/ Strategies for a discontinuous future / Selected work 2004-2009 /

2007 Markets, Networks, & Communities
2008 The Macropocalypse & Edge Competencies
2009 The Great Compression, Smart Growth & Constructive Capitalism

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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

No updates tonight, got a big presentation tomorrow. Here's what it's related to (PDF). I will add some fresh stuff tomorrow evening.

-- umair // 5:44 AM //

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Contracts are pretty important. That is, if you actually care about the other party. Sure, you can renege, but thats how you signal a lack of trustworthiness to the entire larger market. Simple food for thought. I know it doesn't apply to Bechtel.

-- umair // 9:08 PM //


Coke is launching a music download service in the UK. I'd say hyperimitation, but maybe I should just chuckle.

-- umair // 7:05 PM //


Congressional reports won't be made available to the public - at leas t not on the Net. Gee, I wonder why not.

-- umair // 6:55 PM //


Pricing issues for digital music begin to emerge. This usually happens right before a massive price war.

-- umair // 6:51 PM //


Kazaa forces Klite off the Net, citing copyright infringement. Is this a joke, or the beginnings of Kazaa's strategy decay? Because it certainly doesn't bode well for Kazaa when they think that copyright is a barrier to anything.

More likely, this is a reponse to the spyware-makers, who asked Kazaa to get rid of client like Klite, which remove spyware. Yeah - I know, it's idiotic, and it will never work.

-- umair // 6:43 PM //


More about social networking software, this time an article noting that it targets those looking for dates and business contacts. I think it's way too early to segment this market in this kind of traditional way.

-- umair // 6:41 PM //


More about China's wireless networking protocol, which has a security layer that WiFi doesn't. I've discussed this a few times previously - I think it's a control tactic.

-- umair // 6:37 PM //


Time Warner makes a deal with Sprint and MCI to offer VoIP over cable. Everyone's buzzing about this - I think it's a nonstarter. Sprint and MCI have totally different incentives than the real VoIP revolutonaries - they're trapped in strategy decay, and hyperimitation is their only way out. Or so they think - I think this offering will have massive problems getting to market.

-- umair // 6:32 PM //


Steve Jobs interviewed in Rolling Stone about iTunes. Interesting, but he sees it more as a legal alternative to file-sharing (which it doesn't even begin to be), and talks about the need for copyright - which, as we all know, is beyond broken.

-- umair // 6:08 PM //


Starbucks runs some experiments to figure out what kind of strategy will work best for it's WiFi offering. Good move.

-- umair // 5:56 PM //


3D Desktop demo + impressions.

-- umair // 5:40 PM //


Beancounter Versus Geeks

Linus responds to Darl.

-- umair // 5:39 PM //

Monday, December 08, 2003

Marc Andreesen on innovation and the bubble. His view of the Next Big Thing is pretty similar to mine - that it's already here, and we're watching it happen.

-- umair // 9:17 PM //


Read these pieces about the Data Quality Act, which will pretty much finish off what's left of the innovation engine powering the US, by delegitimating government funded peer review in favor of industry funded peer review.

-- umair // 8:40 PM //


Social Innovation

State telco in India attaches mobile phones, batteries, and printers, to rickshaws, creating 'public mobile calling offices'. Why is this cool? The rickshaw drivers keep 20% of any revenues generated. This is a very nice way to use simple technology to benefit the excluded and disadvantaged.

-- umair // 7:27 PM //


The 'top 10' wireless applications of 2004. Read this to find out what the suits think (hope) will drive the market.

The truth, I suspect, will be very different. The only one I buy is group PTT (press-to-talk: here's some context) - but even that may face serious cultural barriers. Oh yeah, 'industrial productivity' is not an application!

-- umair // 7:17 PM //


A very nice piece about Transmeta's strategy, centered around the notion of the 'Ultra Personal Computer'. I've liked Transmeta for a long time, and I this concept is an absolutely killer one.

"...Known as "Ultra Personal Computers" or "Mobile Computer Core", the wallet-sized CPU and memory device can pop in and out of a dummy terminal on a desktop and then be carried around and accessed like a PDA".

Modular computing like this is really the first stab at a new dominant design for PC's - it's architectural and recombinative innovation at once. It's also cool.

-- umair // 7:11 PM //


The Journal has a nice piece about how eBay's realizing that it's market reveals information about preferences that is valuable - so it's starting to develop new, more stringent licenses for it.

"...EBay provides a clear window into the steep decline in the price of most secondhand electronics, which quickly lose value as new gadgets appear. Just after it was released in February of this year, the Nokia 3650 -- a cellphone with a color screen -- sold for an average price of $400 on eBay. By July, it had fallen to an average of $245 on the site and this month it is selling for about $225."

I think this is cool, but there are two issues. First, the info that's revealed is subject to some of the common problems with simple auctions, like the winner's curse, etc. Second, what eBay should really do is cut transaction for people who want to use the data - maybe by developing APIs and a standard royalty/license scheme.

-- umair // 7:00 PM //


Why wireless will be more disruptive in Asia than in the US and Europe.

-- umair // 6:53 PM //


Literature of the Week

A very nice online version of Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North. (via MeFi)

-- umair // 6:46 PM //


Growing replacement corneas.

-- umair // 6:41 PM //


Hyperimitation: the Post looks at all the new iPod imitators. This is going to force hypercommoditization on this market incredibly fast.

