Bill Gates Worries about Big Blue, not Google

“The biggest company in the computer industry by far is IBM. They have the four times the employees that I have, way more revenues than I have. IBM has always been our biggest competitor. The press just doesn’t like to write about IBM,” said Gates in an interview on Wednesday ahead of his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas…
Wait till the Google-Desktop takes over MS-Office.
What’s Google-Desktop? It’s how Google will take over your PC via the web. Fits in nicely with a $100 PC don’t you think?
What does a web-based desktop look like? Take a look at this.
OK, I admit it has a ways to go, but I know Google will do this right. They’re going to add an “open-office” component to the web-desktop. You’ll be able to do your word-processing, your spreadsheets, your presentations, your email, your calendar, your RSS subscriptions, your blog, your IM, your VOIP, your video-conferencing, your downloading, your podcasts, your news, your search, and your shopping all at Google.com. That’s going to be the real Google Pack!
And that’s why AOL went with Google, not Microsoft.
Microsoft will become a B2B software company, and yes, IBM will be the biggest competitor in that space.

Googlespace Update: Video-On-Demand

Let’s see, what is Google’s innovation rate? One new service per month, per week?
Today we’ll see Google-Video and Google-Wallet. CBS is in on the deal with Google. So is the NBA.
Will Google go after the World Cup? If they do, it’s goodbye, Yahoo!
Another interesting day in Googlespace…

Clicks and Conversion Rates in 2005

I just read a Brian Eisenberg article in which he says:
“Depending on whom you ask, average conversion rates are between 2 and 4 percent. By today’s standards, you get bragging rights and the full dose of hero treatment if you can maintain a conversion rate of 5 percent or above. You have deity-like status if your conversion rate approaches double digits. the world’s finest players sport double-digit conversion rates of somewhere around 12-14 percent.
“Of course, I’m referencing top-line conversion: Tthe number of visitors who take the macro action you want them to divided by the total number of site visitors.Aa double-digit conversion rate seems unimaginable to some, but experience demonstrates it’s certainly possible. We’ve seen it happen time and again.”
The funny thing is I have a client, who for some reason, is unimpressed by a 44% conversion rate I’ve gotten for them over the past year. Some months it went down to 39%, in other months it was up as high as 53%. I’m not kidding. And the client still doesn’t understand how amazing this is.
What’s amazing about Double Loop Marketing is just how effective it can be. For instance, my record-breaking conversion rate was 98% for an offer on a landing page from John Hagel and JSB. Now granted, JH3 and JSB are smart people, and when they give away something for free, it’s not difficult to see that they’d have a great conversion rate. That said, 98%?!! I’m still in shock over that one.
This year I’ve resolved to publish a book on the power of Double Loop Marketing, with a few, real-life case studies comparing traditional online marketing approaches with Double Loop Marketing tactics. God and the devil are both in the details, as they say. John Hagel’s has committed to writing the foreword for the book, so I think that itself will make the book worth reading 🙂

William Dunk: Systems on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown

Says Dunk:
“The world of broken systems is also a world of broken communication where citizens will have to be ingenious beyond belief to fight entropy. Broken systems turn ordinary citizens into guerilla fighters.”
Read Dunk’s brilliant “letter” here >>
Better yet, subscribe:
Simply send an email to join-globalprovince@lyris.globalprovince.com. Leave the subject field and the body of the email blank. You will automatically be subscribed to the Global Province.

Robots Easier to Talk to than Humans

“When answering the android’s questions…Japanese subjects were much more likely to look it in the eye than they were a real person.”
The Economist highlights the agenda behind Japan’s race to perfect their robots:
“Many workers from low-wage countries are eager to work in Japan. The Philippines, for example, has over 350,000 trained nurses, and has been pleading with Japan—which accepts only a token few—to let more in. Foreign pundits keep telling Japan to do itself a favour and make better use of cheap imported labour. But the consensus among Japanese is that visions of a future in which immigrant workers live harmoniously and unobtrusively in Japan are pure fancy. Making humanoid robots is clearly the simple and practical way to go.”
Ouch. Read the article here >.

