links for 2009-07-03

  • What is going on? Clearly, activity in this sector has nothing to do with distress. Use of mobile content and applications is exploding. And companies large and small are in a land grab mode, acquiring small and promising start-ups in hopes of increasing their mobile presence. IAC and Amazon made investments in iPhone applications recently. Amazon also acquired mobile app maker SnapTell and mobile payments player Boku. “Mobile social networking and mobile content are other key areas of investment,” according to the report. Yes, times are good if you are a mobile entrepreneur.
  • Turns out the monthly fee is a hassle to some. True, AT&T is simply the conduit for the underlying service from TeleNav in Sunnyvale, Calif. But the carrier still is getting some grief from consumers. One reviewer at ComputerWorld argued that the "free" iPhone app was a "Trojan horse into your wallet." (It's free to install but costs $9.99 a month to use.)

    The broader question is whether consumers, who have grown used to free or very inexpensive apps that do a dizzying array of high-tech tasks, will still go for a subscription model. For AT&T and TeleNav, their competitors are TomTom, which showed off its turn-by-turn app last month at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference but has yet to announce a pricing structure, and Google Maps, which provides directions for free but doesn't have some of the bells and whistles of TeleNav. There are also the traditional GPS devices, which cost as little as $99.99, no monthly fee required.

  • Nokia has lost its overall market share leadership in the worldwide smartphone segment to Apple, based on browser calls for mobile ads.

    Why is mobile ad share important? Because in the smartphone segment, the tail wags the dog — apps drive customer loyalty more than hardware features — and Gartner noted in its most recent report on the smartphone market that “services and applications are now instrumental to smartphones’ success.” That report, reflecting first quarter 2009 figures, had Nokia still firmly in the lead. But according to numbers from mobile ad service vendor AdMob, Apple smartphones received 49 percent of ad traffic in May, compared with 32 percent for Nokia.

  • "It is common to argue that intellectual property in the form of copyright and patent is necessary for the innovation and creation of ideas and inventions such as machines, drugs, computer software, books, music, literature and movies. In fact intellectual property is a government grant of a costly and dangerous private monopoly over ideas. We show through theory and example that intellectual monopoly is not necessary for innovation and as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty."
  • "Imagine if there was an objective measure for coolness – a number that could be attached to each artist that indicated how ‘cool’ the artist was. We’d be able to do all sorts of interesting things with such a ‘coolness index’. We could make a ‘music makeover’ playlist that would take you from Miley to Miles in 12 songs (consider it a 12-step taste recovery program) or we could create a music rehab playlist that takes you from Amy Winehouse to Kate Nash. But of course, the concept of cool is too hard to nail down. Is Johnny Cash cool? Michael Jackson? Prince? Context, demographics, locale all play a role."
  • The proposed solution is the adoption of "haptic" display technologies which allow for some tactile feedback from touch screen displays. Apple proposes including a grid of piezoelectronic actuators that can be activated on command. By fluctuating the frequency of these actuators, the user will "feel" different surfaces as their finger moves across it. As an example, a display could include a virtual click wheel which vibrates at a different frequency as the center. Users could easily sense the difference and use the click wheel without having to look at it.

    Haptic technology has started gaining adoption in other mobile phones and there had been some talk that Apple might have been looking to adopt it.

links for 2009-07-02

  • "You can copyright a news story, but you can't copyright the news. "The news" just means "things that happen in the world." What would it mean, in practice, to make it illegal to paraphrase a copyrighted news story? Summing up, for example, political events, or a sports controversy, or even a fashion trend, could be interpreted as paraphrasing copyrighted material. So let's ban talking about anything. And banning links will help us make our references even more obscure, by making it impossible for anyone to refer to source materials! Good idea, Posner. This gross oversimplification makes you look none too freedom-loving!

    "We all know journalism happens only at newspapers. Better to protect them at all costs than to invest in the murky "future."

  • Just one month ago we announced the City Budget Watchdog pitch, reporting on San Francisco’s half-billion-dollar hole.

    A few things made this pitch unique.

    * It was our first “beat pitch.” The deliverable here isn’t a single story – but to cover a topic for a period of time. If we reach our goal, then the bonus is that we will create a follow up pitch and continue covering that topic for an extended period of time.
    * We had a gracious matching grant from Ruth Ann Harnisch. If we could raise $1,000 in the first month, our donations would be matched.

    We raised $1,710!!!!

    Adding the Harnisch Foundation’s grant we are at $2,710 just over half way to our goal!

links for 2009-07-01