Greg Galitzine : Greg Galitzine's VoIP Authority Blog
Greg Galitzine


Microsoft Wants to Know How You Feel

January 17, 2008

  Bill gates is getting out just in time.   The TimesOnline (UK) is reporting that Microsoft has applied for a patent that might have privacy experts feeling a little nauseated. (Of course the new software would know that.)   The Times refers to the Microsoft software as   …Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence.   Apparently the patent application describes a system that wirelessly links users to their PCs via sensors that measure their metabolism as well as heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression, and blood pressure.   Such technology is already used on firefighters, airline pilots and astronauts.   According to the Times story,   The system could also “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health.

Is The All You Can Eat Internet Over?

January 18, 2008

Earlier this week, Time Warner Cable Inc. announced plans to trial a new billing methodology, one based on usage rather than the current flat-rate pricing that is the norm throughout the U.S.   The cable giant will roll out the new tiered pricing scheme in Beaumont, Texas (everything’s bigger in Texas) later this year and says the shift in tactics is designed to underpin a strategy to help reduce network congestion.   Apparently, according to Time Warner Cable, the change will affect but a minority of its users — about 5% — who reportedly use about 50% of total network bandwidth.   Time Warner is concerned that downloading of large files, including video is slowing the network, and they believe that with increasing video usage the problems will worsen.   The company recognizes the need for clear marketing of this initiative to consumers, as a spokesman for Time Warner admitted, “We don’t want customers to feel they’re getting less for more.”   I expect some backlash from consumers who believe the increased pricing will extend beyond just the small percentage of “heavy” users. I also believe that as video and other high-bandwidth applications (Scrabulous HD with full voice and video conferencing, anyone?) become the norm, bandwidth providers will leap at the opportunity to label an increasing number of consumers as “heavy users.” Expect other providers to follow suit.   Note: I realize Cablevision has a sort of tiered pricing too, with the option of paying more for increased bandwidth (one price for 15MB, another for 30MB), but for some reason it doesn’t feel like a penalty. It’s positioned as a bonus. Maybe it’s just good marketing.   We’ll see how this plays out.

Quantcast Secures $20Million Investment Round

January 22, 2008

I heard this morning that Quantcast has closed $20 million Series B investment funding from the likes of Founders Fund and Polaris Venture Partners.   Regular readers of TMCnet blogs will remember that Rich Tehrani recently shared the TMCnet Quantcast numbers positioning the site well ahead of the nearest competitors when considering site traffic.   The investment is excellent news for Quantcast and shows the importance of accurate Web metrics and measurement.

File Sharing Moves Into The Light

January 28, 2008

Qtrax, a digital music download service that bills itself as the first Internet file-swapping service to be “fully embraced by the music industry,” announced it would carry up to 30 million tracks from “all the major labels.”   Warner Music, EMI, and Universal immediately repudiated that claim, saying that they in fact had not yet agreed to allow their content to be offered on Qtrax.   In any event, it appears like some sort of solution is on the horizon that will allow people to download music without feeling like criminals, and would enable musicians to get paid, based on an advertising supported system.   According to the Times Online:   Qtrax files contain Digital Rights Management software, allowing the company to see how many times a song has been downloaded and played. Artists, record companies and publishers will be paid in proportion to the popularity of their music, while also taking a cut of advertising revenues. Qtrax, a subsidiary of Brilliant Technologies Corporation, has raised $30 million to date.   Ford, McDonald’s and Microsoft are reportedly among the advertisers signed up so far.    

Qtrax Stumbles out of the Gate

January 29, 2008

Qtrax: Dud. ‘nuff said!   Note to those who would offer music downloads for free: Make sure you have the labels signed to contracts (preferably in ink) next time before proclaiming that you have arrived and brought with you over 30 million freely downloadable songs from major artists.   Once the dust settles, and the damage is surveyed, perhaps there will be something left to salvage Qtrax’ big dreams of advertising supported music for the masses. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Rock and Roll never forgets.