John Hagel: Unbundling Time Warner

Three years ago, strategy guru John Hagel was urging Time-Warner to:
– Divest the distribution business and retain the content business.
– Create audience segment business units to address specific audiences that are economically attractive and fit with some of Time Warner’s existing properties – some natural examples: business executives, sports enthusiasts and teen-agers.
– Assign content businesses to report to specific audience segment business units (e.g., Sports Illustrated would report to the sports enthusiast business unit) or establish content production businesses as shared services units (e.g., Warner Brothers movie studio) to support the targeted audience segments
– Build distinctive overarching audience-centric media brands aggressively
– Invest in businesses and skill sets to deepen database marketing capabilities
– Acquire businesses selectively to broaden share of attention and share of wallet within targeted audience segments and develop licensing relationships to access an even broader range of relevant resources to serve target audience segments.
Read his latest blog post on the topic >>

Eric von Hippel: Democratizing Innovation

Eric von Hippel is the Professor of Management and Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Here’s a downloadable video of his April 2005 lecture on “Democratizing Innovation.”
What’s it all about? From the description:
“If you have ever come up with a work-around or improvement for a balky product only to find that it performs better than the original, you are not alone. Eric von Hippel proffers multiple examples where an ordinary user, frustrated or even desperate, solves a problem through innovation. His research found innovative users playing with all manner of product: mountain bikes, library IT systems, agricultural irrigation, and scientific instruments. Often, manufacturers keep at arm’s length from these inventions. He describes the Lego company “standing like a deer in headlights” when technologically adept adults discovered they could design their own sophisticated Lego robots. User communities arise, freely communicate with each other, advance ideas and sometimes even “drive the manufacturer out of product design,” according to von Hippel. This widely distributed inventing bug is a good trend, believes von Hippel, because users “tend to make things that are functionally novel.” Not only is it “freeing for individuals” but it also creates a “free commons” of product ideas, parallel to the more restrictive world of intellectual property governed by less creative manufacturers.”
And here’s his downloadable book: Democratizing Innovation >>

What is Yahoo Really Doing?

“You can probably stitch together our plan from the moves we’ve made, the acquisitions we’ve made, the products we’ve put out to market,” says Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo’s senior director of technology development.
That plan: to try and make social search the next stage in the evolution of search engines.
First Yahoo bought photo-sharing site Flickr, and now it has snapped up bookmarking phenomenon Delicious. Why is Yahoo investing so heavily in the social networking stars of Web 2.0? And why team up with Six Apart to offer blog hosting?
“the real point seems to be the building of an innovative culture that can widen Yahoo’s lens.”
Read all about it in the Guardian

Top 13 Web 2.0 Moments of 2005

Richard Mc Manus has a great post on Web 2.0 highlights in 2005:
– Bloglines acquisition by Ask Jeeves and weblogsinc sale to AOL
– Amazon’s innovations- the Mechanical Turk and Alexa web services
– Microsoft embracing RSS (I’m not impressed with SSE, however)
– Asynchronous JavaScript + XML or AJAX
– Memeoradum and diggs.com
– Googlebase
– Yahoo acquires Flickr and del.icio.us
– eBay buys Skype
– Microsoft’s wakeup to software as a service (see leaked memo here)
– Web 2.0 Conference
– iTunes support of podcasting
– HousingMaps
– Tsunami-help blogs
Read the post here, and add your own highlights to the list!

Innocentive: Open Source Innovation?

