Since the advent of the Internet, its users have been able to hide behind a certain vail of anonymity. So I wonder how can one use the web accurately to research market trends? Some of this will make sense, other times it will be a brain dump. Bear with me, this is a long term project in the making.

12.10.2005

Weekend Reading 12.10.05

My return to the blogosphere...let us all raise our glasses to celebrate and then quickly get back to blogging!

I still wonder how many consumers commit to buying a new product or change their brand preference due to a web ad.

Ad conversion rates aside, the new traffic focused online market (sometimes called Web 2.0) has led to a number of acquisitions over at Yahoo!. This week Yahoo! paid an undisclosed amount for del.icio.us, which is a site that allows its users to bookmark and tag websites they visit. The user defined tags help you quickly locate related websites or articles that you or other del.icio.us users have tagged. We are all turning into librarians and are not yet aware.

Jason Wood linked to four sites discussing the del.icio.us purchase, but what interested me the most was Jason's comments. He hits the points of why Yahoo! made the purchase, but then go on to talk about how he has become more reliant on Yahoo!'s sites and services. Jason said,
"All of the sudden Yahoo! has become an important component of my daily life in too many ways to discount. Not a day goes by that I don't use Flickr or del.icio.us; and now they're part of the Yahoo! family. Add to that a pretty decent new RSS aggregator, a leapfrog back over Gmail as the best web-based personal email platform, and the new Yahoo! Maps and all of the sudden Yahoo! is making a real case for being out in front of the long-tail consumer Internet experience."
Wonder if Jason is making the move from Google to Yahoo! entirely, could Yahoo! be coming back into vogue?

6.19.2005

Weekend Reading 6.19.05

Time has flown by and I have missed a lot of cool posts and articles on the web, so let's jump right back on track.

Starting out, Mary Jo Foley led me to an article on eWeek detailing current Windows desktop deployments indicating that Windows 2000 is still the dominant OS on the desktop. Windows 2000 accounted for 48% of total Windows deployments in 1Q05. That is down from 52% in 4Q04. Windows 9x and NT accounted for less than 5%, while Windows XP accounted for approximately 47% of deployments. The article goes on to guess that during the rest of 2005 most of the remaining 5% of Windows 9x and NT will migrate over to XP putting it into a tie with Windows 2000. The next step function for Windows upgrades will take place when Windows 2000 support ends in 2007. That could make it a long upgrade cycle for Longhorn, wonder how Microsoft is going to push users to the new OS, maybe make a shorter life for XP?

Moving on, InfoWorld columnist, Mario Apicella posted his opinion on Pillar Data that is funded by Larry Ellison. The premise of creation for Pillar was to create cheaper and easier to manage storage solutions. This was a similar tact adopted by Network Appliance when they first introduced their NAS systems. Now as Network Appliance matures so does their technology and it just might be prime time for a new disrupter to step into the ring. Could the privately funded Pillar cause a disasterous pricing war within the storage business? Can Ellison lock in IT departments like he has done with Oracle databases?

Furthermore, WiMax is a technology that has been picked and panned by industry experts recently. It appears that old MaBell has decided to go ahead with a test of 802.16-2004, the fixed version of WiMax, in Atlanta, Georgia during the end of 2005. An article from eWeek quotes an enginner from AT&T stating, "For a company like AT&T, where we don't have a large local presence, it's crucial to find alternate ways to access those buildings," Nadji said. "The expectation is that there should be a price advantage for the wireless." This is a common application being mentioned by many of WiMax's proponents and I won't pan it until I see it. What's interesting here is that if this were to work, it would solidify the use of 802.16e, the mobile and faster version of WiMax that has not been ratified yet. If 802.16e were to become the platform for offering metro IP networks, could this put a damper on sales of fiber in major metro areas? Articles have stated that metro routes are needing more fiber, but could WiMax put a stop to the demand?

Finally, I had to take a little more time reading through Bill Burnham's most recent posting discussing the investing generalization that enterprise software is dead. The posting highlights the changes in the Enterprise Software space taking shape now, primarily service oriented architectures, but he elaborates on "Software as a Service." This is how salesforce.com offers their CRM product, a hosting product that companies pay a monthly seat fee. The product is customizable and is beginning to be adopted on a larger scale (during salesforce.com's 1Q05 earnings call they reported having 267,000 subscribers, adding 40,000 subscribers in 1Q05 alone). Could other companies succeed at changing the landscape for how enterprises pay for software? Might the industry giants make major steps towards adopting this model? There were some interesting links off of Burnham's post that I'll follow up on later in the week.

Signing off for the weekend.

4.23.2005

Weekend Reading 4.23.05

Happy weekend to all. Let's dive into to this weekend's reading right away, you'll enjoy the first posting.

