Tuesday, October 20, 2009
"TheStreet’s Scott Mortiz is reporting that Google plans to sell a phone of its own. The device will supposedly run Android and will go on sale at retail stores this year. It would be an unlocked phone that would run on AT&T, T-Mobile, and most carriers around the world, and Google is supposedly undertaking the project to get more control over the integration of the device with its own services.
Moritz based his story on a report by analyst Ashok Kumar, who says he’s spoken with hardware companies involved in bringing the product to market. According to this GigaOM post, Kumar also says that Google will release a netbook (presumably running Chrome OS) next year, and that both the phone and the netbook will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon CPU." [PCWorld]
Smartphones and netbooks are obviously the hottest markets in computing right now. Google's rumored netbook would technically be a 'smartbook' due to its ARM based Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and Chrome OS operating system. Regardless, there are plenty of reason's why Google would elect to join in on the hardware competition, but couple of problems come to mind that would seem to get in the way of such a decision.
First off, Google is a software and services company with the bulk of their revenue coming from advertising. They don't make hardware.
Second, even is Google did decide to make hardware, they would be upsetting their partners such as Motorola who have working with Google to promote their operating systems and services.
The last major hurdle that Google would face relates specifically to their rumored smartphone. The report claims that this Google phone (likely to be manufactured by HTC) would be an unlocked device, allowing it to be used on any network, and sold through retail rather than carriers. This present challenges to both consumers and wireless carriers. Smartphones are sold through carriers as a method of subsidizing the price device for potential buyers. Smartphones are expensive when sold unlocked, so Google would have to make their device affordable. Additionally, while consumers would be able to have their choice of wireless service carrier, the carriers would likely require an activation fee for the device.
There is still upside for a software and services company electing to make their own hardware, especially when it's open source. Google can ensure that there is tight integration between their software and services with the hardware for an optimized experience. A good example of this is Apple's iPhone, Apple software optimized for Apple hardware. The only obvious difference is that the operating system, software, and hardware is proprietary and part of a closed system, while Google is open source and already has numerous manufacturers running Android and Chrome on a variety of different devices.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out, especially between Google and their 'partners.'
Monday, October 19, 2009
Total revenues have two components: service revenues and equipment (or handset) revenues. Mobile service revenue is further divided into two segments: voice services and data services. In emerging markets, operators generally focus on voice services, whereas in developed markets the focus is on complementing voice services with a range of value added voice and data services.
Mobile operator 3 in the UK has announced it’s launching a tariff with an inclusive Spotify premium subscription which will be bundled with their first Android handset, the HTC Hero. Hutchison Whampoa, which owns 3, is an investor in Spotify. There were rumors of the move but this is now official confirmation.
The offer will come in at £35 ($57) a month over 24 months plus £99 ($161) for the Hero handset. That tariff includes unlimited use of Spotify Premium on both the handset and the owner’s PC for 2 years. That is a pretty good deal. The announcement hints at Spotify appearing on other handsets and, I daresay, other networks at some point – though the service has yet to launch at all in the US.
This is a great first step in the way telecoms will provide more than just a connection for their customers. Many carriers worldwide have expressed frustration is the amount of data being shared/sent by their customers, causing the broadband pipes to become sluggish for others. Rather than throttling connection speeds, integrate a comparable service that customers can utilize instead of their current habits.
The amount of multimedia and data being transmitted and received by users worldwide is obvious increasing rapidly...some say more rapidly than the speed in which telecoms can expand their network infrastructure. 4-generation networks such as WiMax and LTE will relieve some of this stress, but it is unclear how long it will take to provide an affordable solution for customers in all regions. By providing a carrier-approved method of multimedia consumption such as Spotify's streaming music service, both the customer and the telecom's needs can be satisfied.
A similar solution could be provided for video consumption. What immediately comes to mind is to include a premium Hulu subscription for television and an subsidized Netflix subscription for movies.
While such services are not as ideal as the current model of free and infinite consumption of multimedia, it is better than insisting users pay-per-byte on a monthly basis. Yuck.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Not only did balloonbrat Falcon Heene casually admit they 'did it for the show,' but this video of the UFO taking off demonstrates that there couldn't be any kids inside. It also demonstrates that the father is a world-class a-hole.
Clearly, that balloon didn't have a kid inside. It's just flying up way too fast and uncontrollably. If the kid would have been on the bottom part—weighing the balloon at its center—the balloon would have taken off in a straighter vertical line, and never tilted in the way it did.
Later in the video you can also see the bottom part on its own, after the authorities got the balloon. It looks like it was completely sealed from the start, so there's no way the kid could have got in there at any point after the construction of the balloon.
