Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Digital Midas Touch

Do the names Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström mean anything to you? Probably not. But I'm sure the names Kazaa and Skype do.

Friis and Zennstrom are the brains behind both successful digital companies, revolutionary businesses that changed the way we share media and make phone calls. Now the two are set to launch Joost (formerly known as The Venice Project), which very well could change the way we watch television. Joost streams television to portables, desktops and televisions via broadband. Much like what Skype could (with widespread adoption) do to the landline, Joost has the potential (with widespread adoption) to put an end to the cable box (as we know it.)

Check out Wired's very interesting article today looking at the two visionaries and their newest baby. Chances are the public is already ready for it, even more so than when Kazaa and Skype made their debuts.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Use It or Lose It

Just days after making Apple look like trademark amateurs, reports are stating that Cisco may have indeed lost the trademark rights to the term "iPhone" due to lack of distinguishable usage.

What next? Less than a week after launch the whole situation already has more twists and turns than a Chubby Checker marathon. What else can happen between now and the time the phone is actually available to the public?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Who Will Decide the Outcome of the Format War? The Porn Industry, That's Who

Tisk tisk Sony. Letting your morals get in the way of your success... again. Word has it that Sony has shut out the pornography industry from releasing their plot-driven, riveting titles on the Blu-Ray format discs. Does this sound familiar?

During the last major format war, Sony took the same stance when they decided that pornography did not uphold the integrity that the Betamax stood for. However, those backing the VHS saw the business opportunity and went for it, allowing smut mavens worldwide to spread the love via VHS.

We saw the results, as up until the DVD came along and put the format to bed, most of you were perfectly happy watching classics like Home Alone, Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins on your VHS. Many of you still have your VHS collections stored away, in the event of a rainy day. And yet most of you never realized that a big part of the reason your VHS beat the Betamax was thanks to the porn industry's penetration of mainstream culture via the VHS.

Odds are, just like with the Betamax, this decision is going to weight heavily on which format ultimately comes out on top. For me, this example raises a few interesting question.

First, does this decision really make Sony any more ethical than the HD DVD's backers?

Second, is business ethics just a misnomer?

Third, does allowing or not allowing a format to carry a certain type of material make it more ethical than others? Is glossy paper unethical because most nudey mags are printed on it? Are computers unethical because the provide a forum for pornography to be viewed? Are MPEGs and P2P networks the devil because the provide quick and easy access to free smut?

One thing is for certain: Sony's position on pornography is not going to bring the industry to its knees, and it definitely won't be the cause of it's demise. However, their stance may just be that to the Blu-Ray.

So in closing, congratulations to Sony for taking a moral and ethical stance on the content that will be available via the Blu-Ray.

My question is, will it really be worth it?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who Benefits Most from the iPhone?

Early indication is that it'll Rogers, not bell/Aliant or Telus, who'll be the carrier pulling in that sweet data plan coin when the iPhone rolls into town. Apple stated today that they have no plans to release the iPhone on the CDMA network, instead opting to keep with the GSM format.. .at least for now. As such, default win goes to Rogers.

All you Bell or Telus fans dissapointed by this, think of it this way - if the iPhone is massively popular in Canada, with Rogers being the only carrier, the excess cash that will be spewing from Ted Roger's fat pockets may mean more love (and money) going to our Blue Jays! Is there anything better than that?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

Seemingly lost to most amidst the drooling and ogling over yesterday's monumental Apple iPhone release (I'd link to it but frankly, you couldn't trip over a newspaper, blog, website or newscast without hearing about it) was that pesky minor controversy of the trademark rights to the name "iPhone".

For those that forgot (or missed it altogether), in mid-December Linksys, a Cisco brand, unveiled their "iPhone" - a VoIP phone - and made some minor waves because of the name. Turns out Cisco has had the trademark since a 2000 acquisition, and while Apple and Cisco had been in negotiations over the name for the past few years (heavily over the past few weeks), Mr. Jobs went ahead and captured the attention of the world with a product that's infringing on a trademark. Today, Cisco formally filed suit and now things appear to be up in the air.

Is iMobile still available? How about iCell? or iBuy?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Stand Corrected

That is to say, I was standing, was knocked flat on my ass, and then pulled my embarrassed ass back up for a second look.

Talk about a sexy looking phone. I must admit, with all the hype that’s been surrounding the iPhone for months, I was a little sceptical as to whether or not they could pull it off. And sure enough, they did. They went above and beyond.

