Google Box

Robert Cringely builds on his previous post about Google’s plan for a “data centre-in-a-box.”

…the most important reason for Google to distribute its data centers in this way is to work most efficiently with a hardware device the company is thinking of providing to customers. This embedded device, for which I am afraid I have no name, is a small box covered with many types of ports – USB, RJ-45, RJ-11, analog and digital video, S-video, analog and optical sound, etc. Additional I/O that can’t be seen is WiFi and Bluetooth. This little box is Google’s interface to every computer, TV, and stereo system in your home, as well as linking to home automation and climate control. The cubes are networked together wirelessly in a mesh network, so only one need be attached to your broadband modem or router. Like VoIP adapters (it does that too, through the RJ-11 connector) the little cubes will come in the mail and when plugged in will just plain work.

Think about the businesses these little gizmos will enable. The trouble with VoIP in the home has been getting the service easily onto your home phone. Then get a box for each phone. The main hurdle of IP TV is getting it from your computer to your big screen TV. Just attach a box to every TV and it is done, with no PC even required. Sounds like Apple’s Video Express, eh? On top of entertainment and communication the cubes will support home alarm and automation systems – two businesses that are huge and also not generally on the radar screens of any Google competitors.

Swivel

Dan Farber writes about the new avatar of Grand Central:

Swivel is applying the Grand Central hosted integration platform concept to hottest Web spaceonline advertising and e-commerce. According to the Swivel Web site, the software service helps monitor ad spend, site traffic, conversions and other metrics across popular Web commerce platforms, such as Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, or Yahoo Publisher, tracking real time stats and optimizing revenue across all programs.

Under “Coming Soon” is integration with salesforce.com (Minor was an early investor in the company), PayPal, Intuit, eBay and various shopping sites. If you have blog or sell products across various online shopping sites, such as eBay and Yahoo Shopping, Swivel is designed to aggregate and synchronize the data, send out alerts and provide dashboards and business intelligence for optimizing revenue generation. According to the Web site, Swivel is currently working with a limited number of beta users.

The Return of Monetised Eyeballs

Om Malik writes:

A sharp rebound in the online advertising market, and big media companies like AOL (a division of Time Warner) buying up folks like Weblogs Inc, has prompted a sudden increase in the value of the eyeballs, the dreaded phrase from the early days of Internet mania.

This time, the buyout metrics are slightly different as new variables like cost of customer acquisition and stickiness. In the article, I point out that the acquisition price per unique visitor had fallen from an all time high of $710 (Yahoos purchase of Broadcast.com) in April 1999 to about 73 cents in November 2001. How are we doing these days? About $10 a unique visitor! Weblogs Inc. co-founder Jason Calacanis advises And build a brand. Because without that, youre going nowhere.

Cellphones Future

Technology Review has an interview with Mats Lindoff, the CTO of Sony Ericsson:

Technology Review: Where do you see the cell phone’s biggest impacts in the next few years?

Mats Lindoff: In 2009 we estimate cell phone companies will sell over 800 million phones. With a six billion global population, that means every eighth person will buy a new cell phone every year. I think that is quite amazing. Think what other technology has had such influence — maybe electricity? TV is much less, Internet is much less, cars are much less. The Internet is a little piece of the cake compared to cell phones. I think half a billion people will, this year, make their first phone call on a cell phone.

TECH TALK: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Work

The Economist wrote about his early work:

The two most interesting arguments in The Concept of the Corporation actually had little to do with the decentralisation fad. They were to dominate his work.

The first had to do with empowering workers. Mr Drucker believed in treating workers as resources rather than just as costs. He was a harsh critic of the assembly-line system of production that then dominated the manufacturing sectorpartly because assembly lines moved at the speed of the slowest and partly because they failed to engage the creativity of individual workers. He was equally scathing of managers who simply regarded companies as a way of generating short-term profits. In the late 1990s he turned into one of America’s leading critics of soaring executive pay, warning that in the next economic downturn, there will be an outbreak of bitterness and contempt for the super-corporate chieftains who pay themselves millions.

The second argument had to do with the rise of knowledge workers. Mr Drucker argued that the world is moving from an economy of goods to an economy of knowledgeand from a society dominated by an industrial proletariat to one dominated by brain workers. He insisted that this had profound implications for both managers and politicians. Managers had to stop treating workers like cogs in a huge inhuman machinethe idea at the heart of Frederick Taylor’s stopwatch managementand start treating them as brain workers. In turn, politicians had to realise that knowledge, and hence education, was the single most important resource for any advanced society.

Business Week outlined his key ideas:

It was Drucker who introduced the idea of decentralization — in the 1940s — which became a bedrock principle for virtually every large organization in the world.

He was the first to assert — in the 1950s — that workers should be treated as assets, not as liabilities to be eliminated.

He originated the view of the corporation as a human community — again, in the 1950s — built on trust and respect for the worker and not just a profit-making machine, a perspective that won Drucker an almost godlike reverence among the Japanese.

He first made clear — still the ’50s — that there is “no business without a customer,” a simple notion that ushered in a new marketing mind-set.

