactions to the newest Windows Phone handsets aren’t said to be wildly enthusiastic, it is a bit early to draw conclusions. But Wall Street (whose wisdom is less than infinite) has already passed judgment:



Let’s put it plainly: No one but RIM needs RIM; but Microsoft’s future in the smartphone (and, perhaps, tablet) market requires a strong Nokia. Other Windows Phone “partners” such as Samsung are happily pushing Android handsets, they don’t need Microsoft the way PC OEMs still need Windows. Why struggle with a two-headed hydra when you can acquire Nokia and have only one CEO fully in charge? Would this be Andy Lees’ mission?

All this stumbling takes place in the midst of the biggest wave of growth, innovation and disruption the high-tech industry has ever seen: the mobile devices + Cloud + social graph combination is destroying (most) incumbents on its path. Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung and others such as Amazon are taking over. 2012 should be an interesting year for bankers and attorneys.

JLG@mondaynote.com Why is HP still in the PC business? It must be for the sport, because the money isn’t there. Looking at the quarterly figures released this past week, we see PC revenue down 15% year-to-year, with a low 5.2% Operating Profit:



HP can explain. In the earnings release conference call (transcript obligingly provided by Seeking Alpha), CFO Catherine A. Lesjak invokes the floods in Thailand and their impact on hard disk production as one excuse for the PC revenue shortfall. For her part, CEO Meg Whitman ‘‘opens the first envelope”: She (subtly) blames her predecessor for his PSG spin-off announcement and the ensuing on-again-off-again business disruption.

But the Thailand floods didn’t seem to have much of an impact on Dell, whose latest quarterly numbers show 3% Y/Y growth for Desktop PCs, let alone on the Cupertino neighbor where the Mac business grew by more than 20%. And as a member of HP’s Board of Directors at the time, didn’t Whitman approve the decision to dump the PC?

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None of this answers the question: Why stick with a declining product line within a declining industry? Part of the answer lies in the weight of PSG:

pastedGraphic_1.pdf

The PC is still HP’s biggest business…and its least profitable. The only explanation for staying in the game, to quote Meg Whitman in her conference call remarks:

‘It gives us great return on invested capital and a lot of synergies.’

Perhaps, but what happens to the enjoyable cashflow if the PC business continues to deteriorate, as an industry in general, and as a challenged product line at HP?

Personal computing now comes in three flavors: traditional, tablets, and smartphones. The latter two are dynamic and thriving while the traditional segment stagnates. HP has failed to gain any presence in tablets and smartphones, and now finds itself the biggest player in a market that’s in a race to the bottom.

HP’s absence from the tablet/smartphone segment isn’t for want of trying. When then-CEO Mark Hurd decided to acquire Palm, he was making a clear strategic move for HP to become a major player in smartphones and tablets, to gain independence from stodgy Microsoft, to control its destiny in the newer and more promising personal computing segments. The move was reinforced last August when HP’s Board supported Léo Apotheker’s decision to exit the unprofitable PC business, a gambit inspired by IBM’s similar decision years earlier.

Unfortunately, not-so-small matters of implementation compromised the grand design. Palm’s WebOS tablets and smartphones didn’t fly; Apotheker’s exit-without-an-exit-path announcement was followed by a hasty retreat and Léo’s no less hasty exit. Epaulette mate.

All HP can do now for its PSG business is pray. And, indeed, Meg Whitman bows to the Microsoft altar:

‘So we're rooting for a fantastic Windows 8 product that's delivered on time that we can get to the market before the holiday season.’



What does HP have to say about tablets? Not a word. Browse the conference call transcript; CMD-F, ‘tablet’, Enter… Nothing in Whitman’s prepared presentation, no T-word in the Q&A section. (A bonus finding: The silence of the analysts. Let the record show how lamely choreographed these Q&A sessions are. No analyst even dared to ask HP’s CEO about, you know, iPads, Kindle Fires, Android tablets… For once, the elephant-in-the-room metaphor applies: For Apple’s most recent quarter, iPad revenue rose to $9.15B vs. $8.87B for HP’s PSG. Definitely not worthy of a discussion for the benefit of HP’s concerned shareholders.)

At a WSJ event the same day, HP’s CEO finally admits the existence of the iPad…and gives it a patronizing pat on the head:



The iPad is terrific; I have one. I use it to read books or watch TV but I don't use it to really get work done.



