Category building blocks

Things to watch in 2007

7 4 07
(things to watch in 07)

1. Google will feel the tension between search and browse and their associated business models. Google quick check-out will emerge as the companies key innovation beyond search and paid listings. Yahoo and Ebay will follow AOL and be rolled into the operating theatre — the problem isnt technology (panama etc.) its the business model tradeoff’s they have both made re: the tail.

2. Sector wise e-commerce will rise in importance as alternative currencies emerge as legitimate ways to transact. Its a different take on the subscription model but using ingame currencies to transact for other products (see qq coin). On the subject of virtual worlds, growth will continue at a pace, but second life will emerge as the one everyone could understand but few actually wanted to visit more than once.

3. Geographically, the rest of the world will come into focus as internet and media companies search for customers and growth and innovation. ROW will start to be a legitimate force of innovation rather than just a platform to duplicate US business models.

4. Connectivity wise, wireless broadband will finally become a force to be contend with

5. Policy wise: the Net Neutrality debate will recede as it becomes evident that while network providers need to have the ability to ability to manage bits, those who think they can manage or shape the transport layer to the bias one application or service over another will be proven wrong. The influence and relative progress of the ROW will help here. And while the focus is on policy — the internet policy debate will switch to US broadband adoption and relative speed/price of offerings in US vs. ROW.

6. In terms of protocols and the evolution of the web — web 2.0 given that it has moved from a useful definition to a undefined meme will recede in importance and the semantic web will begin to take shape, standards, api’s will be extended to form the basis for the next iteration of the internet

7. Hardware and device wise, Vista’s influence will be mostly in the enterprise, the Ipod starts looking tired, the Itv box becomes a big deal. Leopard will be a bigger deal than most expect. Xbox 360 will get squeezed from the bottom (Wiiiii!), PS3 will make its numbers, the product is pretty good, not as much fun as Wii but nonetheless good. And Linux phones should be on your radar, they are on mine.

Gmail Just Got Perfect?

"Techcrunch » Blog Archive » Uh Oh, Gmail Just Got Perfect Google quietly added a small feature to Gmail this week called Mail Fetcher. When that feature launched, Gmail became perfect."

gmail perfect? not yet — all too often I find that Google's religion often gets in the way of it becoming a great service.    Google's world view is defined by and through the lens of search.   This drives features that are sometimes bent (no folders, only labels, pray tell whats the difference, metaphors are important, no need to bend them), features that are sorely lacking (eg: IMAP, in search centric world where everything lives in the cloud no one needs to sync with clients or devices, why bother with IMAP?  Or is it because IMAP will break the conversations feature, or because it will give users a path around the ad's?), and features which are good but not great (like the conversations feature, that every so often mis-files a mail and suddenly mail is a mess) and a data / privacy policy that serves search not the users.  Last, in a world where there is a rich set of tools emerging for client based email (eg: here , or here , or there ), wouldnt some API"s make sense in gmail?

There is so much head room for improvement in mail – gmail made some great strides forward, but perfect, not yet, and not for most of the world, at least thats what the data suggest.   Last time I saw usage data for web mail based services, in the US, Yahoo was the leader with 40+% share, gmail had less than 3% share — i often hear that internationally gmail is meant to be way ahead, but I recently saw a piece on market share in India of web mail services and gmail has 5% share, yahoo, reddif and hotmail have most of the rest of the market.  Alpha geeks seem to gloss over this data with the assumption that its only a question of time, and the rest of the world will figure it out.   Two and half years after the launch of gmail the rest of the world still hasnt figured it out — and btw, in the quest to follow google, no one seems to talk much about myspace's  20% domestic share of email, the Newscorp UK / google deal is interesting for that reason and some.   

How smart is your network?

I have spent a week getting a pots number to call forward to another number. I set it up on, took 4 days to complete the order, once it was done the number no longer worked. I called and after 25 mins on hold I got to a very perky tech representative — he checked it out, said it was setup wrong through the system. He went and made some adjustments — I swear I heard wheels turning in the engine room — another 15 mins later we were done. With the caveat that I need to call again nxt week to set it to ring straight through (right now its on 4 rings and then it will forward, and only the business office can change that rule).

