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Longhorn Sounding Like Cairo August 30, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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I’ll defer the Longhorn heavy-lifting to my colleagues. But I can’t pass this up:

“Our scheduling and predictability on this project has been better than it was on OS/360.”
– Bill Gates, August 2004


The best BillG can come up with is a comparison with an IBM operating system project from 1964??!!! And it’s a bad comparison. For one thing, OS/360 ended up being only two years late. I remember Microsoft promising a file system with RDBMS and object characteristics for “Cairo” in 1995. And OS/360 was arguably one of the first real enterprise operating systems. You’d think Microsoft had learned a little about OS project management in the forty years since IBM invented the practice.

OS/360’s travails sponsored the notion of second-system syndrome, introduced in The Mythical Man-Month. Again, I can’t resist quoting:

In computing, the Second-system effect or sometimes, more euphoniously, second-system syndrome is when one is designing the successor to a relatively small, elegant, and successful system, there is a tendency to become grandiose in one’s success and design an elephantine feature-laden monstrosity.

Don’t get me wrong. Microsoft is a great company. (And Windows 95 was no small, elegant system.) But Microsoft – specifically in Windows and Office – has been exhibiting serious signs of Innovator’s Dilemma for years. I wouldn’t be the first analyst to wonder if separating the company’s growth businesses from the elephantine monstrosities might have made Mr. Softee even more competitive.

I wonder how many of Microsoft’s best minds are working on Plan B. You know, that Windows CE microkernel that can run 80% of the Windows APIs…..

Harmonic Convergence August 24, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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I just purchased from RealNetworks an album that wasn’t available on the iTunes store (old Cure) for $3.96 and am listening to it on an iPod. The world didn’t end; everything seems to work fine.

I still have bought about 10 times as much music from the iTunes store as anywhere else, and still prefer it as a jukebox. (Though 90+% of my music is in unprotected MP3s – 90% of which I ripped off of CDs I paid for. Well, almost 90%.)

And the iPod’s still untouchable. But things are heating up. And you know Jupiter thinks that subscription services are a better business than pure downloads in the long run.

The Gig Is Up August 23, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Uh-oh, the Journal has an expose on Stanford students using iTunes to share songs on the campus network. Apparently, you can get dates if your taste is cool.

That story runs right next to a piece on colleges going after file sharing services, while a column by the “Real Time” clods airs the conventional DRM smackdown on Real vs. Apple.

Nothing new in any of this, except maybe the RIAA’s response to the iTunes story:

A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America says the organization, which has numerous lawsuits pending against college users of file-sharing programs, has no current plans to go after iTunes downloaders in court. “We are most focused on the problem causing us the greatest damage,” the spokesman said.

But this kind of wall-to-wall coverage makes one cynical about the chances for DRM either to enable new businesses or protect old ones.

Thank Goodness It’s Over August 20, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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…well at least the first day. With luck, we’ll see a little less of this type of scintillating insight:

“For a long time, Google was like this lovable cute little baby toddler,” said Konstantin Guericke, the co-founder of LinkedIn, a business networking company and one of Silicon Valley’s higher-profile start-ups. “Right now we’re seeing them in the teenager phase. They’re trying to grow up but they’re flailing around.

“I still have positive feelings from when they were so cute and so young,” Mr. Guericke said, “so I’m hoping they can grow into a productive member of society.”

Oh, I think Google’s pretty productive.

Mr. Guericke spent some time at Blaxxun, but refers to that episode as being “responsible for the initial public launch of social software pioneer Blaxxun.” Heck, I remember Blaxxun when it was a 3D VRML virtual world. For example, three users can simultaneously click on an airplane flying overhead to enter a vacation raffle sponsored by American Airlines, Kodak can sponsor a discussion and exhibit of Ansel Adams’ work, or Coke can build a Coke bottle-shaped building. Sign me up!

JupiterResearch thinks a little more highly of search, than of social networks. From that report, aptly titled “A Phenomenon in Search of a Business Model”:

Social networks cannot exist as standalone businesses, but portals could use them to attract new registered users and harvest ad targeting data. Business networks may survive on subscription revenues and could present an integration opportunity for newspapers.