In another interview, as reported by Business Insider, Whitman recycles the old Blackberry enterprise security argument:

‘I think our sweet spot has to be around security. This whole security thing is a big worry, not just for big enterprises but also for medium enterprises and small and medium businesses. So if we can provide devices that consumers really want -- and by the way, employees are consumers, too -- and we can provide a tablet offering, then we have an opportunity to solve problems for the enterprise and small- and medium-business segments, with products that their employees like and are also secure in terms of protecting the enterprise's data.’

The S-word paranoia stopped working for the BlackBerry some time ago. Enterprise users have embraced the iPad because, thanks to Apple’s ‘‘control freakery’’, the new tablets are more secure than laptops. I know of one giant oil company that deploys thousands of iPads (and iPhones), complete with the corporation’s own internal App Store, chock-full of homegrown applications for its office workers and road warriors.

It sounds like HP’s CEO is aping the best-of-both-worlds posture affected by Microsoft for its upcoming tablet software: We give you the productivity of a traditional PC plus the portability/fluidity of a touch-friendly tablet. She seems to have ignored the reason for the iPad’s success in business: Be better at less. The iPad doesn’t try to do everything a PC can do, it’s simply better at the things it does.

Business users have figured this out on their own, without waiting for the market research – or the blessings of their IT departments. In this post, TechCrunch reviews a new Forrester report on mobile and personal devices at work:

[T]he report notes that today’s I.T. departments think they have only a handful of devices out in the field: a PC and smartphone for most users, and maybe a tablet for a handful of execs. But in reality, one-half of info workers report using multiple devices, often behind I.T.’s back.

pastedGraphic_2.pdf

These workers prefer a set of tools to a Swiss Army knife.

Later in the same TechCrunch post:

Employees today are bringing their own devices largely outside of BYOD programs, Gillett says. While 73 percent of workers pick their own phone, 53 percent their own laptop, 22 percent their own desktop, and 66 percent their own tablet, significant numbers of workers report paying for the devices themselves. In the case of smartphones, for example, 57 percent report paying the full price for the device themselves, and 48 percent report paying full price for their own tablet.

pastedGraphic_3.pdf

There was a time when HP, Dell, and others could sell fleets of PCs because employees had to take what IT gave them. Today, users/workers are more inclined to decide for themselves which devices they want and, in many companies, management supports the initiative because it improves productivity without an increase in risk or cost.

Does HP stand a chance to become a viable supplier of the kinds of devices business users choose for themselves? We know the official answer: We’ll try harder; we’ll eliminate silos and inefficiencies in the supply chain; we’ll innovate again. Some of that may work for a while…but will it work faster than the competition? Also, with the exception of the departed CEO, most of the people who got HP in its current situation are still there. Will the same crew cause the same effects?

I still think HP’s initial intuition was right, that the PC business, as driven by Microsoft and Intel, will increasingly become a race to the bottom -- with the two Wintel allies sucking all the profits. Instead of ‘‘rooting for a fantastic Windows 8”, HP should root around for a buyer for its PC business.

JLG@mondaynote.com








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MN 247 Working Title of September 24th 2012

 

Apple Maps

 

While still a teenager, my youngest daughter was determined to take on the role of used car salesperson when we sold our old Chevy Tahoe. Her approach was impeccable: Before letting the prospective buyer so much as touch the car, she gave him a tour of its defects, the dent in the rear left fender, the slight tear in the passenger seat, the fussy rear window control. Only then did she lift the hood to reveal the pristine engine bay. She knew the old rule: Don't let the customer discover the defects.

 

Pointing out the limitations of your product is a sign of strength, not weakness. I can't fathom why Apple execs keep ignoring this simple prescription for a healthy relationship with their customers. Instead, we get tiresome boasting: …Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the worldwe [make] the best products on earth. This self-promotion violates another rule: Don't go around telling everyone how good you are in the, uhm...kitchen; let those who have experienced your cookmanship do the bragging for you.

 

The ridicule that Apple has suffered following the introduction of the Maps application in iOS 6 is largely self-inflicted. The demo was flawless, 2D and 3D maps, turn-by-turn navigation, spectacular flyovers...but not a word from the stage about the app's limitations, no self-deprecating wink, no admission that iOS Maps is an infant that needs to learn to crawl before walking, running, and ultimately lapping the frontrunner, Google Maps. Instead, we're told that Apple's Maps may be  "the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever."

 

After the polished demo, the released product gets a good drubbing: the Falkland Islands are stripped of roads and towns, bridges and façades are bizarrely rendered, an imaginary airport is discovered in a field near Dublin.

 

Pageview-driven commenters do the expected. After having slammed the "boring" iPhone 5, they reversed course when preorders exceed previous records, and now they reverse course again when Maps shows a few warts.

