Jargon Watch X-Internet

– The executable internet according to Forrester Research CEO George Colony. Why call a hyped-up trend by its existing name when you can call it something different?Roughly speaking X-Internet is Web 2.0; George is particularly interested in the way that it can be applied to enterprise applications and hypothesises in his think piece

My view: the Google future that AJAX and Google services will herald an age of enterprise applications funded by advertising.


The what it means section had some interesting takeouts:

  • Large corporations should take advantage of web 2.0 technologies including: Google Desktop Search, Google Toolbar, and Google Maps to help drive productivity
  • IT staff will learn to incorporate web 2.0 services and APIs into the corporate web. Bottom line upgrade your JavaScript skills to become an AJAX maven – VB programming skills and MSDN won’t cut it
  • Microsoft will lose roughly half its profit margins as it tries to compete with advertising-funded software (web 2.0) from 25 per cent net to 13 per cent net margins
  • George writes off Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon as being stuck with old web 1.0 experiences
  • Enterprise software vendors will have to duke it out with AJAX enhanced web-based service providers like Salesforce.com over the next five years


George’s points though interesting make a number of assumptions that may not be correct: Google is unchallengable

  • There was no mention of the contribution by the open source community
  • The article did not reconcile how the lower barriers to entry for start-ups afforded by web 2.0 would cope with a corporate enterprise environment that looks for eight-year support contracts and purchasing decisions that would take a year
  • He assumed that despite the low barriers to entry, other Internet players would not adopt web 2.0 technologies
  • There was no consideration of how web 2.0 would affect security and the complexity of some of the issues involved. Remember online marketplaces and how internet exchanges were going to affect the world – many of them were abandoned or had their goals severely trimmed in order to meet a revised definition of success

Halloween at DPMHI

The DPMHI shop in Great Pultney Street had a violence strewn mural on the back wall for Halloween. In stark black and white like Pacino’s Scarface meets Raymond Chandler, it featured suited assassins descending from the skylights and gun club targets at eye-level.

Crossing Swords

I’ve contributed an article about Palm’s investment in Europe over at Palm Addicts. In the news this week Palm announced that it was opening a new development centre in Swords County Dublin (you can read about it here at the Palm Addicts blog), what does it mean for European Palm users?What is surprising is that Palm has not made this move sooner, given the focus on the Treo range as the primary play for the future. With the exception of some notable exceptions like Italy the market for mobile phones is dominated by subsidised handsets provided by the carriers. Given that the carriers invest 100USD or more per user, they need to guarantee their return somehow by trying to improve the average revenue per user (ARPU). This means locking consumers in with tightly integrated services. Part of the reason why Nokia’s crown slipped was because the company would not bend to the carriers will.

In the UK, five years ago the Nokia brand got bigger than the mobile phone company because of its legendary ease-of-use and iconic chocolate bar format. Club Nokia was the straw that broke the camels back threatening carriers ability to earn money from ringtones and wallpapers.

Vodafone suddenly dropped Nokia from its roster of handsets and took up with Japanese handsets by Sharp and Panasonic; the carriers learned their inherent power. The market has become more competitive for mobile phone devices. Most technology companies that we know are really marketing organisations. Their logistics are outsourced, their products are based on reference designs and sometimes the only cosmetic change is the badge on the front of the device. OEMs like HTC are no longer happy making for other manufacturers, but with Microsoft’s assistance have started selling direct to the carriers. Mobile phone companies had the marketing savvy, they had a brand and they had distribution. T-Mobile and Orange pioneered this approach carrier-side.

Palm entered a market where it has had to dance with the carriers and the first few times it has got it wrong. The Orange implementation of the Treo 600 allegedly had some of its functionality curtailed to help sell ‘push-to-talk’ services. The implementation meant that Orange had lots of dissatisfied users and people like me went out and bought the carrier neutral version of the device instead, so Orange probably sold less services, not more like they would have expected.

Palm can’t let this happen in the future. Europe has a level of mobile phone penetration is higher than the US, Europeans change their phones every 12 – 18 months rather than the 2 years or so for a Verizon customer in the US. Europe is rolling out UMTS / 3G services, but despite the hype there are no killer apps, partly because the handsets aren’t great: so for Palm there is a real market opportunity. Even though Palm is a Microsoft licensee it will still be competing against established handset manufacturers like Motorola, HTC and Sagem. Microsoft’s motives are further complicated because the company wants an end-to-end play. Telecoms back-end systems, transactions, service provision, media creation and playback, instant messaging, user experience, enterprise applications and information security all running on Microsoft platforms. Would they burn Palm to improve their overall interest? No question about it.

Look to the PC marketplace, Steve Jobs has said on numerous occasions there are two PC manufacturers making a profit – Dell and Apple. Other players stay in the marketplace for strategic reasons, but Microsoft makes money on each Windows box, whatever happens to the manufacturer.

Then there are aggressive Asian players like Siemens/BenQ, and is likely to be joined by Chinese newcomers like Haier or Ningbo Bird. Chinese manufacturers have a lot of work going into embedded Linux devices that are constantly improving. US manufacturer Danger, who make the Hip-Top devices had both Orange and T-Mobile as investors, the tight integration including storing user data like address books on the network and large screen suitable for multimedia makes it an interesting proposition.

Fellow Palm licensee Qool Labs have a fantastic Palm powered product that has not been distributed in the West. European handset manufacturers with entrenched relationships and brand equity like Sony Ericsson and Nokia are unlikely to lie down either. Indeed Nokia’s 9X00 series and the E61 are exceptionally well-designed competitive devices. Palm needs to have an R&D / localisation facility close to the customer base filled with talented people.

Trying to do the carrier-specific development from Silicon Valley or Asia puts them on a different working day from the clientele, placing a strain on project management and close cooperative client working. It is not conducive to supplying the kind of carrier integration needed to supply large-scale orders that Palm needs in order to achieve critical mass in the market.

Palm’s expansion of its Dublin logistics and operations site to include localisation is a statement of intent that they are now going to get serious about Europe, hopefully ensuring an even better user experience and favourable subsidies for Treo users.

Superstylin’

Burro, the designers famous for the “Non alla violenza’ t-shirts during the 1990 FIFA world cup and customising classic Sergio Tacchini tracksuit tops are closing their store in Covent Garden. According to the shop assistant, they will continue to provide clothes to other outlets like Urban Outfitters but were not going to have their own retail outlet any more. Still, their misfortune can you your gain with mens t-shirts going at 3 for 10GBP.

 

Trick or Treat!

Corporate Halloween shenanigans at Burger King and Wal-Mart. In what can be loosely described as an integrated marketing campaign Burger King is selling masks of two of its spokespeople. The chicken is from the sub man in a chicken suit site that spread virally what seems like a few years ago apparently to promote the Burger King reason d’etre of having it your way.

The bearded chap on the left is based on a character used to wake people up and offer them a non-Maccy D breakfast. BK have got a bit of static for allegedly trying to spoof a journalist with a ‘viral marketing’ campaign. On Slate.com Seth Stevens in his article The Burger King can’t fool me outlines the full story.

It gave me a great idea on how to damage other people’s campaigns – with similar handfisted attempts on their behalf.

Wal-Mart was found to have an unpleasant skeleton in its cupboard with a leaked memo specifying how they can hold down the costs of staff benefits (given that they can’t outsource check-out operation to a third-world country). Of particular interest is that leaked memo does not dismiss indentured slavery or child kidnapping as options. Saying that, the only people who read about it would have the good sense to shop to already be Target shoppers anyway.