Will Google Apps be another winner?

Friday, February 23, 2007
Google Apps: friendly competition
Between the lines

With Google Apps now a reality, some pundits are wondering how Microsoft might be plotting some form of retaliation. But maybe that won’t be necessary. Dan Farber and Larry Dignan at Between the Lines believe G Apps might be a value-add rather than a competitor.

“Google Apps is a completely different beast than Office even though they both seem to do the same thing: manage email and calendars, edit documents, and build spreadsheets. In this case, the means to this end makes a significant difference.Google Apps is a Web application and, as such, is subject to law of mash-ups: anything that can be mashed-up will. An online application like Google Apps has the potential to become an ecosystem for other businesses that add value to overall mix in ways that even a company with resources like Google can’t match.”


Black and white and Microsoft all over

This is one debate that never dies. Do people truly want to read articles on the Web, or would they just rather a newspaper on their laps? Microsoft is attempting to build a bridge between the two by teaming up with Associated Newspapers, Forbes Inc. and Hearst to offer “reader software” for downloading and reading articles. News.com’s Blogma doesn’t anticipate much interest.

“The project is part of the software potentate’s push to show off certain features in the Vista operating system. Microsoft had previously released a version of the software designed for The New York Times.The reaction among bloggers seemed to be “that’s nice, but who cares?” Requiring special software just to read the paper seemed like a bit too much effort for most, no matter how well the software worked.”


Blu-Ray ekes out its edge

Engadget is reporting that Blu-Ray has actually surpassed HD-DVD sales for the time, but the war between the formats is far from over. The similarity between this and the Beta/VHS showdown is almost chilling.

“Each team put its own spin on the numbers, with HD DVD-backing Universal pointing out that despite a 5:1 advantage in hardware due to the PS3, disc sales are still nearly even, while Blu-ray supporter 20th Century Fox sees the format war as being in its “final phase,” and fence-straddling Warner merely noting that both formats are “selling well”. Still, with the exception of the LG combo playing BH100, none of the major players have shown any plans to change sides, so until they do, prepare for a prolonged stalemate before this war is truly over.”


Thursday, February 22, 2007
Microsoft’s US$1.52B payout to Alcatel may not be the end
Tech Law Prof Blog
After the company loses a suit involving MP3s, Mark Giangrande points out another case it recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court could have significant outcome on the Alcatel-Lucent case. “The second case involves AT&T, the subject matter being the calculation of damages for patent infringement on a world-wide basis. AT&T is claiming damages for components included in Windows from foreign distribution of the operating system. Federal law prohibits the distribution of parts to foreign jurisdictions that would infringe domestically. Blueprints are OK, however,” he writes. “Microsoft is claiming that all they did was distribute master discs of Windows, and that the fabricators there made the duplication. AT&T is arguing that the mechanics of the software business make it impractical for Microsoft to distribute hundreds of thousands of copies of the OS and that the master disc is designed to be the essential component. Microsoft says no, it’s a blueprint.”

Vista shouldn’t be the only choice for an upgrade
Cloudy Thinking
Even though he’s in the market for a new machine, Ron K. Jeffries isn’t ready for Microsoft’s latest OS. “Vista is still a pre-teen product with acne and poor manners. Maybe in a year or two I’ll grudgingly give in, but I’d like to avoid it for now,” he writes. “If you know how I can buy a brand name laptop with Windows XP or Linux (Kubuntu is my favorite Linux distribution) please let me know. I know some of you will advise me to buy a Mac laptop and use OS-X. That’s possible. If the next laptop purchase is for my wife, I may foist a Mac off on her, then secretly use it a little when she’s not looking.”

Wi-Fi operators need to give their heads a shake

A lot of users really don’t understand the costs of data they incur through advanced network technologies, according to Nokia Multimedia product manager Charlie Schick. “It’s bullshitake, if anyone tries to compare WiFi and 3G network coverage. It doesn’t matter. On the one hand, you pay a boat load for a few megs of data. On the other hand, you need to wait a bit until you get to the next WiFi oasis to have megs and megs of cheap access. WiFi oases are everywhere,” he writes. “Yeah, I think flat-rate 3G data will help. But, I think the operators have missed an opportunity to get folks used to using the mobile network. WiFi operators have trained the users first, and will be hard to dislodge.”

Python is tricky, but oh so intriguing
Freedom to Tinker

In a description of a program he has written, Ed Felton shows that not all applications can be characterized by inspection. “The behavior of this program again depends on its input. For some inputs, it will produce no output. For other inputs, it will produce an output that depends in a complicated way on the input it got. Can this program ever print “Drat”? You can’t tell, and neither can I,” he writes. “Nonexperts are often surprised to learn that programs can do things the programmers didn’t expect. These surprises can be vexing; but they’re also the main reason computer science is fun.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Cisco’s purchase of Reactivity may not be good for openness
Outside the Box
Following the gear maker’s US$135 million deal, MomentumSI’s Todd Biske has some questions. “This certainly puts two big boys head-to-head in this space with IBM previously having acquired DataPower. Cisco has been very quiet for some time regarding its AON technology, so I’m wondering how this acquisition impacts that effort,” he writes. “Unfortunately, these acquisitions may point more toward single-vendor, proprietary integrations, rather than open solutions. Will the Cisco version of Reactivity still partner with companies like AmberPoint, or will the management focus now shift all to Cisco technologies, starting with the Application Control Engine mentioned in Cisco’s press release? What’s been happening with the Governance Interoperability Framework now that HP owns Systinet? IBM’s Registry/Repository solution doesn’t support UDDI and has a new API.”