 

Even Joe Nocera, an illustrious NYT writer, joins the chorus with a piece titled Has Apple Peaked? Note the question mark, a tired churnalistic device, the author hedging his bet in case the peak is higher still, lost in the clouds. The piece is worth reading for its clichés, hyperbole, and statements of the obvious: "unmitigated disaster", "the canary in the coal mine", and "Jobs isn't there anymore", tropes that appear in many Maps reviews.

 

(The implication that Jobs would have squelched Maps is misguided. I greatly miss Dear Leader but my admiration for his unsurpassed successes doesn't obscure my recollection of his mistakes. The Cube, antennagate, Exchange For The Rest of Us [a.k.a MobileMe], the capricious skeuomorphic shelves and leather stitches… Both Siri -- still far from reliable -- and Maps were decisions Jobs made or endorsed.)

 

The hue and cry moved me to give iOS 6 Maps a try. Mercifully, my iPad updated by itself (or very nearly so) while I was busy untangling family affairs in Palma de Mallorca. A break in the action, I opened the Maps app and found old searches already in memory. The area around my Palma hotel was clean and detailed:

 

 

 

Similarly for my old Paris haunts:

 

 

 

The directions for my trip from the D10 Conference to my home in Palo Alto were accurate, and offered a choice of routes:

 

 

Yes, there are flaws. Deep inside rural France, iOS Maps is clearly lacking. Here's Apple's impression of the countryside:

 

 

 

...and Google's:

 

 

 

Still, the problems didn't seem that bad. Of course, the old YMMV saying applies: Your experience might be much worse than mine.

 

Re-reading Joe Nocera's piece, I get the impression that he hasn't actually tried Maps himself. Nor does he point out that you can still use Google Maps on an iPhone or iPad:

 

 

 

The process is dead-simple: Add maps.google.com as a Web App on your Home Screen and voilà, Google Maps without waiting for Google to come up with a native iOS app, or for Apple to approve it. Or you can try other mapping apps such as Navigon. Actually, I'm surprised to see so few people rejoice at the prospect of a challenger to Google's de facto maps monopoly.

 

Not all bloggers have fallen for the "disaster" hysteria. In this Counternotions blog post,"Kontra", who is also a learned and sardonic Twitterer, sees a measure of common sense and strategy on Apple's part:

 

Q: Then why did Apple kick Google Maps off the iOS platform? Wouldn't Apple have been better off offering Google Maps even while it was building its own map app? Shouldn't Apple have waited?

A: Waited for what? For Google to strengthen its chokehold on a key iOS service? Apple has recognized the significance of mobile mapping and acquired several mapping companies, IP assets and talent in the last few years. Mapping is indeed one of the hardest of mobile services, involving physical terrestrial and aerial surveying, data acquisition, correction, tile making and layer upon layer of contextual info married to underlying data, all optimized to serve often under trying network conditions. Unfortunately, like dialect recognition or speech synthesis (think Siri), mapping is one of those technologies that can't be fully incubated in a lab for a few years and unleashed on several hundred million users in more than a 100 countries in a "mature" state. Thousands of reports from individuals around the world, for example, have helped Google correct countless mapping failures over the last half decade. Without this public exposure and help in the field, a mobile mapping solution like Apple's stands no chance.

And he makes a swipe at the handwringers:

 

Q: Does Apple have nothing but contempt for its users?

A: Yes, Apple's evil. When Apple barred Flash from iOS, Flash was the best and only way to play .swf files. Apple's video alternative, H.264, wasn't nearly as widely used. Thus Apple's solution was "inferior" and appeared to be against its own users' interests. Sheer corporate greed! Trillion words have been written about just how misguided Apple was in denying its users the glory of Flash on iOS. Well, Flash is now dead on mobile. And yet the Earth's obliquity of the ecliptic is still about 23.4°. We seemed to have survived that one.

 

For Apple, Maps is a strategic move. The Cupertino company doesn't want to depend on a competitor for something as important as maps. The road (pardon the pun) will be long and tortuous, and it's unfortunate that Apple has made the chase that much harder by failing to modulate its self-praise. but think of the number of times the company has been told You Have No Right To Do This...think smartphones, stores, processors, refusing to depend on Adobe's Flash…

 

(As I finished writing this note, I found out Philip Ellmer-DeWitt also takes issue with Joe Nocera's position and bromides in his Apple 2.0 post. And Brian Hall, in his trademark colorful style, also strongly disagrees with the NYT writer.)