This week new articles heralded the supposed start of talks over the next generation of DVD technology. I found a Reuters article that lays out what is happening, but not really what is at stake. The short and skinny is that there are two next-gen DVD standards in place, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Both are capable of storing more data than current DVDs which is good for storing HD content, but they are not compatible. Think BetaMax versus VHS all over again at the end of 2005. Now companies behind the standards, mainly Sony and Toshiba, have decided to try and define one standard for HD DVDs. While not mentioned in the article, I think the main reason is that consumers would be turned off by the confusion and decide to stick with their current DVD players and would also increase their usage of OnDemand HD movies through their cable operator or FIOS operator. If the DVD talks do not go well, could this put an end to the purchase of DVDs for entertainment purposes as people rely more on faster Internet speeds for delivery of HD movies and content?

Expanding on the HD discussion above, Gizmodo links to a story about Texas Instruments' new 1080p DLP chip which is going into production sets this summer. This could be a big driver for sales of new TV sets come the end of the year or the start of NFL season. The reason being is that all of the early adopters have picked up their HD plasma/LCD/DLP sets while the next set of adopters are waiting for prices to drop lower. The introduction of a lower cost DLP chip should create some healthy competition for the LCD producers and nudge down prices making HD more affordable for the masses. Could we see HD TV set sales take off in the second half of the year as opposed to 2006? That would definitely go against my original train of thought.

Moving on, my thanks goes out to Mary Jo Foley for writing an article pertaining to the end of mainstream support for Windows 2000. This will serve as a reminder to me to consider my server upgrade options when I return to the office next week. Since I am only using the server as a print and file server, should I upgrade to Server 2003 or go the Linux route? Being part of a small office, I can only surmise that thousands if not millions of Windows 2000 customers are scratching their heads wondering what they should do? Could this be the needed revenue driver for Microsoft during the summer duldrums in software? Might print and file server users decide enough is enough I am moving to Linux?

4.13.2005

A Weekday Comment, Curious

I was doing some reading up on Microsoft's next mobile platform and came across the following article that asks a very interesting question, "Is Microsoft delaying MS Mobile 2005 due to push email patent concerns?" I don't know the answer, but I am sure millions would like to know. I had to blog this one so that I would remember where I read this and will revisit it after following a few threads.

Also, after posting over the weekend that Sony was going to one up Microsoft and give everyone a glimpse of Playstation 3 before we saw Xbox 2, seems Microsoft has regained the title of being first. It's all over the news now, but here is a posting from one of Xbox Live's employees commenting on the Microsoft and the MTV infomercial.

4.10.2005

Weekend Reading 4/9/05

My apologies for not posting last weekend, I was busy getting ready for a road trip. So without further adeui here is this week's readings. I will be posting throughout the weekend as it is beautiful outside here.

First up, via Gizmodo I was directed to PCWorld's site to check out new oxyride disposable batteries. Reading through the review it looks like alkaline batteries are in a for a challenge, but lithium are safe. As the article points out the new oxyride batteries will last longer than alkaline, but cost the same. While lithium batteries will still outlast the oxyride batteries, lithium costs more. The review also points out that Panasonic holds the patent for the oxyride tech, so you'll have to look for that brand. If they have a large enough distribution channel, could this pose a threat to the Energizer bunny?

Moving on, I will be listening in to a podcast posted by Mikehall on his Microsoft Mobile podcast blog this afternoon and posting some short comments. The podcast is an interview with a product manager involved with Microsoft's Mobile operating system. For now I am off to present a scholarship and enjoy the seventy degree weather.

Furthermore, I was checking up on Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft Watch site and was directed to a quick summary of when the next-gen gaming platforms from Microsoft and Sony. Looks like at E3 in May Sony will show off Playstation 3 with the Xbox 2 as the encore. Quite frankly we will all have seen the specifications before the E3 show, but what should matter most is when the platforms will be released and what media they choose to support. It's pretty much a given what HD DVD technology Sony will use, but what will Microsoft favor? Also, with this spring's release of the Playstation portable and refreshed iPods along with a sleu of other MP3 players being released this year, where will the consumer spend their money? Last year it was an easy question to answer, maybe not so much this year.

Next up, I checked out [Bill] Burnham's Beat to see how his virtual software portfolio fared for the first quarter. He beat the NASDAQ, but only by a slight margin. Some interesting picks in his portfolio, longs focused on business intelligence and a couple of shorts. Check out the comments on salesforce.com as a short, Burnham along with everyone else is looking for cracks in the armor of the company and a big drop, what are the worries?

Further through my blog reading, I was pointed towards an intesting site listing numberous uses for mobile devices. I have not had a chance to read through all of the ideas, but skimming through the first two or three on the site make this one to return to in the future. Thank you Russell Beattie for the recommendation.

That's a wrap for the weekend, I need to get to the podcast on Windows Mobile and do some other research.

3.30.2005

Reading 3/30/05

The weekend flew by leaving me with no time to read up on my weekly blogs, so I will knock them down throughout the week.