Vonage, grandcentral, skype, pick your voip — this take less than 3 mins. to update. Hmmm that sure is one smart network.


Pushing betalab betaworks out into the world.   The company is a platform for incubation and investments that I am currently working on.  Small today, essentially an umbrella — but lots of ideas and things to come.  

Bits up vs. down

I have been using the fon service for about two months now. One of the things that surprises me is the ratio of bits going up vs. down. This is where I stand:

August: 1108 hours – 6617.03 / 3305.65 Mb (dl/ul)
July: 681 hours – 5885.6 / 3907.02 Mb (dl/ul)

The up is considerably more symmetrical than I expected. In July the ratio is approx. 1:1.5 in august 1:2. And the media we push up is photos and email not audio, not video. In the never ending discussions i participate in about bandwidth and bandwidth usage I rarely hear people discuss how symmetrical one pipe/service is vs. another. IP based video is pretty much all coming down today — over the coming years if people start to post video the way we post photos today we are looking at symmetrical usage. Granted we usually dont care about when the bits go up as much as when they come down, but still I would never have expected these ratios. Note where we are located there hasn’t been any sharing of the router — so this is all our usage.

Grouper and sharing / organizing personal media

Just read Cringley’s piece about Grouper, its surprisingly thin. The purchase is about a research — Lynton made that clear in his statement – but with no brand its going to be hard to extend it beyond r&d, something Cringley seems to think is eary. Also wasnt grouper all about p2p and sharing of personal media? Thats what the client / media player is all about. The media have respun this as another video sharing site — but Felsner’s and Samuels vision started in a very different place. Will be interesting to see what Sony really bought and where they go with this. Sony really needs to drive and open up innovation on the software layer – from walkmans to phones to psp’s to connected cameras and playstations — offering users a means to share and manage personal media is a big opportunity that Sony have thus far failed to deliver on.

Why cant I tag movie clips as I film them on my camera? There should be a simple scroll wheel interface into a user defined set of keywords that I could select and tag as I capture media. The relative cost of capturing, or acquiring media continues to drop at an astounding pace — but this has shifted the cost of media from storage, processing etc. to organization and presentation.  Grouper anyone? Another example — have you tried openlcr? Openlcr is a web based interface to offer software services for cordless phones — ringtones, weather, upload contacts etc.  Its abismal — useless, and expensive to boot.   Why arent CE companies adapting to software based innovation? I think the problem is generally grounded in the history of the consumer electronics business. Most of the traditional businesses grew through innovating of specific hardware based functionality. CE devices were traditionally all about making thousands of minute pieces of hardware work in tandem. Yet CE as an industry is getting pressured from the edge by both the low cost manufacturing base, the realities of solid state and the advent of software based innovation, in essentially dumb devices.

Given that the Grouper purchase was made by Sony Pictures its likely they too bought the video sharing meme and wont capitalize on the rest of the opportunity, but there could be much more here than just another video storage / sharing site.


I was talking last night with a friend who has started up a company to assist photographers make the digital transition. His clients are fashion and art photographers who have shot in analog for years and are now moving to digital. The images he deals with are 16-30+ mega pixels. The raw TIFF’s are 50 meg+ each.

Asked him what kind of processing he normally does to to these images — turns out one of the first things he does is add in a layer of grain into the image — to simulate the way people are accustomed to see photos — with grain. As he put it “you add grain and people see the image as more real”. More real? or a better simulation of another media type that is associated with a copy of reality?!

EuroTelcoblog: Click up or shut up…

This will be interesting, I remember a long time back that Ebay as an AOL partner didn’t want to integrate IM features for fear that buyers and sellers would start to trade independent of the platform.