 

Let's just hope a fully mature Maps won't take as long as it took to transform MobileMe into iCloud.

-- JLG@mondaynote.com

  The business model of media is broken. News has become a commodity, available to anyone, in real-time and for free. Digital advertising is mostly a failure: a reader on a web site brings 10 or 15 times less revenue than a reader of a newspaper or a magazine and it's even worse on mobile. Aggregators highjack value by looting original contents.  As a result, supporting quality journalism becomes uncertain.

Why mainstream media dropped the ball on digital in such blatant way? Many factors are at play: lack of anticipation, under-investment in technology, but also a strong resistance to change. Media companies and readers are about to pay a heavy price: reliable information will become a niche market for a small segment of the population.

Where do we go from here? How to take advantage of the new way people consume information (mobility, social networks, blogs)? How to devise a different architecture for information in which the news platform will replace the old concept of publication? How could media houses diversify their businesses?

As the head of digital operations for Les Echos Groupe in France and the editor of the Monday Note, Frederic Filloux has strong views on how to restore value to reliable and original information.

 

(Short bio)

 

Frédéric Filloux, is the editor of the Monday Note (www.mondaynote.com) a blog and newsletter that covers the business models of digital media and technology (his co-writer is Jean-Louis Gassée, a venture capitalist from Palo Alto). The Monday Note is read by about 20,000 professionals and republished on the Guardian website.

Frédéric is also general manager for digital operations at Les Echos, the leading business media house in France. Groupe Les Echos includes a daily, several magazines, various B2B activities (conferences, trade shows, market intelligence) and a radio station.

Prior to that, he was a working as an editor for the international division of the Norwegian media group Schibsted ASA. In 2002, he was part of the managing team that launched the free daily 20 Minutes, which became the most read newspaper in France. Before that, he spent 12 years at the daily Liberation, successively as a business reporter, New York correspondent, editor of the multimedia section, manager of online operations, and finally, editor of the paper).

Among other things, he’s also a contributing professor at the Sciences-Po School of Journalism and board member of the Global Editors Network (GEN).  He lives in Paris.

 
 

Intel rode the PC wave with Microsoft and built an seemingly insurmountable lead in the field of "conventional" (PCs and laptops) microprocessors. But, after his predecessor missed the opportunity to supply the CPU chip for Apple's iPhone, Intel's new CEO must now find a way to gain relevance in the smartphone world. In last May's The Atlantic magazine, Intel's then-CEO Paul Otellini confessed to a mistake of historic proportions. Apple had given Intel the chance to be part of the smartphone era, to supply the processor for the first iPhone... and Otellini said no [emphasis and light editing mine]:

"The thing you have to remember is that this was before the iPhone was introduced and no one knew what the iPhone would do... At the end of the day, there was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn't see it. It wasn't one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100x what anyone thought." "...while we like to speak with data around here, so many times in my career I've ended up making decisions with my gut, and I should have followed my gut. [...] My gut told me to say yes."


That Otellini found the inner calm to publicly admit his mistake — in an article that would be published on his last day as CEO, no less — is a testament to his character. More important, Otellini's admission unburdened his successor, Brian Krzanich, freeing him to steer the company in a new direction. And Krzanich is doing just that. First: House cleaning. Back in March 2012, the Wall Street Journal heralded Intel as The New Cable Guy. The idea was to combine an Intel-powered box with content in order to serve up a quality experience not found elsewhere (read Apple, Netflix, Roku, Microsoft...). To head the project, which was eventually dubbed OnCue, Intel hired Erik Huggers, a senior industry executive and former head of BBC Online. At the All Things D conference in February, Huggers announced that the TV service would be available later this year. The Intel TV chief revealed no details about how the service OnCue would differ from existing competitors, or how much the thing would cost...but he assured us that the content would be impressive ("We are working with the entire industry"), and the device's capabilities would be comprehensive ("This is not a cherry-pick... this is literally everything"). Intel seemed to be serious. We found out that more than 1,000 Intel employees in Oregon had been engaged in testing the product/service. Then Krzanich stepped in, and applied a dose of reality:

Intel continues to look at the business model.... we are not experts in the content industry and we're being careful." [AllThingsD: New Intel CEO Says Intel TV Sounds Great in Theory. But …]