Snort flaw shows the power of open source

After a vulnerability in the DCE/RPC preprocessor introduced in Snort 2.6.1 is discovered, Richard Bejtlich looks at how the community is addressing the problem. “This level of transparency is one of my favorite aspects of open source projects. If you are so inclined you can check the source code to find the original vulnerability and then decide if the fix is proper,” he writes. “There are probably a few dinosaurs out there who think this level of disclosure is too much, since it shows the adversary exactly where to find the problem. The truth is that several years of exceptionally effective reverse engineering of binary patches for closed, proprietary operating systems (and even creation of patches based on reverse engineering!) have demonstrated that hiding source code provides little to no secrecy.”

Don’t expect Vonage to become a real wireless player

After a Business Week article profile’s the company’s wireless plans, Peter Rojas assesses the likelihood of it become a mobile virtual network operator. “The problem is that launching an MVNO is no small undertaking. ESPN shuttered MobileESPN last year after failing to attract more than a handful of subscribers, and Amp’d and Helio have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to carve out a slice of what is an incredibly competitive wireless market (Apple was working on an MVNO to accompany the launch of the iPhone, but scrapped the whole thing once it became obvious how difficult it would be to gain marketshare),” he writes. “Could they do it? Maybe, but not without spending a TON of money, which is why it’s more likely that they’ll introduce a more modest Voice over WiFi service.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
A letter from Camp SAP
SDN Blog Network
Leo Sopicki of Inland Empire Utilities Agency offers a first-hand glimpse of what it’s like to enter the Americas office in Philadelphia to learn more about its ERP products. “Rising from the white, the glass and steel building, completely free of frost and snow, protrudes like a totally alien presence, strikingly beautiful and powerful. I immediately thought of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude or a building on Coruscant (What, you thought I’d reference the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851 or The Annenberg School of Communication at USC? Hey, I am a nerd, after all.),” he writes. “Inside, however, there were neither holograms of Jor-El nor Wookies. There was an extremely helpful, professional and friendly staff. The classrooms were comfortable with plenty of white boards and excellent projectors. (They won’t let you bring cameras in to take photos of the white boards, however.)”

The DST bug reveals a new kind of user

Former Jupiter Research analyst (and now Microsoft evangelist) Michael Gartenberg offers his own take on the IT issues associated with a change in Daylight Saving Time next month. “What’s changed is our dependence on devices with integrated clocks in them to manage our lives that all have software written to automate the change and the process. Looking around my house, there are personal computers, handeld devices, DVRs and other gadgets that all will need to be told about the changes,” he writes. “It’s one of the pitfalls moving from lifestyle based technology to technology based lifestyles.”

We’re no longer Ozes behind the curtain
My Name Is Kate

A marketing strategist ponders the CRM required to address a wide range of users. “Technology gives us a lot of options and enhances our ability to reach customers on their terms. The kicker is that our customers are familiar with these technologies; they have mastered them. They now expect us to have mastered them as well,” she writes. “Ask one of your engaged, active customers – how would you like to be marketed to in e-mail? They probably know how to create a list, create targeted/relevant creative for an audience, send it out and even track the hits.”

Monday, February 19, 2007
A venture capitalist offers a glimpse at ‘No harm, no foul’ meetings
The Post Money Value
A set of statistics from Rick Segal shows more Java than .Net firms, 21 presentations done on a Mac and a willingness to put NDA requests aside. “About 65 per cent of these no harm/no foul meetings were with people who had full time jobs and this was being done out of the basement. The others were credit cards, kids education fund, home mortgage, etc. In virtually all cases, nobody was taking a salary for the seed,” he writes. “On average, co-founders showed up in the vast majority of cases, i.e. it was two (or more) and not the lone wolf being the majority of what I’ve been seeing.”

The XM-Sirius merger puts two firms on the same problem

The b5 Media VP reports on a deal that will reportedly save the combined entity about $7-billion a year and create a business with 12 million customers. “Before anyone gets too carried way with the possibilities, I would strongly argue the satellite-radio business is dead in the water. Fundamentally, the idea of paying $15 or $20 a month for commercial-free radio service will not generate enough customers to cover the cost of operating the business,” he writes. “If you dig deep into the number of subscribers, how many of them are trial customers who got satellite-radio free for a year when they bought a new car. How many of these people are really going to re-new their contracts? Not many, I suspect.”

Nortel is thinking like a startup in wireless
Urlocker on Disruption

The author and guru discusses the telcom player’s bid to leap into 4G wireless. “This same sort of ‘start-from-scratch’ strategy can be used by successful companies without turning their backs on their customers if the business has clear boundaries. IBM did this with the creation of its PC in 1981. As a result, IBM was the only big-iron computer company to make the transition to the new disruptive PC market,” he writes. “Likewise, a retailer expanding into a new country or a telephone company launching services outside its historic regional operating territory has the rare opportunity to redefine its business, create the right cost structure and think like a startup.”

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