Why Google really bought Agnilux.

If there is one thing that can be said of Google, it is that they play a great chess match. Many moves today are done for the greater chess board position later in the technology game. Some of Google’s pieces in play: Bandwidth at the ready, Google Video & Youtube, Open-Source Android, Voice recognition superiority, semiconductor purchasing. Pieces lost in this round: Cellular bandwidth purchase, and a stuck Google Voice piece. Result: Google repositions it’s mobile strategy with a more encompassed target of appliance-based technologies rather than a just a mobile phone based focus.

There is much speculation being posted recently looking for the reason why Google recently purchased Agnilux. a super secret early stage start-up in the semiconductor sector. Agnilux was founded by members of Palo Alto Semiconductor. These founders left after the purchase of that company by Apple for $278 million in the Spring of 2008. Steve Jobs stated to the New York Times that Apple made the purchase of Palo Alto Semiconductor to promote and manufacture system-on-chips for iPhones and iPods.

Many of the technology pundits say that Google is interested in the Agnilux purchase to assist in possibly creating a new generation of power friendly servers. (A company founded with experts in mobile friendly chips are now focused on making energy efficient server chips? Maybe, but I don’t buy it 100%.) I fail to see Google’s motivation to invest in these types of semiconductor companies to install these (lower powered, energy efficient) chips into their server farms for basically two reasons. Reason one – Efficiency: Isn’t it more efficient to power down a mutli core chip than to ramp up dozens of more energy efficient chips to handle the same job? Reason two – Long term viability: Even if today’s use is not maximizing out the server’s processing power, future data demands will be more, not less. You will have the processing headroom in place to handle the additional demands before you need to do a hardware upgrade. I fail to see the long term ROI being viable on building a server cluster with more underpowered processors in spite of their energy efficient appeal.There’s a reason we use a school bus to transport kids rather than fleets of Yugos.

Google’s recent purchase of Agnilux, along with their purchase of PeakStream (in 2007), starts to position Google with hooks into the real physical world of hardware needed to develop internet appliances. Using the energy efficient Angilux processors coupled with the PeakStream GPU Platform, gives Google a nice position on the technology chessboard. The forward thinking moves of Google will leave them with a nice checkmate position as we continue to play the mobile and set top appliance game, not greener servers.

Apple iPad iNitial iMpressions

I actually had a few emails and posts asking me about my thoughts on the new Apple iPad. After scouring tech information on the web tonight, here is my initial impression and thoughts:



The Apple iPad will be a new home appliance category that will be hammering out a new niche. It will be interesting to see if the iPad will stunt the growth of the recent explosion of Netbooks, Ebook readers, and Android devices starting to be released onto the public this year. In my home, I see an Apple iPad replacing my “casual laptop” – My older laptop who has a current “second life” of web browsing, email, and video watching while I am on the sofa with the feet up.



While reading the tech stories, here are my notes of interest:

  • The iPad has the Apple elegance and style as we have come to expect.
  • Apple’s Pricing is fairly Aggressive (by Apple Standards)
  • Although sleek and slick, the device is still significantly heavy for its form factor.
  • Screen looks great and smooth video at 1024 x 768. With the purchase of PA Semi last year, now Apple can hide more of it’s Magic in the hardware design. The new A4 chip is guessed to be of ARM architecture, and coupled closely with a nice graphics engine.
  • Even with the A4’s horsepower, Apple decides still to not allow multitasking. My question is: Was that for iPhone Application compatibility, or an overall Apple forward thinking decision that removing multitasking in a handheld is not really a showstopper. (Similar to thier decision in removing CD/DVD drives in the Mac Air)
  • E-book implementation is just as good as the competition that is out there. This had to be a category killer goal from the design stage.
  • No Camera – My guess on this feature omission is two fold: (1)Putting a camera in the device opens up the entire iPad project to include more than the original conceptual design. (2) Adding a camera might have proven to be too much load on the A4 processor to keep what Apple wanted with the user experience. (Adding a camera adds many new processing demands: iChat video conferencing, Live streaming wants, High demands on video capture etc..)
  • The On-Screen Keyboard is “good” but not has as responsive as people hoped. I have never been a fan of onscreen keyboards myself anyway.
  • No built in Flash player confirmed. This could be a disappointment on some people’s web browsing habits. I still have not confirmed if the iPad is HTML5 ready. If the iPad is HTML5 ready, then this flash omission is a forward thinking step anyway. Sorry Adobe!