The answer to your problem lies outside your company. Why? Because there are more smart people outside your company than in it.
That’s the premise behind InnoCentive, a web-based community matching top scientists to relevant R&D challenges facing leading companies from around the globe.
Here’s how it works:
– Companies contract with InnoCentive as “Seekers” to post R&D challenges to the Innocentive web site
– Each Challenge includes a detailed description and requirements, a deadline, and an award amount for the best solution.
– Award amounts are determined by the Seeker and range from $10,000 to $100,000. You can view the list of previous award recipients here.
– The name of the Seeker company posting the Challenge remains confidential and secure.
– Scientists worldwide are eligible to register on the web site as “Solvers.”
– Anyone may view summaries of Challenges at InnoCentive.com. But to view detailed descriptions and actually work on challenges, registration is required.
– To register as a Solver, scientists fill out a short online form, select a username and password, and log in.
– InnoCentive has registered scientists from over 170 countries around the world.
How about that for open source innovation? Vist the site >>

Pheed Read: RSS ads blow away Banner ads

Findings from a very interesting study on RSS advertising by Pheedo:
– Standalone RSS ads are far more successful than inline ads
– Placing RSS ads in every other post yields the highest percentage of click throughs
– RSS content CTR varies significantly based on day of the week
– Mid-week readership of RSS feeds highest
– RSS ads are outperforming similar Web ads
[standalone RSS ads= average CTR of 7.99% versus 20% to 1.17% CTR for rich-media ads]
– Bloglines leads RSS readers in market share
I must say I’m impressed by Pheedo.
Here are the details on their research.

8 Big Ideas for the 21st Century

Coming soon in Ben Hammersley’s new book: “Octet: The Eight Big Ideas You Need to Understand in the 21st Century”
1. Information wants to be free (vs. copyright).
2. Zero distance (vs. borders).
3. Mass amateurisation (vs.censorship).
4. More is much more. (vs. network blocking).
5. True names (vs. identity cards & databases).
6. Viral behaviour (vs. more network blocking).
7. Everything is personal (vs. everything is trackable).
8. Ubiquitous computing (no privacy).
Hat-tip to Hugh at Gapingvoid.com

Sustainability: The Stumbling Block is Culture

From a back issue of Harvard Design Magazine:
Environmental prophets come in four types: the hysterics, who warn of the apocalypse, the assuagers, who adhere to hope, the disclaimers, who see no dire threat, and the fatalists, who see the future as steady, unavoidable, irreversible decline.
The first three types, the hysterics, the assuagers, and the disclaimers, dominate current discourse. Their views make for more effective hype for whatever public media share their political allegiances. The view of the fatalists is least palatable to society in general and the media in particular, which are thriving on a mix of fear and hope. In the absence of the fatalists, all kinds of compromises are considered able to promote sustainability, from the Kyoto Protocol to emissions trading to Smart Growth. Yet even their proponents admit that these measures cannot stop, let alone reverse, global climate change.
The reason for this is as plain as it is simple. The change in global climate is not caused by financial or technological factors alone and will not be solved just through financial or technological solutions. Global climate change results from the realities of Western, post-industrialist, capitalist culture. It is embedded in unsustainable lifestyles.
Also in the same article >>
The five material principles for a sustainable architecture:
1. Build less. Frei Otto wrote: “To build in a sustainable way means not to build at all.”(2) The replacement of existing built fabric cannot be the long-term goal of any society.
2. Everything built should be given as long a life expectancy as possible.
3. Reuse and recycling of material should be maximized.
4. Non-recyclable materials should be not be used in buildings.
5. Anything that is built should be retained, sustained, and maintained.
Read the article by Wilfried Wang.

Sense outta NonSense

Brand structure establishes the shape of how a company and its operating units and brands communicate…

also from Sensepage 9. Did I say it was brilliant?

