July 15, 2012
Microsoft and NBC Breaking up

Microsoft, in particular, had grown frustrated by contract terms requiring it to exclusively feature MSNBC.com content on its own websites. That exasperation was exacerbated by the MSNBC cable channel’s strategy to counter Fox News Channel’s appeal to conservative viewers by tailoring its programming for an audience with a liberal viewpoint.  The strategy fed a perception that material from MSNBC’s website was politically slanted, too.  “Being limited to MSNBC.com content was problematic to us because we couldn’t have the multiple news sources and the multiple perspectives that our users were telling us that they wanted,” said Bob Visse, general manager of MSN.com.  Now that it has shed those shackles, Microsoft is preparing to launch its own news service this fall. Although he declined to provide many details about the operation, Visse said the news staff will be about the same size as the roughly 100 people who created original content for the MSNBC.com.

I can see a lot of other old web partnerships disintegrating as well in the near future - especially many of the media partnerships connected with Yahoo.

11:50pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlVyHyPRhz_O
Filed under: tech media Microsoft NBC MSNBC 
February 1, 2012
Microsoft’s Facebook Investment: Smartest Deal Ballmer Ever Made?

parislemon:

Todd Bishop of GeekWire asks the question, I think the answer is “yes” (though the continued investment in Xbox and elements like Kinect should ultimately be close).

To me, there are two things that are most interesting about Microsoft’s Facebook investment.

1) Nearly everyone in the tech press at the time panned the deal as a ridiculous rip-off, sign of another bubble, etc. Those same people are now strangely quiet on the topic — for good reason, they look like huge jackasses.

It just goes to show you that you should never take anything the tech press says too seriously. Way too much is based on the present and there’s not nearly enough thinking about the future. This deal was all about the future.

2) Along those lines, while the return on this investment will be good ($15 billion valuation turning into $100 billion at IPO time — and it will probably be 10x in the near future), this is still not about the money — it’s all about the strategic alliance. Microsoft gave itself an “in” to get access to Facebook’s data. And the deal stopped Google from getting a similar deal.

Microsoft still hasn’t been able to do enough with the relationship to boost Bing, but even that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Google and Facebook are at odds (or some may say, at war). Microsoft won by not losing.

Facebook is definitely Microsoft’s best investment.

3:29am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlVyHyFinSAC
  
Filed under: tech facebook microsoft 
August 17, 2011
Tech Thoughts (August 17, 2011) - Microsoft is the largest beneficiary of Google’s acquisition of Motorola

If Microsoft plays their cards right, they stand to reap the largest rewards relating to Google’s acquisition of Motorola.  Microsoft can now tell smartphone manufacturers that unlike Google, “We’re not competing with you on the hardware front, we just want to be your dedicated mobile OS provider.”

Microsoft can also play on fears that Google will give priority to Motorola, despite any claims of independence by Google.  After all, since Google owns Motorola, they stand to directly benefit from Motorola gaining marketshare (over other Android based phones such as HTC, LG and Samsung).

Outside of what I’ll call techies, most consumers really don’t have any attachment to specific mobile operating systems at the moment.  They are getting phones that visually appeal to them from the hardware perspective.  This could change, but for the time being, average consumers don’t place a value on mobile OS’s when making purchasing decisions.

If smart-phone manufacturers split mobile OS integration among their products, they stand to gain leverage over both Google and Microsoft.  Up until now, going with the leading independent mobile OS (Android) made sense.  However, things have changed.

If I were Microsoft, I might be willing to even pay the smart-phone manufacturers to use the Windows mobile OS over Android.  This would be the perfect moment to strike.  It would weaken a competitor and broaden the usage of Microsoft’s ad network.  Having a Bing app pre-loaded onto mobile apps by default would also weaken Google’s search monopoly.  If users find the search results useful, they might also be more inclined to use Bing on their personal computers as well.

The opportunity is there, I’m interested to see if Microsoft takes advantage of it.

