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Strategies for a discontinuous future.












Friday, January 14, 2005
 


Dumb Guardian piece attacking billg for the 'communists' statement. Free culture is fundamentally Marxist, if we wanna talk economics...at least for now.

-- umair // 3:57 PM //


 


Not a bad piece about what happens when RFID meets phones (ie, NFC) - a key driver of tectonic shifts in retail, as previously discussed for the music industry. (LinkFilter)

-- umair // 3:19 PM //


 


Interesting Startups

AudioFeast is a broadcaster to MP3 players - essentially, a podcaster selling downloadable chunks of various genres of music. It doesn't offer native iPod support (thanks to Apple probably) - the list of 'officially supported' players is pretty small. Then again, it's MP3...so...uhh...

The whole thing is really quite strange. Check the technology page, for example.

Maybe a nice case study in how not to cement a first-mover advantage - they had roughly the podcast concept nailed in 02.

-- umair // 2:57 PM //


 


Interesting Startups

SavageBeast - playlist mining and recommendation for nichecasting. I think markets (aka aggregate information revelation) work much better than software, but in the short-term, anything that enables nichecasting is probably a fair acquisition bet.

-- umair // 2:49 PM //


 


2005

"..Some of 3i's technology bets for 2005

Mobility
Homeland security
Videoconferencing, or the virtualisation of meetings
The digital home
Reducing the cost of drug discovery
RFID and its effect on the customer experience
Grid computing and other virtualisation technologies"

Link - nothing surprising here.

-- umair // 2:46 PM //


 


Check out the Omidyar Network - basically, a stripped down trust bank. Great idea, something we were planning on doing in the next couple of months - but will rethink now.

-- umair // 2:14 PM //


 


Friendinis...I think this is a parody - doesn't matter, either way, it's a great idea.

-- umair // 2:09 PM //


 


Videonomics - Initial Takes

CES created a whole lot of hype about the future VOD ecosystem. I think it's instructive to look at one of the players who's been around for a while now - Akimbo. Akimbo's play is fairly straightforward - aggregating video content and delivering it over the Net to an STB.

Now, the interesting bit to me is that Akimbo is not disintermediating anybody (cable network, broadcast network, film distributor, etc). For example, CinemaNow is an Akimbo content provider.

That's interesting because if CinemaNow really believed that the media hub would converge everything coming into the living room on the net, it wouldn't supply Akimbo. In fact, it would be trying to outmaneuver Akimbo. Think about it this way: why would Akimbo need to exist in a world of generic STBs grabbing data from a thriving market of content providers, like CinemaNow?

But the fact that everyone's hedging every bet they can tells us that this market is still nowhere near coalescencing into a dominant design. In fact, it even tells us that the bits of the value chain are likely to go undergo radical redefinition as the market does begin to coalesce. Another bit of evidence for this is the deep shifts that are going on the hardware side (viz RGB Networks).

-- umair // 1:58 PM //


 


Interesting Startups

Retaligent makes POS software which runs on handhelds to give retail drones the power to personalize the selling experience. Presumably, via simple demographic input ran against a real-time sales/inventory database. I think this is a cool idea - it plugs a major retail weakness - retail drones who add little value to brick'n'mortar shopping..

-- umair // 1:56 PM //


 


WiFi hotspots reach 50k. Obviously, seriously underperforming aggressive estimates from last year - my take, due to silly b-models which overcharge and underdeliver. (Via the A:C).

-- umair // 1:50 PM //


 


Wired on brain-computer interfaces. This is an area I've tagged for surprisingly rapid technological progress, largely because it appears that it won't be necessary to go inside the brain to achieve a decent connection.

-- umair // 1:32 PM //


 


2005 = 2010

Huygens is descending into Titan's atmosphere today. Keep up here.

-- umair // 1:29 PM //


 


OK, I admit I didn't check out mappr a couple of days back because it just didn't sound cool - but it's pretty cool. Recommended.

-- umair // 1:06 PM //


 


Beeb piece on Napster's subscription model.

-- umair // 11:31 AM //


 


Free Culture

CCMixter is cool - and I think it might also finally make people think that music may be worth money (there's no revenue mechanism on the site).

-- umair // 11:17 AM //


Thursday, January 13, 2005
 


DNAHack.

