I write this both as a consumer and as a VC: Enough with the cell carriers’ games, we need a Carterfone decision. We need to connect what we want to today’s and, even more, to tomorrow’s wireless networks. Carriers abuse the airwaves We The People licensed to them. Or, perhaps more to the point, our elected representatives, instead of protecting our interests, let carriers pick our pockets and strangle innovation. Speaking of Change We Can Believe In, transparency in government and respect for the citizen’s hard-earned and vanishing buck, how about the Obama administration getting carriers to open their wireless networks the way landlines are? How about me, having the freedom to connect what I want and run whatever applications I want – as long as I respect rules similar to the ones for ordinary telephones, modems and fax machines? More
Before we “stop the presses”, and acknowledge the extinction of newspapers, as many pundits suggests, let’s take another look at the future of printing. In my view, within four years, newspaper production will become radically different from today’s process. We’ll enter an era of small print runs, highly decentralized printing units and above all, customized papers. More
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
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A piece of advice for news sites operators: invest money in a real recommendation engine, tag-based, social, or even semantic filtering. Readers will stay longer on your site, increasing the value of their visits. On average, major news sites don’t get more than 3 to 4 pages per visit. Sadly, those who manage to go well above those numbers rely on lame tricks such as increasing the page auto-refresh rate or stuffing their site with click-intensive items: online games or slide shows. More
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
Free, then paid-for, then free again, then partially paid, then free and now possibly micro-paid. That’s the New York Times pattern for its website since 1995. Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, floated the idea in an email Q&A sessions with readers:
“The idea is that readers may not pay a subscription fee for a new Web site, but they might pay a few pennies every time they click on a page, if it was simple and frictionless. In the heyday of Napster and other steal-this-music Web sites, a lot of people believed that consumers would simply not pay money to download music. Enter Apple and iTunes”.
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
I’m quite fond of Bloomberg’s iPhone application. My insomnia companion is my iPod touch, used as an alarm clock, and as a convenient bedtime newsreader. And the Bloomberg app is my favorite: good navigation, a simple bottom toolbar (News, Markets, MyStocks, StockFinder). In the News section, stories are shown as they are published and each time I open a page a banner briefly pops-up inviting me to go (or not to go, which is good) to the advertiser’s site. Articles are excellent as always, stocks charts — although depressing for those who owns any — are great, with pinch-zoom when looked in landscape mode. For a demo, you can go to this video, or, better, download the app for free on iTunes Appstore.
Fine, but the Bloomberg app is still version 1.0. More
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