First Coffee for October 6, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

First Coffee for October 6, 2005

By David Sims
david@firstcoffee.com

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Lou Reed slamming out a righteous cover of Bob Dylan’s scorching “Foot Of Pride:”

Turkcell, Turkey’s Istanbul-based, biggest – and best, he said from personal experience – mobile operator, is announcing that its total Q3 subscribers has reached 26.7 million, up from 25.6 million in the second quarter of 2005, an increase of 4.3 percent. It’s also twenty percent higher than Q3 2004’s subscriber base.

AOL Snags Engadget,” the headline should read, instead of the anodyne “America Online Inc. To Buy Weblogs, Inc. for $25 Million.” Yes, Engadget, heretofore the great independent blog on all things gadget for its “rabid gadget freaks,” as it’s proud to claim, will be purchased by AOL in the Weblogs, Inc. deal worth “around $25 million,” a source familiar with the deal has told Reuters.

AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc., could officially announce the acquisition of New York-based Weblogs Inc. as early as Thursday, Reuters says. Of course nobody at AOL or Weblogs, Inc. is stepping forward with any information yet.

Weblogs Inc. includes “roughly 80 advertising-supported sites published by a group of more than 100 bloggers,” as Reuters says, including Autoblog and BloggingBaby, but the crown jewel is Engadget, the Web’s third most popular blog in terms of links from other sites, according to data on traffic measurement site Technorati.

Weblogs, Inc. is ex-Silicon Alley’s informal mayor Jim Calacanis’s successful effort to cash in on the popularity of blogging. Give the man credit, he figured out a way to sell ads on the thing, his bag of about 80 ad-supported sites does chalk up revenue. And seeing as how AOL has lost millions of dial-up subscribers it’s looking for ways to pump up ad revenue.

Audio MPEG, Inc. and Sisvel, S.p.A. say that Thomson S.A. and a number of its subsidiaries have been sued in the United States and Europe for infringement of several MPEG Audio patents by its MP3 players and digital set-top boxes. This patented technology was developed and is owned by France Telecom, Telediffusion De France, Philips, and Institut fur Rundfunktechnik GmbH.

The patents are essential to the MPEG audio compression standard used worldwide in MP3 players, TV set top boxes, digital television broadcasting, and an increasing number of consumer electronics products.

The lawsuits were filed by Sisvel S.p.A. and Audio MPEG, Inc., who have the right to license the patents. Litigations for patent infringement against Thomson are now pending and progressing in Alexandria, Virginia as well as Mannheim, Germany, and Milan.

Thousands of Thomson MP3 products have been detained by the customs authorities in Germany. Over 250 companies are licensed under these patents and are paying royalties. Until recently, Thomson was also licensed, but failed to renew their license in 2005.

Boy, ain’t no more Junior Johnsons in NASCAR. Don’t find no North Carolina bootleggers learning their craft by gunning stripped-down Fords past the feds in the backwoods with Kickapoo Joy Juice stacked everywhere deciding to go legit and running rivals off dirt tracks for some bucks. No, today NASCAR’s got Web sites and corporate sponsors and luxury boxes (“Hugh, can’t they do something about all those yucky pickup trucks and RVs on the infield? Honestly, such people…”) and marketing consultants and blow-dried mannequins like Jeff Gordon, who look like they’ve never changed the oil once in their lives, probably couldn’t locate the spark plugs in an engine if you spotted them the distributor cap and pistons and who’d look a lot more natural advertising shampoo than STP, driving “cars” with so many safety devices they resemble rocket capsules more than what anybody’d recognize as a car.

Nah, Richard Petty was the last real stock car driver. Nowadays they probably don’t even call them “drivers” anyway, their marketing consultants searching for ways to capture more of the 18-34 year old professional urban male demographic no doubt have recommended “real-time track guidance specialists” anyway.

NASCAR has plush corporate offices with glass coffee tables and style consultants and media centers stocked with Evian water, and as of today, NASCAR has technology partners. AMD has announced it will become the Official Technology Partner of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. AMD officials say they plan to “play a critical role in helping NASCAR improve competition on the race track” and “enhance the safety of its participants.”

“Technology is as critical to NASCAR as fuel, tires and communications,” said Gustavo Arenas, corporate vice president, Pan-Americas Region, AMD, and the sad thing is, he’s right. Oh well, there never was anything so real or fun that couldn’t yet be neutered in pursuit of an office in New York, fat TV contract and corporate sponsor. What’s Acme Anvils sponsoring this year, the Alan Jackson tour, a bass boat or Ricky Rudd? The sponsoree must not smoke, say any bad words, scratch himself while on camera, wear this hat, this jacket, attend these receptions, shake hands with these people, smile at these cameras…

AMD computer technology products are “planned to be deployed extensively throughout NASCAR, on and off the track, to help improve such critical functions as timing and scoring, research and development, wind tunnel testing, and crash simulation,” company officials say.

“Crash simulation?” Aren’t there enough real ones on tape?

First CoffeeSM can hear you already: “Junior Johnson? Bootleggers? Geez, leave this guy mumbling into his beard under a tree with his memories somewhere.” Yes, would you, please?

Siebel Systems Inc. anticipates higher third-quarter revenue than a year ago, “boosted by improved license, maintenance and services revenue,” according to the Associated Press.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Siebel expects to report revenue of about $346 million, up 9 percent from $317 million a year earlier. The San Mateo CRM powerhouse agreed to be acquired by Oracle Corp. recently for $5.85 billion.

The Associated Press reports that “Wall Street, on average, expects the company to report third-quarter revenue of $311 million, according to a Thomson Financial survey of analysts.” Siebel expects third-quarter operating income of about $34 million and pretax income of $50 million.

In honor of October being Fire Safety Month, as well as the Muslim religious month of Ramadan – net result: some of the people you encounter here on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey are noticeably more cranky. As if everybody in Antalya doesn’t have an alarm clock some guy banging a drum helpfully walks through the neighborhoods about four-thirty in the morning so you can get up and eat something before the morning’s first izzan, the call to prayer from the mosque which marks the official start to the day. After that you can’t eat, smoke or drink tea until the izzan around seven that night.

First CoffeeSM estimates actual observance of Ramadan here on the looser southern coast, folks who actually do observe the sunup-to-sundown izzan fast without cheating, at between 20 to 30 percent, higher in the more religiously conservative heartland and countryside. What’s galling is on the last day of Ramadan the guy with the drum comes around knocking on all the doors for tips for performing his valuable service. “Yeah I got a tip for you, Ahmed, here, lemme see your drum for a minute.”

Oh sorry… according to a new study conducted by the Ohio State University and online at http://www.newstream.com/home.aspx?story=31041, 96 percent of children wake up to their parents’ voice versus less than 50 percent to a conventional beeping smoke alarm.

This quicker response by children has “proven,” according to the study, “to cut the escape time from 5 minutes to 38 seconds.”

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