-- umair // 3:15 PM //


 


Rotundus is kinda cool.

-- umair // 3:11 PM //


Wednesday, January 12, 2005
 


MyVirtualBand - collaborative music creation. Interesting.

-- umair // 4:27 PM //


 


Battle For the Living Room - Media Hub

Got a couple of people asking what do I think the media hub is gonna look like. I think it's already taking shape - around the iPod. Not the PVR/STB - because iPod penetration is growing (as are iPod complements) much faster. At the same time, iPod functionality is evolving in a demand-driven manner, whereas Apple's competitors are playing the MusicMatch game - offering consumers minimal functionality because of their own conflicts of interest. It's a classic example of a dominant design emerging from the bottom up - leveraging an installed base and then building architectural innovation around it because the economics are superior.

If you think about the components necessary for a true digital hub (av connectivity, wireless connectivity, dsp, processor, big hd, fast memory, screen), and then think about the iPod - you see that it already fits many of these criteria. Imho, you also begin to see that a minimal iPod Mac Mini hybrid fulfills all of these criteria in the next couple of years (as prices for the above components continue to drop). Whereas PVR's/STB's are locked into almost intractable issues of rights mgmt, network access, bundling, etc.

-- umair // 3:46 PM //


 


Forget about digital hubs, I want a Nixie clock for my b-day.

-- umair // 3:44 PM //


 


More about flexible photovoltaics. (LinkFilter).

-- umair // 1:57 PM //


 


Innocent until proven Guilty

The entire town of Truro to be DNA tested to help solve a murder.

-- umair // 1:37 PM //


 


Read about rimonabant - Sanofi's next Big Drug in the pipeline - which works to block cravings by blocking the same receptors that give you the munchies when you get high. Here's another Link.

-- umair // 1:18 PM //


 


Genome Economy

"...In humans, the researchers report, a single amino acid substitution (R332P) in the gene Trim5alpha can confer the ability to restrict HIV-1. Just this single change to the human gene should enable it to interfere with the replication process of the HIV virus to prevent infection."

Link.

-- umair // 1:17 PM //


 


An interesting prediction markets page.

-- umair // 1:16 PM //


 


Apple Thoughts - Mac Mini + iPod Shuffle

Perhaps this is obvious, but The Mac Mini is not best seen as a cheap PC - it's best seen as an expensive digital consumer hub for the living room. In fact, what we're gonna see over the next couple of years, imho, is the (real) epic battle for the living room, in almost comical contrast - MS, using a classic top down strategy, and Apple, using a classic bottom up strategy.

Apple's emergent strategy is likely to be the same as it was with the iPod - not move primarily upmarket, but instead determine market value drivers and strip the offering down to it's bare essentials, growing the market. This strategy leverages the exponentially falling costs of digital media components (memory, connectivity, app-specific processors, etc), as well as lets Apple ride the adoption curve intelligently, by using early upmarket offerings to discover what the mass market really wants. Think about the iPod in 2001 versus the iPod family now.

It's a smart move - not because it will convince Windows users to switch - but because it (finally) begins to position the Mac as a complement to Wintel. At the same time, let's note the most important differentiator - it's the antiMS digital hub. MS's offering is a total solution - expensive, and packed with features (and restrictions). In fact, as most of us know, MS is unsurprisingly trying to build an entire ecosystem.

Apple's approach, I think, will be the opposite - to unbundle the essential components of the digital hub, and then rebundle them in the next year or two according to component price falls, emerging consumer preferences, and emerging digital media dominant designs. I think this approach is more flexible, cheaper, and better aligned to a turbulent market whose structures haven't shaken out yet. That's because it becomes exponentially more costly to engineer standards as the architectural complexity of a design grows - here's a nice example:

"...According to anti-virus vendor Panda Software, two new Trojan horses -- dubbed WmvDownloader.a and WmvDownloader.b -- have been planted in video files seeded to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like eMule and KaZaA. The Trojans take advantage of the new anti-piracy features in Windows Media Player 10 and Windows XP SP2 to trick users, said Panda."

So these are two ends of the digital media strategy spectrum. And what limited history there is in this market (iPod) shows that Apple's deconstruction and leverage (ie, bottom up) strategy works better than MS's total solution (ie, top down) strategy.

I think it's a very smart approach.

-- umair // 1:07 PM //


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