Besides the Living Room Table Tablet, I see new niches already being carved out for the education market and various medical markets. Students win with a lower cost and lighter weight textbook, combined with an electronic note taking device. Add IM, Video, and Youtube distractions, and it becomes even more appealing to own one. The medical field is already implementing tablet devices, and it can step up to the next level the iPad offers. Apple again is pushing the game market as it did with the iTouch. I see the game interest nominal as best.

The iPad creates a new niche. When you don’t need a laptop, but when you are looking to do more than a smartphone can easily handle. It’s your large screen, high performance iPhone / iTouch with some Netbook horsepower.

Exploiting (the) “Me”! One factor behind Web 2.0 Success.

Web 2.0: Blogs. MySpace. Facebook. Twitter. Flickr. Wikis. Digg. Social Networking. Sharable Content. Why is this mechanism so successful? The answer lies deeper than the ability to be “social” or to “create communities”.


One factor of Web 2.0 success is the ability of companies to be able to commercially exploit the “me”: What the “me” is doing. What the “me” thinks of things. What the “me” contributes to the conversation. In fact, by the mere action of me publishing this blog entry, my “me” is guilty of participation as well. Thank you, Blogger.

Let’s look at Egoism – Bouts of selfishness can be seen as an attempt by the ego craving to gain attention by others; An attempt to place value for their own welfare or advantage at the expense of those around them. In most circles of society in years past, such behavior was seen as a violation of certain rules of etiquette or courtesy. New Web 2.0 social mediums allow for new social rules and behavior to be created and accepted. This revised and new set of acceptable behavior are governed and promoted by those who create the new medium.

Intentionally or not, this is what has happened: Society has created this Web 2.0 (commercially successful) vehicle that feeds the ego of every participant and, at the same time, allows the process to be a socially acceptable behavior. What Ego could refuse the opportunity to spread its own self opinion to the WORLD without the fear of it being considered bad-mannered?

Now that the critical mass of the technological evolution in our society has arrived, and that computer technology has become part of everyday life to most people, new methods of communicating with each other can be developed and implemented. The new social web 2.0 portals that are created usually have success based on their popularity. Is it not surprising that creating a mechanism of an ego feeding machine to the masses would be successful? The more one feeds (or exploits) the “me”, the more successful that Web 2.0 franchise will be.

Explaining the Rise of the Geek

The status of Geek has become generally accepted by the masses of today. Has the general public had a change in heart? Nope. What has happened so that the once negatively ridiculed class is now so widely adopted? What gives?

Its all in the perspective. It's not that geeks have become cooler, its that the cool kids are now a little "geekier". Welcome to the club, kids. Its not always this easy.

The persona of a geek is usually one who is technically savvy but has limited social skills. The geek lifestyle which many times revolves around more technical pursuits naturally creates a lack in social interaction. In today's information age, many more people have become exposed to and use computers as well as other new technology. Baby Boomers have learned how to use it, Gen Xers have adopted to it. Generation X-Box have had this technology as part of everyday living their whole lives.

As technology weaves in as part of our wired and always connected life, we are all becoming more technically savvy as well as a little more socially removed. We know more people virtually around the world than on our street. We isolate ourselves in our own homes from one another with our own interests and entertainment. We even text and twitter more than ever before. Welcome to the world of the geek.

I plan on looking at some deeper social impacts in future postings.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

The SIG Is The New ” Local”.

Page Two, Newspaper Decline.

