Product Management :: Product Marketing

25 November, 2010

Linux Mint - Desktop OS that should have Microsoft a little worried

In June this year, I acquired (courtesy of my sister-in-law winning an iPad in a golf competition) a Acer Aspire One netbook (awful flash website). As shipped from Acer, it used a Linpus operating system - and Acer have goofed with it somewhat. The end result is absolutely desperate - clumsy and inoperable.

In searching for alternatives, I have installed various versions of Linux Mint on my Acer. I'm delighted to say that Mint 10 (released in November this year) is a significant step up from Mint 9 (released in August this year) and Mint 8.

LinuxMint is developed on top of Ubuntu which itself is developed on top of Debian. Its selling point over the hundreds of other Linux distributions is:
  • friendly desktop 
  • wide range of useful applications pre-installed with the OS (Open Office, Firefox, PDF viewer, Pidgin (instant messenger client), Thunderbird (Mozilla's email client), etc, etc, etc. Once installed, the result is a fully operational device.
  • friendly and easy-to-use software manager which very simply allows you to install additional software

Being Linux, it's all for free. Linux Mint claims to be the fourth most popularly installed OS in the world (see footnote on Wikipedia's entry on Linux Mint). For the enquiring mind, the top three are: Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Ubuntu.

In using the previous versions of Linux Mint (and of course Linpus), it makes me credit and applaud Microsoft for its Windows OS on account of its ease of use and for creating a flexible platform on which a vast diversity of applications can run on.

Linux Mint can not be in the considered to be in the same division as Windows (yet), but it is rapidly becoming a low-end challenger. As a keen student of  Clayton Christensen's theories of disruptive innovation, Microsoft needn't be overly worried at the moment, BUT it should definitely be on the radar as having the very real prospect of stealing its WIn7 revenues on low end devices, depressing Microsoft's share price.

24 November, 2010

Social browsers: Rockmelt like Flock?

According to Knowledge@Wharton, RockMelt beta launched on 8th November.

Rockmelt is a new web browser that is tightly integrates with social networking. It is appears to be a too-me to Flock which launched 3 years ago this month.

Interesting both are built on Google's Chromium browser, now that Flock switched from Firefox's engine to Chrome (the first Chromium release was in June 2010)

21 November, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee slams SNSs for URI abuse

The Register reports that Tim Berners-Lee has blasted social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster are referenced) for their abuse of URIs - thereby making each network closed (and / or sticky or non-portable). TBL lambastes these giants of the internet because multiple nuggets of information are lumped together underneath a single URL, rather than assigning each nugget their own URI.

Side note: This lead to some research on the difference between URL and URI. Here is the best example in the comments in the a blog post 'URI vs. URL'.

And they are within a walled garden. To quote the original Scientific American article by TBL: "Connections among data exist only within a site."

As the grand-pappy of the www, he, in theory, is right. However, service providers do need to try and created some stickiness + some barriers to exit to reduce churn in users.

Also, microformats, a method of tagging up content so that common 'types' of information are tagged in a standardised manner: eg an event is tagged up on a page with a standard date / time format, the venue is tagged up with location tags. The intention is that the page could be 'interpretable' so that a host of browser extensions could provide additional intelligence based on knowledge of the user.

For example, imagine that in the example above, you browsed a page containing an event, your browser might pop-up and say 'You have no meetings that morning'.

I have been fascinated by the potential of microformats, as they appear to be an intermediate stepping stone to TBL's vision of the Semantic Web, but in the 6 (or so) years that they have been around, microformats don't appear to have generated any traction. Why is that??

08 November, 2010

The power of Opera's caching and its business model

The Register's journalist visited Opera and wrote this very interesting story, Shhh... Opera holds the web's most valuable secret.

Some history of Opera's web compression technology 
End users know this as Opera Mini:
Six years ago, two Opera engineers came up with a way of saving mobile operators money, by compressing web pages and sending them over slow, high-latency 2G cellular links in binary chunks. WAP had tried to do the same thing with WSP, but nowhere near as efficiently, and WAP required websites to created content in the WML format.
Opera's insight was that CPU time on servers was cheap, but on a humble mobile phone, CPU and bandwidth were very expensive. A web page may need to talk to 20 other servers, and some of these need to talk to other servers. This bricolage then needs to be reassembled locally, a task that has increasingly taxed CPUs over the years. (A CSS file contains conflicting positioning information using several co-ordinate systems - these are resolved locally.)
Opera initially offered the technology as a caching proxy to operators, called Mobile Accelerator. Then it decided to offer it directly to end users, via a new small lightweight browser that talked directly to a proxy hosted by Opera itself [ie Opera Mini].

