Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Billions of applications downloades; where's the beef?

Per Apple, as reported in BusinessInsider, more than 2 billion applications have been downloaded onto iPhones. A truly incredible number, and with 85,000 applications in hundreds of niches, represents the democratization (commoditization) of software as I suspect that the vast majority of these downloads were of software that cost less than $2.00/download (with no maintenance charges). More than 10 MILLION applications are downloaded each day! 40 applications per phone....(maybe I should insert disposable before application?).

But (and there always needs to be a but), where are the great new emerging iPhone software companies that are roaring their way to the IPO bank, or into the adoring arms of buyers?

Perhaps, the iPhone really represents a watershed, and terminal, event in the software market. The tipping point of consumer software, where it's now an element of 'Free', a way station towards advertising, subscription, or commerce revenues. No longer a revenue objective in its own right. If so, wherefore art thou future MSFT, EA, Intuit (note the Mint acquisition as highly strategic in a deeply commoditized IP world)? Do your businesses look like Google or Amazon?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Social Media Revolution video

Erik Qualman runs a bog called Socialnomics and is the author or a similarly titled book that covers the Social Media arena.

Here's a video, chock full of factoids that I found interesting:

Larry Ellison and 'why I acquired Sun'

Interesting post by Will Price describing Larry Ellison's speech Monday night.

Essentially, he argues that the Enterprise business may now be best served by rejecting the move to a components based horizontal approach, where the customer chooses a multitude of 'best of breed' vendors. Instead, a 'vertical' approach (harken back to dominant IBM) where one vendor supplies, or integrates the total solution is best for the customer.

I suppose he's right in an environment where innovation is stilted, and competition offers many alternatives. Or, you have a culture of intense innovation (Apple). I think you need two of these conditions to be present for his vision to be successful.

Here's a snippet of Mr. Ellison entertaining the crowd on his view of cloud computing

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Google Wave

Google announced their new communications platform, Google Wave will open to the public on Sept 30th. This open sourced platform seems to unite mail and IM in a 'live' application environment that is courting the developer community. If it lives up to its hype this just may spark a creative tidal (er) wave in the communications segment (along with porn, one of the 2 key drivers of the early internet). What could also be really big is that, apparently, Wave does not operate under MSFT's IE 6 browser due to lack of JavaScript and HTML5 support.

Here's a link from Mashable highlighting the top 6 Wave features

Ride 'em Lar

Monday, September 21, 2009


A good article in today's WSJ highlights the fallacy of making long (or mid-term) economic forecasts. As we are in the autumn season, where CEO's are preparing budgets and plans for themselves, and investors, I think it's especially relevant.

In the technology space there are so many moving parts, ranging from competitive products, pricing, evolving ecosystems that the general economic environment is often a secondary item to contemplate. One thing I have found is important in the planning process is to empower the CEO with enough flexibility to adjust to the knobs to find the right tune for today's environment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Judge Rakoff goes the extra mile

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Judge Rakoff rejected the proposed settlement between the SEC and Bank of America. He was critical of both parties and seems to be injecting a strong dose of common sense by shining a light on who authorized billion dollar bonus payments to employees in a company that was on the verge of collapse, and why this was not disclosed in public filings.

Here's a copy of the Judge's opinion.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hard boiled eggs

Now that school is back in session, and lunch making duties beckon, I had to search for the time it takes to make a hard boiled egg. Not as straightforward a task as you would imagine.

Google came back with 'about 473,000 responses' to my inquiry about 'cooking hard boiled eggs'. Recipes detailed piercing the large end with a tack, removing eggs from refrigerator for 30 minutes before boiling, putting eggs in warm water till the water boiled, then removing from heat. And, of course, the fierce 15 vs 17 minute religious battle.

It took more time sifting recipes than boiling the eggs!

If there's so many opinions about making hard boiled eggs, and so many will give results that equally please me, just imagine how many ways there are to build a great company (or not to).

You just got to take your nose out of the book and start boiling the water.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Platform or application?

Friday, Skype announced that it was discontinuing its Extras program due to 'lack of interest from the developer community'. Announced in late 2006, the program was launched with much initial success, with more than 10mm downloads in the first 4 months and more than 4,000 developers signed to build applications on the platform.

The Extra program always seemed to hold great promise. The ability for young vendors, for a fee based on a % of revenues, to hook into a huge (now nearly 500mm) installed base, seamlessly integrate a payment mechanism, and to ride a new ecosystem around the instant web had great equity building appeal. Of course, there was a huge caveat, Extra sent Skype on the path towards being a platform, where its infrastructure takes a back seat to the application written above it. Product management now had to take into account a new constituency, the developer community, as concerned with API's as consumers were about the next new function. It takes strong and consistent leadership to pull this off well. Not many companies have done so successfully.

Despite initial success, shortly into the platform journey it seemed as if Ebay/Skype was having great trouble straddling the 'coopetition' line that platform players, who also build applications must walk. Certification and promotion seemed arbitrary and statements of direction were murky at best. Developers, investors and consumers were confused. It became just too hard to navigate in a world populated with alternatives, so Extra participants turned their attention elsewhere, or disappeared.

With such great potential to stir up the market, unfortunately, Ebay/Skype performed a hysterectomy on its potential Golden Goose.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Thoughtful piece in the Atlantic, written by David Goldhill "How American Health Care Killed My Father"