For good or for bad, the declining popularity of the newspaper is falling below it's critical mass of viability. Readership levels are dropping and so goes the rest of the business. Beware that there is a larger issue than the newspaper being an irrelevant media for the dynamic, interactive, interconnected "Generation X-Box" (thanks to John C. For that label). There is a fundamental reorganization of our social makeup underway. Because the next generation is interconnected and wired on a worldwide scale, the concept and current definition of "community" is now evolving. The idea of "Local" is no longer as important (or as relevant) as it was in the past. Physical location plays less of a factor to the makeup of one's community.

I remember around the late 1970s and early 80s as BBS's were starting to loose my ("local") interest , I started logging into my Compuserve Account and joining "Special Interest Groups", or "SIGs". The idea was simple: Using the latest technology, connect with people with whom you had similar interests. Communicate to people and open dialogs with those whom you would have never engaged in conversation due to the lack of physical proximity. AOL also had similar SIG manifestations in the 1990s.

The SIG today is more than a return of an old concept . It is one of the first clear signs of how social interaction will be rearranged on a fundamental level. SIGS have always existed in one form or another (clubs, groups, organizations,etc). Most organizations were challenged to remain viable if there was a lack of their common interest in a certain physical proximity. The internet makes this proximity issue irrelevant. Locality no longer a factor . The Specialized Interest has usurped the local interest in today's world. Get ready for the change. Generation X-Box already has and has embraced it.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Attention: We are now passing Mile Marker IPTV

When there are changes in social habits within a culture, we often tend to look for a defining moment to describe that change. The particular moment we define may not be the singular event that caused the cultural change, but is usually an event that best captures the characteristics of that event. (i.e “years of the Ipod” will probably define overall MP3 Mania)

I believe we are on the cusp of such a defining moment in the area of television viewing. We are wrapping up the last days of the TV watching phenomenon known as time shifted viewing. Starting with VTRs and ending with TIVOs along with cable’s On-demand programming, we will now enter the next TV watching experience : IPTV. Since IPTV is still a concept, it has different meanings with different people. For discussion here, lets define it as on demand television viewing via internet protocol. As a merge of cable’s On demand service programming along video podcasting, I believe that IPTV is about to sky rocket.

You may ask me why it hasn’t happened already? Companies like Archos and Wifi TV have been offering their solutions already in this realm. Hasn’t this craze already begun? Yes it has – Just as satellite TV was used prior to the Direct TV / Dish Network craze, there are always pioneers and bleeding edge consumers who pave the way. I myself was involved in a venture company that was streaming IP content as early as 1998. I believe the key component is critical mass. There is a point in time where new technology is understood and is adapted by the mass consumer market. We are on the precipice of that IPTV mile marker.

What will be the genesis of IPTV? A couple of factors. First and foremost is Apple’s upcoming “iTV” set top box that is set to be announced soon. Steve Jobs eludes to his iTV box as being the Itunes for your living room. There is a trust level that consumers now have with Apple. Overall, customers have had positive experiences with the Ipod, and they will be open to new Apple technology. Additionally, the new level of high end game consoles permit for more than game play, allowing for movie watching on a disc locally or watching via IP. Tivo is also experimenting with the replay of IP based shows.

Podcasters who have been experimenting with this technology are just getting the hang of it themselves – And just in time! Podcastcasters that are catching early audiences have started to realize that they need more than solid programming. To take their shows to the next level, they have realized the value in product “branding”. Two examples that come to mind are Leo Laporte’s “TWiT” (This Week in Tech) and Kevin Rose’s “Rev3”. Both brands now have multiple popular shows and are now being put under their own “umbrella”. I think this is key in their marketing success as IPTV rolls out.

Other companies like CNET and Ziff Davis will probably soon follow suit with their podcasting projects, and put more energy into marketing and more emphasis into branding. Ziff Davis and it’s competitors may be gun shy after living through TechTV’s failure in cable. I remind them not to forget that the all the dynamics with podcasting are far different than with cable, and being reluctant now may put them behind in this new upcoming IPTV wave. Don’t worry guys, your audience is tech savvy and is out there. They will be early adopters.

