Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Me 2.0

Sadly, this blog has to die, as I have explained here. Many, many thanks to all of you who have stopped in to read. See you again, sometime, somewhere.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Joost Babeling on

Yesterday afternoon I got notification that I had been accepted to the Babelgum beta trial. When I finally got home last night I downloaded and installed it, though it was very late so I didn't have time to play around with it very much. (I will try to post some screen shots in coming days.) I also updated my old Venice client to Joost and took a few minutes to compare the two, one after the other. First impressions: Babelgum is a smaller download - a little over 6MB - and it seems to launch a lot faster. I was also impressed that I got accepted into the Babelgum trial within two days, while Venice took a couple of weeks. Best of all, it looks to me as if the image quality in Babelgum is better overall than Joost, at least on my laptop at 11:00 last night. I'd be interested to hear anyone else's impressions on this issue.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I just noticed today that back in late September Bloomberg added what it calls a blogging function to user accounts. Basically, it's just Bloomberg's familiar text-only interface, no photos (other than that associated with the user ID), and no ability to embed HTTP links. Oh, and there's no RSS syndication, and the potential readership extends only as far as the Bloomberg subscriber base. Otherwise, it's potent social software... Actually, to be fair, the Bloomberg platform is an intensely social one, but in my experience this is more to do with messaging rather than communities of interest. I guess this is an attempt to change that, but it looks a pretty poor start, and I think it's pretty telling that in nearly five months of existence there have only been about 800 posts, total.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pleased to meet me

Being blessed/cursed with the ability to speak and read Japanese, I think it's incumbent upon me to translate items of interest to mega-uber value readers which come my way from Japan. Typically, this is from japan.internet.com, which conducts some amazing research with its various partners. This time around, the joint survey is carried out with Cross Marketing KK, and focuses on use of avatars. (Here's mine.)

The sample group consisted of 300 persons aged 10 - 60 who had some familiarity with avatars. Remarkably, 45% of them claim to have some experience of creating/using an avatar. Of this number, 68% (92 persons) claim to have used Yahoo! Avatar, followed in popularity by Hangame (originally out of Korea), at 32% (52 persons), and a handful of others (livedoor, Avatown, et al) at much lower levels. Roughly one-third of those who had created avatars claimed to have purchased virtual items with varying frequency.

Mindful of the fact that the majority of avatar use is in blogsites and personal profiles in social sites, the interviewers asked in what other contexts users would like to use their avatars. The most popular response was "nothing in particular," but among those who expressed wishes, chat was most popular at 29%, followed by online gaming at 27%, bulletin boards/forums at 24%, and IM at 23%.

I'm particularly interested in the gaming response. Is avatar interoperability the next battlefront?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Jive talkin'

A Pollonium 210 class mega-uber value reader submits this eye-wateringly funny piece on T-Mobile UK's crusade against techno-jargon from Retail Bulletin. I like the fact that 10% of respondents think VoIP is an aid to the visually-impaired (which is not to say that much of the industry is not short-sighted!), or that 5% thought that HSDPA could boost the body's mineral content (now that would be something to get excited about). The underlying message is a serious one, however: industry insularity alienates the target audience. I wonder if T-Mobile's proposed solution possibly involves standardizing all terminology around the parent company's branding conventions? Candidates would include:

T-DSL (already exists)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The return of sneakernet

The first day of CES delivered a baffling torrent of press releases from all the usual suspects, making synthesis extremely challenging - though I guess the theme which is most prominent in my mind is media portability and the struggle to bridge the divide between the internet and TV. (Put another way, that's the gap between the living room and the bedroom, though I find it increasingly bizarre that we still refer to media experiences based on the layout of the home.) This message was underscored last night on BBC's 10 o'clock news, which contained a feature on the "battle for the connected home" from CES, which was somewhat slavishly skewed towards the wonders of Vista. My wife grumbled that all of this was aimed at 30-something males with too much money and no social life - and she's usually right about these things. I do wonder about just how much complexity and cost "the average person" is willing or able to embrace, which is why my favorite press release from yesterday was this one from SanDisk, sent in via a mega-uber value reader - nice and simple, plus involves occasional physical exercise in transferring data.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Teledelic, baby

True info-Chaotica in the run-up to CES next week.

