Friday, November 18, 2011

Microsoft vs. Google: Productivity Suties

Here's an interesting article on the difference from a reseller's (i.e. distribution) perspective between Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs, both attempts to plant a flag in cloud based knowledge work (i.e. Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations, etc...)

Six ways to save the internet

Excellent 15 min. talk about the future of technology and new trends.

Totally worth it.

Roger McNamee: Six ways to save the internet | Video on TED.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fast Co's article on the great tech war...

The issue is out, and the full article is available online... Particularly interesting was this graph of threatened industries/companies...

http://infographics.fastcompany.com/magazine/160/fab-four-infographic.html

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sony's Not Dead (yet)

This post is in response to Carl's two excellent sets of graphs depicting Sony's recent decline.

There is no doubt that Sony has faltered in the last several years and is losing ground to more innovative companies such as Apple. However, there is at least some reason not to discount Sony quite yet.

The Wall Street Journal has a great article outlining Sony's intention to innovate internet-based TV. Howard Stringer (Sony's CEO) has also mentioned a innovative new line of television sets, which he claims will claim a premium price, restoring profitability to the ailing line.

Of course, we've heard these claims before. Apple tried and failed to negotiate with content providers over a more integrated set of broadcast channels to provide via the internet. Will Sony succeed where Apple failed?

We've also heard rumors that Apple is creating a Siri-voice recognition powered television set for the 2012 or 2013 market, so will Sony's new television be ground breaking enough? The path is certainly not clear for Sony, but there is at least a couple reasons to believe that they haven't checked out of the race just yet. Of course, going toe-to-toe with Apple in gaming may get even more challenging in years to come, further emphasizing Sony's gaming decline. It should be an interesting show!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SOPA, Google and Politics

Today Google's Eric Schmidt described the Stop Online Piracy Act as "Censorship" and "Draconian".

Google is taking another political stance, much the way it did on China last year. And once again tech bloggers are calling for other tech companies to follow Google's example. I for one did not expect Google to stand completely alone against China last year, so I'm curious to see if any other tech companies will back them on this move.

Google receives most of their revenue online, so they have little to gain by the passing of the bill.
Since Microsoft still sells a lot of traditional software, they stand to benefit from powerful anti piracy laws, regardless of the political ramifications (censorship and greater potential abuses of power).

If SOPA does pass, I don't doubt that a new technology will pop up to cater to alienated software pirates, so I personally see it as a temporary solution with potential side-effects, but there's no doubt that it would be a disruptive force in the world of illegal software.

There are several fascinating angles to look at SOPA and Google's tough political stance from, what do you find most interesting?

Is Mario killing Tanooki?

Using the worldwide known Nintendo Brand, PETA is trying to push their own agenda about animal rights.

For me it is clear that PETA don't think that Nintendo is actually promoting animal torture but it is interesting how this organization is leveraging their animal rights campaign on Nintendo's launch of Super Mario 3D Land.

http://supermario3dland.nintendo.com/

http://features.peta.org/mario-kills-tanooki/

Warning: The video on the PETA webpage contains some strong but real images.



Dwolla - a new way to pay

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-11-11/tech/30381380_1_credit-card-interchange-fees-paypal

This article is directly relevant to the project on electronic payments. Dwolla is a new company that enables electronic payments the same way that PayPal does, except they undercut PayPal in their pricing models. Dwolla only charges $0.25 per transaction. Credit-Card companies are side-stepped completely. This service can be used for person-to-person payments, B2B, and B2C. This seems like a radical departure from the current payment network that uses credit cards and creates wasted and enables fraud. Using Dwolla essentially connects everyone’s bank accounts, so payments are easy and instantaneous. It will take some time for Dwolla to grow their network and get merchants to accept payments, but a solution like this feels inevitable.

Seamless Connectivity

I'm not your average consumer of technology, I'm neither Mac, PC, Linux, or Tablet. I'm all of them. I love my HP PC, my MacBook Pro, and my Ubuntu Server. I love my Windows Phone, and my iPod Touch. I love my Xbox 360, and my Wii. I love my friends' iPads, and I cannot wait for my own Kindle Fire to arrive.

My only wish is to connect all my technology seamlessly.

My Xbox, Windows PC, and Windows Phone, all interconnect.
My iPod and MacBook Pro are seamlessly intergrated.

