Two things I’ve learned in my life so far: never trust anyone over 30, and never trust a bird with an axe.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Time to embrace the Dimension Films horror in these latest clips from APOLLO 18.
Officially, Apollo 17, launched December 17th, 1972 was the last manned mission to the moon. But a year later, in December of 1973, two American astronauts were sent on a secret mission to the moon funded by the US Department of Defense. What you are about to see is the actual footage which the astronauts captured on that mission. While NASA denies its authenticity, others say it’s the real reason we’ve never gone back to
Monday, 29 August 2011
Nothing burns fuel (or patience) faster than stop and go traffic, something MIT researchers are hoping to minimize with SignalGuru. The smartphone-based system commands you to slow down or speed up based on whether the light is green, yellow or red to help avoid gas-guzzling activities like idling and accelerating -- reducing fuel consumption by 20 percent. Unlike Audi's Travolution system that relies on WiFi and 3G to communicate with traffic lights, this latest development uses your smartphone's camera to detect signal status and create a Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA), which will predict and learn traffic light patterns. So far it's only been tested on the iPhone in Massachusetts and Singapore, but researchers hope to expand and commercialize the system, eventually including voice prompts and features like GPS navigation with add-ons such as parking space availability and local gas prices. Anti-road rage technology not included.Permalink MIT | Princeton (PDF) | Email this | Comments
- David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
Friday, 26 August 2011
Warner Bros. Pictures has released a slew of new images from the upcoming thriller CONTAGION. The photo gallery includes a few behind-the-scenes stills as well as a look at Steven Soderbergh’s film.
An international traveler reaches into the snack bowl at an airport bar before passing her credit card to a waiter. A business meeting begins with a round of handshakes. A man coughs on a crowded bus…
One contact. One instant. And a lethal virus is transmitted.
A butterfly flapped its wings in Cupertino...
..And as a direct result, the pace of innovation throughout the world will slow. Steve Jobs resigned as Apple's chief executive yesterday, and the entire consumer electronics industry will soon suffer as a result.Why?
Because all consumer technology companies take their lead from Apple, and Apple made products per Jobs' direction. Nobody in business — in any industry — has a better honed instinct on what would succeed with consumers than Steve Jobs.
Today's consumer electronics industry is built largely around copying Apple's successful products. The iPhone comes out, and within months there are countless copycat touch-screen phones. The iPad? This year alone there will be dozens of competing tablets released, most of which would probably not have seen the light of day if Apple hadn't blazed the trail. Scores of companies are spending billions of dollars putting out devices that Steve Jobs thought would be successful.
Need more? Do you think Amazon, Google, RIM and others would have app stores if Apple didn't revolutionize the way now purchase our software? Do you think Microsoft would have opened 11 retail stores this year if Apple didn't have more than 330 outlets worldwide?
(Aside: Apple stores make more money than any other retailer on the planet. While that may not surprise, the company's massive lead on the field is shocking: According to a RetailSales report, Apple generates $5,626 per square foot of store space. That's nearly double the second-most successful retailer, Tiffany & Co, and nearly seven times more revenue than Best Buy, which does $831 per square foot. Think Jobs had something to do with this success?)
My wife asked me yesterday about the possibility of somebody in the industry taking his place as the leader of consumer technology innovation. Not a chance. Mostly because there is so little creative thought in the industry. Products are mostly bland. Marketing mostly stinks. Public relations mostly undermines the companies it's meant to support.
Like the National Football League, technology is a copycat league — and most participants were basically copying the ideas of one man. If I had to put a number on it, I'd argue that more than 80 percent of the creative thinking in the consumer electronics industry over the last five years happened at Apple. The rest occurred at Google, Amazon and Netflix, and a sprinkling of small companies like GoPro, which most mainstream consumers have never heard of.
I agree with my industry insider colleagues who say that Apple has a a number of upcoming products in its bullpen that Jobs has personally designed. Which means that groundbreaking products and ideas and will continue to come from Apple for another couple of years. But Jobs will not be nearly as involved in the devices that follow.
Apple has been on a torrid pace of innovation in recent years: the company has moved the world from desktop and laptop based computing to mobile computing. It has changed the way we listen to music, buy software, and play video games. Apple has changed how we live, and driven the product development and profits at thousands of other companies that followed its lead. Yesterday, its driving force resigned.
Yesterday, a butterfly flapped its wings in Cupertino...