Fantasy News: The Great Uncyclopedia

Meaning. Meaningful. Meaningless. The news is fiction. Lies are truth. What happens when the news becomes “magical realism”? The largest post-modern mashup of thought and ideas: the Uncyclopedia.
a few samples:
The How-To section [ see subsection: How to Make Up Quotes ]
Attack of the 500 foot Jesus
United States of America
Bill Gates
What’s scary is that the Uncyclopedia reminds me of the “new and improved” Nightline, now that Ted Koppel is gone. Koppel- can you believe how they’ve destroyed your show in so short a time? The work of decades destroyed in days.
“Ignorance is Strength!” see UnNews
“I get better news coverage watching Entertainment Tonight” – Oscar Wilde

Keep Web Videos Under a Minute Long – Jakob Nielsen

“You can’t recycle video and expect to create a good online user experience.”
Jakob Nielsen in his latest Alertbox:
“While I’ll surely have many more guidelines later, for now the main guideline for producing website video is to keep it short. Typically, Web videos should be less than a minute long.
“A related guideline is to avoid using video if the content doesn’t take advantage of the medium’s dynamic nature. This doesn’t mean incessant use of pans, zooms, and fades to add artificial movement. It does mean that it’s better to use video for things that move or otherwise work better on film than they would as a combination of photos and text.
“Finally, recognize that Web users are easily distracted, and keep distracting elements out of the frame of your shots. If there’s a road sign in the video, for example, users will try to read it and will thus miss some of the main content.”
Nielsen’s remains at the vanguard of user experience design. Check out his “eyetracking” chart for web video and his 1997 post: “TV Meets the Web.”
Finally, here’s an interview I did with Jakob a while back:”Creating The Loyal Customer.”

The Stupidity of GM

“Performance in our crazy world is helped through learning from others. Suggestion: Take a look at how your organization’s resources and talents line up against the evolving picture of customer needs. Then evaluate your efforts against a “NOT GM” scale. The better you do — the more your strategy is unlike GM’s — the better your organization’s future and performance is likely to be.”
So says Doug Smith in this brilliant and sad analysis of stupidity at GM.
Blog or no blog, Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of product development at General Motors is not doing his job. Maybe he should stop blogging and focus on his customers’ needs! Here’s what he’s blogging on
Just how sick is GM?

Ratan Tata: The $2,200 “People’s Car”


Tata speaks about the Indian group’s international strategy, his plan to create a $2,200 “people’s car,” his vision of India as a knowledge center for the world, and his dedication to the social responsibilities required from companies operating in developing markets.
On the car:
“Today we’re producing a $7,000 car, the Indica. Here we’re talking about a $2,200 car, which will be smaller and will be produced in larger volumes, with all the high-volume parts manufactured in one plant. We’re also looking at more use of plastics on the body and at a very low-cost assembly operation, with some use of modern-day adhesives instead of welding. But the car is in every way a car, with an engine, a suspension, and a steering system designed for its size. We will meet all the emissions requirements. We now have some issues concerning safety, mainly because of the car’s modest size, but we will resolve them before the car reaches the market, in about three years’ time.
“In addition—and this again touches on the social dimension—we’re looking at small satellite units, with very low breakeven points, where some of the cars could be assembled, sold, and serviced. We would encourage local entrepreneurs to invest in these units, and we would train these entrepreneurs to assemble the fully knocked-down or semi-knocked-down components that we would send to them, and they would also sell the assembled vehicles and arrange for their servicing. This approach would replace the dealer, and therefore the dealer’s margin, with an assembly-cum-retail operation that would be combined with very low-cost service facilities.
On India:
“If we play our cards right as a country, we could be a supplier of IT services and IT solutions to the world. We could also be a product-development center for pharmaceuticals. We could be a very good global R&D center in biotechnology and in some of the emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, provided we really give them the focus they would need.
On bringing talent back to India:
“Indians coming back to India really go through a cultural shock. They give up a lot in terms of the quality of life, the education of their children, the availability of medical facilities. This will also have an impact when we want to hire people who are not Indians, as we will have to do in a world without boundaries. Even if we start only with pockets of the country and make those pockets less of a cultural shock, the benefits will spread. In some ways, this is what China did with the economic zones.
On values:
“What I feel most proud of is that we have been able to grow without compromising any of the values or ethical standards that we consider important. And I am not harping on this hypocritically. It was a major decision to uphold these values and ethics in an environment that is deteriorating around you. If we had compromised them, we could have done much better, grown much faster, and perhaps been regarded as much more successful in the pure business sense. But we would have lost the one differentiation that this group has against others in the country. We would have been just another venal business house.
“I think it is wrong for a company in India to operate in exactly the same way, without any additional responsibilities, as if it were operating in the United States, let’s say. And even in the United States, I think if you had an enlightened corporation that went into the Deep South, you would see more of a sense of social responsibility, of doing more for the community, than the company might accept in New York City or Boston. Because it is inevitable that you need to be a good corporate citizen in that kind of environment. And companies that are not good corporate citizens—those that don’t hold to standards and that allow the environment and the community to suffer—are really criminals in today’s world.”
Read the McKinsey Quarterly article >>