The only current interconnectivity is through Amazon: My Kindle, Kindle Fire, and Kindle Apps (on iPod, Windows Phone, and all laptops) are all interconnected. I can read my books anywhere.

I will offer a conjecture that the tech company that can seamlessly integrate across all screensizes, formats, and user experiences will thrive in the volatile technology market. Using Amazon's WhisperSync to connect all my reading material can only be the first step, I would like interconnect every instance of my Angry Birds, Microsoft Word, and my financial analysis apps. (finviz, BofA, Charles Schwab, etc.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sony - yet another post suggesting decline

Sony - Gaming loses money, insurance makes it


After making my last post on how I think that Sony is really messing up a great lead in the gaming industry, I found an article that clearly states the revenue generators for Sony (largest is consumer electronics) and the largest profit generator (insurance?!)

http://www.splatf.com/2011/11/sony-profits/


Sony - The Giant is Falling Asleep

SONY

Gaming Industry


Revenue 2010-11
networked products and services segment

$18,006 million


Summary

Sony is the major player when it comes to the gaming industry. Since the release of the original PlayStation console in 1995, Sony has earned this position in the extremely competitive market. With global sales of 102 million PlayStation units, and 150 million PlayStation 2 units, top design houses have battled to have their games released on the consoles before other systems and this has raised the barriers for competitors. With games such as Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto, and the Final Fantasy Series, Sony has become a part of every gamers life. However, most recently due to the PS3 release delay and the Security Breach of the PlaysStation Network, Sony has jeopardized this dominion and will most likely face stiffer competition in the future.

Present

Most recently, Sony has not been doing very well. First, they released the PS3 a year late and this cost the company a lot of customers who purchased an Xbox 360 instead. Because of this, Microsoft gained a substantial advantage in building brand awareness. As of 2008, 5.4 million PS3 consoles had been sold compared to 12 million for the Xbox 360 and 12.7 million Wii systems.

The second issue was that on April 19, 2011 the PlayStation Network was put offline due to a “compromise of personal information as a result of illegal intrusion.” This intrusion cost Sony a lot of loyal customers who no longer feel secure using PSN or simply can’t. Again, this has benefited Microsoft.

Future

Sony is in a difficult position for the future. Both of the issues mentioned above have allowed competitors to catch up. However, they recognize the challenges ahead and have started preparing for the future.

The introduction of the Move has allowed Sony to enter the Immersive Gaming space, one that has proven very successful for Nintendo and Microsoft. Since the PS3 hardware is very powerful, they will surely take advantage of this and other immersive gameplay experiences. By incorporating Sony’s massive R&D they can connect the PS3 with Sony Mobile Phones, Bravia Televisions, and other Sony Home Entertainment Devices to take immersive gameplay experiences to the next level.

Also, Sony has announced their intention to make the PlayStation Network an “open” system, which means that the PSN will be open to systems other than the PS3. If they can make their system more secure, this may be a huge move for Sony. By commoditizing the online experience they may take customers away from Microsoft since players will be able to play against other systems and other friends.

Lastly, Sony has started testing online distribution models and this will afford Sony better margins, marketing research, and sales. They need to get on this like white on rice. However, they can’t fully take advantage of this until they solve the issues with the PSN. If customers don’t feel safe playing for free, it will be unlikely that customers will want to have their credit cards stolen.

I would say that Sony is not positioned very well for the future.

Insight

The industry as a whole is very similar for the three main console manufacturers: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. All three are following similar business plans in regards to online distribution, immersive gameplay experiences, and online gaming. As far as games are concerned, partnerships don’t offer the competitive advantage they once did because developers have more leverage. The future lies in hardware development and being the first to market. If they make hardware that inspires developers, this is where a company can take the lead! Whether it is by making the new 8th generation console, or cloud computing, Sony needs to have developers on their side once again.

The immediate steps that Sony needs to take are to introduce an 8th generation system before everyone else, improve network security on their side, and really take advantage of the immersive gaming experience and the fact that they have so many other consumer products that Microsoft and Nintendo do not.

Thormahlen, C. Video Games in the US. IBISWorld Industry Report NN003. March 2011
Playstation Network. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Network
Playstation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playstation


Program or be Programmed

Interesting insight into what it means to add value at this point in the competitive landscape:

"When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them. In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It's really that simple: Program, or be programmed." - Douglas Rushkoff

http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/10/program-or-be-programmed.html
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