Study: Nations Need to Better Utilize Communications Tech

January 30, 2008

A new study, commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks is being billed as the first index to examine quality as well as quantity of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) usage and infrastructure.   The Connectivity Scorecard was created by Professor Leonard Waverman, of the London Business School. The Scorecard is designed to measure the extent to which technologies that make up connectivity and the way that people use these technologies enhance social and economic prosperity around the world.   According to Waverman, “businesses and governments must make better use of their communications and computing infrastructure if they are to benefit from the full economic and social benefits of ICT.”   According to a release announcing the results of the survey:   The Connectivity Scorecard ranks the United States first in a group of 16 innovation driven economies [as defined by the World Economic Forum], although its score is only 6.97 out of a possible 10.0. The differentiated nature of the Scorecard compared to other rankings is illustrated by the fact that Korea, typically a high scorer on other indexes, is ranked 10th on the list, with a rating of just 4.78.   Russia placed first among the nine nations that are classified in the study as resource or efficiency driven economies.

Microsoft to Buy Yahoo for $45B?

February 1, 2008

  I got stuck in traffic this morning, so I was already feeling a bit rushed when I logged in, but I didn’t expect to see this news pop up on my screen today.

Microsoft Corp. has apparently made an unsolicited $44.6 billion offer for Yahoo! Inc. in a bid to challenge Google Inc.'s dominance in all things Internet, specifically search and advertising.   The offer of $31 a share in cash or Microsoft stock constitutes a greater than 60% premium over Yahoo's closing price January 31.
Back in May I reported on the possibility. At the time, speculation called for a nearly $50 B price tag.   Obviously we will have more on this as the story develops.   Stay tuned…  

Google Targets Microsoft Collaboration Suite

February 28, 2008

Google is taking aim at Microsoft’s SharePoint.   Google announced Wednesday it will begin offering an easy to use Web site creation and publishing tool for office workers to set up and run collaboration sites, for quickly sharing information among project teams and co workers.   Google Sites, as the new site publishing service is known, is based on the acquisition 16 months ago of hosted wiki provider JotSpot.   The new service is designed to allow teams of users to organize and share digital information such as Web links, calendars, photos, videos, presentations, attachments and other documents in an easy-to-maintain site, with the goal of increasing productivity among the team members.   Of course, Microsoft’s dominance in this market (some pundits see SharePoint as a billion-dollar business for Microsoft) is not to be taken lightly, but when it comes to contenders, Google is no slouch, and is in fact the biggest thorn in Microsoft’s side on so many other fronts it almost comes as no surprise that they would be launching a would-be competitor to SharePoint now.   Aside from functionality, the key difference between the offerings is cost, with Google offering their Google Sites free of charge to users of Google Apps, which in turn is less expensive than many Microsoft tools.   As usual in any battle between companies of this scale, it remains to be seen what the impact will be on the other players (think zoho) in the market and in the end, we need to ask ourselves this: Will today’s announcement help businesses maximize their productivity in the long run?

Google Gets Into Healthcare

February 29, 2008

I was down in Orlando this week for the annual HIMMS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) conference and exhibition, a show dedicated to transforming healthcare through IT.   This is a new space for me, so I attended with the view of taking in as much as I possibly could in the short time I had at the show. I’d also like to send a great big thank you out to Michael Carr of IgeaCare, who took the time to shepherd me around the event.   I’ll be writing more about my experience in an upcoming issue of Internet Telephony and of course here on TMCnet, but I wanted to get a quick post in about something Google is doing on the healthcare front.   Last week Google announced a partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, a large academic medical center centered around giving patients access to their own medical records.   The pilot is open to just a few thousand patients to start, but Google is collaborating with a number of insurance plans, medical groups, pharmacies and hospitals to see the project through.   Writing on the Official Google Blog, Alan Newberger, Engineering Manager, expressed his view that the pilot was a key initiative. “I see it as an important first step to show how Google can help users get access to their medical records and take charge of their health information,” he wrote.   CEO Eric Schmidt gave the closing keynote at HIMMS, and he spoke publicly for the first time about Google’s overall health strategy.   According to Google’s Marissa Mayer, VP, Search & User Products, “Google Health aims to solve an urgent need that dovetails with our overall mission of organizing patient information and making it accessible and useful.

The Internet's Broken

March 5, 2008

I just read Fred Goldstein’s latest column today about what he refers to as the “dismal state of Internet management.”   Says Goldstein:   The Internet is fundamentally broken, and it’s getting worse. Throwing money and Moore’s Law at it has helped, but it can’t go on forever. The deep dark secret of the Internet’s business model is finally coming home to roost.   To see what led him to that conclusion, check out his latest editorial here.  
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