Clean Energy Investing

The Economist writes in a special report:

Clean-energy fever is being fuelled by three things: high oil prices, fears over energy security and a growing concern about global warming. The provision of energy, the industry’s cheerleaders say, will change radically over the coming decades. Polluting coal- and gas-fired power stations will give way to cleaner alternatives such as solar and wind; fuels derived from plants and waste will supplant petrol and diesel; and small, local forms of electricity generation will replace mammoth power stations feeding far-flung grids. Eventually, it is hoped, fuel cells running on hydrogen will take the place of the ubiquitous internal combustion engine. It is a bold vision, but if it happens very slowly, or only to a limited extent, boosters argue that it will still prompt stupendous growth for firms in the business.

Analysts confidently predict the clean-energy business will grow by 20-30% a year for a decade. Jefferies, an investment bank that organised a recent conference on the industry in London, asked participants how soon solar power would become competitive with old-fashioned generation technologies: in 2010, 2015 or 2020. More distant dateslet alone neverwere not even discussed. About three-quarters of those present, one visitor gleefully observed, were cheque-writers. This megatrend, the keynote speaker gushed, may be the biggest job- and wealth-creation opportunity of the 21st century.

About.com: King of SEO

Read/Write Web writes how About.com has mastered search engine optimisation — 80% of its traffic comes from search engines.

About.com is made up of 500 “Guides”, people who are experts on a certain topic. In a way About.com was the precursor to topic-focused blogs. Only the guides are more renowned for writing how-to articles, rather than the analysis and commentary of the best blogs. About.com these days also has a lot of reviews and product comparisons, similar to a site like CNET.

In terms of stats, Scott told me that About’s total revenue is growing slightly faster than their page views – so revenue grew 40% last year, compared to 30% increase in page views for the same period. On the 80% of total traffic from search engines, when you consider that About specializes in writing how-to guides for hundreds of topics – then 80% sounds reasonable. I myself often bump into About.com webpages when I need to find out how to do something. But 80% is still a huge amount and illustrates plainly the difference between About.com guides and bloggers (most of whom rely on incoming links and subscribers for their traffic). It also shows how well About has mastered the art of SEO!

Mobile Web

InfoWorld writes:

“To date the mobile Web has been a bust,” said Joe Costello, Orb Networks Inc.’s co-founder and chairman. Orb allows remote access to content stored on a PC.

Skype Ltd. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Niklas Zennstrom was a bit kinder: “Many of you, as I, have been disappointed with mobile offerings from the 3G [third-generation] operators,” he said.

Operators have typically restricted what mobile users could access online, often by only allowing access to Internet services within their own portals. While some operators have begun to open up in that regard, few in Europe have moved to unlimited data plans. That means customers are often reluctant to use Internet-based applications because they’re unsure about how much it might cost them.

Microsoft and Online Advertising

WSJ writes:

Today, Microsoft is making up for lost time. It now has a fully staffed sales force on par with the rest of the Internet industry. It’s investing in a broad range of services for placing ads on the Web, in videogames, on mobile phones and alongside Internet search results.

Online advertising has emerged as the foundation stone of a whole host of new Web businesses. Research eMarketer forecasts that the market will balloon to $25 billion in 2010 from $15.9 billion today. As a result, Microsoft has started to learn what makes advertisers tick as a way to get deep into a business that’s as much Madison Avenue salesmanship as Silicon Valley genius.

PS3’s Economics

Business 2.0 writes:

Sony (SNE) will lose $241.35 on every PlayStation 3 game console it sells at $599, and $306.85 on every console it sells with a smaller hard drive at $499, according to an analysis of the component costs conducted by iSuppli, a research firm.

That’s a staggering figure that is sure to influence how this round of the console war plays out. (In perspective, Sony will take a loss equal to the retail price of a Nintendo Wii every time it sells a PS3.)

ower,” said Andrew Rassweiler, teardown services manager and senior analyst for iSuppli. “If someone had shown me the PlayStation 3 motherboard from afar without telling me what it was, I would have assumed it was for a network switch or an enterprise server.”

TECH TALK: Cyworld: Key Features

The heart of Cyworld revolves around buddies and user home pages. Wikipedia discusses both these further:

Buddy Relationships

Cyworld revolves around buddy relationships. These relations are formed when one member sends an invite to another member and the invite is accepted. Buddies can then view each others minihompy and exchange contact information.
For close friends, you can set up a special relationship that will tell you when they are logged on and when they have updated their minihompy.

Buddy relationships can be freely ended by either member. The other member is not directly notified, but the former buddys name will disappear from the buddylist.

Minihompy

The main feature of Cyworld is the service called minihompy, which combines a photo gallery, message board, guestbook, video, and personal bulletin board. What sets Cyworld apart from traditional blog sites such as Blogger and LiveJournal is the “miniroom”, which is the virtual room where the blogger’s cyberspace avatar, or “mini me”, lives. Users can choose to buy wallpapers, clothes for their virtual counterparts, furnishings, background music, banners, fonts and other decorations for their minihompy. To buy these items, users must first exchange their real world currency with Cyworld money called “dotori” – literally translated, “acorns.” Most of these items are time-limited, and automatically disappear once that time has expired.

The typical layout for a minihompy has a title (e.g., “This is Xs minihompy”), and four main areas. The left column has a photo, followed by a brief description and user information (name, blood type, birthday, address, etc.), and links to mutual buddies minihompys. The center area displays the main content (profile, photo gallery, bulletin board, diary, etc.). On the intro page, this area features the users avatar and miniroom, as well as recent postings, and an area for visitors to leave short comments. Off to the right side is a quick menu of links to all the pages of the minihompy, and to the far right is a window that tracks various statistics such as number of visitors.

The Age wrote in a May 2005 article:

Cyworld is like a new planet. On it everyone has a private room and a circle of friends who bring gifts. As well there is an inexhaustible range of home decoration possibilities and cool music.

In its orbit, around South Korea, Cyworld is both a giant in the ever-widening galaxy of cyberspace and a community website.

To its inhabitants, it is a self-sustaining society. Cyworld has 13 million residents and visitors, more than a quarter of the country’s population. And with it has come its own currency, slang and social pressure.

In Cyworld an address is a “minihompy”, which is short for mini homepage or, between friends, simply a “hompy”. A person with a homepage is called a “mini-me”.

When new Cyworld citizens sign up, they get a featureless empty room as part of their homepage package. The challenge is to decorate it and then construct a personality for “mini-me”.

Money pours in when the Cyworld population goes on a decorating, gift-buying or music downloading spree to adorn their “room”. The more attractive and interesting the room, the more visitors it gets. And in Cyworld, popularity equates to fame and success. The site even measures sexiness and friendliness, which it gauges by the number of gifts a person gives or receives.

Tomorrow: Success

Continue reading TECH TALK: Cyworld: Key Features