NBC Olympics “Coverage” August 17, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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It is 9:39 PM eastern. I am watching NBC’s broadcast coverage of the Olympics. Their announcers are either AMAZINGLY prescient, or they’ve edited or totally re-created the coverage of the American women’s choke performance in team gymnastics. Is this Ronnie Reagan re-creating baseball from a wire feed? Oh, please, NBC, say it aint so!

Office as Platform: One, More, Time August 16, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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Since I took my own colleagues to task for it, I can’t do any less for my favorite whipping boy, the NY Times. (You only hurt the ones you love.) The Times seems to think that MSFT’s nth attempt to position Office as a collaboration platform is something new:

“But for Microsoft, which is starting to see its growth slow as it ages, reinventing that suite of old reliables – including Word, Excel and PowerPoint – has become nothing less than a key to its future….With that focus, Microsoft is now pursuing a strategy to transform Office from a bundle of programs on personal computers into a family of software that can put Microsoft’s technology deeper into the operations of corporate data centers.”

Folks, Mr. Softee does this with every Office release.

If the new strategy – which, as it has always been, is correct if perhaps unachievable – doesn’t involve either:

– huge improvement in UI
– critical mass of another platform technology (XML? Web Services? Not yet, I don’t think)
– dramatic price/cost improvements

don’t pay it too much attention.

Olympian Economics August 13, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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NBC hopes to make $50 million by selling $1B worth of advertising on the summer Olympics, according to the Times. Back in 2002, it was hoping to make $60-75 million on that year’s Winter Olympics. That year, it spent $545 million on the rights, and $110 million on coverage. Add in the profits and you get $730 million in revenues.

So in 2004, the summer games might give NBC a 5% margin. The winter games in 2002 might have produced a 10% profit.

Yahoo made $237 million on total sales of $1.6 billion. That’s 15%. It had $1.2 billion in ad sales, and advertising is a little more profitable than its services business. Still, let’s leave margins at 15%. That’s $175 million in profits.

Sure, the Olympics are a good promotional platform for NBC’s shows and networks. But so is a successful portal. Don’t you think NBC wishes it had one?

Teen Choices August 11, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Some things to ponder while watching the Teen Choice Awards tonight on FOX:

– Lindsay Lohan, can it last?

– But if you thought Britney was done, check out who won best single. But nothing else.

– The boys on the WB did better than the girls. Oh wait, the O.C. is on Fox, I keep forgetting.

– How did Brad Pitt win best actor/drama for Troy? Wasn’t that rated R? And what does that say about Tobey?

– Tony Hawk and Mia Hamm are best athletes. So much for the Big Three sports, tennis and the WNBA. (Serena & Kobe ruled last year.)

– Why does Orlando Bloom get three awards, but none solo – all for teamwork (Liplock, Chemistry, Fight Scene)? Anxious fans are wondering.

– Jessica Simpson, Fashion Icon. Yikes.

– Blink-182 won best love song. Whoulda thunk Tom and Mark were so sensitive? Travis, maybe. It is acoustic, I guess. With strings.

– Punk’d is the only MTV property that won anything. Well, except for Britney and Usher and Ashley Simpson….

Chucks: the Saga Continues August 9, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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More from the Journal on my favorite shoe. Nike-think begins its takeover:

“Because this brand is already owned by customers, we thought maybe we should give them the forum to express themselves,” says Greg Stern, chief executive of Sausalito, Calif., ad agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. After winning the Converse account in May, the agency contacted about 300 potential filmmakers through art schools, Web sites, design shops and retailers. Out of the 150 entrants, about 20 made the cut, with ads chosen for television earning $10,000, and those appearing online earning $1,000. The first round of ads, which are to air beginning tonight in the U.S. on MTV, will also run on ESPN, Cartoon Network, BET, Comedy Central and others.

…According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, Converse spent a puny $17,000 in 2003 to advertise Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers

Big Brother? August 4, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Maybe it is time for Microsoft to sell Slate. I was a little puzzled that this fairly lame if inoffensive MSNBC column – promoted on MSN’s front page – about celebrity playlists neglected to mention they were from Apple’s iTunes store.

“In perusing one of my favorite download sites, I came across a bunch of celebrity playlists. Itís an eclectic mix of recognizable names from various fields…”