Blog Ramble

Monday, December 12, 2005

First post from Writely

This is a test post from Writely to check support!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Got competition? Why not block them out completely!

What they dont teach you at Harvard Business School: Got Competition? Why not block them out completely!

A leading Gulf based Telco has submitted plans to stop unsuspecting Skype users from using their service. They plan to block the VoIP packets using technology licensed from Bitek to 'police' the VoIP traffic.

Gulfnews reports:

Got competition? Block em!


"It's all about erasing the competition. They can use this system to choose who can use VoIP and who can't, and they may choose to only allow their programs to be used if they start it up,"

Further they report:

"It is good idea to use Snyper software because it controls the network traffic by simply blocking these Skype users. It also acts as traffic filter and returns the control to the network adminsitrator," said Ahmad.

Since it was released in 2003, Skype has been downloaded more than 151 million times and has over 50 million registered users globally."

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RIM Patent headache NTP no headache at all?

The Patent Wars between NTP and RIM are getting uglier by the day, and maybe even unfounded to some extent. Yahoo summarizes the proceedings, and quotes:

Even worse, there's a side show: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which operates in its own world. It has preliminarily rejected the same patents at the core of the lawsuit.

More coverage at:,1759,1776621,00.asp (indepth coverage)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Intel's Home Entertainment Platform VIIV

Intel's attempt at Home Entertainment convergence in the form of 'VIIV' (think of it as a Home-Entertainment device-set like WiFi chipset Centrino) has brought in a few alliance partners.

"Intel® Viiv™ technology will have lots of company when it launches in the first quarter of 2006. More than 50 companies will offer content services and software that have been tested and verified to work with Intel Viiv technology-based PCs.? To make it easy to find these products and services, all you have to do is look for the words: "Enjoy with Intel Viiv technology."
And what will you find?
  • Subscription-based, pay-per-view, and free video-on-demand services.
  • Subscription-based and free gaming services offering hundreds of games on demand for play online.
  • Streaming music videos, pay-per-view live concerts, plus the ability to purchase thousands upon thousands of downloadable music tracks.
  • Photo-editing software and online photo services made-to-order for this exciting new concept in entertainment PC.
Imagine one-stop shopping for movie lovers, music followers, sports fans, and anyone who wants to easily access the entertainment of their choice from their living room couch"

What remains to be seen is whether they can emulate the success of competitor in Microsoft Windows Media Center edition, which has since launch covered similar alliances, and enriched its product offering, primarily on the basis of its 'Media Extender' offering.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The 'Decimal Economy' Effect of AJAX on Web 2.0 applications

Decimal Economy is the term that I've coined while speaking of 'decimalising' a product or a service offering to a customer who cannot afford or does not need a 'full-sized' offering.
So the next time you make a visit to your nearby Ralph's or Albertson's for a single vegetable (or fruit or beer or whatever), and pay for a 'single' item instead of a 'whole-sale priced, and large-quantity packed' Costco purchase, you've just become a part of the Decimal Economy.

Worldwide, smart enterprises have realised the benefits of this strategy as a major contributor to the revenue-stream and have picked up cues with major successes. In Asia, shampoo sachet sales have completely overtaken complete-package bottles by a factor of three or more in many cases. In the growing 'tiger economies' such as India, recharge packs for cellular connections from providers such as Hutch allow subscribers to recharge their accounts for as small as 30 cents.

The approach also makes great sense for products with a 'novelty factor' attached to them. Perfumes for example, buy a sachet and try it out, the next day you can try another flavour without having to stick to the same flavour for long.

These influences cannot stay away from the web for long, and examples of the same are seen in most Web 2.0 offerings today. In my earlier posts, I have written about Microsoft launching sustained efforts to release its lucrative Office Suite lineup on similar lines. Competitors are'nt keeping away from this strategy either, and Application / Software Vendors have realised the potential of such a lineup. In the computing space, IBM's utility-computing strategy draws from similar idea pools and speaks of sales of hardware on a 'lease' basis for a long time now.
Got feedback for me on this article? Write to me at blogramble

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

CalendarHub goes Beta!

Here's an interesting play: Calendars on AJAX.

Noting that the site has just opened its subscription to beta users, I signed up immediately, as this addresses a critical need for me - sharing calendars over the Internet and being able to access them from anywhere.

The UI itself is clean, simple and extremely functional. The features supported at this time include

  • Calendar Import / Export to / from Outlook and Yahoo
  • Calendar subscription
  • RSS Feeds
I guess I sorely miss the feature of it being able to 'integrate' with my Outlook calendar to publish 'Free / Busy' information as that would complete my experience with this. The case being an Outlook user using CalendarHub's solution to populate and collaborate his schedules / appointments from 'within' Outlook's interface. IMO there may be a subscription model here that can work for such users.

