At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


We will be looking at Google extensively in the coming weeks. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, was recently interviewed by McKinsey. Go here to see the video clips and get a head start on understanding the Company. You may need to register to get in.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Windows vs. Android vs. i-Phone

Bob Cringely is one of the leading technology pundits in the US. Here is what he has to say about the current battle for control of the smart phone market:

My guess is that in time Samsung, like Motorola, will devote its smartphone development 100 percent to Android.

Maybe, but what about Apple and RIM, what will happen there? This is not a time to bet against the iPhone, which is changing the entire landscape of not just smartphones but mobile phones in general. For all its teething problems, there is a new sheriff in town and his name is iPhone. We'll see nothing but progress and market-share gains there for at least another two product cycles or three years.

RIM is another story altogether. What RIM has going for it are loyal users, good keyboards, and push mail. Most mobile phone users still think RIM is the only platform that has push mail. But given that push mail will soon be everywhere and the market will eventually figure that out, RIM is facing a huge challenge. I'm not saying they won't meet that challenge, I simply don't know.

If I had to bet right this moment on the mobile 85-10-5 of 2011 I'd say iPhone, Android, then RIM, Symbian, or something completely new from behind Door Number Three.

Why iPhone over Android? For exactly the same reason why the iPod holds that approximate 85 position among music players, including ones using open source software. iPhone has a really great SDK (light-years ahead of any other right now). The App Store distribution platform is great, but locked on too many points. This is a careful timing issue for Apple. If they open the APIs too quickly they risk being blocked. They need to open an API once they are perfectly sure it is the right one and the right way to export that function. Apple is going to relax the restrictions progressively when they better understand the use cases and what are the best APIs. In the meantime it is giving an advantage to Android, but one that I think a year from now Apple will have reclaimed.

And where will Windows Mobile be in 2011? There way things are headed now, given that Microsoft can't really afford to be anything but first or second on the platform that supplants Windows, I'd say Windows Mobile will be dead.
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i-Phone New Software

If you remember, we said that the i-Phone had the Macintosh operating system embedded within it, which would enable the device to improve functionality substantially over time. Venture Beat writes the following on the expected next release of software:

Right now, it looks like the key new features focus on the Maps application which is built for the iPhone by Google. With the update, users will be able to get public transit directions on their devices. This includes not only bus, subway and train routes, but also walking directions as well. Maps will also now feature Street View, the area which allows you to virtually walk through the streets with real images being shown to you.

The article also points to a survey done by AT&T on what other features i-Phone users want:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smart Phones--Google and Apple

We have noted in class that the combination of smart phones and applications that fit a mobile environment can be a key innovation driver--change the way people conduct their lives. As Internet News reports on the Google Android phone:

A few other data points in the article:

a. an estimated 200mn applications have been loaded for the i-phone from the Apple Store;

b. The apple App Store, which is 102 days old, has over 5,000 applications available for download.

c. Google on its first day had in the range of 50 such applications.

And this market looks like it will be big--Gartner Group (complements of a Samsung presentation, estimate as follows:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Phone Use

For an interesting phone application, see this link.

Google Phone

NY Times has reviewed the new Google Android phone. They say the following:

"The Android software looks, feels and works a lot like the iPhone’s. Not as consistent or as attractive, but smartly designed and, for version 1.0, surprisingly complete. In any case, it’s polished enough to give Windows Mobile an inferiority complex the size of Australia; let’s hope Microsoft has a good therapist."

For the full story, go here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Howard Stringer

Last week we discussed Samsung Electronics. Their biggest competitor currently is Sony and for a perspective on where Sony stands today, see this interview with Howard Stringer, Chairman and CEO of Sony:

Stringer provides a candid view of the challenges that Sony is facing--the progress the Company has made and the tasks that remain ahead. From this interview, you will also get a sense of the issues that Samsung faces in consumer electronics.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Capital expenditures play the critical role in determining the condition of the semiconductor industry. Gartner Group, one of the leading IT market forecast firms, expects the following:

Bob Johnson, one of the Gartner analysts who made the forecast, said the capex decline for 2008 will be the highest for the chip industry since 2002, when overall expenditures decreased by 35 percent after shrinking by 30 percent in 2001. "The chip industry's capital intensity has been reset from around 20 percent of revenues in late 1990s and early 2000s to about 15 percent going forward," Gartner said. It added that this event will have a significant impact on the IC equipment companies' future profitability. The projection calls for global IC capital spending to be roughly $33.5 billion in 2008 and $30.5 billion in 2009. Capex will suffer from a CARG of -2.1 percent from 2007 until 2012, based on the forecast. "The industry will not match 2007 capex of $44.7 billion until the end of the forecast period in 2012," Gartner noted.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Advanced MicroDevices announced a new strategy in their business.

After a year in the works, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has obtained an investment of up to $8.4 billion from the Abu Dhabi government and separately plans to split the company into two parts, according to reports. As part of the long-awaited and expected plan—which impacts 3,000 jobs —AMD will spin off its manufacturing operations into a new foundry company that could compete against Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., United Microelectronics Corp., and possibly, one of its partners in Chartered Semiconductor. So, in effect, AMD will essentially become a fabless design house.

This is quite indicative of what is happening in the semiconductor industry today.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dell and Business Strategy

John Hagel, a noted technology strategist, commenting on DELL's decision to divest of its manufacturing and logistics operations, writes:

In brief, most companies today are still an unnatural bundle of three fundamentally different, and often competing, business types:

Infrastructure management businesses – high volume, routine processing activities like running basic assembly line manufacturing, logistics networks or routine customer call centers

Product innovation and commercialization businesses – developing, introducing and accelerating the adoption of innovative new products and services

Customer relationship businesses – building deep relationships with a target set of customers, getting to know them very well and using that knowledge to become increasingly helpful in sourcing the products and services that are most relevant and useful to them

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Later in the class, we will begin to delve into the relationship between networks, content and devices. Ruckus Wireless, which is a leading wireless routing company (like Linksys), writes the following on a recent court ruling on Digital video recorders and content recording:

The judgment now lets Cable and broadband operators "unbox" the digital video recorder (DVR) function. This means consumers don't need to have an actual DVR in their home but can still record, store and playback programs using a simpler set-top box and the video provider's servers somewhere else.