Opera's Web Cache is growing 
From the report by El Reg:
Google currently handles 85 billion transactions a month. From 2008 to 2009 Opera grew from 21 billion to 36.9 billion. It is growing faster than Google, and at some point in the not-too-distant future, on current trends, Opera will overtake it.

Opera's Revenue Model
The crux of the article is that Opera has chosen not to monetise this advantage (eg by injecting ads into this cache).

The article lists Opera's revenue sources:
  1. licensing and royalties 
  2. income from active users and transactions 
  3. "internet economy" income such as driving referrals to search engines 

05 November, 2010

Web 2.0 Summit - the Points of Control

Later this month, the Web 2.0 Summit comes to San Francisco. In the pre-conference advertising, the co-chairs, John Batelle and well-known Web 2.0 advocate, Tim O'Reilly, have produced a map of Web 2.0 industry. The theme of the conference is 'Points of Control'.

So by the very title, the organisers believe that the initial period of rapid expansion of the consumer internet is drawing to a close. If true, the organisers believe that existing dominant players are shifting their policies from the the rush-everywhere, hasty land grab to retreat to their strategic power bases to pit themselves against each other in a market that is now maturing.

Admittedly, this Points of Control map and the introductory video (which is very illuminating) can be written off as pre-conference rabble-baiting, I disagree on several points:

Enterprise Participation has only just started
To date, Web 2.0 has been consumer driven. John and Tim rightly point out that big corporates have only just started to engage with the Web 2.0 concept and their audience. This is SO true - there is a huge potential here, which has only just begun: use of social software to interact with consumers over a wider of devices and technologies.

I for one predicted in 2002 that the consumer internet and the enterprise internet would together mutually drive adoption. In actuality, the consumer internet proved to be much more vibrant and exciting than the enterprise internet. Now, I believe, it is the turn of the enterprise.

Also, I believe that exciting services from enterprises will drive another growth phase in internet.

Viewpoint is US-centric
In terms of users, the internet is opening up to a vast pool of users who have been denied it to date: BRIC represent a user base to equal the existing user base. The services that they use will not be in the English language. Nor will they access internet services in a desktop manner: mobile (smart) phones, tablets, powerful netbooks.

Summary of the Map
Clearly, this maps was intended to controversial and the authors intended it to generate feedback. Here's my interpretation of the map (with my overlay):

(click for a larger image)

The map can be summarised in tiers:
  • Infrastructure: XaaS - 'X as a Service' where X is Platform, 
  • Devices:  these are the platforms that users access service
  • Services & Content: obvious I hope, but the line between services, devices and infrastructure will continue to blur. (The diagram needs isthmuses or bridges or low-lying marshy areas???
  • Identity & Transactions: Historical memory of users: their attributes, preferences, transactions, behaviour. Currently, this area is welded into Services. I believe that this will fragment into a separate user-centric cluster of identity services (with bridges and integration points everywhere)
  • Enterprises: these could be classed as Services, but this 'land mass' is so substantial and has so much potential that IS worth breaking this out as a separate territory.
Interestingly, no mention is made of Public / Government Services, which is another area with oodles of potential.

Update: Speaker Slides and Videos

03 November, 2010

State of The Blogosphere

Technorati CEO Richard Jalichandra gave his annual State of The Blogosphere presentation (click to view on Scribd) at the ad:tech conference.

The power of social media: Brutal, compelling evidence as to the power that the two giants of social media, Facebook and Twitter, have on website traffic. (Slide 20)

Why use Twitter
The The top five reasons for using mico-blogging ie Twitter (Slide 18):
  1. To promote my blog
  2. To bring interesting links to light
  3. To understand what people are buzzing about
  4. To keep up with news and events
  5. To interact with readers of my blog