Indeed, to those of us who have followed the uneasy dance between Apple and content providers since the first Apple TV shipped in 2007, the Intel project sounded bold, to say the least. Late September, the project was put on hold and, last week, the news came that OnCue had been cancelled and allegedly offered to Verizon, whose V Cast media distribution feats come to mind... Even before OnCue's cancellation was made official, the well-traveled Erik Huggers appeared to show an interest in the Hulu CEO job. (If Mr Huggers happens to be reading this: I'd be more than happy to relieve you of the PowerPoints that you used to pitch the project to Intel's top brass, not to mention the updates on the tortuous negotiations for content, and the reports from the user testing in Oregon. These slides must make fascinating corpospeak logic.) Krzanich quickly moved from doubt to certainty. He saw that OnCue would neither make money by itself, nor stimulate sales or margins for its main act, x86 processors. OnCue would never be an Apple TV "black puck", a supporting character whose only mission is to make the main personal computers (small, medium and large; smartphones, tablets and conventional PCs) more useful and pleasant. So he put an end to the impossible-to-justify adventure. That was easy. Tackling Intel's failure to gain a significant role in the (no longer) new world of smartphones is a much more complicated matter. With its x86 processors, Intel worked itself into a more-than-comfortable position as part of the Wintel ecosystem. The dominant position achieved by the Microsoft-Intel duopoly over two decades yielded correspondingly high margins for both. But smartphones changed the game. ARM processors proved themselves better than x86 at the two tasks that are integral to personal, portable devices: lowering power consumption and customization. The ARM architecture didn't have to wait for the iPhone and Android handsets to dominate the cell phone business. Just as Windows licensing spawned a large number of PC makers, ARM licensing contributed to the creation of a wide range of processor design and manufacturing companies. The ARM site claims 80 licensees for its newer Cortex family and more than 500 for its older Classic Arm processors. No monopoly means lower margins. Intel saw the unattractive margins offered by ARM processors and didn't want to commit the billions of dollars required by a fab (a chip manufacturing plant) for a product that would yield profits that were well below Wall Street expectations. The prospect of bargain basement margins undoubtedly figured in Otellini's decision to say no to the iPhone. In 2006, no one could have predicted that it could have been made up in volume, that there would be a billion smartphone sales in 2014. (I'm basing the 1B number for the entire industry on Horace Dediu's estimate of 250 million iOS devices for 2014.) Even if the Santa Clara company had had the foresight to accept lower margins in order to ensure their future in the smartphone market, there would still have been the problem of customization. Intel knows how to design and manufacture processors that used "as is" by PC makers. No customization, no problems. This isn't how the ARM world works. Licensees design processors that are customized for their specific device, and they send the design to a manufacturer. Were Intel to enter this world, they would no longer design processors, just manufacture them, an activity with less potential for profit. This explains why Intel, having an ARM license and making XScale processors, sold the business to Marvell in 2006 - a fateful date when looking back on the Apple discussions. But is Intel's new CEO is rethinking the "x86 and only x86" strategy? Last week, a specialty semiconductor company called Altera announced that Intel would fabricate some if its chips containing a 64-bit ARM processor. The company's business consists of offering faster development times through "programmable logic" circuits. Instead of a "hard circuit" to be designed, manufactured, tested, debugged, modified and sent back to the manufacturing plant in lengthy and costly cycles, you buy a "soft circuit" from Altera and similar companies (Xilinx comes to mind). This more expensive device can be reprogrammed on the spot to assume a different function, or correct the logic in the previous iteration. Pay more and get functioning hardware sooner, without slow and costly turns through a manufacturing process. With this in mind, what Intel will someday manufacture for Altera isn't the 64-bit ARM processor that excited some observers: "Intel Makes 14nm ARM for Altera". The Stratix 10 circuits Altera contracts to Intel manufacturing are complicated and expensive ($500 and up) FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) devices where the embedded ARM processor plays a supporting, not central, role. This isn't the $20-or-less price level arena in which Intel has so far declined to compete. Manufacturing chips for Altera might simply be work-for-hire, a quick buck for Intel, but I doubt it. Altera's yearly revenue is just shy of $2B; Intel is a $50B company. The newly announced device, just one in Altera's product lines, will not "move the needle" for Intel — not in 2014 (the ship date isn't specified), or ever. Instead, I take this as a signal, a rehearsal.  250M ARM SoCs at $20 each would yield $5B in revenue, 10% of Intel's current total... This might be what Krzanich had in mind about when he inked the "small" manufacturing agreement with Altera; perhaps he was weighing the smaller margins of ARM processors against the risk of slowing PC sales. Graciously freed from the past by his predecessor, it's hard to see how Intel's new CEO won't take the plunge and use the company's superb manufacturing technology to finally make ARM processors. JLG@mondaynoye.com

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