Check out
this short interview on Beet.tv with William Randolph Hearst III on his enthusiasm for his investment, Akimbo.

Also, an interesting, if somewhat obvious,
article from Outlaw, on the possible bandwidth implications of using Venice on a capped broadband package. The really explosive issue for me is (as I calculate it - I don't know how 320MB down/105MB up equates to 1GB every ten hours) that even on BT's most generous 40GB DSL package, just watching a little over three hours per day every day could put users afoul of the fair use terms - and that's not taking into account any other applications they might be running. As it stands now, you'd be hardpressed to find three hours' worth of content to watch every day on Venice, but that will change. I understand there is a lot more content coming into the pipeline, and I am hearing from other Beta testers who also have received tokens to invite new users, which means the network is actively being seeded out. So this issue for the telcos is not going to go away, and given the current pricing structures in the market, it is difficult to see what the options are if your top-tier customers start to overrun their "very generous" data caps. Incremental bandwidth "top-ups" have been tried and dumped before - perhaps we see the return in 2007? Or maybe broadband pricing simply has to rise - I'm not sure the competitive dynamic in the European markets will permit that. On balance, I think we'll see more "traffic shaping," undoubtedly under the guise of "protecting QoS." (As a side point, I think Venice is a great piece of software. The UI is very elegant and intuitive. Picture quality is definitely not near-HD, at least not on my connection, but is certainly adequate and an awful lot better than a lot of the stuff on YouTube. My only gripe is the relative lack of breadth of content, but I am certain that is just a matter of time. At this point, I'm tempted to say it's a Zennstrom/Friis hat-trick.)

Speaking of differentiated content, this morning I had a chance to catch up again with old pal
Neil Fairbrother (if you ever needed an inspiring example of "life after telco," here's your man) to get an update on developments at his ThamesValleyPod.tv venture. There's a lot to this business (i.e., potential revenue levers) which is not evident from the site, but which will become more evident in coming months. I understand a rebranding is in the works, as well as a significant deal which I cannot write about at this point. I think this is an interesting one to watch, and I can't understand why telcos hell-bent on doing IPTV don't try to embrace more of this sort of unique content in their offerings.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chaotica question of the day

Does Amazon sell carbon offsets?

Can you see me now?

AT&T is now a $220bn company, which puts it in the league of the oil super-majors. In the size-obsessed global telecom industry, everyone else must indeed be currently feeling more than a bit of, ahem, appendage envy. So what does any red-blooded American telco executive do when his manhood is called into question? Of course, artificial enhancement, what else? Especially if he's got $1.6bn to spend (that's 2.9% of Sprint's current market value, vs. a mere 0.4% for the $1bn AT&T is going to spend in destroying the popular Cingular brand). Pump it up!

Not only, but also...

Chaotica footnote and potential datapoint of interest: In reading up on Amanda Congdon's latest exploits, I came across this response from her to a comment on the site, the salient point being that "the show is doing so well that ABC is already in the process of hiring another videoblogger". Interesting to see how Big Media, out of fear, desperation, or a genuine will to change, may yet find its way into some middle ground.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 starts with a bang - big cash for plastic

Just yesterday a friend/mega-uber value reader and I were lamenting the overwhelming focus of the blogosphere on The Valley at the expense of some of the more innovative things happening in Europe. We ended our chat by sharing a wish that 2007 may see the balance redressed - and bang, today the ever-excellent alarm:clock euro has a piece on the $100m (this is not a typo) funding round just closed by Plastic Logic in the UK to ramp up production of flexible electronic reader displays in Dresden. I guess the many thousands of workers currently handing out free newspapers on the streets of London are living on borrowed time...