Motorola’s Padmasree Warrior

The Economist profiles Motorola’s CTO and the company’s vision:

Just as mobile phones already let you talk anywhere, says Ms Warrior, seamless mobility will let you do everything everywhere. All the pieces we have fit into that architecture, she says. Although mobile phones account for 40% of the company’s revenues, Motorola also makes everything from automotive electronics and home-theatre equipment to emergency radios and mobile-phone base-stations. Seamless mobility provides a rationale for staying in all those markets, and turns the firm’s diversity from a liability into an asset. Motorola says it is uniquely positioned to smooth the transition between home, work, automotive and mobile environments, providing high-speed internet access on trains, for example, e-mail in cars, video on phones, or mobile-phone coverage on planes.

Ms Warrior is the ideal ambassador for this new vision, and not simply because she co-invented it. She leads Motorola’s army of 4,600 technologists and marshals a $3.7 billion research budget, but her fearsome-sounding surname is at odds with her grace and charm. As an engineering graduate with a 20-year history at Motorola, she embodies both the technology-driven heritage of the old Motorola and the company’s new, more friendly, user-driven approach. Seamless mobility is a very different approach to that being taken by Nokia, Ericsson or Samsung, she insists, since it is defined not by equipment or industrial structure, but by ease of use.

Press Releases and Strategy

Paul Allen has some good advice:

advise CEOs to personally craft their company strategy. My favorite way to do this is not to write a 20 page document that no one will ever read, but simply to make a list of all the press release headlines they hope to issue during the next two years. What key announcements do they hope to make? Partnerships? Key Hires? Revenue Growth Announcements? Funding Events?

You can do this in a few hours.

One exercise Stephen Covey uses is to have you write your own obituary–what do you hope is said about you when you pass on?–and then you try to live your life accordingly.

Many startup CEOs do not have a well thought-out strategic plan. (It takes a ton of competitive and market research to know with certainty how you should proceed.) And many startup companies are very, very poor at telling their story through press releases.

In the internet era, you can consistently tell your story through press releases on your web site, without paying fees to PR agencies. As a startup you don’t need to pay $10,000 per month to have an agency write press releases and use their media contacts to get story placements. Unless of course you can afford this.

But for a few hundred dollars per month you can have releases written for your web site and for distribution on free press release services, including PRweb.com which gets indexed by Google News every day.

Press releases are useful for informing potential employees, business partners, customers, and investors about your company’s story. Usually when I want to learn about a company, I go to their web site and check their press releases. In a few minutes I can learn a great deal about them. If they don’t have any press releases, I assume they are a tiny player. Is that what you want people to think of your company?

Multi-Device Era

Red Herring Blog writes that the “PC is no longer the center of the computational universe”:

This change is as important to understand as the shift from mainframe computing in the 1980s. PCs are just one of the devices in users lives that they expect to be intelligent and to perform a variety of functions on their behalf. In order to do this, PCs must be able to handle a wider variety of file types, especially media files, and recognize what to do with those files in different contexts. For example, just as people would be disappointed in a television that didn’t recognize a video signal, their expectation today is that the PC needs to be able to handle incoming video and the metadata that describes what is in the video.

All the guidance and interface functionality that has been developing on the web and in the personal video recorder market is converging (theres that word again), but the PC itself is just another conduit, like mainframe computers became in the enterprise when the PC was first introduced.

Convergence, it turns out, is a distributed phenomenon, not something that will happen within the narrow confines of the computer and television.

The real action is at the edge of the network, in sleek consumer electronics on the shelf at home or in the dashboard of a car and the palm of the hand. By migrating computational power into these systems, Microsoft is hoping to make the PC the hub of the personal media environment.

But Intel, which has squeezed profits out of the increased power in the CPU based on the well-worn ratios described by Moore’s Law, needs to invest more heavily in winning real estate in this new generation of devices in order to embed more of its application programming interfaces (APIs) into the media stream. Without those API hooks for developers to build on, Intel quickly will become obsolete on the desktop, because its chips will not be enablers of the media stream.

Yelp: Local Recommendations

David Galbraith writes about Yelp:

Backed by Max Levchin, co-founder of Paypal, Yelp! is a service that allows you to find, share and manage recommendations for local services from people that you know.

Most online local services sites are not that useful, basically just an online version of the Yellow Pages. In fact, until this year, Dex, one of the major suppliers of local listings, did not even have search.

Google and Yahoo have embryonic local services sites but Yelp adds persistence and reach to the word of mouth process, which is the way most people find local businesses. It’s a marketplace worth more than the entire online advertising market at $14Bn in the US and $40Bn worldwide and so is starting to attract a great deal of interest.

Add Yelp to Yahoo and Google local, Citysearch and Craigslist and an interesting space is shaping up.

Its akin ot what we’ve bene thinking of as PIN-News.

SpikeSource: Productised Open Source Software

SpikeSource was one of the companies that came out of stealth mode at the Web 2.0 conference. It is interesting what their vision is:

IT faces unprecedented challenges and cost pressures today. Software license costs are out of control. Customers demand more flexibility than traditional proprietary software relationships allow, especially when application code and data are locked into a proprietary system. IT faces the burden of implementing and maintaining overly complex solutions whose selection may have had more to do with the promises of vendors’ pre-sales engineers than with the extensibility and manageability of the solutions they promoted.

