Wednesday, November 21
Monday, November 19
I can see that the world would be a better place if there were no more printed books leaving forests denuded, taking up retail shelving, needing to be resold, recycled or worse once you've read them.
I concede that the Kindle is a major step forward in e-book tech, featuring better screen, easier nav, longer battery life and more storage at a lower price than ever before.
Two reasons why I don't think it will be successful:
1. It doesn't solve a problem for the consumer; and
2. It confuses the medium with the media.
It solves problems, but Amazon's problems, not the consumer's. The consumer does not have a problem. People don't walk out of book stores complaining about how unpleasant it is to quietly browse for a while. Nobody throws a book down in disgust and cries, "I just can't deal with the resolution of this typesetting on this paperstock!" and very few of us complain about the price of books (at least, not those of us who might be able to afford an Amazon Kindle.)
The Kindle, and the Sony e-book gadget and all the others are lovely showcases for the latest technology, but they confuse the medium with the media.
The media (the information, the narrative, the opinion, the pictures, ideas and all the rest of it) absolutely do not need to be on something that looks and works like a book (the media) to find an audience.
Modern authors know this from publishing their books online and by writing blogs. The music industry has known this for the past five years or so as they've seen their media transfer from one medium (CD) to another (.MP3) so fast that it's almost killed their industry. But now the music industry is starting to adapt, and is realising this is their biggest opportunity since the invention of radio.
The "word industry" (for want of a better name for it since it's not just a book publishing industry - that again confuses media with medium) just needs to learn not to confuse media with medium and it will stop wasting time with ebook readers and sell large numbers of words... some of them very long indeed!
The only issues the consumer complains about are the very issues that are created by the word industry itself trying to maintain its exclusive control of the creation, distribution and sale of word-based works. The Kindle is mainly an attempt to wrest control from the book publishers and their retail distribution networks and hand it straight to Jeff Bezos.
Friday, November 16
'Hey,' they're saying, 'What about all the gajillions of Meebo users out there who don't own an iPhone?' and they have a point, kinda. The iPhone isn't the most common handset on the planet...
...Yet. It is the fastest-selling handset in AT&T's stores and I'm fairly certain it will be the fastest selling handset in Europe and the US over the next 12 months when the numbers are in (w00t, bold prediction!)
Meebo more likely chose the iPhone first because it runs a relatively standard, relatively sophisticated browser; essentially most of the functional bits of Safari, based on the well-understood WebKit. As Paul from Meebo says on the blog, making Meebo work on an iPhone wasn't that hard because it wasn't too different to making Meebo work on Safari, and it did that already.
There would be two ways to get Meebo working on a broader range of mobile handsets: develop client software for each of them, or develop versions for common mobile browsers such as Opera.
Coding clients for other handsets is a humungous task. So humungous, nobody really attempts it any more. There are so many different flavours of even the most popular mobile OSes that Meebo would have to quadruple the size of its dev team for the next few years if that was the goal. There's 20+ popular J2ME implementations out there, multiple Symbian versions, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Palm... Fugedaboutit.
Mobile startups with client software don't - can't - support such a range of variants. Most support only a couple of recent Symbian versions, and/or maybe Windows Mobile. Hardly any try to keep up with J2ME.
Yet you've also got to degrade functionality gracefully too, so that the primary Meebo features also work on some of the more primitive mobile browsers out there.
End of the day, Meebo's not really in the mobile messaging game. We can't expect a tiny startup to make that big an investment in developing stuff that's not core to its business.
Tuesday, November 13
(Thanks to Vote For Kevin and Martin Stannard for the photo.)
Friday, November 9
There are now so many microblogging platforms out there, and they're all so new none has quite achieved ubiquity yet. So teh kiddies at hellotxt have decided the right thing to do is to add anothr layer of aggregation on the interweb, this time to let you update all your microblog feeds from the one microblogger.
Why do I want to flip the model?
Thursday, November 8
These are huge numbers for an online business with distribution only via free to air and digital TV. Most local online media publishers also own newspaper, magazine or radio assets that can be used to cross-promote.
For me, this points to the value of an engaged audience. ABC viewers simply care more about what they watch on ABC, that's why they're more likely to interact with the programming online.
Why do they care more? Because the programming is higher quality than 90% of the commercial pap on 7, 9 and 10; it asks as many questions as it answers, it encourages debate, it disrupts normal programming formulas, it challenges and investigates.
Praise jeebus the ABC isn't selling online advertising!
In the mad scramble to collect new users, no matter how disinterested they are, current Facebook Platform developers sacrifice the most viral part of the distribution mechanism: making a highly-targeted invitation to a user who'll love the recommendation, and who will then spread the invitation to other highly-relevant users.
If Facebook Beacon takes the same shotgun approach to viralocity then I don't think it'll amount to much. If all the web service providers I use add the Beacon code to their templates and I spend the whole day hitting 'uncheck facebook friends' each time I perform an action on another website, I'll delete my Facebook profile quicker than you can say, "f***book".
If, on the other hand, Beacon handles the opting-in and opting-out in a smarter way (by, frinstance, letting me create short lists of friends with similar interests so I can manage opt-in/outs conveniently) then I think it could be huge.
Let's wait and see...
Wednesday, November 7
1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27 per cent)
Google needs the hardware manufacturers to stay on-board. I suppose it could get into hardware manufacture if it felt it needed to, but that's a business it has shied away from in webservers and desktops that it could have been in a decade ago if Google thought that was a good rate of return. And unravelling the Open Handset Alliance first would take time and money. So it's stuck with herding handset hardware cats - good luck with that.
Not all the biggest cats are even in the herd - most prominently Microsoft (well, duh!) Nokia, SonyEricsson and Palm.
Are all the handset makers in the herd going to chuck it all in and adopt the Android platform without hesitation? No, they're going to take a few tentative steps only, keeping most of their eggs in their own proprietary OS baskets, where after all, most of their brand and experience equity is tied up.
It's not the buttons or the battery in a Moto that makes it a Moto, it's the user experience, which is derived entirely from the OS and the apps that leverage it.
The significant risk for a handset manufacturer is that using an open OS also used by other manufacturers leaves them wide open to competition of the sort none of them truly feels capable of beating.
So yes, there's definitely a lot of big names signing on to develop Android devices, but how deeply they invest in it depends entirely on their own strategic machinations, not on how cool users think a GPhone might be.
I could be wrong, this could be the first industry coalition to hum like a well-oiled machine for the next two decades. Or it could be yet another industry coalition which starts losing its way at the end of the first year under the competitive tensions between its members.
Tuesday, November 6
Next to HG and Roy calling the Melbourne Cup, my next favourite way to consume the Race That Stops The Nation would have to be Ben Barren, in the Bridge Hotel in Mordialloc, via Twitter. I can practically smell it.
But while I admire the open disclosure, the testimonials and 'top five support forum' posts on 8Hand's homepage are probably too much information, too soon.
Before I've even decided to download and try the software I'm seeing reasons why it might be a risky proposition. Maybe beta launch is a better time to add real testimonials and forum posts to your homepage and leave snippets from, say, Techcrunch reviews in their place for now.
I guess I'm not enough of a social networks addict... maybe there's hope for me yet?...