Starting things off, checked out Chad Dickerson's column over at InfoWorld that he posted last week. He discussed his views on supporting Macs in an enterprise environment. He is a Mac user so he is not setting out from the start to squash the idea of running Macs in an enterprise, he actually lays out a policy that is spelled out in many IT departments. Mr. Dickerson tells of the extra hoops that IT personel must jump through to support and maintain Macs. He did not outline every detail, but he did highlight how slow Virtual PC is and how it opens that system to all of the problems a Windows machine is suscceptible to in a connected environment. One thought though as we move towards delivering more applications via the web and something is moving at Google in the direction of hosted applications (my personal hypothesis), will the type of operating system connecting the box to the network matter less? Has Apple actually taken us back in time to the terminal days? I'll be interested to see what Google does with all of their computing power and applications smarts, I realize advertising is their first line of business, but what else could they create? How will virtualization play in this market?

Next up, persistent search is being talked up by the WSJ and on Paul Kedrosky's blog. Mr. Kedrosky links up to an article that discusses using tools such as Pubsub to monitor and scour the web for watch words and phrases. This makes the web a more effective tool for finding unique bits of information or not so unique anymore as more people adopt this push versus a pull methodolgy of searching the web. No longer will we jump our on computers and stare blankly at the screen in the future clicking link after link to try and hone in a single golden nugget of info, we will have what we are looking for pushed to us. The next step as I see it will be developing a system that pushes the web to you, like Pubsub, but then allowing the user to rate the quality of the data pushed to them in order to build a more intelligent push system. Food for thought for all of you developers out there.

Finally, it looks like there is another player entering the push email solution environment, Eudora. Remember a company by the name of Qualcomm? Remember their email solution we all used back in college in the 90s before Outlook became the defacto POP3 email and contact manager? I do and boy what a hoot to see Eudora back in action and this time mobile. I was alerted of this development by checking out the CTIA's blog postings. The service will send a text message to the email addressee and let them "preview" the message before jumping online to view the entire message. Looks like you have to use Eudora's desktop email solution to use their mobile service as well since you have to forward mail to the Eudora Mobile site. On the blog it mentions Verizon Wireless will be offering Eudora Mobile to its customers, wonder if we will see any Eudora specific Smartphones anytime soon?

Well that's it for this posting, as always, the lines are open for your comments. Thank you for reading.

3.19.2005

Weekend Reading 3/19/05

Nothing beats a weekend morning, the sun, the fresh orange juice and a lot of blogs to read. Today I set out to review what has happened in the blogosphere since my last posting this week.

Starting out, I always hit up slashdot.org to see what the geeks are saying. Today I was sent over to an article on PBS.org discussing VoIP telecom strategies. The jist of the article is that the traditional telecom providers and MSOs are getting ready to squash the VoIP operators (ie Vonage and Skype) by prioritizing IP traffic. Quick example, my broadband Internet is provided by Comcast, so if I was also using Comcast as my voice provider they would tag my voice traffic traveling over their IP networks as being important traffic. If I were to use Skype for voice calls over the Comcast IP network the 1s and 0s would not carry the tag of importance. This could cause the quality of my Skype call to degrade and me to throw my arms up in disgust. This is legal and could be effective, but what about all of the other traffic on the IP networks, will traditional data be prioritized as well? The solution proposed by this article seems to simplistic, you ultimately would have to block the Skype traffic to have an effect because only prioritizing Comcast VoIP traffic would not improve say my overall web surfing experience and knowing how much growth this has provided Comcast I would not want to turn my back on those web surfers.

Moving on, there are some interesting comments made by one of InfoWorld's columnist pertaining to Cisco's move into the storage virtualization space. The piece lays out the discussion of where virtualization brains for storage should reside. Well it appears that Cisco is stepping up and doing instead of discussing where the brains should be with its new Storage Service Module (SSM). This is going to be an interesting area to watch going forward in the network world as Cisco has storage listed underneath its Advanced Technology division. This is the segment where the company expects to see lots of growth, we'll have to watch and see how this plays out.

Next up, the EuroTelcoblog put together by James Enck of Daiwa Securities SMBC Europe Ltd. Some timely comments as I was talking about crossover in the tech industry that I cover at work with my media coworker. My words exactly where, "we'll be see more and more of tech crossing over into media." In Mr. Enck's post on Friday he puts up some figures for online advertising and then eludes to the fact that the carriers providing the web surfers the ability to view the increasing number of online advertisements have not capitalized on the changes in the marketplace. This plays into the VoIP blog I read over at PBS. The carriers have provided these pipelines for communications, but have not figured out how to increase revenues while decreasing the costs for its most valuable user, the web surfer. Granted, if there was not good content on the web we would not have a want or need to get online, but I think we are past that scenario. It will be interesting to see how tech adopts to its new position in the marketplace as it is shifting more towards consumer tech instead of enterprise tech. What is Comcast going to do with Tivo?

In closing, I spent too much time writing and not enough reading today with a number of blogs left on the table. I'll try to do some more catching up on Sunday, for now it's time to attack the day.