Thursday, January 29, 2009

Youtube Make Movies with Hollywood Stars

Youtube seem close to announcing a deal with William Morris Agency, you know the dudes that represent big Hollywood actors, teaming up with them and their actor clients to produce Youtube movies and shorts purely for their online channel.

For a while Techboard been predicting that Youtube and iTunes will ultimately become producers of content as well as distributors. iTunes' toe's in the water with exclusive song deals and iTunes concerts and Youtube now look set for their foray.

If I was a Hollywood studio I'd watch developments closely and be concerned. 'Cos once Youtube crack online video advertising (which they will) - a whole new dawn in movie streaming could unfold. And about time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Universal Address Book

People have for years been touting the merits of a universal address book. Even my ancestors at Letts Diaries had an early go with the Letts address book. Yet somehow, billions of dollars later and endless iterations via PDA's, office systems, free email and calendaring and most recently mobile phone address systems seem to have, if anything, taken us further away from the dream of a universal address book.

And by universal address book we mean one software tool that allows us to automatically synchronize all our addresses from wherever they may reside - into one master, searchable, structured, segmented system that we can update from anywhere - work, Web, phone, home, TV, plane, train, you name it.

Google is apparently working on something - so of course is Microsoft and presumably Yahoo. (Though no one seems to know what's really going on at Yahoo). But it may be that the big Web guys interests are woah too entrenched in their insular universe of users and platforms to allow them to become the trusted, independent universal provider. That would also be the case for mobile phone operators, hardware providers and games console dudes.

Which leaves us with a couple of independent Web 2.0 address book synchronizers including Mobyko. They look interesting at first glance but may lack scale or a trusted brand. So maybe I should return to where I began and have a whisper with my ancestors about sorting it out!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is the iPhone Stalling?

Apple fans breathed a small sigh of relief last night as their beloved electronics company reported another set of sexy quarterly numbers. Laptop sales soared thanks to the new range and iPods rocked. But, hidden in the news, was a weaker set of iPhone sales. Has the mighty iPhone stalled?

I think so. You see, the mobile phone market has a strange edge to it. The Western world, where most iPhones are sold, is used to mobile phone models changing and upgrading faster than a geek on speed. And the iPhone, revolutionary when announced 2 years ago, hasn't really changed much since then (perhaps other than the app store).

Apple need to move the iPhone on. They need at least 2 iPhone models - one all-touch and one with a fold out key board. They need to offer a couple of different colour options - one predominantly female and one male. And they've gotta unearth some revolutionary new features.

Then they need a sexy, rockin' iPhone Nano for the masses. Simpler to use, with less funcionality and a smaller screen (maybe not even touch) but with the Nano range of colours - a basic phone, music player and Internet device. 

With these changes the iPhone might pick up momentum again and fight back the onslought from Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung and Google's Android.

Apple learnt fast with the iPod that you need a range of devices to cover then dominate the market. The mobile phone sector is much more competitive and if anything they'll need a larger range to make a meaningful difference there too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama and the Internet

Today, finally, Barack Obama will become the 44th US President and the worlds first President or head of government to come to power through the Internet. Were it not for Obama's innovative and wildly successful approach to grass roots support from the Web up extended by text based communications and online fund raising - he would not be being sworn in today.

And given his Web site's popularity, were it a commercial entity, it would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. So how much will he get paid as President? I guess, not enough...

Lets all just pray he can be as innovative with Washington as he has been getting into power. Good luck to ya! And who said the Internet does not change everything. Bah.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Syncplicity & Dropbox; Sync - Back-up - Run

The latest Web 2.0 pin-ups could be a couple of leading PC sync companies that pretty much allow small companies to do away with the IT server and manager - Yaarghh. Syncplicity is the Windows play - enabling you to manage files and document/spreadsheet versions across PC's, company servers, home systems etc. While Dropbox are the Linux and Mac guys - taking them head to head with Apple's MobileMe.

If you're a small company sans the patience to wait for Windows 'Live' Office or the desire to switch to Google Apps, then Syncplicity in particular looks the way to go. Mind you, presumably Syncplicity will get gobbled up by Microsoft so it may not really matter either way. 

