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Quad: The Death of E-mail and Cisco's Social Enterprise Ambitions

June 20, 2011

Quad moves to the cloud, has native Cius tablet support and offers better interoperability

Last week I took a train into the city from TMC’s Connecticut HQ to spend time with the Cisco Quad collaboration team – using Cisco telepresence technology and it was a fascinating look into the company’s foray into a post-email, collaborative enterprise world. First things first, I wrote about Quad and spoke with Murali Sitaram VP/GM of Cisco's Enterprise Platforms unit last September and since then Quad has not been talked about much in the media and has limited buzz in the market. Moreover, Cisco is repositioning itself – lightening up on consumer products meaning much of the company’s messaging has been in other areas of the market including launching consumer telepresence product UMI – something which should never should have gotten the green light.

Spreadable Shuts Down - Why?

June 10, 2011



While reading a blog post from telecom and channel partner thought leader Peter Radizeski, on how small businesses are responsible for much of the nation's hiring I learned about the fact that Grasshopper is shutting down its Spreadable company - an organization focused on word-of-mouth spreading of customer referrals.

I haven't talked with the people at Grasshooper in years - certainly not since they changed their name to Grasshopper - but I have often had conversations with others in the market about how their marketing campaigns seem to be the most untargeted in the space since much of it is being placed on satellite radio. According to the company's competitors, their marketing is as shotgun as it gets because - they seem to be purposefully utilizing mediums which are difficult to measure and they are relatively nonexistent online.

And as more decisions are being made on the web - this is quite a surprising and counter-intuitive strategy.

But when I started to read the first post from the company related to why they shut down Spreadable I could see they understand digital marketing quite well - its just surprising that you rarely see them online. Kind of a paradox I got to thinking. It is worth mentioning Spreadable too relied on Satellite radio among perhaps other mediums for its sales.

Another thought I had while reading is what company shuts down a business and then celebrates its failure in public via a four-part series?









How Sea Water Cools Google's Data Center

May 25, 2011

Google recently released a new video showing some of the details regarding how they turned an old paper mill into a data center and are utilizing a seawater tunnel which was already in existence to pump water into heat exchangers to cool the servers. The warmed water is subsequently mixed with fresh seawater to cool it down before returning it to the ocean.

A polished video of how Google is using sea water to cool their data center


There is no word on how much money this method of cooling will save Google since one would imagine there is significant electricity being utilized to pump water through the large building. Moreover, it is unclear if this new cooling method in Finland can be replicated in other areas where oceanfront property could be more expensive.

But if the price of oil and electricity continues to increase significantly, the higher cost of oceanfront property may be offset by savings in air conditioning usage.

An early look at the facility before the cooling system was completed


Perhaps the greatest irony of the story is the fact the building was once a paper mill. Paper as we know is in less demand as a result of the Internet.











Poor CRM = Go Directly to Jail

May 16, 2011

Remember a few months back when I wrote that providing poor CRM could dent your SEO? The story revolved around website Decormyeyes.com - and its owner Vitaly Borker who was generally rude and insulting to customers. He went so far as to send pictures of their homes to intimidate them. Not only did Google reduce his SEO as a result of an article in the New York Times, he is now going to prison.

Duh - Tech, Winning!

April 27, 2011

The Silicon Valley real estate market is going through a boom and you can thank the cloud, Google, Facebook and a slew of start ups for the latest wave of hiring and growth. This lends credence to my points last week that politicians should not be bashing technology like the iPad for killing jobs but instead they should be bowing down to tech leaders who allow them to live the awesome lifestyles they have. Its better than bowing down to foreign leaders - that's for sure.

I have been consistent in my concerns about how America is becoming a divided nation of people who finish high school and college and are skilled enough to hold a job in the information age and those who made it through life swinging a hammer or doing some other job which is more easily outsourcable. These jobs which rely on physical strength or are entry level factory jobs will continue to be at huge risk of elimination.

In the information age, where a replacement worker is a mouse-click away - we need America to be the best educated country in the world if we expect the entire nation to have a shot at living at a standard of living we are used to.

Oh, and just how good is the real estate market in northern California?





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.

C3 Technologies Advances 3-D Maps

April 26, 2011

Stunningly realistic 3-D mapping technology is coming out of C3 Technologies - a company using multiple cameras on airplanes coupled with missile-targeting tech to provide users with incredibly realistic maps which include pixel-depth mapping allowing you to know exactly how high in the air any area of the map happens to be. The technology is more cost-effective than laser-based LIDAR and is said to need manual intervention 2% of the time.

Another benefit is it produces 3-D maps which are are 360 degree explorable. Check it out - it is pretty amazing.

Obviously, this accuracy is greater than what is needed for GPS and it is slow to render - even on a powerful machine but certainly, the clearer the picture, the better. Keep a watch out for new augmented-reality applications which could certainly benefit from the increased clarity of the map images C3 has produced here.

Check out the Vegas strip where you can see the Mirage and Ceasar's Palace (click to enlarge)


More from Technology Review.








Is Apple Telegraphing A Tablet Market as Large as PCs?

April 21, 2011

I'm Predicting 500,000,000 tablets sold by 2015 (updated - an eagle-eyed reader noticed I left out 3 zeros for the various iPad estimates throughout!)


Through informal research I have seen iPad owners not giving up on their PCs – in fact they generally use both machines at different times for different purposes. For example, website surfing to sites which utilize Flash often requires a PC or laptop as they may not work on an iPad. Moreover, iPads and iPhones require PCs which they must plug into to receive software updates, etc. Many people find that they need to type large amounts at one time or another and they often choose a PC or laptop for this task – either not realizing they can purchase a keyboard for their iPad or just not caring.

Another important point I have noticed is iPads are being utilized by younger users more often than comparable laptops or PCs because they are so easy to operate and the App Store makes it a breeze to try new software. And another plus for tablets is they also act as a book replacement - as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. reminds us.




eBay Buys Where.com for Hyper-Local Deal Offers

April 20, 2011

In the race to become a leader in the local deal market – companies seem to be tripping over one another. This includes Google who is working organically while making an unsuccessful bid for Groupon. Twitter and Facebook play in this market as well and eBay just acquired Where.com, a Boston-based local-deals and location-based services company for $135M.

PayPal’s Amanda Pires explains they plan to integrate PayPal into the WHERE mobile app to make it even easier for customers to take advantage of the local deals.

Is Android Security Really an Issue?

April 15, 2011

Yesterday I showcased an interview with investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners but what I didn't mention was the following comment he made, "I don't trust Android because some 16-year-old kid in the Eastern Bloc presses a button and erases everyone's hard drive."

McNamee also made a call to short Google as a pairs trade with buying Apple the day before the stock of the search leader dropped almost $50 or 8% after missing their earnings number.


But just as interesting is another big piece of news which has to do with Skype responding to an Android vulnerability which has to do with unencrypted SQLite information on the device which can be accessed by malicious software. Of course the challenge is - what software is malicious - it certainly isn't advertised as stealing data in its description in app stores. Moreover, in this case, the issue seems to be Skype not setting file permissions appropriately to avoid data from being hijacked.

Of course when I read about the controversy I thought of the comments about the 16-year-old kid.

And at a time when Android is so popular - in fact in South Korea there is an antitrust complaint against the company - one wonders, what happens if McNamee is right and the platform isn't so secure?

But then again, any platform with a degree of openness and massive adoption is a major target of hackers and if our experience with Microsoft products is a solid guide, we can expect more Android vulnerabilities to surface and potentially frequent patches to be released to counteract them.












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