Archive for 1st February 2007

Man Cheats on Aids Wife, Aid Bows Out with Dignity

I just came across an article today about a Mayor who had an affair with his campaign managers wife.

After his wife told him about the affair, Tourk approached the mayor about it, then resigned… “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Newsom campaigns and the city of San Francisco and its residents,” Tourk said in a news release…

Newsom, who is seeking a second four-year term in November, said in the statement that he accepted Tourk’s resignation “with great sadness,” adding that he was “an extraordinary leader of our campaigns and a tireless public servant.”

Now that’s professionalism. A moment ago, I blogged about the value of private discussions, which, clearly, is what happened here. Yelling, crying, shouting, who knows? But you know what? The public never will.

Imagine if that was some Web 2.0 hot-shot CEO. You can already imagine how he might have handled the situation. Professionalism goes a long way, no matter who’s in the wrong. Please, if you ever become a well-known Internet blogger, keep your dirty laundry and corporate bashing to yourself.

That is, if you don’t want to look like a 16 year old.

Rumor: Zune Phone Coming Near You in December

Crunch Gear has broken a new story that indicates Microsoft is working on a Zune Phone. But is anybody surprised? Honestly?

Probably not. Even the most anti-Microsoft haters knew that Microsoft would immediately follow the iPhone to kill its thunder. This phone will do what Microsoft does best: be a “good enough” alternative. It will likely be in bed with Verizon (more on this below), which will likely be a love-hate relationship. It may look similar to the iPhone (hopefully not shit-brown), have many of the same functionality, but have one distinguishing feature.

Will that feature be more of that useless sharing crap? Who knows. We’ll see in the next year when it comes out. We’ll probably hear an official announcement from Microsoft right before the iPhone launches in an attempt to:

  • Kill iPhone launch thunder
  • Give users time to not renew their plans, just as Apple did
  • Steal potential customers by promising the world

Apple Isn’t Stupid

But this made me think. If everybody saw this coming, Apple must have seen it coming from the days the iPhone was just a sparkle in Steve Job’s eye. So what are they going to do?

That’s right, we will have to expect a big surprise come launch time. Steve Jobs isn’t done revealing all of the secrets of the iPhone. Any potential competitor will get a slap in the face in six months as a counter-counter measure. We should expect a new feature that is not yet confirmed or announced. Stream content to friends like you would with iTunes over the network? Integration with Apple TV? Customizable song-based ring tones? Well, we’ll find out in June. And so will Microsoft.

And in the December months during the peak spending season? Oh, you can expect another change, most notably in the price. And conveniently, my iPhone Prediction post happened to cover this. The article is long, so I will quote the most relevant part about the iPhone price drop in conjunction with a Nano upgrade:

The iPhone’s price must drop. However, that price drop can’t happen until the Nano lineup gets a storage space upgrade. When the price of flash drives drops again (to Apple wholesale), Apple will use this margin to upgrade their Nano lineup. Then, rather than apply that margin on the capacity of the iPhone, Apple will use it to drop its price instead. This will happen at the same time or a few months after the Nano drop.

If this happens in December, it will keep Nanos competitive, and the iPhone becomes more affordable since its number one drawback is that it is too expensive for Average Joe. If a Zune Phone turns out to be real, it will greatly increase the likelihood of my prediction coming true.

People have been practically begging for an iPhone product since 2002. Why compete with the juggernaut while it’s running full steam? Realistically, I expect a Zune phone in 2008 after the iPhone madness dies down.

Of course, if a decent Zune Phone can be released by 2007′s end, much props must go to Microsoft. It took Apple three years to produce their phone. If Microsoft can match that in under a year, they deserve all the credit they can get.

I want to point out that Microsoft already sells smart phones — way to irk all of your existing partners. Just goes to show that partnering with the devil only gets you screwed in the end.

Don’t Count MS Out… Right?

In order to reach the mass market, Microsoft will be forced to partner with Verizon since Cingular/ATT is already taken by Apple. A lack of a partnership would put their phones in no better of a position than their current smart phones offered by many carriers (AKA expensive). And, unlike Apple, Microsoft doesn’t have a religious following for its Zune Phone to bargain with Verizon for an extra special deal.

If it happens, Zune Phones could be subsidized. This may help Microsoft gain considerable market share among the money conscious consumer (everybody). So up to this point, things sound great!

But I Noticed a Storm Ahead, Sorry

Unfortunately, this taps into a whole new set of problems for Microsoft. With a phone priced at a directly comparable range to other phones that offer music, such as Verizon’s Chocolate, Verizon has a lot to lose if Microsoft’s phone takes off. Microsoft would cannibalize Verizon’s own customers at the direct expense of Verizon’s music store and music phone peripherals (like that retarded $14 custom headphone).

