Friday, August 03, 2007


ComputerWorld is reporting that Google is showing around its cell phone prototype, and it may reach markets within a year. It "plans to offer consumers free subscriptions by bundling advertisements with its search engine, e-mail and Web browser software applications," ComputerWorld says, sourcing the Wall Street Journal. The move involves partnering with one or more existing telecoms, and that draws comparisons to the iPhone:
The move would echo another recent product launched by a phone industry outsider, Apple Inc.'s iPhone. But Google's product would draw its revenue from a sharply different source, relying on commercial advertising dollars instead of the sticker price of at least $499 for an iPhone and $60 per month for the AT&T Inc. service plan.
And relying on ads makes wireless/telecomm analyst Jeff Kagan skeptical:
"The average adult who can afford a cell phone is not going to want to listen to ads. So this is mainly for teenagers, twenty-somethings, high schoolers or people who can't afford a phone," said Kagan.
Four quick reactions:
  1. Is Kagan misreading the plan? Earlier in the article, the advertisements were said to be bundled with "search engine, e-mail and Web browser applications." Text ads on these services are not the same as listening to ads when you have to make a phone call -- phone calls are about immediacy.
  2. Is Google planning to avoid competing with the big vendors, instead taking a chunk out of pay-as-you-go phone service such as Virgin's?
  3. Google tends to chip off competition in long-tail markets with free stuff, such as Google Docs. Is this a continuation of the same strategy? Will it be willing to let the gPhone be a loss leader?
  4. If Google is partnering with existing telecoms, why does it want to bid for wireless spectrum?
Report: Google shows phone prototype to vendors

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Traffic accident, Austin style

"But she's from Austin," he said, "and I figure Austin folks are a little different."

Metroblogging Austin: Naked Collision

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What does it mean that the GOP spends so much less on new media?

Patrick Ruffini points out on techPresident that the GOP candidates are spending far less on in-house staff for new media than the Democratic candidates:
Looking closely at the list, I noticed another trend, and it's a disturbing one that ties depressingly into the issues by the YouTube debate. While Republicans and Democrats are spending almost equally on their Web efforts, Democrats are spending dramatically more on in-house staff. Approximately 36% of the Democrats' Web budgets are dedicated to staff, while less than 8% of the Republican budgets are. Overall, the Democratic candidates have 39 people working in the Web departments while Republicans have 18, spread over 9 active candidates. That works out to an average of 5.6 staffers per candidate on the Democrat side, and just 2 on the Republican side, encompassing both frontrunners and also-rans. Obama alone has 10 people on his Web staff... and it shows.

But what does it mean? Ruffini assumes that this percentage represents a significant lost opportunity, a bad tendency on the GOP side to outsource Web operations instead of dedicating "boots on the ground." He adds:

Most disturbingly, it shows that we are not investing in the human capital needed to drive our online efforts forward. If we can't innovate in a competitive primary environment, when can we innovate? The Democratic nominee will have access to nearly 40 bright minds who have direct Presidential campaign experience, and the Republican nominee will have access to less than half that. The key question(s) we need to ask ourselves are as follows. Would any campaign in their right mind tolerate a 3-1 imbalance in Political staff? In Communications staff? In Finance staff? So why is online different?

I'm no strategist, but I wonder if this has something to do with the candidates' perception of their voters. The GOP draws disproportionately from rural and suburban areas, and perhaps candidates believe that those voters are less likely to be attracted to a campaign via new media outreach. Or perhaps they believe that new media is for the young, and they think the young are not as important or reliable a demographic.

In any case, Ruffini points out that the exception on the GOP side is Ron Paul. Paul has leveraged the free infrastructure available to each of us (YouTube, Digg, etc.); perhaps that has freed up cash to spend on personnel?

techPresident – GOP Outgunned 3-1 on New Media Staff

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Get up and dance

BoingBoing reports on a system to convert the power of moving people into energy via a subfloor. "Designed for a railways system, Tad Jusczyk and James Graham's "Crowd Farm" would consist of sub-floor that moves slightly as people walk across it." And here's this gem:
And while the farm is an urban vision, the dynamo-floor principle can also be applied to capturing energy at places like rock concerts, too. "Greater movement of people could make the music louder," suggests Jurcyzk.
Boing Boing: Crowd Farm to collect energy

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Managing your life with SMS

Gina Trapani points out exactly what allowed me to abandon my PDA.

Geek To Live: Manage your life via SMS - Lifehacker

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Back to the future

Slashdot | DeLorean to Come Back (Sorta)

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