Rebranding Intel

“This might be the company’s most important makeover campaign ever.”
What’s the big deal? Apparently the Intel logo no longer has the “e” letter dropped, and the blue label is now wrapped around the corporate name.
The chip names are rebranded: single core Yonah processors will be named “Core Solo” and dual core versions will be called “Core Duo”.
Yawn.

Google Base: Googlespace & Open Knowledge Management

Another giant step in Googlespace?
“Help the world find your content. Google Base is a place where you can add all types of information that we’ll host and make searchable online.”
And so Google takes another step with another micro-service. Try it here.
And it’s not just about classifieds. It’s about Open Knowledge Management.
Wonder what Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak have to say about this… I’ll let you know when I find out.

The 7th Face of the Web: Googlespace

Back in 2000, Bill Joy, Sun’s Chief Scientist and co-founder, told people that the economic future of technology is rooted in the notion of what he called “the six Webs.”
– the “near” Web, the traditional desktop computing environment.
– the “far” Web, which includes simple interaction through, for example, a remote control while flipping through an interactive television screen.
– the “here” Web, or the industry of mobile Internet devices, which, Joy stresses are going to continue to grow in importance and popularity.
– the “weird” Web, or those systems of access that actually immerse the senses, like virtual reality or voice-activated surfing.
– the eCommerce (Business-to-Business) Web and, quite simply, the “pervasive computing” Web, or “the networks that connect people to other people and the information they need, enabling them to act on it anytime, anyplace.”
Today, there’s a 7th web- the “Search-driven” Web, i.e. the Googlespace. The “search-driven” web will bridge all 6 faces of Bill Joy’s web. And that’s why Microsoft is is trouble.
A simple way of looking at this: Joy’s 6 faces are technology or platform-based. This is the old geek view of technology- shared by Microsoft et al.
In reality, the user doesn’t care about platforms – just finding what they need- the “user-based” view. And that is fast becoming Googlespace.

The Birth of Internet TV: Finally!

AOL, Warner Bros Team for Online TV– In2TV.
The channels are:
– LOL TV (comedies such as Welcome Back Kotter, Perfect Strangers and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper),
– Dramarama (Falcon Crest, Sisters and Eight Is Enough)
– Toontopia (animated shows like Beetlejuice and Pinky and the Brain)
– Heroes and Horrors (Wonder Woman, Lois & Clark: The Adventures of Superman and Babylon 5)
– Rush (action shows such as La Femme Nikita, Kung Fu and The Fugitive)
– Vintage (Growing Pains, F-Troop and Maverick)
Soon this will go global, and we’ll be able to watch TV from other countries on our “Internets.” Cricket, anyone?

