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An Honest Critique of Microsoft and Steve Ballmer

May 26, 2011

For the last five years there have been calls for Steve Ballmer to step down from Microsoft and I have refrained from comment until today because a confluence of news and events has made commentary necessary. Specifically, David Einhorn, an influential hedge fund manager – whose firm Greenlight Capital owns almost 9M shares of Microsoft, said (video) Ballmer is stuck in the past and is ruining Microsoft’s stock.

Technologist Vs. Businessperson: One compliant about Steve Ballmer is that he is more a businessperson than a technologist and as a result, new and innovative products have been developed much more slowly. This point is very tough to argue with and more importantly, what is Ballmer’s vision for Microsoft?

Flash Support May Be Apple's Only Weak Spot

May 23, 2011

I’ve got two kids and for privacy reasons we will call them X, age seven and Y, age six. For their last birthday X received a netbook and I noticed over the last eight months or so – it was rarely used while an iPod, a Nintendo DSi and my iPad were. So partly because I was sick of lending my iPad to the kids constantly and because I saw just how much use iOS devices were getting in my house – I lobbied the grandparents to not get another netbook but instead get the youngest child “Y” an iPad.

Y didn’t want an iPad – only because you couldn’t play some Flash-based game on it.

Family Plans Coming to Verizon

May 23, 2011

It took about six months for carriers to respond to my suggestion - and many families will be happy they did.


Back in December I wrote about the need for carriers to offer group data plans - especially for families. Specifically I said:

But one wonders if carriers aren't doing themselves a long-term disservice by not coming up with some sort of group or family plan for devices. In this way they get consumers to ante up a bit more - let's say for example $10-$20/month per device for dedicated 3G.


Today, I noticed on TMCnet's sister information technology site (I am the CEO of global media company TMC) TechZone360 an article about how Verizon will offer family plans in the future.






BlackBerry PlayBook First Thoughts

May 19, 2011

In my review of the BlackBerry PlayBook I must say I am impressed with the device - it is small - not too heavy, feels good in your hands and runs Flash like a champ. The back of the device is rubberized which holds the promise of increased durability and a large degree of scratch-resistance. TMCnet's Stefanie Mosca has more thoughts on the device and as a BlackBerry user it was certainly more functional for her. She also thinks it is an ideal device for traveling which is tough to disagree with - it likely even fits in most purses.

Even Smaller SIM Cards on Way? Thanks Apple

May 18, 2011

Should Carriers Charge Less for Pipes to Get More For Services?

May 17, 2011

My Day of Shooting Videos in Dallas

May 5, 2011

I am here at the Joule Hotel in Dallas, Texas where I met with over a dozen companies in the communications and tech space today. The mood is very very optimistic - there was more confidence than my last trip to Boston this past December. A few interesting items - I forgot my phone on this trip as I left it charging until the last possible second - and whoops, I forgot to take it. When I realized, I freaked out for ten seconds and then realized I had a tablet.

Since my voicemails get transcribed and emailed and I could use Skype, I actually didn't miss the phone.

3Jam Purchased - is it Skype?

May 4, 2011

The news just broke on TMCnet that 3Jam was purchased - and potentially by Skype. Interesting news as I have written about how TMC uses 3Jam at ITEXPO to coordinate our management team and communicate rapidly between groups. The beauty of the service is it allows you to text to a group and have a single virtual SMS number you respond to which forwards messages to everyone in the group.

Interestingly David Gurle of Skype - General Manager and Vice President of its Skype for Business unit is keynoting the next ITEXPO in Austin, Texas Tues, Sept 13, 2011 at 4:30 PM. It will be interesting to get his thoughts - of course by then the details of the purchaser will most likely be out.

Oh and one bit of concern is the news that the service will soon be shut down - hopefully the acquirer will continue it.



Bin Laden's Death, Mobile and Social

May 2, 2011

In the wake of bin Laden's death it is worth reflecting on how consumers learned about the incident which was first live reported by Sohaib Athar - an unsuspecting bin Laden neighbor who tweeted the fact that he heard a helicopter and a subsequent window-shaking bang - a rare event as he called it.



Later, a commenter @naqvi on Twitter made the connection to these events and the Obama press conference which confirmed what had happened.

Of course later - the hard news and analysis did come from the mainstream media (MSM) - with lots of commentary from the social world. GigaOm has thoughts on how social and the MSM are connected.

What is most interesting to me however is the cheering which took place at a baseball stadium when the crown learned about the bin Laden news - specifically there was TV coverage of how people in the crowd were scanning their cell phones for the news and sharing it with others in the crowd. The video below gives you a small idea of other coverage I have seen.

The concept of news circulating via social faster than TV is not something we haven't discussed before - but this this stadium example of a large group learning about an important event via people at the center of informal social circle shows you how news dissemination and the web has evolved over the years.











Apple Responds to Locationgate

April 27, 2011

With the controversy surrounding the data being gathered by smartphones with Apple and Google operating systems, Apple has decided to come out with an explanation of what exactly it is doing and why. Here are the salient points of what they call a location Q&A:

  • Apple says it does not track the location of your iPhone, and it never has or will do so.
  • The reason this has become an issue is companies such as Apple haven’t done a good job explaining the complex technical issues at work.
  • Apple is maintaining a database of WiFi hotspots generated by tens of millions of devices sending encrypted information regarding the location of hotspots so as to be able to provide accurate location information when GPS satellite tracking information is not available. It cites usage in a basement as an example of why it needs to do this.
  • This crowd-sourced database is too large to fit in an iPhone but a subset of it is stored on iPhones and can be encrypted or not – based on user settings in iTunes. Researchers were confused by this data which was being backed up onto local PCs – but Apple plans on updating its software soon and at this point it will stop backing up this information.
  • Apple cannot locate a user based on its geo-tagged WiFi information.
  • Apple has been storing up to a year’s worth of location data and the company says this is a bug and going forward they will only store seven-days’ worth of location information.
  • Another bug according to Apple is the device continued to update WiFi and cell tower data from the crowd-sourced database even if location data was turned off.
  • Apple is collecting crowd-sourced traffic data in order to provide accurate traffic data for its users.
  • Apple provides anonymous crash data to third-party developers and the company’s iAds platform allows anonymous geotargeting of ads but requires user approval before sharing location data with an advertiser.
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