TabletPC yet again

CurrentAnalysis, an industry analyst house that I have some respect for have a very nice top line piece on the TabletPC a couple of weeks ago. The key highlights are that a TabletPC is going nowhere without:

– A stronger retail presence

– A keyboard (what they call a convertible: a laptop were the screen swivels round to become a TabletPC)

– Adoption by the likes of Dell, IBM and AppleThey dont make any mention of:

– substitute products like PDAs, smartphones and Anoto pens

– the fact that the complex packaging and screen hinge will keep the product relatively expensive compared to laptops

– the compelling reason why it would get widespread adoption, especially when more and more people can type faster than writing

– why on earth Apple would want to make one?

Using a TabletPC is kind of like living with your family, it seems like a good idea at the time, but proves a lot harder after you have got used to other arrangements.

Digital Divide

A number of years ago in college, I wrote an essay about the role of technology exclusion in society. This internetworking thing was only really starting to get going and we had just changed over the web browsers at the college from Mosiac to Netscape, I used to surf the web in 16 shades of grey available on my battered PowerBook 165, when I jacked into the JANET network. Why am I rambling about a geriatric computer and the ‘net before Google? Well, I used the web to research my essay and came across an article on the Washington Post about the ‘cash ghetto’, increasingly if you had to deal in cash you were on the margins of society. An article in the Arizona Daily Star, which my RSS feed aggregator picked up talked about the pervasive nature of Visa and MasterCard where cash was once king reminded me of the college essay. Interesting reading check it out.

Feature Creep

 

First of a regular column by Gizmodo features ebooks and why they have failed to fulfil their potential. Hopefully they will cover Tablet PCs next.

Entrepreneurship – no thanks we’re British

There is an interesting article Sunk before they’ve even begun in the July/August issue of Real Business magazine regarding the effect of student debt on entrepreneurship. The article, was interesting because it touched on a seldom visited area, a number of articles have already been written to the effect that fewer students are going to go forward to caring professions, creative sectors or push the boundaries of knowledge because of the weight of the debt compared to their likely earning potential. According to the article, little research has been done in the area but empirical evidence would tend to indicate that student debt (which has risen considerably) has produced graduates who are less likely to innovate or take risks. One of the key reasons why this is occurring is that while UK universities are wanting to become like their generously private funded US counterparts, the universities are not holding up their side of the bargain. In the US, universities provide a wide and deep network of contacts for students and have close relationships with sources of venture funding. Something that UK academics provide a sketchy infrastructure that is a shadow of the facilities available to American students.

In addition, the UK has nothing equivalent to the veterans programme where the poorest members of society can go to college after a minimum amount of time spent in military service. If I was going to college now instead of ten years ago (after I had been made redundant in the downstream oil industry), I would not have been able to afford it and would be pushing boxes around a warehouse.

The UK stock exchange already underperforms the US stock exchanges because we have so few young entrepreneurs coming through like Michael Dell, Jerry Yang and David Filo or Larry Page. By giving into the free market demands of the further education sector Labour may have sown the seeds for further underperformance of the UK economy in the long term.

Googlewatch

Can I be bothered trawling through the Google filings when someone from the Washington Post and assorted equity analyst will give up the juicy bits anyway? No. This Washington Post article here is of interest. Whilst I wont be buying the stock I will be bookmarking their virtual roadshow page.

What do I think?

– Sergei Brin and Larry Page are very smart people, yep, even smarter than me

– The auction and high price is reducing the chance of an internet bubble and ensuring that the offer makes Google rich and its Googleers rather than merchant banks, Wall Street insiders and other parasites like ‘friends of Frank’

– Their split capital structure means that they are building to last rather like the European families like the Quandt’s who run BMW or the Wallenbergs in Sweden, rather than just another corporate monolith

– If anyone stands a chance of not being ran over by Steve Balmer and his purile pranksters, its Mssrs Page and Brin because they are customer focused rather than competitor focused

Sociology more than just a qualification for a McJob

One of my colleagues has been doing research on an issues management campaign in the offing and came across SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre), an Oxford based organisation with lots of useful articles on their site. Apparently they spawned the term ‘white van man’.

And they don’t ask you if you want fries with your web page.