The Remarkable Opportunities of Unbundled Media

Terry Heaton’s essay: TV News in a Postmodern World
“…driven by the very real demand of less time, we’ve begun the process of tasting that which is unbundled. We unbundle television shows by skipping the commercials with our DVRs. We unbundle CDs by downloading the songs we want. We unbundle the national media by subscribing to specific RSS feeds. The signs of a burgeoning unbundled media world are everywhere.”
What Terry doesn’t say: we are unbundling reality: our politics, our minds, our society, and our souls as well…

What Happened to Nathan Myhrvold

The article I mentioned in the previous post also mentions Nathan Myhrvold:
Nathan Myhrvold, part of Microsoft’s early brain trust and the former head of its heavily endowed research arm, founded Intellectual Ventures, a fund that he says spends “millions of dollars” annually to support individual inventors in long-term projects. Mr. Myhrvold started his fund about five years ago after he retired from Microsoft; he now backs about 20 inventors in such fields as nanotechnology, optics, computing, biotechnology and medical devices.
“As far as we know, we’re the only people who are doing this – which means we’re either incredibly smart or incredibly dumb,” Mr. Myhrvold said. “There’s a network of venture capitalists for start-ups that have created thousands and thousands of businesses, but very little for inventors.”
Mr. Myhrvold says that most public and academic grants are for investigating well-defined research problems – and not for backing, as he does, “an invention before it exists.” His staff of about 50 people files about 25 patent applications a month on behalf of inventors and his fund. He and his staff also help inventors refine ideas, pay for their time and labor and share ownership stakes in projects with them.
“We all love the goose that lays the golden eggs but somehow we’ve forgotten about the goose,” Mr. Myhrvold said. “This decade I’m hoping will be the decade of the invention.”
Very cool:
Intellectual Ventures is an invention company. We conceive and patent our own inventions in-house through a world-renowned staff of internal and external scientists and engineers. We also acquire and license patented inventions from other inventors around the world. Our network of invention sources includes: large and small businesses, governments, academia, and individual inventors. These inventions span a diverse range of technologies including: software, semiconductors, wireless, consumer electronics, networking, lasers, biotechnology, and medical devices. Our current focus is on developing our invention portfolio. Over time, we intend to market our portfolio on a broad and non-exclusive basis through a variety of channels including spin-out companies.
A new intellectual-property business model.

Guy Kawasaki: “Don’t worry, be crappy”

Guy Kawasaki says he’s “living proof that if you do one thing right in your career, you can coast on your reputation for 20 years.”
Don’t believe it. This is a man of action, and shares his philosophy in this Always-On article:
“I think the world is essentially divided into two groups: the prototypers, the people who build stuff, and the typers, the people who think the key to entrepreneurship and innovation is Microsoft Office. If you think that the key to innovation and entrepreneurship is Microsoft Office, something is wrong with you. If you’re thinking, “I have to write a business plan with Word; I need to create a pitch with PowerPoint; I need to build a 30-page financial model with Excel,” you’re on the wrong track. The key to all of this is to prototype, not type.”
Also:
“I look at that computer now and say, ‘My God, there are elements of crap in it that really embarrass me.’ It was a revolutionary product, don’t get me wrong, but we charged $2,500 for a computer that had 128K of RAM, and we were proud of that. We thought this was an ocean of RAM. And there was no software, no hard disk—which was OK because if you don’t have software, there’s nothing to copy to the hard drive. No color, no fast printing, no fast networking. What crap. But it was revolutionary crap. Don’t worry, be crappy. Ship it then test it. Don’t wait for the perfect world where chips are cheap enough and fast enough: Ship it; get your product out there.”

NYT Refuses Sun Ad Bashing Dell

I must say I loved this ad from Sun. It’s actually fairly brilliant because it:
1) states Sun’s case in a humorous way,
2) highlights the different strategies the two companies are allegedly pursuing (innovation=Sun, low-cost=Dell),
3) beats Dell at its own game- price,
4) has an environmental angle,
5) tells us about the best server in the world!
6) trumpets open source messaging via Solaris…
I could go on and on.
Lucky for Sun that the NYT refused to print the ad, giving it even more buzz… All the news that’s fit to print, eh? They can print Judy Miller, but not an ad?
Well, the ad is on Jonathan Schwartz’s blog– which gives it that much more authenticity!
One more thing- will design and innovation rule the future of global competition? Sun thinks so.
I do too.