August 15, 2011
Continuations: Google Buys Motorola: Patent (and UX) Defense

continuations:

Google buying Motorola is a strong defensive move against both Microsoft and Apple on two fronts: patents and user experience. Apple is vertically integrated and Microsoft controls Nokia (without having had to buy it). Between that and having filed or acquired a lot of patents, these two pose…

Google purchasing Motorola is just a defensive maneuver for patents in my opinion.  I agree with the analysis here.  As for vertical integration, I’m skeptical of the idea as well.  Apple and Google are both better off spreading adoption of their mobile OS (by not competition with carriers) for greater market share at this point in the ball game.  The mobile ad / apps market / mobile data is the prize to be won here.

There might be a point in the future where that changes, but at the current time I think that market share has to be the number driver strategy wise (for both Apple and Google).  Vertical integration to the carrier stage carries too high a risk of losing ground by missing out on users that are on opposition wireless carrier networks (instead of the in-house carrier platform).

July 14, 2011
Tech Killing / Entrepreneurship killing Protect IP Bill moving through Senate

It must be pass stupid legislation month in congress or something.  In addition to the idiotic S. 978 Bill, the U.S. Senate is also considering passing the Protect IP Act.  There are a lot of bad things about it that you can read about independently below.

Here’s what you need to know.

People Against the IP Bill

  • Over 50 VCs including Andreessen Horowitz, AOL Ventures, Draper Richards, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Softbank Capital, Venrock
  • Google
  • Senior Citizens that buy generic drugs online for low prices (the bill would force generic drug sellers to be shut down)

People For the IP Bill

  • The RIAA
  • Microsoft
  • Unions

Take a look at who supports this legislation and who is against it and you’ll understand quickly whether or not this bill is awful or not.  The people supporting this terrible bill might as well call themselves Axis of Evil.

Opposition to the PROTECT IP Act — Hollywood-supported legislation intended to reduce content piracy and block counterfeit goods — is growing among the tech community, with a letter blasting the bill released Thursday by more than 50 venture capitalists from 40 firms that have funded many top Internet companies. They argue that the methods embodied in the proposed law would create untoward burdens and endanger the Internet.

A wide range of Hollywood trade associations and unions disagree, calling the legislation a critical step toward prevention of unauthorized downloading and streaming, problems that have proved near-intractable to date.

Also speaking out in recent weeks against the law is a completely different constituency: groups concerned that the broadly drafted act would endanger U.S. consumers’ access to pharmaceuticals from Canadian and other foreign pharmacies. They contend that such access, which is generally at lower-than-U.S. prices, is vital for uninsured consumers or those with limited coverage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed the bill, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) immediately put a hold on the legislation, on the grounds that the act was “overreaching” and would “damage … speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.”

The bill’s prospects are uncertain: Wyden’s move prevents further action, at least for the time being, and the House has not introduced similar legislation.

In Thursday’s letter, the venture capitalists say the bill will “will stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness.” They assert three problems:

— The bill burdens “countless Internet services” by requiring sites and search engines to remove links that point to sites offering pirated content.

— The bill endangers the security and integrity of the Internet by requiring DNS providers to block access to such sites. (The Domain Name System is the Internet mechanism that enables software such as web browsers to connect to websites.)

— The bill creates a private right of action that rights holders may use in ways that create significant burdens, even on companies acting in good faith. 

The venture capitalists work at such high-profile firms as Andreessen Horowitz, AOL Ventures, Draper Richards, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Softbank Capital, Venrock and others. According to an accompanying statement by an organization opposing the bill called Demand Progress, the firms collectively manage over $13 billion and the VCs were early investors in Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, among others.

Demand Progress also said that more than 350,000 people have signed its petitions against the PROTECT IP Act and a predecessor version of the bill.

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, took particular exception last month to DNS domain blocking, noting that this is the same approach that China takes to censoring websites. Blocking “seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent,” he said.