...And in a couple of years, countless consumer electronics companies will feel the resulting atmospheric disruption. Shortly after that, we technology consumers will feel it ourselves in the form of less groundbreaking and compelling high-tech devices, services and ideas.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Kim Kardashian is going to be making 45 million dollars by selling pictures and video from her wedding.
- we “can’t afford” to fund NPR
- we “can’t afford” to fund Planned Parenthood
- we “can’t afford” to fund education
- small businesses are drowning in this economy
- thousands in this country can’t afford to properly feed themselves or their children
Capitalism is fun, right?!
It’s sad really.
You become rich and famous and people throw money at you.
HP's announcement that it is considering spinning off its PC business surprised a lot of people given that it's the largest seller in the industry. But it was an inevitable consequence of the value chain strategy that the company pursued in a highly constrained innovation space — one in which the hardware platform is defined by Intel and the software experience is defined by Microsoft.
This constrained innovation space is a direct result of Intel's commoditization strategy. Back in the early 1990s, when Intel was seeking to "pace" the market for PCs, it introduced a set of standards for desktop PCs that commoditized all of the hardware components beyond the microprocessor. The "ATX" standard drove complete interchangeability of motherboards, add-in feature cards, memories, disk drives, power supplies, cabinets — components that Intel did not manufacture. Commoditization of everything else meant lower bill-of-material costs for PC assemblers, which translated into lower selling prices for consumers and higher sales volumes. And since the software experience was standardized and controlled by Microsoft, consumers could have consistent product expectations regardless of the brand of the PC. This changed the basis of competition for PC manufacturers. Companies like Dell rose to the forefront on its "late configuration" model, customizing for consumers with its build to order model.But where were the opportunities for innovation if you were a branded PC manufacturer? The color of your PC or the shape of your keyboard? Or maybe in all the useless "crapware" that branded sellers loaded on to your PC in exchange for subsidies from hopeful software vendors that wanted to entice you with trial versions of their product?
Intel's model of driving the production of undifferentiated commodities among its OEM system partners ensured that none of them would have sufficient margins over the long term to be able to afford to do anything innovative. Some resorted to industrial design. IBM was able to sustain some differentiation when it first introduced its ThinkPad line of notebooks in the early 1990s, but much of that came from its early investment in color TFT flat panel displays that were so important to making notebooks competitive with desktops.
Over the long haul, competition eventually took margins to unsustainably low levels for everyone except Intel and Microsoft. I was the assistant to Jack Kuehler, the president of IBM, in 1989-90, and I recall him telling me even then that over the long term PCs were not a business that IBM could stay in. The economic model just did not work for a company that wanted to invest in innovation and differentiation.
Certainly Dell rode its consumer direct, late configuration model for a while, until notebooks disrupted the desktop business and retail delivery became an important sales channel. HP thought it could win with scale. After purchasing Compaq in 2002, the company drove a commodity strategy by consolidating purchasing power in its supplier network and focusing on retail channel execution. By playing its Taiwanese suppliers off against each other, it was able to be the low-cost player. "The HP-Compaq merger was paid for in Taiwan," was a refrain I heard frequently. Taiwanese suppliers fought over the privilege of bringing new technology to Apple, but nobody wanted to bring exciting things to HP.In this model, nobody made enough money to invest in innovation except Intel and Microsoft. For a publicly traded company like HP that is judged on profitability and gross margin performance, earning a return that would satisfy investors by playing in the commodity part of the value chain was ultimately impossible.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Publicly, Samsung and LG tersely supported Google's union with Motorola (which we've taken to calling Moogle) -- privately it appears the South Korean giants aren't as thrilled to be at the mercy of Mountain View's whim. Imagine their predicament if they were frozen out of Android tomorrow -- which is why the Korean government has stepped in to create its own OS. Kim Jae-hong, deputy minister from Seoul's Ministry of Knowledge Economy, thinks that American dominance in mobile software is generally a bad thing. The minister said that the country would "foster a habitat" for the open-source OS, which might mean incentivized pricing on these devices, and we're hearing a cloud-based Chrome OS is also in the offing. The biggest news Jae-hong slipped is that Samsung had been very dismissive of a Korean OS until it heard about the Google / Motorola deal. What a difference a Moogle makes, eh?
My friend saw a cat cross the road, she laughed so hard that I thought I was either slow or that she has not heard of any chicken crossing the road joke.