I solute all of the early podcast pioneers working with the limited resources they have; and wish you the best in success for seeing the future. To help inspire you, I know and have seen a working profitable model using this technology. Rolling out programming now will hope further cash in on a growing audiences.

And a personal note to Podcasters: The pioneers always take the most arrows. The ones who follow you have it easy. Podcasters “get it”, and “get it now”. This is bleeding edge technology, but not for too much longer. Try to survive guys, the future is near! I have been waiting for a decade for this concept to come to fruition and I can’t wait for the great road ahead.

Will it be Open Season for Open Office 2.0 ?

As Microsoft Office 2007 approaches its official release, I have concerns that its new office suite may not be as well received as hoped. Although I believe MS Office will still remain the most dominant player in the office suite options, Microsoft may start to see a chink in its Office’s armour on dominance.

There is no doubt Microsoft spent exorbitant time and money on their new “ribbon” GUI. We are at a time where we need a fresh update to computer interfaces. I congratulate Microsoft on doing such a great job on the Ribbon GUI. It’s a step in the right direction, and a much needed update to doing “computer business as usual”.

Unfortunately, people are creatures of habit, and usually resist change as much as possible. Although the masses will adapt to the new office suite, I predict we will probably see (the largest size to date) a group of people who will not upgrade to Office 2007 or seek Open Office as a possible alternative. Why Open Office? It’s an Office Suite that should be savvy enough to be compatible to the MS Office new xml file formats, but will have a look and feel more similar to MS Office 2003.

Its unknown if the growth of Open Office 2.0 will be enough to affect Office 2007. I do however think we will begin to see an MS Office suite alternative start to bubble up more than ever before.


P.S.

For those of you making the leap to 2007, I recommend this flash player reference window from Microsoft as a reference source for finding your way around the new GUI.

SEPT 10 UPDATE:

IBM announced today it will join the OpenOffice.org community and contribute code and company resources to the software project. [Announcement Link Here]

IMHO: Why Apple switched to Intel

Although I was initially surprised to see Apple switch to the Intel platform, the reasoning soon became clear to me. Although I never had heard of a full, believable explanation in recent reports of why the hardware switch was made from Motorola to Intel, I believe the answer can be found in examining Apple’s History. If you take the time and review all of Apple’s past announcements, I believe the big picture reason is right in front of you.

Apple’s critical thinking is best personified in an excerpt from Steve Jobs in an Apple event from the 1990’s. ( I cant remember exactly which event, and if anyone knows, please feel free to post the event.) There is no doubt that Microsoft and it’s Operating System dominate in the computing market. Steve Jobs once stated that the Windows OS plus the Mac OS equals 100% of the computing market. I think this is one of the principles that still holds true, and that this simple concept help persuade the hardware move. [ note: I think in 2007 the Equation is almost the same, with the modification that you include LINUX and possible long-term UNIX growth into the mix. ]

How can Apple grab more market share? Instead of pulling users from one side to to another, work from both sides instead. Why not make an Apple OS that can run Windows? Apple still holds overall control via Apple hardware; they have nothing to loose and all to gain. (Think about it – How many Apple users will fall in love with Windows and make their next computer a Windows based PC? Not many.)

By making the Apple OS available to users who would not have to give up their old Operating environments, the Mac OS becomes much more attractive – Especially when users don’t have to (or can’t) make a solitary commitment to a platform change. Apple now has afforded itself a new possibility to gain market share by offering the safe bet – A machine that will give you options of any (and ALL) operating systems and eliminating the necessity of making the “all or nothing” choice. An Apple hardware choice also allows for long term growth with easier Linux and Unix compatibility. It’s a smart move by Apple to make the OS jump easier for computer users, and gain more market share in the process.