A powerful alternative to vendors-as-usual has begun to emerge in the IT customer community. Enterprises have begun deploying open source solutions that work as well or better than the commercial systems they replace. IT is finding that the open source approach dramatically reduces not only software acquisition costs, but deployment and infrastructure costs as well, as these solutions scale across a wide variety of hardware that organizations often already owns. As more and more enterprises, government agencies and educational institutions deploy open source systems, their shared efforts further accelerate the pace of innovation and increase reliability. A powerful virtuous cycle has been born with tremendous implications for IT.

However, adoption of open source software has its own set of challenges. There are over 85,000 open source projects in existence today and quality and capabilities vary dramatically across all these efforts. While each of these projects solves a problem, the frequent releases of many open source projects mean that version mismatch is a continuous headache. IT is never certain which versions of which projects will actually work together in a reliable manner. IT demands support, documentation, and extreme reliability, yet open source projects rarely see the traditional rigor of software management. There is no formal product management, no disciplined release plan, and no integration testing with the thousands of other open source projects they need to work flawlessly with. Above all, support is informal at best, and where to go for help with cross-component problems isn’t always clear. Customers want to hold someone accountable. But whom?

This is the opportunity that inspired SpikeSource.

Robert Scoble summarises what Kim Polese, the CEO of SpikeSource, had to say at Web 2.0:

Specifically she sees two trends are happening. Software business and way software is getting built is going through enormous change. The architecture of software is undergoing enormous change. When that happens a renaissance is underway.

To come down a notch from that, what is happening in the software business as she sees it is that the open source world has flooded the world with components. That she’s seeing rapid innovation in software process automation to assembly.

That the traditional way of doing business — top down control and vertically integrated set of products — is being disrupted by open source and community-involved software projects.

She says that wikis, podcasting, are powerful examples of what happens when developers get together with users and that the speed with which innovation is happening and the speed of which users are trying these tools and adopting them is changing the industry under our feet.

I think it would be a good idea to put open-source software on a centralised computing platform: an OSS grid, as it were. And then provide virtual machines for developers. That is one of the things we want to do in Emergic.

TECH TALK: Web 2.0 Conference: Observations (Part 3)

Marc Canter summarised:

Software as a service
– Salesforce, NetSuite, Gmail
– This is a MAJOR new trend
– Via RSS or as web services? debate
– Tools server strategy – MaestroCMS

On-Demand computing
– IBMs efforts paying off
– Google building their own grid
– Platforms are back but theyre distributed and highly efficient
– prices are very negotiable for hosting and bandwidth

Lean & Mean
– scarred veterans rolling up their sleeves for 5-7 year journeys
– path to liquidity via sale not IPO (see this months Biz 2.0)
– nature of Web 2.0 bottom line, profitability survivor’s instincts

IT meets Open Source
– SpikeSource
– Continued movement of IM, digital identity and social networking into IT
– DIY IT

Open Standards
– Google, Amazon and eBay are part of the platform
– Technorati, Moveable Type and MeetUp too
– Tribe shipped FOAFnet compatiblity, eCademy and Orkut close behind

Rich Internet Applications
– Oddpost
– Laszlo goes open source
– Macromedias failures and future

The BBC picked on an idea by Brewster Kahle: Universal access to all human knowledge could be had for around $260m, a conference about the web’s future has been told. The idea of access for all was put forward by visionary Brewster Kahle, who suggested starting by digitally scanning all 26 million books in the US Library of Congress. Brewster Kahle’s idea is to scan as many books as possible and put them online so everyone has access to that huge amount of knowledgeHe estimated that the scanned images would take up about a terabyte of space and cost about $60,000 to store. Instead of needing a huge building to hold them, the entire library could fit on a single shelf.

Jeremy Zawodny elaborated on what Brewster Kahle had to say:

26 million books in the Library of Congress. Half are out of copyright. A book is about a megabyte. That’s 26TB of data, which costs $60,000 to store today. Google announced this morning that they’re digitizing in-print material and out-of-print material soon. It costs about $10/book to do scanning. That’s $260 million to get the whole thing.

Do we want to read books on screen? For $1/book, you can print and bind a black and white book. Lending from the library is supposedly $2, so it’s cheaper to just give the books away!

Audio. 2-3 million discs exist. 700 bands, 1,600 concerts, lots of taped stuff that bands let you trade. It’s a community. 200,000 different songs. Lots of fringe stuff is well served by the Internet. Non-profit record labels working well but need hosting. So the Internet Archive will offer unlimited bandwidth and storage forever for free if you use a Creative Commons License. It shouldn’t be a penalty to give things away–but it is on-line.

Moving images (movies). 100,000 – 200,000 movies. About half are Indian (?!). 300 on-line now w/out copyright. This is also doable. There are even Lego movies.

TV. Recording 20 channels in DVD quality 24 hours a day. They have around 1 petabyte already.

Software. The DMCA let’s them do that too.

Web. The Internet Archive is already well known. 20TB/month growth.

Over 1GB/sec of traffic. Multiple copies around the world.

Tomorrow: Observations (continued)

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