About Jean-Louis Gassée

http://

Posts by Jean-Louis Gassée:

Convergence

Old word, at least in the Valley. The meaning has shifted over time; we no longer say digital convergence: everything is digital now, precisely the reason why the convergence concept arose in the first place.  Everything being reduced to zeroes and ones, to bits, all sorts of information, media, content (all much abused words) would now be stored, networked and rendered, played together.  As a result of this uniform digitization, content would be ‘repurposed’ thus providing ‘business model extensions’.  In a plainer English example, celluloid movie libraries are now be sold as DVD, on cable TV channels or iTunes downloads, Netflix rentals and streaming. More

Pen and Paper

We haven’t had a gadget story in a while, this is one and perhaps more than that. Not about Kindle 2, I haven’t tried it yet, but still somewhat related as we’re jumping again into the paper and screen topic.  Ebooks deal with one kind of electronic ink, the one used to display text.  Another kind is offered by Tablet PCs.  That PC sub-species has struggled for years and now enjoys a niche in vertical applications such as data collection/transmission/display in hospitals or for insurance adjusters.  The dream of writing on a computer tablet as pleasantly and flexibly as we write on paper and magically transcribing our scratches into machine text is still a dream. More

eBooks and Smartphones

Update: see a presentation of the Kindle2 here.

Another look at an old, but not aging, topic: eBooks. There is visible agitation ahead of Amazon’s expected announcement, probably as you read this note Monday February 9th.  Jeff Bezos is set to announce a new version of the Kindle eBook reader, let’s call it Kindle 2.0. [Since I first drafted this column, bloggers obliged with more details.  February 9th announcement, ships Feb 24th, price $359 (?!).  See here]. By “coincidence”, Google announces a neat eBook reader Web application (as opposed to a native one, to code running on the device) for Android and iPhone.  See it here, it’s almost perfect on the iPhone, with an option to place a neat dedicated icon on the Home screen.  I write almost perfect because, unlike Google Reader, another Google Web app, the top of the book reading app screen seems to be fighting with the always present top of the iPhone screen. FINR (Fixed In Next Revision). More

What Would Google Do?

This is the title of a new book by Jeff Jarvis, (his blog here) one that triggered a really good (I’m not always in love with the magazine’s writings) Business Week story.  Focusing on Detroit, the book and the story propose a revolution in automotive design: openness.  Don’t design everything yourself, open your engineering processes, let customers and suppliers participate in the design effort.  Google is used as the example of open design.  Look at how they open themselves to user input by launching a product, say Gmail, as an open beta.  Three opens in one sentence…  As a result, Google benefits from early customer feedback and uses suggestions and bug reports to improve subsequent revisions. More

What to invest in now?

So, awright, we have a real new president. Some in the kommentariat found his Inaugural Address “average”.  Others, such as the NYT’s editors, gave it carefully weighted yet eloquent praise.  I enjoyed the sobriety, the quality of the language, not too everyday, not too clerical or esoteric.  Above all, I like the call to collective responsibility and Obama’s view we don’t need to choose between our security and our principles.  In other words, no torture.  The Statue of Liberty can uncover her eyes, wipe her tears of shame.  And maybe join the crowd and cry for joy a little.

Back to work.
More

Healthcare

Last week’s dismissal of Healthcare as one of the subjects to watch in 2009 was met with strong retorts. Difficult, confusing, fraught with ideology, demagoguery, logomachies, it doesn’t matter, readers write back.  This is the most important topic of all, without health, nothing else counts, look at how much of the GDP gets into healthcare. More

Things to watch in 2009

No predictions, no forecast, that’s above my pay grade, just sifting through this coming year’s most interesting trends.  The Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times, being upon us, we might as well try and make the best of this New Year. More

Energetic Feedback

Last week’s column got me the most energetic feedback – so far. Some dislike what they call my negativism, my being a non-believer in a bright future for new energies, others think I’m wrong to call the electric car an out-of-reach dream.  Look at ethanol, a green replacement for Foreign Oil, look at the Tesla, right in my Silicon Valley backyard.  Add a few ad hominem barbs and the picture is complete.
This is understandable.  The general topic of new energies, of our dependence on foreign oil, of lowering CO2 emissions, of replacing today’s gas-guzzling vehicles with electric ones is loaded with strong emotions.  One doesn’t have to be a climate scientist to worry about the effects of dumping ever-increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Some of us criticize China for burning more coal than the US, Europe and Japan combined in its 541 coal-fired power plants.  Sure, but how do we convince the Chinese they shouldn’t aspire to the same level of electric power consumption as ours?  And India and Indonesia…  Add oil prices rising to $145 a barrel before falling below $40.  Both climate and economic ruin threaten us. More

Energy: Dreams and Realities

More good news this week: On January 20th, 2009, reality will re-enter the White House. As a Silicon Valley type, by reality I mean technology, science, you know, facts.  We’re happy to see a real scientist as our next Energy Secretary, for example.  Obama just appointed a Physics Nobel Prize winner, Steve Chu, to the post.  Before running the Lawrence Livermore Labs, as he does today, the gentleman used to be a Stanford University professor.  This is reassuring. More

The Web of Objects

For more than two decades, we’ve seen a succession of attempts to “connect everything”. One of the real fathers of the Internet, not Al Gore but Vint Cerf, once graced the cover of a geek magazine wearing a t-shirt with the now famous slogan: IP on Everything.
.
He was and is right.  The destiny of every meaningful object in our lives is to have sensors, actuators some time, and always an IP stack for wired or wireless communication. Destiny is the operative word here, because we haven’t made as much progress as we hoped.  In 1986, Mike Markkula, one of Apple’s early backers and leaders, started Echelon.  The idea was to make chips so small and inexpensive they’d be everywhere, even inside a light bulb socket.  Thus, using the electric wires as the network, the Echelon chip would monitor the lamp and report the condition (healthy or soon to fail) of its filament, for example.  Same idea for industrial or home furnaces, security systems, meter reading and the like.  Here and there, we see experiments but no broad use, not in the sense of personal computers, WiFi, cell phones or GPS units. More