HBO’s Broadband Plans

Business Week writes:

If HBO takes on the Internet presence expected in the coming months, it could cause no small dustup with some of HBO’s biggest customersnamely the cable and satellite companies that charge fees for beaming HBO movies and shows such as The Sopranos and Entourage into America’s homes.

HBO executives have been hashing out the details of what they will offer online, and a spokesman says no formal decision has been made. But programming will almost certainly be offered via a subscription service, much like the mixture of HBO movies and original fare such as The Wire, Deadwood, and Big Love now offered by cable and satellite operators for a monthly fee of $10 to $12 or more.

Desktop and Web Integration

Read/Write Web writes:

If either Microsoft or Google is successful at grabbing the other’s data, the most useful byproduct of their efforts will be new ways to easily move data between the desktop and web. The result of this battle will further blur the lines between purely desktop and exclusively web applications.

But as often happens when elephants trample the landscape, they create new opportunities for smaller, more nimble animals to grow and prosper. As Microsoft and Google narrow their focuses on each other, they will either fail to notice the landscape is changing underfoot, or will be unable to adapt quickly enough. It’s not just naive optimism; there’s plenty of historical precedent. Just as Ford couldn’t build all the world’s cars, AT&T all the world’s telephones and IBM all the world’s computers – neither Microsoft nor Google will be able to write all the world’s software. In fact, the very rise of Google demonstrated this to Microsoft. As a result, the consumer and business software markets are poised to open up as never before.

India’s Middle Class

Sramana Mitra writes about the opportunities in targeting the 300 million segment:

Today, however, the opportunity for fueling more growth via education still remains, at all levels – from K-12, as well as in college and graduate education.

In pursuing this, one should squarely keep in mind the NIIT model, and refrain from trying to sell technology to schools. [I recently had lengthy discussions with Atanu Dey who is researching this topic and harbors desires to do something entrepreneurial.] The Sylvan / Kumon learning center model, for one, would be very successful in India, and tutorial centers are very popular places, helping clear exams such as JEE.

Other obvious areas that the Indian middle class spends wallet share on are Bollywood, Cell Phones, and Consumer Staples. JobSearch and Matrimonial Classifieds are also popular categories, and are being thoroughly addressed by the internet investments of recent times.

Retailing in India

The Economist writes: “Foreign retailers mount an onslaught on India, and local companies fight back.”

INDIA’s retail revolution is at last getting started. At the moment 97% of retail sales are made in more than 15m tiny mom-and-pop stores, mostly of less than 500 square feet (46 square metres). But now Reliance Industries, the country’s largest business group, is to spend 250 billion rupees ($5.5 billion) on big new shops over five years, starting on November 3rd when it will open 11 convenience stores in the southern city of Hyderabad. And big foreign companies are moving in too. The government bans them from selling direct to individuals, but they have found a side door: starting wholesale and sourcing companies which supply a local retail partner. The first to do this, last month, was Australia’s Woolworths, in league with Tata, India’s second-largest firm. Tesco, from Britain, is expected to follow soon, and Wal-Mart and France’s Carrefour are also thought to be searching for a way in.

Nintendo’s Strategy

WSJ writes:

Nintendo is trying to reinvent the market by going after a largely untapped audience — people over 25 years old. In a new game console to be introduced later this month, the company is aiming for simplicity, rather than the computing power and fast-paced graphics that have pushed Nintendo’s rivals past it.

The company will still offer classic shoot-’em-up games and new editions of its cartoony 1980s hits such as Super Mario Bros. But Nintendo will be moving beyond flashing thumbs and joysticks to a new kind of controller that players wave in the air. They can stand in their living rooms and mimic the motion of casting a fishing rod, tossing a bowling ball, or swinging a tennis racket — and see it happen on their TV screens.

If Nintendo’s risky strategy is successful, it could challenge the conventional wisdom in the $17 billion console videogame industry: that success lies in the fastest, most powerful machines possible, whatever the cost.

TECH TALK: Good Books: Beautiful Evidence and More Than You Know

Beautiful Evidence

I have been a fan of Tufte ever since I heard a presentation of his more than 15 years ago in the US. Beautiful Evidence is his latest book. Tuftes forte is information visualisation. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Tufte: Tufte’s work is important in such fields as information design and visual literacy, which deal with the visual communication of information. He coined the term chartjunk to refer to useless, non-informative, or information-obscuring elements of information displays. Tufte’s work argues strongly against the inclusion of any decoration in visual presentations of information and claims that ink should only be used to convey significant data and aid its interpretation.

The focus in this book is on evidence presentation. As Tufte writes in the introduction: [The book] is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence, suggests new designs, and provides analytical tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.

Tuftes books are a visual delight when it comes to the photos and illustrations with the accompanying analysis. This book is no different. My favourite section in the book is the discussion about sparklines intense, simple, word-sized graphics. Sparklines can be especially useful for displaying data on mobiles.

More Than You Know

Michael Mauboussin is chief investment strategist at Legg Mason Capital. I was introduced to his writings by Chetan Parikh, Abhay Bhagat and Yuvaraj Galada. His essays are very thought-provoking. His book More Than You Know is a collection of his essays written over the past few years.

Here is what Publishers Weekly has to say [via Amazon.com]:

Mauboussin is not your average Wall Street equity analyst, writing investment recommendations whose topical interest wanes a few days after the report is issued. His strategy reports begin with scientific findings from diverse fields, then show why an investor should care. This book is a collection of 30 short reports, revised and updated, covering animal behavior (“Guppy Love: The Role of Imitation in Markets”), psychology (“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”), philosophy of science (“The Janitor’s Dream: Why Listening to Individuals Can be Hazardous to Your Wealth”) and other fields. Each essay describes a fascinating scientific finding, then develops and applies it to personal investing. “Survival of the Fittest,” for example, begins by discussing how Tiger Woods improved his golf swing, introduces the concept of fitness landscapes from evolutionary biology, then explains why investors in commodity-producing companies should like strong centralized management, while technology-stock buyers should prefer flexible organizations with lots of disruptive new ideas. The book is breezy and well written, but not dumbed down, and provides extensive references. It can be read for entertainment as popular science or to broaden your investment thinking.

You can find some of Mauboussins recent essays here.

Continue reading TECH TALK: Good Books: Beautiful Evidence and More Than You Know