CalendarHub is probably the latest in a series of Microsoft applications that are steadily being AJAX'ified and released via the Internet. Very recently I covered the Microsoft Office Live offering, which Microsoft has taken further to Windows Live (I did read an interesting back-pack carried by a developer mentioning VStudio Live ... wonder what that would be like).

These applications are a treat to users who have till today been imprisoned inside of thier email-clients and office-suites and are in search of a simple way to be able to share their work with peers over a service that a:) Does not lock them b:) Is simple to migrate to. In this context I feel services such as CalendarHub have a lot to offer and are definitely here to stay.

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Well VSLive is a .NET conference, so much for Visual Studio Live. Free Hosted blogs

This is simply unbelievable (although expected a long time coming now)

I think I'm going to switch over (and so will many others IMO)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wired News: Web 2.0 Cracks Start to Show

This was just about expected !

Wired News: Web 2.0 Cracks Start to Show

Friday, November 18, 2005

Microsoft Office on AJAX

Microsoft Office has for a very long time now been the bread and butter for the company (after the Microsoft Windows franchise, it is the only line in the company that is actually making any money) and the bulk of the revenue has come in from annual licenses that it’s customers fork out painfully year after year. This opinion piece examines the viability of an alternative model which may serve as a win-win for both Microsoft and the legions of Office users the world over.

The model:

Microsoft Office (or maybe the core applications of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint) ditch the annual licensing that drains the life out of its corporate and individual users and go for a web-browser based AJAX version that matches features and elements that the users have come to love over the years supported by an advertising platform that pays for its upkeep.

The current pain in the collective necks of the users:

  1. The software is a pain to install, maintain, upgrade and patch.
    1. You’ve been there, each time you install a new component, Office prompts for the dreaded source-CD or installers. You make a mad dash to your stash of CD’s and can’t find it at the time. You finally cancel the install and Office remains as-is without the feature needed or the patch applied.
  2. Its just too darn expensive.
    1. $400 is a LOT of money for a productivity software. Its almost thrice the cost of an OS and one fourth the cost of a new laptop!
  3. You love the software, but hate the fact that all your data is locked up inside your system.
    1. and is a pain to share (no pdf support), a pain to own (virii and worms target you)
  4. For some the fact that it is closed source implies the existance of much less than perfect code

For Microsoft, convincing users to upgrade to the latest version is a multi-million campaign and not often successful (remember OfficeXP? Many stayed on to Office 2000 Smart Tags and what not)

The competition:

StarOffice, OpenOffice (the non-SUN version), a couple of firefox-extensions, CorelOffice, Abiword. Powerful competitors pitting their might against the reigning champion Office, each with a business model of their own. Most notably recently Google has put in a set of its developers on the StarOffice platform. The competition has been examined, and cross-examined to death before and will not be repeated here.

The numbers indicate:

  1. for a typical home user, ad driven revenues start at about $9.0 per year
  2. for a Home-Office situation, ad driven revenues are at about $100 per year
  3. for an Office-worker, ad driven revenues are at about $160 - $200 per year
  4. and for a typical student, ad driven revenues are at about $60 per year

Based on an extremely simplistic model (4 banners/min, 5 cents/100 banners, 4 banners), the numbers suggest that an ad-driven model clearly does not match existing license-driven model (compared to say the cheapest $80 per year for a Student license), but there are some interesting patterns that one can draw from here:

  • This model may be extremely interesting to a new entrants, particularly the OpenSource guys (think Google+StarOffice)
  • Existing small players may be the quickest to move to such a model (Abiword?)
  • Value additions in the form of disk-space on the Web tied along with these features will definitely attract users through genuine need-fulfillment (a true office on the web, regardless of where you are)
  • Parallel plays with other third-party service providers plugging in (like Extensions in Firefox) will set the application on fire
  • Web 2.0 plays integrating with an AJAX model (tagged documents, RSS document feeds etc.) will liberate legions of users wanting to organize their meta-data and distribute stuff
  • Ability to truly collaborate with multiple teams in multiple locations (think a massively online community working on parts of the same document, like a Office-Wiki) will liberate users from the drudgery of having to distribute, update and maintain versions
  • Finally for Microsoft it makes sense to truly bring this on the web as it ties-in very well with its existing line of products (Office Share Point Server) as this is exactly what it wants users to do internally in their Organizations.
  • The AJAX model will probably have to be complimented by a ‘cached’ AJAX-office that users can use while they are traveling or are not online
  • The dreaded DRM from Microsoft extends easily to such a model, adding the possibility for another revenue stream amongst others

Like this piece or got feedback for me? Write to me at BlogRamble .

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