It’ll be pricey to start ($599 for the 8GB model at launch) but who doubts the potential this phone will have once it hits the market? One thing’s for sure - when this baby makes it to Canada, odds are I’ll be doing what I can to get to the front of the line.

From a market standpoint, early indication is the competition should be just a bit worried... gratned it's early, so who knows what RIM could do to the Pearl before the iPhone makes it to the market....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

First off, Merry hoho and Happy New Year to all of you who celebrated this holiday season. Thanks to a combination of family, friends, exhaustion, champagne and Bailey's Caramel on the rocks, I've been quiet on the blogging front (I felt I'd spare you the alcohol- and chocolate- fueled mutterings this season.) But now it's back to it, so without further adieu... here's a quick look back on 2006 and a quick look forward to 2007...

Looking Back - 2006 - Everything 2.0

1) What do you get when you cross mainstream popularity with an undefined business model? a $1.65 Billion payday
In October, amidst many online rumours, Google offered up a mind-boggling paycheck ($1.65 Billion) to acquire YouTube, the net's ultimate online video sharing database. The site that makes everyone a star had yet to sign any substantial copyright deals and couldn't really display where their revenue opportunities are, but displayed enough to become one of the biggest acquisition stories of the year. Users question whether the purchase will make the site better or worse, as competition sprouts up in every direction.

2) Google Officially Begins it's Conquest of the World
Soaring stock, big ticket acquisitions, entering new markets. 2006 marked the year when almost nothing could go wrong for the company. A decade ago a senior exec from Sun Micro handed these guys a fat check after only ten minutes of a presentation. That check could turn out to be one of the smartest investments of all time.

3) Console War Begins... with a Shortage of Ammunition
PS3 spends most of the year being held up and getting slammed by the public. Wii catches everyone's eye with it's innovation and reinstills faith in a badly-beaten Nintendo. The consoles launch a week apart with mass shortages on both sides. Gamers who got their hands on either turn them around for small ransoms or claim neighbourhood bragging rights to close off 2006. Predictions run wild on whether the Wii, 360 or PS3 will ultimately win this generation of the console wars, even though all three are firmly in premature stages of adoption. Casual gamers worldwide sit back, play Madden 07 on their PS2s and wait until prices become reasonable and the HD-DVD/BluRay battle clears up before flocking to the stores to determine the big winner. On a side note, while Sony made it to market first this time, Nintendo promptly took a page out of their book and prempted Sony by issuing the first recall. Take that, Sony!

4) Citizen Media Beats Up on Traditional Media
The increase in attention to and use of online vehicles like blogs, videosharing, podcasting, etc starts to take it's toll on traditional media, as more and more mainstays see ad revenue drop almost as fast as readership. News outlets do what they can to keep up with the trend, with some (The Guardian, BBC, Reuters) leading the way and others (insert mainstay here) lagging behind.

5) When One Life Just Isn't Enough....
With a huge spike in media attention in the second half of 2006, Second Life has now become a part of the mainstream... sort of. Doubling in size (over two million residents today) in less than a year, Second Life has seen the big boys of first life's corporate world - Coke, adidas, Toyota, IBM, etc - make a big push into the virtual world. Even Rueters set up a virtual world, reporting on "in-world" happenings with their very own SL correspondent, Adam Reuters.

Looking Ahead - 2007 - Evolution 2.0

1) Bubble Bath
Talk of Web 2.0 turning into bubble 2.0 will be a hot topic this year as more and more similarities to the late 90's seem evident. However, lessons learned from last time will help curb worries and adoption of Web 2.0 applications will continue to rise.

2) The Blogosphere Keeps Growing... by Retracting?
Growth in overall numbers of blogs begins to plateau, as every Tom, Dick and Jane stop creating short lived blogs and dedicated bloggers continue to improve and contribute. Overall summary - tangible growth (like overall numbers) will decline, while intangible growth (like quality, accuracy and interest) will increase, helping to cement blogging as more than a fad in the eyes of most non-believers.

3) Shape Up and Sell Off
Another year, another step closer to effective business models. As more and more start ups start to accurately display their value propositions and clearly describe their business paths and revenue opportunities, many more acquisitions (including several high-profile) will take place. Most likely companies to be acquired? Facebook, digg, Technorati. Deep pockets could also nab a TechMeme or Wordpress. Nerd Alert North continues to fight off suitors, waiting for an estimated $2 billion offering before sitting down at the discussion table. Likelihood of acquisition? Minimal.

