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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Microsoft is still here, and prospering

Microsoft's Q2 earnings report displayed how robust the redmond corporate is. Despite Apple's and Google's dominance in the smart phone market and internet search market, respectively, Microsoft's dominance in the operating system market pays off.

For some reason, the NY times article that analyzes their earnings I quoted above, is assuming that M.S is unhappy with its major income coming from businesses and not the home market, like Apple.

Sometimes people just surprise me in their poor analysis. Microsoft has always been ahead of Apple in the O.S market, because it understood businesses needs better than Apple, and in the cost/benefit test, Microsoft's products - both the Operating System and the Office suite, were clear market leaders.
The wide adoption of Windows 7 in businesses means bad news for both Google and Apple:
  • It means that if Microsoft's smartphones would reach the cost/benefit level people have learned to expect from microsoft, businesses will prefer them, for ease of use and maintenance, both for users and administrators. For that to happen, Microsoft will need to significantly improve their smartphones and improve Windows mobile quite significantly, while lowering prices. If you think it is improbable, remember what happend in the 90's on the web-browsers market. Once upon a time Microsoft seemed like the clear loser on that market, just like it appears now on the smartphones front.
  • And it means, that any operating system trying to penetrate the market, has to compete against an operating system that is enjoying a high level of loyalty.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

facebook wanting to be a little more like microsoft

Business insider is telling us something interesting about Facebook. Facebook's CTO, Bret Taylor, says that Facebook views users as its top priority, but places developers and advertisers on equal ground right behind them. This policy is a lesson learned from Microsoft, who knew how to "build an extremely good developer relations team, and really focused on developers as one of their core constituents."
Microsoft was able to convince third-party developers to create applications for their platform, and gained a huge presence among developers, which lasts till present day, as more than 6 million developers use the company's Visual Studio platform to build applications.
Business insider isn't telling us all this about Microsoft just as an old veterans war story. Their claim is that Facebook has more in mind than just earning money by advertising. They believe Facebook wants to "become the default platform for social networking across Web sites, third-party apps, mobile platforms, and anywhere else that people want to use the Internet to interact with friends".
The only problem here is that if there is one lesson learned from Microsoft's past, is the failure of a single player to lead both as an infrastructure player and a content player for a length of time.
I believe that if Business insider's analysis is true, Facebook will find out, several years ahead, that they will have to choose who they wish to be. Two sides within will fight for dominance, and at lease historically, no organization has been able to win external competition in both fields at the same time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

against the wind: Facebook reaching the 50 billion $ evaluation mark ? bubble time...

Not so long ago, I mentioned facebook being valued at 41 billion USD. Now it is reported to have passed the 50 billion $ valuation. As facebook has reached profitability quite early in its life, one shouldn't be too surprised at these successful capital raisings. As is common with internet startups (and facebook can still be called a startup), investors do not base evaluations on current profits, but on dreamt of potentials.

In addition to the early arrival at the profit mark, Facebook's growth has been phenomenal.
only on last  july has the more than 500 million active members statistic been reached and already there are reports that the 600 million active members mark has been passed.

Still, the gap between facebook's profit (estimated at a few tens of millions) and facebook's current estimated worth, should be bothering to anyone in his sound mind.

Especially as facebook is indicating its need in so much more cash.

More bothering in my mind is the business model of facebook. or more accurately, its deficiencies.
Google has found quite a reasonable balance between privacy and the usage of user's data. I really doubt facebook's stance there.

I've recently assisted a friend tweak her privacy settings in facebook, and while showing her the ropes I was very impressed to discover that her teenage daughter has already done it. Assuming teenagers are already more global in their spirit than previous generations, facebook is in trouble. A strengthening privacy awareness among its youthful members means users are going to be more and more protective of their data.

With less shared data around Facebook the social graph's worth declines accordingly.

In summary: At this point in Facebook's life, evaluation shouldn't be done by member's number, or evolving profitability but by a much more relevant data: Facebook's ability to produce commercial insights regarding member's preferences. Despite what looks like an emerging epidemic of "like" buttons, the real question is what usage can be made in these "likes". If what I've encountered personally is indeed an indication of a trend, Facebook may have a serious problem in a commercial usage of its members.  This problem may be the reason for a  need for more cash, but it is also a reason for devaluating Facebook.

As far as my analysis goes, as long as privacy issues regarding potential data and its potential usage are not solved by Facebook, any increase in Facebook's value, shouldn't be attributed to real economic considerations, but to the re-emerging internet bubble.