He argued in the 1960s — long before others — for the importance of substance over style, for institutionalized practices over charismatic, cult leaders.

And it was Drucker again who wrote about the contribution of knowledge workers — in the 1970s — long before anyone knew or understood how knowledge would trump raw material as the essential capital of the New Economy.

Knowledge@Wharton adds:

Wide-ranging as Drucker’s contributions were to the field of management, his writings about marketing are as important, say Wharton professors. Stephen J. Hoch, chairperson of the marketing department, describes Drucker as “the Warren Buffett of management gurus. His analysis of management and marketing issues always was pithy and to the point. No pandering to buzzwords and fads, but a constancy of message, with straightforward reasoning and clearly articulated ideas. The following statement attributed to Drucker is today still the essence of marketing: ‘The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. (It) … is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself. Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who is ready to buy.'”

Tomorrow: Writings

Continue reading TECH TALK: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Peter Drucker: Managements Newton: Work

Microsoft Moves Beyond the PC

The Economist writes:

Microsoft has been trying for years to move beyond the PC, and into other devices such as mobile phones, television set-top boxes and games consoles. The big ber-strategy that this falls under relates to what’s happening in the home, says Robbie Bach, Microsoft’s chief Xbox officer and head of a newly formed business unit that brings together Microsoft’s gaming, mobile and TV divisions. We identified many years ago that the digital revolution was going to have a big impact, and we see a big opportunity there, he says. As all these other electronic devices increasingly resemble computers, they offer Microsoft new opportunities to sell software. Just as importantly, they offer new avenues for growth: sales of non-PC devices are growing much faster than sales of PCs. Microsoft wants the next 30 years to be as successful as the last 30 years, so we have to continually find new market opportunities, says Christine Heckart of Microsoft’s TV division.

Post-Network Economy

Umair Haque writes:

The fundamental economic shift taking place in the 21st century is the shift from cheap information to cheap coordination.

In the second half of the 20th century, thing got digitized, and then networked – the cost of information itself dropped discontinuously. This made the dominant strategy hyperspecialization – to leverage this cheap info by building core competences, which are essentially, scale economies in specialization.

Now, new technologies are making coordination discontinuously cheap – it’s now increasingly possible to do things with that information, without the need to build the huge coordination mechanisms firms employ; like bosses, managers, meetings, roles, and performance assessments.

At it’s heart, this is why Web 2.0 is important – it’s about going beyond cheap information; about dropping the costs of coordination. This is the shift to a post-network economy; where what we do with the stuff on the network is more valuable than just being part of the network.

Attention Namespace for OPML

Nick Bradbury writes:

What I propose is that aggregator users and developers have an open discussion about what specific attention data could (and should) be collected by aggregators.

Although there’s a lot of attention data that could be stored in OPML, my recommendation is that we keep it simple – otherwise, we risk seeing each aggregator support a different subset of attention data. So rather than come up with a huge list of attributes, I’ll start by recommending a single piece of attention data: rank.

We need a way to rank feeds that makes sense across aggregators, so that when you export OPML from one aggregator, the aggregator you import into would know which feeds you’re paying the most attention to. This could be used for any number of things – recommending related feeds, giving higher ranked feeds higher priority in feed listings, etc.

Although user interface and workflow differences require each aggregator to have its own algorithm for ranking feeds, we should be able to define a ranking attribute that makes sense to every aggregator. In FeedDemon’s case, a simple scale (say, 0-100) would work: feeds you rarely read would get be ranked closer to zero, while feeds you read all the time would be ranked closer to 100. Whether this makes sense outside of FeedDemon remains to be seen, so I’d love to hear from developers of other aggregators about this.

Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs

Forbes writes:

Paul Jacobs dismisses the myriad threats. The Nokia complaint in Europe is merely a political attempt to slow Qualcomm down, he says. The Broadcom suit is “without merit,” the company says. Intel’s Wimax dream is little more than a PowerPoint presentation, he adds. “They’re the kind of people who see the world as a nail because they have a hammer.”

To keep Qualcomm ahead, he puts his faith in innovation, packing ever more lifestyle features into the cell phone of the future. Picture-taking, music-playing, television, movies, videogames–Qualcomm engineers are integrating as much of this fun stuff as possible into their wireless chips. In three years the company has invested $4 billion in such pursuits as a better call-routing design, push-to-talk calling over the Internet, vivid color screens and ways to beam live, crisp video to handsets.

Next year Qualcomm launches its MediaFlo service, offering carriers 15 live TV channels and 40 channels of videoclips; it is spending $800 million to set up the net. It grew out of a random chat Paul had one day in late 2001 with Sanjay Jha, who now runs Qualcomm’s chip division. Paul pulled out his new iPod handheld player and rhapsodized, “It is so cool.” Soon they were what-iffing:Wouldn’t it be great if you could hear a song on the radio and buy it and download it at the press of a button on your phone? “And that is how MediaFlo was born,” Jha says.

It’s another long shot, but Paul Jacobs is undaunted by skepticism about the huge capital drain. Says he: “I think having people underestimate you is a good thing.”