4) Console Me
Like the masses, I give in and finally buy a new console to replace my dying PS2. Brand loyalty and faith in the BluRay format lead me to overpay for a PS3, which I believe will reduce costs slightly by Q3 and introduce a motion-sensor controller by the holiday season (which i won't likely be able to get my hands on until Q2 2008). Wii-staria dies down while PS3 adoption picks up and 360 adoption stays steady. Ps3 outsells Wii and 360, but not by much. Overall sales to date will still rank 360 (thanks to being first-to-market) ahead of PS3 and Wii at year's end, but all remain incredibly tight until late 2008.

5) Not Your Son or Daughter's 2.0
Much like Web 2.0 saw this year, 2007 displays big progress for Enterprise 2.0, as more companies investigate, determine and act on the opportunities the applications bring to the corporation. Wikis for knowledge management, intranet blogs and corporate networking for employee communications, even podcasts and vidcasts for instructional training at your desktop. 2007 marks the year The Man sees what the people saw in 2006 - a fundamental shift in the way we operate - and start to apply it to the way they operate.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Enterprise 2.0: From Talk to Tactic in 2007?

I've been a big advocate of Web 2.0 and it's potential in the enterprise for some time now, but I find that more often than not when broaching the subject my POV ends up being shot down as unrealistic. True, up to this point Enterprise 2.0 hasn't seen much traction on a large scale, but the foundation looks to be in place for 2007 to be the year it breaks out from a good idea without fundamentals to a strong adoption possibility for many companies.

Whether it be small start-up developers with big ideas or large vendors with a focus on small business, Enterprise 2.0 applications are poised for a big year, and those who have drank the kool-aid can expect to be a part of the upswing in the near future.

For those of you without much knowledge of the concept and movement behind Enterprise 2.0, Dion Hinchcliffe from ZDNet has a great post today looking back at the year in Enterprise 2.0. As well, Jevon MacDonald of Firestoker (and Enterprise 2.0 developer) makes a few interesting and well-thought out predictions for what to expect in 2007.

Why I Hate My Friends

My friend, who shall remain nameless, is in a band and looking for album cover ideas. I made what I thought was a generous, thoughtful, and insightful suggestion to him first thing this morning. Within ten minutes, this is what my generosity and thoughtfulness received in return:

As you can see, there are more than one reason as to why I do not have a flickr account. First, and foremost reason I don't, though, is because I have friends who are far too good at photoshop and far too bad to their buddies.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Canucks Lead The Way....

comScore Media Metrix have released their latest stats on blog penetration, and surprise surprise it's us crazy Canucks leading the way. In October, more than 58% of all Canadian internet users visited blogs - 20% more of total users than our friends south of the border.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's about TIME: You named Person of the Year

TIME Magazine has announced it's 2006 Person of the Year, and low-and-behold, it's YOU! Congratulations. That's some pretty heavy class you've just joined, putting you in the same company as Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, Mohandas Ghandi, and even G.I. Joe.

Okay, so by "You", they're referring to the collective masses that have created Web 2.0, be it by creating or consuming content through outlets such as blogs, RSS, YouTube, MySpace, etc. etc. etc.

But just because the "You" referred to isn't inclusive to just "you", you should give yourself a pat on the back for the role "you" played in it. Without all the "yous" that make up the collective "You", "You" wouldn't really matter at all, now would you?

I think it's best summed up in this one line, direct from the article: "For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

Maybe it's not a big deal to "you" or "you" or "you", but for "You" this is quite a feat. We can only imagine what 2007 might bring.

Apple Gets iPunked

After months of speculation, rumours and hearsay, the iPhone was FINALLY formally announced today.

Since early '06, people have been speculating on when it'll be available, what it'll look like, what features and functionality will be included and at what cost. Seemingly everything about the iPhone was a hot topic and the masses all had their own opinion about every aspect.

The long-standing global dialogue basically meant that there was no stone unturned and that odds are when the announcement came, there wouldn't be any surprises. Well, well. Looks like one stone was left unturned.

The iPhone was launched today, but NOT by Apple. Linksys, one of the Cisco brands, has launched the wireless iPhone, a VoiP based phone that will utilize Skype for free or low-cost long distance calls.

So, is this a branding coup of great proportions? Well, reports from October (which helped to fuel the iPhone fire) revealed that Apple had actually trademarked the term iPhone in numerous countries.

So, does this mean those reports were bogus, or was GB one of the countries where they couldn't get the trademark? We'll probably find out over the coming days...