Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cloud Computing and HD Television

The benefits of cloud computing to mobile devices and smart phones has been discussed at length in the industry press. What's been missing is a discussion about the impact of Cloud Computing on High Definition TV. Today, most of HDTV sets, even those with highest screen resolutions, act as dumb terminals incapable of providing users with multi-application multi-window experiences. Cloud Computing can address this "dumbness", provided TV makers figure out a way to accommodate multiple inputs on the screen and give users free-hand navigation devices, similar to vii remote or, to go further, enable touchscreen phones work as mousepads.
What's the incentive for TV manufacturers to do all this work? First of all, it will give them a relatively easy way to differentiate their devices. Secondly, getting a larger TV set would make a lot more sense for users who want to access multiple apps/feeds at the same time. TV and news shows are not as immersive as movies. Packing more information on that 60-inch screen would make TV experience much more tolerable.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A good paper by Ronald S. Burt on brokerage-based innovation model:
Brokerage across the structural holes between groups provides a vision of options otherwise unseen, which is the mechanism by which brokerage becomes social capital.
The organization is rife with structural holes, and brokerage has its expected correlates. Compensation, positive performance evaluations, promotions, and good ideas are disproportionately in the hands of people whose networks span structural holes. The between-group brokers are more likely to express ideas, less likely to have ideas dismissed, and more likely to have ideas evaluated as valuable.

People connected to groups beyond their own can expect to find themselves delivering valuable ideas, seeming to be gifted with creativity. This is not creativity born of genius; it is creativity as an import-export business. An idea
mundane in one group can be a valuable insight in another.

A positive side effect for an enterprise-wide social network could be a clear map of structural holes within the organization. By analyzing connections between groups and people we could identify most valuable avenues for internal and external innovation. Especially so, if the company's suppliers and customers can be viewed/represented as a part of the network.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cnet, among others, reports on RPX,
a San Francisco-based start-up, calls itself a "defensive patent aggregator." The company plans to buy available patents to keep them out of the hands of "patent trolls," or firms that obtain patents for the purpose of suing other companies for royalties or licensing fees.

RPX will sell memberships to companies for a fixed annual fee that could range from $35,000 to $4.9 million, depending on the member company's operating income. For the price of the annual membership, companies will receive the patent licenses purchased by RPX. The Wall Street Journal reported that Cisco Systems and IBM have already signed up.

Several considerations seem to be important here:
1. Third-party management of patent risks is becoming a legitimate business model.
2. The market for patents is going to be more liquid, i.e. it will be easier to buy and sell patents.
3. Deverticalization of the innovation supply chain will accelerate.
4. In the long run, people will start looking for process improvements, i.e. better, more efficient ways to create inventions.
5. Patent evaluation methods will have to improve dramatically too.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Who is going to win this battle of technologies?

Battle of technologies:

Laser fruit "stickers" vs regular fruit labels.

The conventional ones are high resolution, wear-tear resistant, and easy to use.
Have you noticed the little "brand" stickers on your bananas, apples, peaches, pears, mangos, kiwi, and other seasonal fruits?
The number on that little sticker, not only is the price look number, it also tells how the product is grown or created. This has made news recently with the release of the new rules for "organic" labeling. For conventionally grown fruit, the PLU code on the sticker consists of four numbers. Organically grown fruit have a five-numeral PLU beginning with the number 9. Genetically engineered fruit has a five-numeral PLU beginning with the number 8.

But the laser "stickers" are coming:
A growing number of produce packers and distributors are experimenting with natural-light labeling, a new process that uses a laser to etch identifying information (country of origin, variety, etc.) into the skins of fruits and vegetables without bruising or causing other damage.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cnet on Microsoft's strategic move into cloud computing:
Microsoft also now understands that its platform must span every kind of device--PC, notebook, smartphone, car, home, etc.--and offline scenarios. Microsoft missed the Web search revolution, but it's not going to miss out on the much bigger revolution--the move to the cloud over the next two decades.

Google is building a competing ecosystem from the ground up with similar characteristics and a desire to attract millions of developers. Amazon is pushing its elastic computer cloud, and Rackspace, EMC, IBM, and many other companies are trying to get a piece of the action. Most the cloud companies are focused on hosting services, but the biggest piece will be platforms-as-a-service with developers creating and running their applications for on a cloud operating system.

Microsoft's best shot would be to go after the enterprise market. They can leverage MS Office installed base and enable access to shared documents and applications for smartphones, netbooks, laptops, etc. The enterprise market is a better business target because it allows Microsoft to move away from the ad-supported model where Google dominates.
As we discussed in the class last spring, the battle for the back-end, i.e. the cloud, is the next step in technology-business evolution of computing. Proliferation of smartphones, spurred by iPhone, is going to accelerate user adoption.

p.s. I wish blogger would allow me to draw diagrams!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Americans becoming more obese. This paper by Harvard economists David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser and Jesse M. Shapiro highlights the "control" aspects of the problem. As in the cases of information overload or personal asset management or company growth, the ability to orchestrate the flow of goods and services is absolutely critical to the overall success of the system. Its control function or the lack of thereof tends to become the most important limiting or even harmful factor.
While the medical profession deplores the increase in obesity, the standard economic view is the opposite. Lower prices for any good – either monetary or time costs – expand the budget set and make people better off. But self-control issues complicate this interpretation. If people have difficulty controlling how much they eat, lowering the time costs of food consumption may exacerbate these problems. Certainly, the $30-$50 billion spent annually on diets testifies to the
self-control problems that many people face. In the last part of the paper, we consider the welfare implication of lower food production costs in a model where individuals have self-control problems. Such a model helps explain why the increases in weight have been biggest at the upper end of the weight distribution, where self-control problems are the most severe.

A good exercise for the The Magicians and Reverse Brainstorm. A long-term trend/process frames behavior of the system.