Click up or shut up

Just arriving in EuroTelcoblog’s inbox one minute ago was confirmation of Skype integration into 14 categories on eBay, selected on the criteria of “Skypeâ??s ability to positively impact the transaction.” The categories are:

Automotive GPS devices
Camera and photo lenses and filters
Wired networking routers
Skype devices
VOIP / Internet telephony
Diamond solitaire rings
Real estate (residential, commercial)
Manufacturing and metalworking
NBA basketball cards
Silver coins
Lost in Space collectibles
Radio control toys
Cars and trucks

Apparently, eBay considered that these were categories where “instant communication can greatly facilitate trade, such as those with high average selling prices, complex products, or new technologies that can generate a high volume of…

Read the rest of this post from EuroTelcoblog

Sharing that OPML

I am playing around with Dave Winer’s OPML sharing platform and loving it. You can see my OPML file listed or more interestingly you can see other people who have subscriptions like mine (you have to log in to see the match vs. mine, would like an option for this to be public). Its great for feed discovery since people have a reason to use real names, and others can discover them (if you have tried finding friends on you will know why this matters).

Finding or doing something like this has been a personal lazy web project for a while. For a while I would ask people I knew to share OPML’s with me. I tried to manage each persons OPML in a separate folder. Newsgators and Netnewswire did a marginal job of making this data accessible. The folders were present but there was no automatic updating of the OPML (so they were locked in a point in time), there was no easy way to compare my RSS feeds to my friends and there was no attention navigation option (like NetNewsWire has started offering) to give me a sense of whats important to the people whose feeds I am reading (finally, maybe all the attention chatter can be put to use for end users). I ended up having to do a lot of pruning and integration myself, getting rid of the folders, taking other OPML files and grabbing a handful of interesting feeds and leaving it at that.

Winer’s OPML sharing platform open the world up for much richer and more interesting options. Sharing is easy, as is navigation. Its fun to browse through users feeds. I find it a lot more compelling than a lot of the feed search engines out there. Matching the data with identity is the difference. Also interesting to see how little mainstream data is present in the OPML files. Dave’s own list (user ID#3) is one of the few exceptions — I suspect that given all the work he has done re: RSS he is over indexed on tracking media sites for RSS feeds.

Very interested to see how this evolves. This feels to me just like did at the start. All of the gentle ways that Josh introduced happenstance into navigating tags I hope Dave will offer to navigate feeds. And I want to be able to match this with my reader so I can navigate not only the meta data but the actual articles. Likewise I wish I could plug my podcast feed list into this (the one that is trapped, happily so, but still trapped, in iTunes). And I hope that search navigation options really open up. I hope people will be able to build off this, would be wonderful if it became a platform. There are less than 2500 people sharing files as of now, going to be fascinating to see how it evolves as the dataset grows. OPML is another building block for wiring the flow of lateral data on the web. Finding ways to share and mix OPML files is part of the next stage of evolution of RSS.

GPS tracking, where I am

I am having fun with GPS tracking and posting to the web — tracked a run I went on tonight. Software from Charles Grillio’s (here is his site), he has been great in helping me customize the software for the device. Thank you.
Its a strange feeling to go out and then see where you have been tracked, minute by minute on the web.

To see tracking click here (note / opt for satellite image, I am still off the google grid, just).

A new ball game?

Cringley piece on Apple’s boot camp is worth a read. I think he overrates the importance of the OS — its yesteryears battle. And he under rates the importance of tightly coupled experiences for Apple and the Job’s team. I don’t believe Job’s is interested in having OSX run on OEM PC’s. Apple advantage today is a tightly coupled, CE like experience.

Scraping data and API’s

Scrapperwas wondering how easy it would be to build a generic approach to opening up API’s on web sites who didnt formally publish them and then last night I saw this post about scrAPI’s. Great stuff — would like to be able to cut and paste data sources and mix them together myself. I find myself doing manually today too often (eg: the other night I was cutting and pasting rotten tomatoes reviews vs. a movie database). So many mashup’s today and based on geo location data — its like my one year old who has six or seven words, most everything is at some point “hot”. Latitude and longitude are just the easiest and first data source to be mined — things are going to get a lot more interesting as the data sources become increasingly diverse. I am interested in Thor Muller’s coming posts on the business and legal issues regarding scpAPIng.