Monday, January 17, 2011

tips to an entrepreneur: how to avoid getting fired from your own company

Angel Chris Yeh has some tips on "How To Avoid Getting Fired From Your Own Company". The most important ones, appear to me, at first glance -

  • Insist on written, detailed contracts. 
  • Lay your foundations up front in terms of board composition and corporate governance. 
  • Make sure you know just what someone would have to do to remove you, and minimize your vulnerabilities.

But the article has many more valuable tips. It is Just another one of those things that every entrepreneur should read, just in case.... and let us not forget the most important tip: Realize that you are dispensable. 

Apple's Steve jobs takes a medical leave - again

Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, is taking another medical leave. One doesn't have to a be an Apple's fan to wish Jobs a complete health, and if there is an unhappy reason behind this leave - a quick, swift and complete recovery.
Investors usually want to know everything on the senior management of the companies they own, and although I'm usually in favour of transparency, as far as health is concerned, I belong to the privacy-over-all policy. He might be a stubborn fellow, set in his ways, old Steve, but I do think he is right in keeping his health mattes private. Apple investors should know by now, that one of the risks involving in Apple, is accepting Steve's quirks.

As Steve Jobs is commonly seen as Apple's creative engine, it is widely assumed that Apple's competitiveness is reduced while he is away. Although it was that way in the past, one has to hope for Apple that the past lessons have been learned, and that the edge of this company will be maintained while Steve Jobs takes care of himself.

And if a small teasing from an anonymous blog can help boost Steve, let us not delay in this bizarre form of prayer, and bring back from the past that hilarious bit The Onion did telling about "Apple's Claim of a New iPhone Only Visible To Most Loyal Of Customers" .... 

Keeping  our thumbs up for you Steve. You make our technological lives more interesting.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

מה היתה החדשה החשובה של שנת 2010 ? איך בכלל מחליטים מה זו הידיעה החשובה?

חדשה היא "ידיעה אחרונה, ידיעה עדכנית, ידיעה שזה עתה הגיעה"; news item בלע"ז. זהו מידע חדש שלא היה לנו קודם ושמאיזושהיא סיבה, אנחנו מייחסים לו משמעות.

לכל אחד יש את התפישה שלו, מהי חדשה חשובה.

יהיו שיחשבו שדברים שאמרו אביגדור ליברמן או ברק אובמה הם החדשה החשובה ביותר של 2010. אחרים ייחסו את החשיבות לדברים שעשו כוכבי-קולנוע או מוזיקה. אחרים יעסקו בסוגיות מתחום הספורט או התעשיה או המסחר או האמנות הפלסטית.

כשאני מביט בגוגל טרנדס, אינני יכול שלא להיווכח בפער בין מה שהוא חשוב בעיני, לבין מה שחשוב בעיני אחרים.

בבלוג אחר שלי, הכרעתי בשאלה הזו לטובת תגלית מדעית שהיא לטעמי חשובה מעין כמוה. קשה לי להאמין שמדובר בפוסט שיזכה לפופולריות רבה. האם אכן הייתי מקבל החלטה כזו אם הייתי עורך עיתון ?
האן עצם העובדה שאני לא מתנהל בצורה שמתאימה את עצמה לתפוצה מקסימלית, היא זו הסיבה לכך שאינני עורך עיתון?
עצם השאלה במה עוסקים עיתונאים נובעת מעיקרה בשאלה מה חשוב. האומנם השאלה מה אנשים רוצים לקרוא, מה אנשים יעדיפו לקרוא, צריכה לקבל משקל כל-כך גדול, גם כשברורות השלכות התשובה על רמת התקשורת וסוג המידע שיהיה חדשות בסופו של תהליך? ברור שצריך איזון. אבל מהו האיזון הזה? כיצד מייצרים אותו? כיצד שומרים על סוג של דחיפה של הקורא שלך קדימה, הרמתו אל סוג חדשות שאולי לא היה בוחר לקרוא בעצמו, תוך שמירה על מספיק מוטיבציה ועניין שלו כדי שישוב ויקרא אותך גם מחר? ועיקר העיקרים: איך עושים את זה על בסיס תחומי העניין המוצהרים שלו ? השאלות האלה הטרידו אותי באופן אישי בשנה האחרונה, אבל נדמה לי, כמו שמדגימה ההכרעה בבלוג האחר, שלא נתתי להן את התשובה הנכונה....