links for 2009-07-20
Nokia (NYSE: NOK) sold its Symbian Professional Services unit to Accenture for an undisclosed amount, the companies said Friday. The unit handles product development and engineering consulting services for the Symbian operating system and its clients include cellular carriers, chip manufacturers, and handset makers. The 165 employees of the division will transfer to Accenture, and the deal is expected to close in September.
On the Official Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Docs blog, Google posted an entry with the headline “Pardon our Dust.” This is Google’s way of saying that change is on the way, with a brand new interface due to appear on Google Docs in short order. Anything interesting? You betcha. According to Google, the changes will take place over time, and not all at once. Google says that the small changes will be implemented over the coming weeks, with the final result being “a brand new shiny interface.” Oh, the rapture.
There are a ton of cool features and services available for smartphones today. Location based services is one of the most interesting, but in doing so, you are giving the service provider an alarming amount of information about you whether you know it or not. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Latitude is a good example. Whether your phone has GPS on it or Latitude just approximates your location via cell tower triangulation, you are not only telling your friends where you are at, but Google as well. We’ve always talked about big brother watching over us and look for ways to protect ourselves from it, then we turn around and whisper in his ear where we are and potentially what we are doing. I am not sure if that means we are easily giving up this info, or we place an inordinate amount of trust in Google. People post on Twitter and Facebook all of the time with where they are, sometimes with GPS coordinates or a URL to a map of their location, and what they are doing, complete with pictures.
The headlines and market reports were foreboding. But Rami Weiss saw opportunity despite the gloomy economy. Weiss says he enjoyed low startup costs and quick profitability two years ago when launching Boomerater, a networking site where baby boomers can exchange advice on topics ranging from retirement savings to outings for grandkids. Elderly services and e-commerce are among several industries ripe for startups, according to a new IBISWorld report comparing growth forecasts, competition levels, entry barriers and required startup capital for more than 700 industries. Some, such as landscaping and elderly services, find opportunity in serving an aging population. Others, such as fashion design and community food services, find opportunity in the grim economy itself.
Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, has a soft spot for the little guy. In his first interview since taking over the federal agency, Genachowski talked about the importance of “edge” Internet and software companies in pushing forward technological advances. He suggested that these companies might play a key role in boosting the economy and in helping the agency meet its mandate to bring high-speed Internet access to all Americans. “That’s where the greatest innovation is,” he said. “What is interesting to me is to find ways to work with early-stage innovators to build from the edge and work on tomorrow’s ideas.”
Sport is one method by which mankind tests the limits of our humanity. On Sunday at the British Open, Tom Watson almost redefined us all. Almost. That he did not win a sixth Open, yet came so close, that he lost with such resolute composure, then refused to accept the most glorious near miss in the history of modern sports as anything but a defeat, only raised his achievement to a different, but not lower, place of honor. The Irish poet W.B. Yeats, no offense to Scotland intended, wrote when he was 63 years old, “An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing for every tatter of its mortal dress.”
Michael Hanik used to have 12 employees, a warehouse and trucks to run his medical devices catalogue company. But four years ago, he turned to the Internet to look for ways to reduce overhead costs for his Rockville-based Total Medical Systems. He now has just three employees on the company payroll but as many as 50 contractors working for him, some of them known as “virtual assistants.”
How your senators are spending their multimillion dollar budgets for staff salaries, travel, and office expenses may soon be just a computer mouse click away. The Senate is planning to follow the House in posting office expenses on the Internet instead of in volumes that must to be purchased or viewed in Capitol office buildings. The idea, says Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is to let people see what their lawmakers are doing with their taxpayer-funded office accounts — and hold their feet to the fire for questionable expenses. “They’ve got it on computer. Just now make it available so everybody in the country can see it,” Coburn said. “So if you see something that doesn’t look right, you can hold us accountable.”
Baby Riley Matthews wheezed noisily on the exam table. “He’s belly-breathing,” the emergency-room doctor said worriedly – Riley’s little abdomen was markedly rising and falling with each breath, a sign of respiratory distress. In most emergency rooms, the doctor would grill Mom: Has he ever been X-rayed? Do you remember what it showed? But in the new all-digital Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, doctors just clicked on a COW – a “computer on wheels” that rolls to each patient’s side. Up popped every test and X-ray the 6-month-old has ever had.
Imagine trying to fend off burglars in a house with all the doors and windows left open. Sure, you can manage for a while with a Doberman and a shotgun, but being able to lock up might just help you sleep better. That’s more or less the situation in which computer users find themselves. According to Secunia, the typical Internet user has a dozen insecure applications on his or her computer.
Incessant exposure to “all day TV,” violent video games, instant messaging, and the always accessible cell phone interferes with the development of the psychological traits known to be essential to positive outcomes for children, according to Leah Klungness, Ph.D., psychologist in private practice and co-author of The Complete Single Mother.
Consumers are using GPS-enabled mobile devices to navigate their worlds with applications to find local businesses, one another and even family pets. Gartner is predicting huge gains for mobile location-based services (LBS) in 2009. The firm estimates that total LBS subscribers will more than double worldwide this year, to 95.7 million.
Nielsen is out with a new report on media consumption by teens and the results are counter-intuitive to what we commonly believe to be the norm. According to the How Teens Use Media report (PDF), “teens exhibit media habits that are more similar to the total population than not.”
In the past few months, two of the highest-profile and most heavily-funded online-video startups — Veoh and Joost — have given up trying to compete with Hulu and YouTube and have now drastically switched their business models in hopes of surviving. There are many reasons why things went wrong: technical missteps, lack of premium content, tough terms from content owners such as CBS and Viacom, etc. But that’s not the whole story. Joost and Veoh had an even bigger problem, one that will likely claim dozens of other media and advertising startups that have been founded over the past three years: too much venture money, too soon.
Budgets continue to be slashed. Brands are disappearing. Media is getting more fragmented. The only thing getting bigger is our federal deficit. So as a marketer, how do you capitalize on a world that is getting smaller in so many respects? You could ignore it and keep doing things the same way — reaching wide and hoping for the best. Or you can face the fact that the world is changing and figure out how to benefit from it.
At the sound of a bell’s “ding!,” the floor of a cavernous expo hall swirls with movement as entrepreneurs in power suits scurry to find their next assigned table. There, a small business procurement officer waits to hear their pitch. The next bell will be in 20 minutes — a brief window of time, but long enough to potentially kick off a lucrative business relationship. The government is required to award 23% of its contracts to small businesses, but getting a foot in the door and navigating the federal bureaucracy to actually land one of those business deals is a daunting challenge. On Wednesday, hundreds of entrepreneurs in the New York area gathered at a business event intended to demystify the process.