If these guys don't get snapped up anytime soon then their real future could lie in not just seamless syncing, but more importantly syncing seamlessly between platforms and disparate applications. I.e. Mac to PC to Linux box and out to Smartphones - shifting MS Office to Apple Works to OpenOffice etc. Bingo - Nirvana!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Apple After Steve

Apple's universe has been rocked with yesterday's news that Steve Jobs will have to lay off work for 6 months. I guess it looks like stage 2 cancer may have kicked in. Tragic.

So it got us thinking - what might Apple look like after Steve? Is there anyone on this planet capable of filling his shoes or should Apple merge away with another tech leader?

You see there's still so much that Apple has to do for us all. They've only just scratched the surface of touch screen capability and need to make it pervasive across all their hardware. They need to finish the job of seamlessly interconnecting all our Apple devices and they have to kick out the iPhone Nano whilst truly re-inventing the TV.

But they also need to get into services, turning all their software into cloud based media service engines - iTunes as content publisher as well as distributor. iMovie helping you sell movies as well as producing them and iPhoto as photography marketplace. Then they need to mash software such as iMovie, Script writing software, iPhoto and iTunes together to deliver a full, online service for scripting films, photographing locations, shooting and then distributing - you get the idea.

So who, post Steve, could best help Apple make this transition whilst maintaining its hardware prowess and innovation. Well, Eric Schmidt springs to mind. Apple's next CEO? Mmmm...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What Should Bartz to at Yahoo?

Now that Carol Bartz has agreed to lead Yahoo what should she do? Is it a quickie deal with Microsoft and back to Autodesk. Or should she build Yahoo as a potential leader at the next phase of the Internet.

We'll go with the latter. So she should shake up the organization, streamline it to perform better and build a product roadmap for the next wave of the Internet. Then go on a buying spree. Perhaps first up a merger with AOL to give Yahoo stronger content and a social networking platform thanks to Bebo.

Then strengthen this base by buying a blogging platform from Six Apart and finally a look at Ning - that way she could get Andreessen's brain as well as a stronger bounce into the next wave. Other than that she needs to keep driving Yahoo into the wireless space with more deals with operators. Then Bingo - an all new Yahoo!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where Next For Sun Microsystems?

Sun Microsystems have drifted for nearly a decade now. Hardware sales are underwhelming, Java is pervasive but largely free and open source offerings are slow to deliver results. So what should Sun do next?

Pull an Apple and bring Scott McNeally back to right the ship and find a new direction for the company as the rain in cloud computing - no longer the dot in dot Net. Sun systems should power the cloud from the office, across the Net and over mobile devices.

Java can be the glue and servers and storage systems the work horses - what's missing is the cloud software infrastructure - so go buy one. I can think of a couple. Come back Scott.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Has Microsoft become Apple?

How things have changed... So Apple look like Microsoft at MacWorld and Microsoft look like, well, Apple (at CES). 'I'm a PC's back on track, making high profile announcements while launching a half decent looking Windows 7 in beta and dropping cool apps onto the iPhone. Apple mean time have nothing to announce. (At least, not yet.)

Can Apple get the spring back in their step. Or is Microsoft the new Apple? My money's still on Apple in the short term, but it may be that pin ups Apple and Google will face a resurgent Microsoft going forwards. Lets see. Ray Ozzie may even have a last laugh.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why Steve Jobs Avoided MacWorld?

We all heard the inconvenient truth about Steve Jobs not attending MacWorld. First it was 'cos Apple apparently no longer wants to make world altering announcements in such public forums even though they always have - yaahh... No one quite bought into that so the rumour mill went into overdrive re Jobs health or lack of. So, we then discover that he is actually a little ill with a hormone imbalance - hence the skinny ness.

But finally, at MacWorld, it all became clear - its because Apple has nothing in particular to announce. Standard upgrades of iLife, iWorks and more DRM free tracks on iTunes is not exactly earth shattering. And a 17" MacBok Pro is cool but - hate to say it - just another laptop.

Even Steve couldn't have put a spin on these product announcements. There was no iPhone Nano, no re-juiced Mac mini and no subscription service for iTunes. Has Apple lost their innovation? Are they a a product of our more subdued times? Or has the Apple product juggernaut smacked out so much in the last decade that they've run out of new concepts?

I doubt it - there is still so much to do when it comes to touch technology across all screens, 3D, new phones, an oversized tablet style iPod Touch, taking all their software to the Web and an Apple TV (a real Apple TV). Maybe Apple and Steve just need a breather. And we'll have to wait until later in the year for more Apple jigs.