Archive for July/2006

26
Jul

Mobile Myspace by Mahesh Pillai – GCMBA07 Alumn

Written on July 26, 2006 by Guillermo Montes in Información y tecnología

What are the technology fads that are very popular among the youth today and can there be some way of integrating them into one product? Helio, a JV between EarthLink and Korea-based SK Telecom answered these questions by introducing Hero and the newer Kickflip cellphone models which integrate the immensely popular myspace.com with mobile technology. The Helio phones are manufactured by Korean company VK Mobile and utilize Sprint’s high-speed EV-DO mobile network.
The Kickflip comes with a lot of multimedia features including a 2-megapixel camera with flash, a music player, voice recorder. Other extras include a TV-out port, a USB port, and Micro SD card slot allowing for availability of additional memory. It also has the usual text and multimedia messaging features. The most unique feature is of course its integration with myspace.com.
With existing mobile carriers, you can customize your myspace page to send you an SMS when you receive a new message from a friend on myspace. But, with the Helio Kickflip, you can almost do everything that you could do by accessing myspace from a computer. You can read your mail, post messages, search for new friends, respond to new friend requests and most importantly post photos to your myspace page directly from your phone. The only features not available are listening to music or watching videos from the site.
What with all these features, the Kickflip comes with a $200 price tag not including the monthly fees, which is a little high considering the fact that it is primarily targeted at the 16-25 age-group. Other features that are surprisingly missing are Bluetooth and instant messaging, which are very popular among the younger generation.
This is definitely a major step in online social networking becoming more mobile and popular. Helio will of course have to wait and see how this new offering catches on in the US.

24
Jul

Ya-boo-hoo! by Mahesh Pillai – GCMBA07 Alumn

Written on July 24, 2006 by Guillermo Montes in Technology Management

On Tuesday Yahoo’s stock on Nasdaq fell nearly 14% to its 52 week low. This was partly due to the second quarter earnings that were announced the same day. The report showed that second-quarter profit met Wall Street expectations but revenue was slightly below forecasts. A bigger reason for the fall of the stock was the news that launch of the much awaited new advertising platform is postponed to the 4th quarter instead of the 3rd quarter as previously planned.
These developments beg the question as to where Yahoo! is headed. Even as early as 2001, they were far ahead of its competitors in terms of exploring new ways of online content management and advertising. Yahoo! had plans of launching a web-based office application suite combined with online file storage capabilities that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The web-based office suite never really took off and now Google, with its acquisition of Writely is showing clear signs of launching a similar service. On the online file storage front, Yahoo! did launch Yahoo Briefcase, but it did not take off in popularity as was expected.
According to ACNielsen, web traffic on Yahoo sites rose by 9% in the second quarter year-over-year making it the most visited site on the internet. Even though Yahoo! gets more page hits than a site like Google, Google is making way more money out of those hits. With rising popularity among the younger generation of websites like myspace.com and youtube.com, it remains to be seen how Yahoo! can convert its ideas into reality and monetize them.

