Ecosystems

Fast Company writes:

An ecosystem beats a product because its collective of competitors can explore and invest in many more ideas than any single company can muster. For example, RCA might link a portable music device to satellite radio. If it fails, RCA bears the cost. If it succeeds, others will copy it. Simultaneously, Sony may push the option of adding more memory to its flash memory players. The bet may or may not pay off. But in either case, Apple on its own cannot match this capacity of the group to experiment.

In an ecosystem, all the players share some key components. Devices that can read the Windows version of digital music (WMA) all share the song base, and almost all can use subscription services such as Napster and Yahoo’s Music Unlimited. (Already, Napster and Ericsson have announced they’ll cooperate on a wireless version of Napster’s online music service capable of delivering tunes directly to cell phones.) Many non-Apple devices, by contrast, can’t use iTunes, just as iPods don’t work with WMA. This closed system made sense for the iPod’s launch phase, but once the music ecosystem has the capacity for far more experimentation — and that will happen any minute — even Apple, a profoundly innovative company, won’t be able to keep pace.

Yahoo’s Personality

The Economist discusses Yahoo’s “personality crisis”:

As if to prove the smorgasbord theory, Yahoo! this week finalised a $1 billion deal with Alibaba.com, a Chinese firm, that will give Yahoo! greater exposure to the promising, fashionable Chinese market, but may make Yahoo!’s product portfolio even less coherent. Yahoo! is primarily a consumer site, with everything from web search and web mail to news, music, photos, games and live chats. Alibaba has been mainly a business-to-business site that hooks up Chinese wholesalers and foreign retailers. This fits a pattern. Terry Semel, Yahoo!’s chief executive since 2001, has done a notable job turning Yahoo! around since the losses of the dotcom bust, says Jerry Michalski, a technology visionary in Berkeley, but in the process he has turned it into, well, a bit of a tart.

Yahoo!, of course, would disagree. The only place anyone needs to go to find anything, communicate with anyone, or buy anything, is how the firm describes itself, adding that it has a web audience of over 345m users in 25 countries. This appears to be paying off handsomely. Last month, Yahoo! reported quarterly revenues up by 51%, and profits up by 70%, compared with the same period last year (excluding the spectacular profits that Yahoo! made by selling shares it owned in its rival, Google). Internet advertising is growing fast, but Yahoo! is growing even faster, said Mr Semel.

Making Blogs Browsable

Dave Pollard writes: “By allowing blog articles to be indexed the way their author would organize them in a filing cabinet, and by allowing the reader to view blog articles by topic and sub-topic instead of just reverse chronological order, blogs would become much more useful for browsing, and this capability would also greatly enhance their value as business tools.”

Posting, Subscribing, and Tagging

Fred Wilson writes:

I like to keep things simple.

And to me blogging is about three things:

Posting, Subscribing, and Tagging.

These are the three essential and fundamental functions and they are the building blocks for all the different kinds of blogging.

Blogging is not limited to posting a short blast of text into Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, or Live Journal.

Blogging is way bigger than that.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: Next-Generation Services

All of the new next-generation networks that are being built promise to dramatically change the way we live and work. They will usher in the era of convergence which has been talked about for long, but is finally at hand. These networks will also help emerging markets like India leapfrog to a better digital infrastructure quickly. Given that this networking platform will become available, what are the new applications that will become part of our lives?

One approach is to look at the changes is through the three screens that are part of our lives: TV, computers and mobiles. Network TV is becoming networked TV. As Esther Dyson wrote in a recent Release 1.0 report:over the next decade, as a growing number of television sets, PCs and mobile devices are connected to what Jeremy Allaire, the founder of Brightcove, has dubbed the Internet of video. Plugging TV into IP rather than into a terrestrial cable system or a fleet of geosynchronous satellites, could redeem – or at least reinvigorate – the medium. The hermetically sealed world of television is about to be cracked open and rewired, transformed into an open publishing platform as a variety of new devices and services emerge to make independent video content easier – and perhaps even profitable – to produce and distribute to smaller subsets of the population.

There is a shift happening around the PC platform also. Bob Cringely wrote recently: Microsoft has known for a long time that the PC as a platform is dying. The trends it sees for successor technologies are clear: mobility and gaming. Mobility means some combination of a handheld computer and a mobile phone. Gaming means xBox 360 and all that it can be — a game system, a home media platform, a more-than-rudimentary Internet device and home PCAfter a decade of messing around, thin client computing is almost inevitable for businesses. Not only are existing computers too darned hard to service, support, and keep virus-free, but all the new legal requirements for protecting and preserving corporate data (Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA, GLBA, FERC and so many others) pretty much demand some central data repository.

Mobiles are becoming uber-all devices capable of playing not just music but also video. In fact, they will go much beyond that as two-way, multimedia teleputers which are always available. Nokias vision for the future lays out what we can expect. [2004 was phone as camera….2005] is the year of music — the cell phone as a sort of iPod, capable of downloading, saving and playing thousands of songs. 2006 will be the year of television on your mobile telephone. 2007 will be the year for games on the phone and the capability to play them against other phone users. 2008 will be the year of “my connected life,” when the years-old dream of cell phones that are Internet terminals will finally become a widespread reality, writes Media Info Center.

All of these three screens will rely on next-generation networks. The much-talked about converged world is at hand. The opportunity is to now look at the new services that these networks and complementary devices will enable. We will look at two such ideas Folk TV and Mirror Worlds.

Tomorrow: FolkTV

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