-- umair // 6:29 PM //


Smartphones and handhelds as threats to notebooks.

I don't buy this; it's more likely that these will converge to a new dominant design for mobile computing, rather than one replacing or subsuming the others. I do think some standalone goods will be subsumed components of that later dominant design - like camera phones.

-- umair // 9:47 AM //


Bubble Dynamics

The role of media attention in IPO pricing. Research shows attention has fairly intuitive effects - it helps boost undervalued offerings, but negative attention can attenuate this effect. Nice article.

-- umair // 9:44 AM //


Denny's is going to start offering WiFi access. Good or bad tactic? Well, at least it's something - good for whoever pushed this through, it couldn't have been easy.

-- umair // 9:41 AM //


More on Sun's tactic of 'disruptive pricing'. Look, not everything is disruptive.

Massive price and quantity competition is something I think doesn't qualify - it's the business model, strategy, or technology that can support such tactics that might qualify, because ultimately they'll dictate if it's sustainable or not.

-- umair // 9:38 AM //


QualComm faces it's first direct CDMA threat, from Samsung and TI, who have allied to manufacture CDMA-based phones.

-- umair // 9:35 AM //


WiFi Market Dynamics

Geographical Expansion: NetGear partners with SoftBank in Japan, and Legen Group in China, to begin selling WiFi to the SOHO market through retail channels in Asia.

Horizontal Expansion: Meanwhile, Belkin gets a SIP-based VoIP phone ready.

-- umair // 9:33 AM //


Japan unveils a CG 'goodwill ambassador' (pics), who'll give webcasts and whatnot. I like this. If marketers were smart, they'd be knocking down the doors of moribund GigaCorps run by suits, and telling them how cool a way this is to reach people. Oh wait - that's so 1999.

-- umair // 9:30 AM //


A short piece about Nanosys highlights the state of play in nanotech: a focus on niche-specific nanomaterials (in this case, for semiconductors), and seeding IP heavily now to harvest later.

-- umair // 9:23 AM //


Yahoo's Domain Keys is an anti-spam system that requires domain-level authentication of a sender's message. I don't think this will do much to stop spam.

-- umair // 9:19 AM //


These are the first two lines of the following article in the NYT (no kidding):

"...HOW does the Motor City spell desperation?

P-A-N-T-I-E-S! "

It's about the Lingerie Bowl, and it's actually a pretty good read. More (desperate) evidence of how the concept of 'branding' is utterly bankrupt, and is becoming a serious impediment to achieving market advantage.

-- umair // 9:17 AM //


American banks may be allowed to acquire German ones. In this case, the rumour is Citi picking up Deutsche Bank.

Let the consolidation begin - I have very little sympathy for protected financial institutions (of all the industries you could protect). That's a great way to build a non-functional financial sector. Just look at Japan (or the entire Third World).

-- umair // 9:14 AM //



How to get viewers more involved with TV? Read: how do we rescue our business model, which is being convergently disrupted by at least four different technologies? Make programs 'interactive'. Or at least that's the answer the suits have.

I have a better one: make shows people are actually interested in watching. Asking people to press a few buttons isn't 'interactivity' - interactivity is deep simulation. Not to mention the fact that ABC's effort is only accessible by people with XP Media Center PC's. Technology isn't a necessary condition for innovation - but understanding your business model is.

-- umair // 9:11 AM //


How to use a CD more efficiently: burn DVD data on the reverse. Great idea.

-- umair // 9:04 AM //



More on Dell moving 'strategic' customer support back to the States. Note to Dell: all your customer support is strategic. Without it, you have no comparative advantage left.

-- umair // 9:03 AM //


Malware Markets

Recombinative innovation: trojans, P2P, spam, and dialers are being combined and sold by blackhats to make money by infecting people with some serious malware designed to market/coerce/drive traffic.

"..."Sinit appears to have been created as a money-making endeavor," Mr. Stewart said in a research paper describing his discovery. "This Trojan is also further evidence that money, not notoriety, is now the major driving force behind the spread of malware these days."

A market's been waiting to develop in this niche for ages - see my bounties piece for more (and why bounties will only help accelerate the market).

-- umair // 9:02 AM //


The rest of the world wants more control over the Net. Context here.

-- umair // 8:57 AM //


By now, you've probably read the NYT's rountable on the macro effects of outsourcing.

Highlight:The Director of Tuck's Digital Strategies Center calls coding a 'low-value' skill, which sparks some well-deserved flameage at Slashdot. If coding is a low-value skill, what's a high-value skill? Anything that can't be arbitraged away? That's a facile argument, which ignores the roles of social, human, and intellectual capital, as well as knowledge spillovers in innovation

The whole article reminds me of Tim Oren's post a while back about SV4.0, where the digerati were gloomily searching for the 'next big thing'. I think there is no next big thing. The disruptive acceleration of biotech is at least 3-5 years away; that of nanotech's molecular manufacturing phase is at least 5-7 years away.

The answer is that we're right in the thick of a Big Thing - the Net. The Net is the driver of outsourcing - and that's why we're not seeing huge profits from it. What we are seeing are huge productivity gains. When these are wrung out, and firms have to generate a new comparative advantage, they'll start innovating again. And the ways that the Net enables innovation are all around us - tons of bubble-era technologies are slowly trickling back into vogue.

Not to mention smart products, wireless, and all the other cool things you can do with cheap, ubiquitous interconnectivity.

-- umair // 8:50 AM //



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