20
Jul

On 13th July Dell announced several changes to its pricing strategy. According to the release, Dell plans to drastically reduce its use of mail-in rebates and other short-term promotional offers that are a regular feature of Dell’s overall strategy. Instead, customers will be able to avail the reduced prices immediately. This is definitely a step in the right direction since it makes it easier for customers to compare and choose products. What is driving Dell to make all these changes? A look at all the recent news (mostly bad) about Dell makes for some interesting reading.
Although Dell is a clear market leader in the PC industry, the first three months of 2006 saw Dell loosing a considerable share of its US PC market to its rivals. Dell’s first quarter performance is testimony to its falling share of the market. Its revenue grew by 6 percent, while HP’s grew by 10 percent. Research firm Gartner reports that PC sales of HP spiked from 13.8 percent to 14.9 percent while Dell’s dipped from 16.9 to 16.5 percent last year.
Dell has been very aggressive with its pricing strategy bringing the PC industry to the brink of a price war. The prices of PCs have been dropping at a faster pace than ever before. Intel dropped prices on most of its chips further fueling price drops from PC makers. Intel’s close rival AMD is yet to reach an agreement with Dell on a partnership. I think it will be interesting to see what happens when AMD and Dell launch a PC together, since Dell’s rivals HP and Gateway are already selling PCs with AMD chips.
Internally, Dell has largely lost the edge that it had in the early 90′s with its efficient supply chain model since all its rivals have caught on to that bandwagon. Early advantages obtained by off-shoring its technical support operations have been a challenge to maintain for Dell. A growing number of service complaints have forced Dell to re-look at its offshore strategy and they recently announced an investment of $100 million in initiatives to improve its customer support infrastructure.
Dell’s strategy of diversification into other consumer electronic products like televisions, printers, digital cameras etc. has also seen mixed success. Desktops and Notebooks still account for 85% of Dell’s revenues.
Dell’s stock has been taking a pounding and has been steadily loosing ground over all this news, which is not surprising since Wall Street does not really need a lot of bad news to loose faith in a company. For other (non Wall Street gibberish speaking) people like me, there is still hope. Personally, I’ve not had any bad experiences with my 2 Dell laptops, although the news of a laptop bursting into flames is a bit scary.
Having studied Dell and its strategy for my MBA Strategy class, I have come to appreciate the way Dell turned a relatively simple model into an industry leading force. I believe that Dell can survive this downward trend. The second quarter has traditionally been a bad time for PC makers since there is no back to school buying or holiday season during this time of the year. The new pricing strategy and huge new investments in customer support will definitely show positive results in the third quarter.

14
Jul

Windows 98 – Out with the old! – by Mahesh Pillai, GCMBA07 Alumn

Written on July 14, 2006 by Guillermo Montes in Software

On July 11th Microsoft stopped all support for Windows 98, 98 SE and ME editions.
This is not the first time this decision was taken.
Back in 2003, when Microsoft made a similar announcement withdrawing support for Windows 98, there was a huge uproar especially in Asia about the potential impact on the large number of users still using that platform. On that occasion, Microsoft had to reverse its decision and continue supporting the system. Not this time.
Windows 98 users will be left to fend for themselves in case of virus attacks or other security threats to their computers. If your love for Windows 98 is beyond practicality, one way to protect your computer from viruses is by switching to a non IE web browser and non outlook mail client. Maybe use free Mozilla Firefox. Free being the keyword here for users who have not taken the additional monitory step of upgrading their Windows. The bad news is that Mozilla is planning to discontinue Firefox support for Windows 98 from 2007.
The decline of Windows 98 began when Windows XP was introduced towards the end of 2001.
As always, there are people crying out foul over this move from Microsoft. I for one support this decision and tend to think that it is at the discretion of Microsoft to decide whether to support an application that has not sold in almost 6 years. Microsoft has literally been doing charity by supporting these users all this while. Obviously, someone still using Windows 98 has shown little interest in upgrading to a newer version and I believe that Microsoft is not obliged to support them.

8
Jul

Italy might be the favorites to win this world cup, but irrespective of that result, this World cup might just be the most viewed event in the world. The numbers are astounding .
It remains to be seen what this world cup means for mobile technology companies that are hoping to generate revenues by streaming videos and information about games to subscribers.
Some of the services on offer include:
- Websites sending an SMS with latest information to a user’s mobile phone, for example the one offered by Yahoo for free
- Providing access to streaming video clips covering goals and key actions and highlights on demand, for example V Cast from Verizon Wireless in the US with a subscription fees of $15 a month.
- Live streaming video of matches onto 3G enabled mobile phones in countries like Switzerland, Italy and Germany, this is mostly pay-per-view.
Experts are skeptical about the reliability of live streaming video with current technology and bandwidth limitations. I have V Cast on my mobile and recorded video clips have sometimes been jerky and have had buffering problems. So, it is hard to imagine live video will be smoother especially if a lot of users are viewing at the same time.
A report from Informa Telecoms and Media predicts up to $300m in revenues from users watching football on mobile phones. This World cup is being viewed as a showcase for mobile technology companies to try and popularize this medium, so these numbers are expected to climb to much higher levels by the time the next world cup comes around. Add to it the fact that mobile technologies will be much more advanced and mobile phones capable of handling streaming video will be widely used.
For now though, it seems that established mediums of obtaining content will generate the most revenues for mobile operators. Services like SMS, mobile ringtones, pictures, and logos are expected to rake in the most revenues. This piece of news proves that fact.

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