'Hell is empty and all the devils are here....' DCI Luther
'Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.' Tyler Durden
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Intruders Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Spain World Premiere
Juan and Mia, two children who live in different countries, are visited every night by a faceless intruder – a terrifying being that wants to get hold of them. These presences become more powerful and start ruling their lives as well as their families’. Anxiety and tension increase when their parents also witness these apparitions. Starring Clive Owen.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
'If you want to dance, you must pay the fiddler.'
In the last six weeks, two patent transactions shook the world of mobile communications:
While the size of these transactions is extraordinary, patent transactions and patent-motivated acquisitions are hardly rare. Consider these other less-widely-reported recent events:
- Google acquired more than 1,000 patents from IBM
- Apple acquired more than 200 patents from Freescale
- HTC acquired a portion of the patent portfolio of ADC ($75 million), Dashwire ($18.5 million) and S3 Graphics ($300 million)
- Kodak sold 850 patents for $65 million and is now offering another 1,100 patents for sale
- InterDigital's stock is up more than 50% since it announced plans to sell some or all of its 8,000-strong patent portfolio
So what are we to take from all of this activity? The lesson is really quite simple: Technology isn't free.
Technology is at the heart of competition in a growing number of industries. Companies compete to develop new products and features that will entice customers to buy their products instead of their competitors' and hopefully to pay a premium price for what they have to offer.
To participate in this race and produce a competitive product, companies grab technology and product features wherever they can find them. Some they develop on their own, but inevitably, many come from suppliers or competitors or from the technology ether. No company can possible develop all of the technology it needs to stay in the race all by itself.
And there's the rub. Technology isn't free for the taking. Companies, both large and small, spend vast resources to develop new technology and to improve the performance and features of their products. When they do, they (and their shareholders) rightly expect to profit from those investments. As a result, companies that want to build competitive products are required to pay for the technology they use. Some they pay for through their own R&D budgets, and some costs are embedded in the price of components they buy from suppliers. But some they must pay for through license fees to the companies whose technology they have adopted.
Along comes Google, a wealthy search company that has never participated in the device marketplace and never conducted any significant R&D to develop technology related to operating systems. It decides to enter those markets but unfortunately owns hardly any of the technology it needs to be successful. So it adopts the best technologies and product features available in the ether only to discover that all of it was developed by someone else and that someone else expects to be compensated for its use.
Most companies in the market have technology to trade and end up licensing their technology to each other with relatively few disputes. But when a new entrant with nothing to trade enters the market, the companies who spent billions to develop all the technology that is floating in the ether expect to be compensated for whatever the new entrant uses.
Google may complain loudly about anti-competitive practices and bogus, dubious, questionable patents, but the fact remains: If you want to dance, you must pay the fiddler. Yesterday it did just that. The acquisition of Motorola Mobility will go a long way toward helping Google settle its disputes with players like Apple and Microsoft. It won't solve all of Google's problems (think Oracle), and it remains to be seen how the acquisition will impact the Android ecosystem, but if the deal closes, Google will finally own relevant technology that may change the dynamics in that industry.
New entrants always have this problem. Taiwanese companies HTC (smartphones and tablets) and Vizio (flat-panel TVs) are both struggling with how to pay for the vast amount of others' technologies they've incorporated into their products. After Apple entered the wireless telecom space, it had to pay billions in settlements and ongoing royalties to Nokia who owns a lot of the technology it adopted. Samsung has paid many billions of dollars over the years to license in the technology it needs and has increased its R&D spending and patenting activity exponentially in order to compensate. More recently, Samsung has been on a global patent-buying spree to obtain technology for its next generation of products.
The cost of technology has become a large and rapidly increasing part of the cost of goods sold in the products that we buy. That's not surprising when you consider the amount of technology that's crammed into an Android phone or the many other tech-heavy products we use. Gone are the days when companies competed primarily over manufacturing costs. Today, managing technology acquisition is the essence of modern strategy. Companies that are most successful at developing and owning new technology and acquiring and controlling the cost of technology will win in the marketplace. Those that fail to effectively manage internal and external technology acquisition will fall behind in the technology race and will find that they cannot afford to pay the fiddler.
When it comes to action films, very few people do them as right and as interesting as actor Jason Statham. Be it the Transporter franchise or the pair of Crank films, there has always been something about the actor that has made him one of the most beloved names within the genre and now, there is a new poster for his next effort, Safe. Check it out in full here.