Look at the guy getting mad and shouting at his wife, as she fails to hold onto the balloon tether. As Adam Frucci just cleverly remarked a minute ago: 'I knew Wifeswap was a sleazy show, but this is some next level shit.'Balloon Boy is the perfect metaphor for cable news: America spent hours riveted by a powerful and gripping story that turned out to be totally meaningless, and will have no significant impact on anybody's lives going forward.
(voices.washingtonpost.com) submitted 6 hours ago by nelsonjs to WTF
>>so i had to turn on my vpn
Thursday, October 15, 2009
"The fight to dominate cloud computing will increase competition and innovation.
There is nothing the computer industry likes better than a big new idea—followed by a big fight, as different firms compete to exploit it. “Cloud computing” is the latest example, and companies large and small are already joining the fray.
The idea is that computing will increasingly be delivered as a service, over the internet, from vast warehouses of shared machines. Documents, e-mails and other data will be stored online, or “in the cloud”, making them accessible from any PC or mobile device. Many things work this way already, from e-mail and photo albums to calendars and shared documents.
Technological developments have hitherto pushed computing power away from central hubs: first from mainframes to minicomputers, and then to PCs. Now a combination of ever cheaper and more powerful processors, and ever fast and more ubiquitous networks, is pushing power back to the centre in some respects, and and even further away in others. The cloud's data centres are, in effect, outsize public mainframes. At the same time, the PC is being pushed aside by a host of smaller, often wireless devices, such as smart-phones, netbooks (small laptops) and, perhaps soon, tablets (touch-screen computers the size of books).
Despite the growing similarities among the three (Google, Microsoft, Apple), each is a unique beats, says Michael Cusumano, a processor at Massacusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management. They can be classified according to how they approach the cloud, how they make money and how openly they approach the development of intellectual property.
How will this three-way contest play out? The last similar war was in the 1980's and early 1990's, when Apple, IBM, and Microsoft fought for mastery of the PC. After much fire and smoke, Microsoft was victorious. Thanks to what economists call strong network effects, which allow winners to take almost all, Windows relegated its rival operating systems to mere slideshows, securing fat profits for its owner.
Such a lopsided result is unlikely this time. One reason is that the economics of the cloud may be different from those of the PC. Network effects are unlikely to be as strong. Much of the cloud is based on open standards, which should make it easier to switch providers.
...all three will have ample resources to spend in the main area of the fight: data centres, cloud services and the periphery...Just as much of hardware has become a commodity, knowing how to build huge data centres may not be a competitive advantage for long. And data centres can get only so big before scale ceases to be an advantage.
Only one thing seems sure about the future of the digital skies: the company or companies that dominate it will be American. European or Asian firms have yet to make much of an appearance in cloud computing.
Government outside America may harbour ambitious plans for state-funded clouds. They would do better simply to let their citizens make the most of the competition among the American colossi.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just left the stage of the Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco, where he gave a short speech extolling the importance of technology. He concluded that tech will be more important for solving the world’s problems (particularly global warming) than any government decision. Technology has been crucial at all three stages of his career, Schwarzenegger said — nutritional supplements when he was a bodybuilder, special effects when he was a movie actor, and now of course technology is crucial for California’s economy, environment, and more. “I love technology,” Schwarzenegger said. He tossed out different types of technology, like biotech, cleantech, “all of the techs. The speech included a quick overview of California’s tech industries, but it lingered on cleantech. Schwarzenegger pointed out that the Long Beach Port has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent without reducing the number of ships, trucks, or tugboats. He also pointed to electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, whose technology is putting California closer to the automotive cutting edge than Detroit. And he spoke glowingly about how Smart Grid technology will improve the state’s energy infrastructure. All of these developments will be more important to preventing environmental catastrophe than any law or treaty, Schwarzenegger added. Global leaders are working on a new version of the Kyoto Protocol to limit carbon emissions around the world, and while Schwarzenegger said, “We wish them well,” he also argued that we won’t see the reductions we need until there’s technology to make it happen without any negative economic impacts. “Technology will save us all,” he said.
Earlier this year, we wrote about a long line of politicians fearing the impact of new innovations -- from video games to the waltz -- and how they would harm the morals of children. These were classic 'moral panic' quotes from politicians. As a bunch of you have sent in, Ars Technica put together a similarly nice list of moral panic quotes concerning pretty much every major new technology innovation from the past 100 years. From the days of the grammophone and the player piano (which was the main reason behind much of the 1909 Copyright Act), the big copyright holding industries have pushed out fear mongering quotes about how some new technology would absolutely destroy the ability to make money from content, unless Congress acted quickly to put in place some new restriction, tax or extra right for those copyright holders. In every single case the fears and complaints from the industry weren't just wrong, but were stunningly backwards. Every technology opened up new markets and new opportunities.