Big Brother Awards


Just came back from a cheap, but worthy night out. I took my friend Jonathan to see Privacy International’s Big Brother Awards, held at the London School of Economics and compared by Mark Thomas. The venue was a student bar with a glass roof rather like the Hac. A few hardy souls turned up as spooks a la MAD’s Spy Vs Spy comic strip. Anyway the winners were

– Most invasive company BG (British Gas)

– Worst public servant Margaret Hodge

– Most appalling project NHS IT electronic patient record system

– Most heinous government organisation Office of National Statistics

– David Blunkett Lifetime Menace Award US VISIT programme

Full details can be found here

Half Man Half Biscuit Revisited

I got introduced to Half Man Half Biscuit in college, whilst I am not into guitar bands their lyrics had a Birkenhead sense of humour. I revisited they body of work whilst sorting out an old box of records. They are still going and have a few tours coming up this summer. Classics include Dickie Davies Eyes and I hate Nerys Hughes.

Apple Goes Moto? Don’t believe the hype

Motorola and Apple have agreed to bring the iTunes jukebox and music service to mainstream Motorola phones. Interesting deal by Apple invading the mobile music player space that RealNetworks has called its own. Will this service work on Microsoft powered Motorola phones or is this deal just a pile of hot moto like the Motorola Palm phone agreement and Symbian involvement? Also, how will this fit with Motorola’s close relationships with carriers? iTMS is a direct competitor with carrier mobile portals and music download services a la 3’s walled garden offering, Orange World, O2 Active and Vodafone Live. Expect nothing to happen after the operators pimp slap Moto into submission and send them back to turn tricks in the PAYG part of the phone showroom.

Viral Marketing Part II


Earlier in the month we wrote about the CDC Atlanta collectors cards of viruses (or should that be viri?)

Not to be outdone, toy makers have struck back with giant microbes in plush fur including flu, black death and ebola.

New Star Wars Film Gets Lucas Seal of Approval


Escape from Tatooine was the winner of Atom Films Star Wars short competition this year, picked by George Lucas himself. Personally it is not a patch on TROOPS which we featured the other day. However, all you comic/sci-fi/fantasy geeks out there can watch this while you lust after Revenge of the Sith, or you could get a life instead.

Bloggers & the Democratic National Congress

Cynthia Webb’s Filter column at The Washington Post has an interesting article by Robert MacMillan on the rise of bloggers as a media force to reckoned with at the Democratic Party Congress. Maybe its because the liberal media (meagre though it is) want the blogger militia to take on Murdoch’s Fox red coats because no one else can stop them.

Pirsig in his book Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance talks about an argument where with his university board on the nature of quality. He compares the argument to a buffalo is damned if he takes either of two possible stances ending up being impaled on its horns, he could reject the fight (going between the two horns and cracking them on the head) or he could sing the buffalo to sleep. In the UK, New Labour after three election defeats successfully sang the NewsCorp buffalo to sleep, maybe the Democrats should take a similar pragmatic approach?

Another Close Encounter

I am too young to remember Close Encounters when it first came out at the cinema. I remember watching it in the mid 1980’s round at a friends house whilst playing hookie from school. I quite liked it but my peers preferred the American Ninja series, The Octagon, The Hitcher and Governor Schwarzenegger’s early action movies. I borrowed it from Blockbuster, using their 3 for 5GBP for a week offer that applies to slightly older DVDs.

I was blown away. This film was made in 1977, and yet it is so visually rich, it makes CGI films look sterile in comparison, its hard to believe this was done with smoke effects neon lit rigs and painted backgrounds. The concept, the acting from the assorted Indians, hill-billies and cops, Richard Dreyfus, to the little Cary Guffy, the little boy that Dreyfuss almost runs over in his power company pick-up.

Rx R Us

According to the New York Times (free registration required) George Bush is seeking to block medical legal cases brought against the manufacturers of FDA approved products. This is a dangerous move as scandals such as Opren the anti-inflamatory drug and Thalidomid are extreme examples of ‘the ones that got away’ in a regulatory system that fails quite a lot of the time. Because of the nature of spending on medical treatment this will impact the most on babies, children, women and older people. According to research done by the United States General Audit Office in their report FDA Postapproval Risks 1976 – 1985 51.5 per cent of FDA approved drugs approved during this nine-year period showed serious postapproval risks that meant they had to be relabelled or withdrawn from sale. Serious postapproval risks were defined as adverse reactions that could lead to hospitalization, increases in the length of hospitalization, severe or permanent disability, or death.

This has the potential to impact on the UK and Europe as this US administration has been known to throw its weight around to steamroll through uniform trade orientated legislation to match their own standards.

 

The second link is a report on electronic patient record privacy in the US that raises some interesting issues including the fact that online records have brought a better definition to privacy, but that has not mean’t existing standards.