On Monday, I learned that Amazon acquired the maker of the Stanza eBook reader for iPhone, Lexcycle. There seem to be lots of good reasons for that move: acquisition of technology, understanding the competition, absorbing competition, and competing with yourself before someone else does. The question Amazon asked itself, correctly, is: "Do we want the Kindle market? No. We want the eBook market."
Stepping back for a minute, I also discovered an interesting article, "Comment is King," that discusses the psychology of commenters to columns. It's supplied without comment for those people who know who they are. (Registration at NYT may be required.)
We are turning into a bimodal society. That is, there's little room left in the middle for the companies without either mass appeal or focus on the best. So Kroger loses out to Target Super stores on the low end and Whole Foods on the high end. Pontiac is squeezed out by Chevrolet and Kia on the low end while Lexus and BMW fight for the top. PCs and Windows scavenge on the floor while Apple takes the upscale consumer.
So it was no surprise to read on Monday that while DVD sales plunged 14 percent in Q1, Blu-ray sales doubled. On the low end, consumers cut back. On the high end, Blu-ray is taking hold for people who want the best. Just like Apple customers.
On Tuesday, our Jeff Gamet reported on rumors that Microsoft wants to get in on the mobile phone business with a competitor to the iPhone. It's probably because Microsoft wanted to wait and see if Apple and its developer partners could really sell a billion apps. Gotta figure there must be a market there, huh? But wait and be sure. Jeff's story reminded me of the famous video that shows what a Microsoft mobile phone would be like. Just for fun, of course.
On Wednesday, a tweet from a friend at Apple pointed me to an article that explains why, after all the false starts, Linux may have lost its chance for good to become a prime time candidate for the consumer desktop, like Windows and Mac OS X.
The excellent article goes into detail on all the reasons why Linux has failed -- and will fail -- to capture the imagination of the every day user. Great food for thought, especially with regard to why Apple approaches the Mac the way it does.
The word on the street is that Hulu is stress testing YouTube as the preferred destination for video watchers. Disney has bought a stake in Hulu and will be offering selected ABC shows and Disney movies at the TV portal that is gaining momentum. Hulu was started by NBC Universal and and News Corp/Fox, but may end up subsuming everyone else's efforts.
Of course, Steve Jobs is on the board of Disney and is a major stake holder. Does that mean anything? No one knows, but it sure would be nice nice to see an Apple TV update include Hulu.com. It would be a nice counter to Netflix which would like to send the Apple TV into tech history.
Why are businesses fearful of social networking? After all, business is all about building a community of customers, and younger, hipper businessmen and women are cashing in on that. Meanwhile, older businessmen are fearful that their employees will say too much. Dealing with that challenge is an issue for modern business leaders according to this article and introduction to Mzinga CEO Barry Libert's video.
I was busy midweek, but by Friday, interesting items had started to accumulate.
On Friday, Dan Costa at PC Magazine lamented that some manufacturers are losing their zeal for Plasma HDTV technology, namely Pioneer and Vizio. The article is "Pulling the Plug on Plasma." Does this mean the end of Plasma HDTVs, or is it just a market decision by a few players unable to exploit the technology? However, LG, Hitachi, Panasonic, and Samsung are, so far, staying the course. Mr. Costa explains why Plasma is superior, and I agree, having spent a year doing research and settling on Plasma display technology myself.
Back to social networking, namely Twitter, which all of my readers know by now, I love. Apple published a feature profile on Friday of the Twitter team -- which uses Macs for development. The Twitter founders cited the Macs as highly secure, ideal platforms for software development. Of course, these Apple profile stories always have a little bit of hype, but for the Apple customer who uses Macs and Twitter, it's a pleasant, fun read for a Friday.
By the way, Twitter has just introduced to everyone an enhanced search capability. From the TechCrunch article:
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone writes, “Every public update sent to Twitter from anywhere in the world 24/7 can be instantly indexed and made discoverable via our newly launched real-time search.” And he goes on, “With this newly launched feature, Twitter has become something unexpectedly important—a discovery engine for finding out what is happening right now.”
Absorbing new technology is like the Kübler-Ross model of dealing with death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. In the case of new technology, like Twitter, it's almost the same (for some) with slight variations:
- Denial: It's stupid.
- Indifference: I don't see a use for it.
- Bargaining: I can see how others might utilize it.
- Annoyance: I guess I'll have to look into it.
- Acceptance: I can't live without it!
Finally, on Friday, our Brad Cook pointed me to an article at AppleInsider that has photos of Steve Jobs' "Jackling" mansion, a 14 room, 17,250 sqft mansion that Mr. Jobs has been wanting to demolish, but the local review board has declared historic. Apparently, Mr. Jobs allowed the home to fall into disrepair to justify tearing it down. The article, with interesting (spooky? gooey?) photos of the mansion, abandoned for a decade, describes the conflict between preservationists and Mr. Jobs.
Tech Word of the Week TWOW: CXO
Referring to corporate officers as a group. "CXOs" where X = E, I, O, F. For example, CFO = Chief Financial Officer.