And yet, where are we today? We're still listening to the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, NMPA, ASCAP and others spewing the same nonsense about the internet. And almost no elected official or reporter calls them on this. They may claim that 'this time it's different,' but shouldn't the burden be on them to actually prove it for once?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
NABE: Worst of recession is over: "“The great recession is over,” the National Association of Business Economists has declared.
The proclamation is based on a survey of professional forecasters, who also caution that the recovery will take place slowly as large increases in federal debt and unemployment rates are expected to remain very high through next year.
The NABE is conducting its annual meeting this week in St. Louis.
“Following a sharp 6.4 percent (annual rate) contraction in the first quarter of this year and another 0.7 percent drop in the second quarter, NABE forecasters expect real GDP to rise at an above trend 2.9 percent rate in the second half,” NABE President-Elect Lynn Reaser noted in a statement.
The association said the three-year downturn in the housing market appears close to coming to an end, with growth expected next year.
While the unemployment rate is forecast to rise to 10 percent in the first quarter, it is expected to slip to 9.5 percent by the end of 2010.
“The good news is that this deep and long recession appears to be over and, with improving credit markets, the U.S. economy can return to solid growth next year without worry about rising inflation,” Reaser noted.
Among other findings:
- Sales of light vehicles are expected to remain weak, with projected sales of 12 million next year.
- The housing recovery will gather momentum, with housing starts up 38 percent and residential investment up 8 percent.
- Business investment will contribute to the economic rebound.
- The dollar will soften further this year and remain weak into the new year. The NABE panel expects a modest deterioration in the trade balance next year.
- About 21 percent of the panelists believe that the financial markets will improve to the point that they no longer hinder economic growth at some point in the second half of 2009. Another 21 percent expect this will occur in the first half of 2010.
- Fewer than 8 percent of the panelists expect lost jobs will be regained before 2012.
All very positive numbers, but I think until interest rates start rising in most countries(Australia is the only industrial nation to do so), it's too early to tell.
I'll still take whatever hopeful news we can get.
Gainesville-based music start up Grooveshark just announced signing a major label agreement with EMI Music and EMI Music Publishing. While the company is unwilling to disclose the exact terms of the deal, Grooveshark VP of Marketing Josh Bonnain expressed that the agreement is fair and mutually beneficial. The surprise deal comes after EMI filed a June lawsuit against the company. While Grooveshark members gain access to EMI's huge song catalogue including tracks from the Virgin, Blue Note and Astralwerks labels, it'll be interesting to see if the agreement is actually a sustainable one.
Although a number of music startups have established partnerships with smaller indie record labels, larger deals are rare as the cost of music licensing has proved prohibitive. For streaming music site Imeem, the road to signing major labels has been fraught with legal battles. Despite the fact that Warner music originally invested in Imeem, the company sued the startup to settle outstanding debt. In the end, it seems Grooveshark renegotiated licensing agreement while looking down the barrel of a gun. Due to the similar nature of the EMI / Grooveshark relationship, we can't help thinking that this recent deal likely skews in favor of the labels and rights holders.
As ReadWriteWeb covered in August, Grooveshark recently launched a $3 per month ad-free subscription service and continues to build out its artist tools. Nevertheless, the site's key revenue stream is its advertising. With seminal albums like Miles Davis' Birth Of The Cool, Radiohead's OK Computer and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, EMI will increase Grooveshark's catalogue selection and popular draw. It will be interesting to see if the company's revenue increase will be worth the licensing fees.
To try Grooveshark visit listen.grooveshark.com.
I still believe this is the best music service available...better than iTunes, Imeem, Zune, Pandora, Last.fm, Songbird, Winamp, etc. I pay $3/month for the premium service (V.I.P.) that is definitely worth it. Whether V.I.P. or not, grooveshark creates a web-based, personalized music experience for aggregating and organizing tracks from large number of sources. I have had no trouble finding any track I can think of since most songs unsurprisingly already exist on the web. An included 'Radio' feature activates a Pandora-like auto-play feature. The best analogy I can make for grooveshark is the youtube of music with personalized jukebox interface.
By signing a deal with EMI, their library now becomes even larger and much more official/legitimate and hopefully this is the end of their legal troubles.
The site is certainly still a work in progress, but a survey was recently offered to users that asked which feature would be the most intriguing/wanted. I think the next step is covering all bases on mobile platforms (iphone, android, blackberry, winmo) as well as implementing more social features between users.
Thank god this deal got signed! Starring down the barrel of the gun is right...
Ford Reaches Deal With UAW: "Ford has reached a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers union that would freeze entry-level wages, implement a no-strike clause and pay a bonus to workers for agreeing to new concessions.
The UAW confirmed Tuesday that the agreement will be presented to its national council delegates, who will decide whether to present the deal to its members for a union-wide vote.
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