Which means Verizon isn’t exactly happy to see the Zune Phone’s price lower. Verizon makes a killing on ring tones and music, but if a new cheap phone came in that stole their market, they will not let that happen laying down. This will inevitably place Microsoft between a rock and a hard place when doing negotiations. You want it cheaper, but they don’t want it cheaper. What do you do?

Apple escaped this problem because Cingular loses no money to subsidizing the phone, although it is rumored Apple takes a cut of your monthly payments. But, the iPhone is expensive enough, especially during the first two years in which Cingular has exclusivity, that it will not impact the majority of the potential customer base. This means Cingular will retain their ring tone market for low-end consumers and benefit from Apple’s popular iPhone – at the same time.

And if Microsoft plans on releasing a phone at the same price point by either not partnering with Verizon or by going at it alone, well, that’s going to be a hard sell to consumers. There’s plenty of great smart phones out there that aren’t the iPhone. And, as this article probably makes clear, from here on out it’s all about the iPhone vs the rest.

Good luck, Microsoft.

Can the Zooomr Whining Stop?

Here’s some good old Yahoo news. I’m trying to switch it up from the over-coverage of Google and Apple. =)

The Flickr Non-Controversy

Yahoo owns some Internet property called Flickr. It is a very popular photo sharing service (although it is still far from becoming the #1 photo sharing service). Recently, it has been in the news because Yahoo has decided to force three new restrictions on its users:

  1. Require a Yahoo email address to be linked to your account – This email address is private to you.
  2. Limit the number of contacts a person can have to 3000. Previously it was unlimited.
  3. Limit the number of tags you can stick on a photo to 75. Previously it was unlimited.

There’s been tons of press coverage over this supposed apocalyptic move. Obviously this sounds like a whole lot of bitching over nothing. The first point is a no-brainer in that it changes nothing about how the site functions. The second is to help curb “contact spam” much in the same way MySpace has a problem. The third is to limit tag spam where someone tags their photo with every conceivable tag in the dictionary in order to increase their exposure.

All three sound like smart fixes to me.

The Cry Baby Phenomenon

Multiple sources have also reported:

…Much of the criticism is being lead by a prominent user named Thomas Hawk who also happens to be CEO of Zooomr, a direct competitor to Flickr.

Most people may not know who this is or what Zooomr is, so I’ll explain. Zooomr was started a year or two ago by a 16 year old (at the time) programmer named Kristopher Tate. It lets its users tag photos on a (Google) map so that you can geographically map where photos were taken. Many of its early users were from and still user Flickr, including, apparently, the CEO of Zooomr.

So why is Hawk so threatened over this new switch? Why make such a big stink?

  1. Publicity.
  2. Publicity.
  3. Publicity.

He stands to gain a lot from a massive defection from Flickr as many of his site’s users are from Flickr, and Zooomr is a direct competitor. In fact, from day one, everybody has been comparing and switching between Flickr and Zooomr. A few years ago, I recall a similar bitch-fest (note: Tate and Hawk both throw punches, repeatedly, in the comments!) between the two companies over the ability of Flicker users to export their photo and tag information.

Now, I don’t know how the average consumer views the public airing of dirty laundry, but to me, this continues to perpetuate my negative impression that Zooomr is a childish company filled with whiny geeks that want – no, demand – that all other companies expressly allow them to freeload. And if they don’t get their way, they bitch and complain on every blog they can. Amazing. What ever happened to private discussions and common courtesy? It’s like going around bad-mouthing your ex when you got dumped. And then when she still refuses to get back together, you buy newspaper ads condemning her, get on Opera and tell a sob story, and write letters to congress demanding intervention. Well, perhaps I’m over the top, but you get my point.

Modern technology, such as blogs, has allowed business executives to create a candid and direct line of communication with consumers. Unfortunately, a lot of these “executives” are a little too inexperienced to realize that their words should not reflect what they might say at a bar with friends. Openness is good, but burning bridges, even with your competitors, is plain stupid.

I really believe a person on a corporate podium should use his influence in a positive way. Otherwise, other companies in the future, will be hesitant to work with you. I certainly would be afraid of doing a partnership with Zooomr if it means they’ll throw up 45 press releases bashing my company when I terminate the partnership for whatever reason. It’s scary that these people are still in business!

The old adage is true as ever:

If you have nothing nice to say, just shut up.