give me internet or give me death (or at least no job)

July 14, 2008 at 7:38 am | Posted in Technology Trends | 1 Comment
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About a year ago, my cousin who is a junior in college, wasn’t returning my emails. I got frustrated and sent her a text message. Within a minute, I had a response. After further dialog (we did actually “talk”) I found that email was “so 90’s” and that to keep up with her, I would need to social network. This led to a discussion at work where I predicted that this generation will not tolerate what we currently call “collaboration” in today’s workforce.

Fast forward to today. Had a conversation with a customer who had a really sharp intern they wanted to hire. Kid politely says, “no thanks.” They ask him why and he said, “Everything’s great, but I can’t facebook.” This led the guy to poll his audience at a major college where he talks to Freshman classes about choosing a major. (he’s trying to spawn interest in IT). It was a class of about 450.

Question: How many of you have email accounts? Everyone.

Question: How many use their email accounts for social communication. Nobody.

Question: How many of you would turn down a job offer if you didn’t have free access to the Internet? Half.

The times, they are a changin’.

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can you innovate a commodity?

June 24, 2008 at 9:05 am | Posted in Business, Technology Trends | 4 Comments
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Yesterday I talked about Seth Godin’s comments regarding that you are only a commodity by choice.

Tony then had a nice comment, where he ended with this question:

Can you have a successful product strategy in which you don’t innovate but instead just force the commoditization of your competitor’s products? Probably, but who wants to be there?

I think the answer is that a lot of companies want to be there. In fact, I think MySQL has exactly one billion reasons to be happy about being there! 😉 Which brings me to this post.

If you talked to MySQL, they would argue that they are, in fact, an innovation company. They would say that their pluggable table engines and their MySQL cluster are just a few of the ways they have innovated the RDBMS landscape. But, I don’t agree. Would they be where they are if they charged for their database from the outset? Doubtful.

So the question is…. was the fact that they carved out a commodity niche in the ancient (by technology standards) RBDMS market, in and of itself, an “innovative” approach? Did they engineer things differently to allow that model to work? Why didn’t PostgreSQL (who was there first, and was free, and was open source, and had more features) win that battle? Did MySQL do some “innovation” of the entire process (not just the technology) that allowed them to succeed after coming a bit late to the game with less features?

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apple’s little monopoly?

June 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 12 Comments
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I know, MSFT is the evil empire. Apple is the loose-hangin’, freedom lovin’, artistic genius company that will save us from the Orwellian future that MSFT will lead us to. So, to be a non-conformist, I bought a Mac last week. An iMac to be specific. Seriously, the real reason is that I was tired of fighting my video editing programs. After a week of being on my iMac… now I’m tired of fighting my NEW video editing programs.

There are things I like about the Mac over the PC. No doubt. But as my friend put it, there is a bit of “the Emperor’s New Clothes” going on in Mac world, let me tell ya. Bad on me for not doing my homework better, but turns out that Apple is using a bit of its proprietary leverage on its customers to wrench them into upgrades. Do a search on “iMovie 08” and “chapters” as an example. Or “Final Cut Express 4” and “soundtrack”. Mac has evidently taken to REMOVING lots of key functionality from “upgrade” releases, but fear not, they are still available in the higher-end packages, which cost significantly more.

So right now I’m left with a really lame movie making package (iMovie) that omits even some of the most basic functionality like creating chapters. I know I can do it in Garage Band, but c’mon… seriously. I mean, CHAPTERS! We’re not talking about making Star Wars here, just some home videos that allow easy navigation. Used to be in the old iMovie, but not in the new version.

I could go site some other examples, but the bottom line is this: Mac users are so loyal to the goodness in their products that they really put up with a lot of stuff that I’m not sure Apple could get away with if there were more competition in terms of software on the Mac. But because most everything is so proprietary, it seems they can get away with it. It seems to me, a newcomer, that they are definitely exercising their “monopoly” over their base. Not saying this is a bad thing, but coming into it with a fresh set of eyes, it looks that way from here.

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