Microsoft, in contrast, supports the legislation, though it suggests that some modifications are necessary to address various concerns.

Hollywood too has been broadly supportive of the legislation, with trade groups such as the MPAA, IFTA,and the National Association of Theatre Owners, and unions such as the American Federation of Musicians, AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, SAG and the Teamsters, all speaking out in favor. The RIAA favors the bill as well.

July 7, 2011
thommyc:

This is one telling graph. Guess where app developers are putting their money…

Microsoft is throwing good money after bad at this point with their mobile OS efforts.  They would be better off if they spent the same resources to integrate Office into Android and iOS with optimized custom apps.

thommyc:

This is one telling graph. Guess where app developers are putting their money…

Microsoft is throwing good money after bad at this point with their mobile OS efforts.  They would be better off if they spent the same resources to integrate Office into Android and iOS with optimized custom apps.

June 30, 2011
teradome:

Organizational charts for tech companies. (via @mrandre)
Actually, I think they got it exactly right.

I found this amusing, it features org. charts of major tech companies.

teradome:

Organizational charts for tech companies. (via @mrandre)

Actually, I think they got it exactly right.

I found this amusing, it features org. charts of major tech companies.

(Source: teradome)

June 12, 2011
I had a random thought about why Nintendo and Apple are both successful for a similar reason.  Namely, that reason is a focus on user interface.  Both companies have a strong focus on UI, although they don’t necessarily share the same UI philosophies.

There’s also a reason why both Nintendo and Apple started becoming very successful from 2005 onwards.  I think that reason is because technology reached an inflection point where the average consumer could no longer differentiate between the raw power of hardware products between products made one year versus the next.  If users can no longer intuitively tell the difference between technology products through general use, then specs become relatively less important.  Instead, user experience derived through a user interface begins to carry more weight.  If you are a company that spends resources towards thinking about UI, the benefits grow exponentially as the relative advantages of raw processing power become less noticeable.

Sony has historically favored raw technological superiority as their calling.  This served them well in the 80s and 90s when strong raw tech specs had easily discernible advantages to consumers.  The same goes for Microsoft based PCs which were stronger and cheaper than Apple computers for the same price points.   However as technology reaches a point where processing power differences between different companies reduce, so to does the relative importance.  If everyone’s computers feel as fast through praticial usage - if all games handle similar graphics, then UI takes greater importance.

An Apple computer with the same specs as a PC might be more expensive, but people are more willing to pay for those extra dollars in exchange for a more pleasant user experience.  I think this is going to be a general theme going forward in general though in the entire technology universe.

I had a random thought about why Nintendo and Apple are both successful for a similar reason. Namely, that reason is a focus on user interface. Both companies have a strong focus on UI, although they don’t necessarily share the same UI philosophies.

There’s also a reason why both Nintendo and Apple started becoming very successful from 2005 onwards. I think that reason is because technology reached an inflection point where the average consumer could no longer differentiate between the raw power of hardware products between products made one year versus the next. If users can no longer intuitively tell the difference between technology products through general use, then specs become relatively less important. Instead, user experience derived through a user interface begins to carry more weight. If you are a company that spends resources towards thinking about UI, the benefits grow exponentially as the relative advantages of raw processing power become less noticeable.

Sony has historically favored raw technological superiority as their calling. This served them well in the 80s and 90s when strong raw tech specs had easily discernible advantages to consumers. The same goes for Microsoft based PCs which were stronger and cheaper than Apple computers for the same price points. However as technology reaches a point where processing power differences between different companies reduce, so to does the relative importance. If everyone’s computers feel as fast through praticial usage - if all games handle similar graphics, then UI takes greater importance.

An Apple computer with the same specs as a PC might be more expensive, but people are more willing to pay for those extra dollars in exchange for a more pleasant user experience. I think this is going to be a general theme going forward in general though in the entire technology universe.

June 5, 2011

"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste and I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.  In the sense that they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring culture into their product." -Steve Jobs in 1996