Why knowingly breaking standards may be the way forward.
There has been much discussion lately, most of it negativeÂ (you can read more comments on Technorati), about the comeback of boo.com and once again, I find myself on the opposite side of the shared wisdom. Before I go into reasons as to why I think a comeback by Boo.com (a boo.comeback?) makes sense, let me first go into my unique qualifications to make such an assessment: I happen to have worked at Boo.com in the past and I was the insider who exposed some of the challenges the company had faced. I spent a fair amount of my time, in 2000 and 2001, talking at conferences about the lessons learned from this failure and I think that some of those are now fixed. Looking Back In the ensuing 6 years, I’ve been going over and over what went wrong and discovered more lessons along the way: the market conditions were wrong, we were young and arrogant, and, for the most part, we didn’t really understand the magnitude of what we were trying to accomplish: to remind people, our goal was to launch a website in 16 countries (15 EU countries + the US) on day one, localizing our site for…Read More
Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to get a better understanding of what is happening with the concept of virtual worlds. Let me go into more details as to why I think this phenomenon has some real potentials. In this first entry in a series, I will explore the economic activity surrounding this phenomenon. Size of the market When talking about virtual worlds, I am focusing on the new space created by the gaming industry that allows to create online avatars and interact with other players in a fully immersive environment. From an economic standpoint, estimates range from around 100 millions to a high of US$1.5 billion a year. These are not insignificant numbers and they point to an emerging phenomenon and potentially the rise a new industry, with its own set of marketplaces, gathers, owners, creators, and marketers. Marketplaces To understand virtual worlds marketplace, one must first understand what si going on in those virtual worlds. When a player sets up an account, he’s given a basic set of skills. As he or she progresses and interacts with the virtual world and its denizens, the player gains more and more skills and goods. However, this type of…Read More
Although I haven’t written about them, I’ve been quietly monitoring the podcast space. I am amazed by how quickly they’ve taken hold and today’s announcement by Infinity Broadcasting that they were launching KYOU Radio, a radio that’s distributing podcasts seems to be the tipping point for that new technology. For my readers who are not familiar with the concept, a podcast is essentially an audio file that is distributed via a syndication feed like RSS. Mosts podcasts are encoded in MP3 format and, for the most part, podcasts have been the equivalent of audio blogs. The initial concept behind them came in a dinner at Katz’s deli in New York (fall of 2000) when Adam Curry and I urged Dave Winer, who was then the only person keeping RSS on life support, to provide a way with RSS to distribute data other than text. Adam had written an article talking about the last yard issue in terms of delivering content in the home (realize this is before BitTorrent was popular.) From there, Dave added the enclosure item to the format and things were quiet for a long time. Last summer, Adam introduced iPodder, a program that simplified the creation of…Read More
Last week, I was in France for a short vacation. During that time, I got a chance to talk to people locally and get a better idea as to what was going on within the Internet market in France. Here are a few observations based on my understanding of what is going on. Strong Growth France had been a leader in terms of establishing an information society but was starting to get trapped by its legacy Minitel tool. The Minitel was introduced in France in the late 70s as essentially a precursor to the web. The service allowed users to read online versions of magazines and newspapers, shop in online catalogs, chat, play games, and have access to every government office. In the early 80s, Minitel penetration became so high that the government-owned phone company decided to drop printing of phone books and move that service to the Minitel. Fast forward to the late 90s. France is still on the Minitel and the Internet has gotten wide acceptance in the United States. At that point, Internet penetration in France is sluggish as few people see any value in it. As a result, the French government issued an ambitious plan to…Read More
I was recently speaking at a conference called Escandinavia 2000, which covered the state of the Internet in Scandinavia. During that conference, I had a chance to speak to a number of people about the state of wireless in the Scandinavian countries. Here’s what I’ve learned and how it can help those of you who are working in the wireless space in the United States. The Hybrid World Lives! Many of you may remember the February 10th issue about Hybrid Computing. While talking with Birger Steen, CEO of Scandinavia Online, I discovered that the concept is not that far off the market. It is his contention that WAP-enabled phones are largely a pain in the back when it comes to interface. Having to key in every letter on the small phone keyboard is far from the easiest thing in the world. As a result, Scandinavia Online has developed a set of services that allows users of their portal jump on their site and configure their WAP view on the web. From his point of view, this is the best service he can offer now to wireless users. The point was reiterated by a few people around the conference that told…Read More
As regular readers of this newsletter know, I’ve been looking a fair amount at how to get untethered from the Internet lately. While I have played with a wireless Palm and looked at WAP, there seemed to be something missing to the whole unconnected Internet issue. What I came to realize is that what works for a computer does not necessarily work in a wireless environment. The main issue is input and output. A wireless Palm is great to get information but somewhat difficult to use to send out email (typing in graffiti being the biggest challenge so far) and WAP works well to get little bits and pieces of information but is limited to a set number of characters (depending on which version of WAP you’re using, you will get an allocation of between 1500 and 2000 characters). As a result, sending out something like this newsletter over WAP does not seem to make sense. However, a new breed of services is now popping up and it could be the next big thing: connecting to the Internet by just dialing into a phone number. In order to test this out, I checked out several services: Tellme Networks, which launched…Read More