Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ask.com Promises Not to Tell

I found this NY Times headline interesting this morning partially because it arrived so late in the game.

Ask.com Puts a Bet on Privacy - New York Times

Why shouldn't privacy be a market differentiator? Why did it take so long for someone to market it? Lately Ask (disclosure, I work for a separate IAC business) has been trying the spaghetti approach to marketing, throwing it up against the wall and seeing what sticks. My feeling is that they have done a nice job with their marketing. Even the tremendous failure of the "algorithm" campaign got them headlines proving the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity. I think privacy is good tool to pull out of the box out this point in time. On the heels of the Facebook beacon fiasco and growing legislative and regulatory scrutiny privacy is in the game.

Internet consumers may start to realize that they transact in their privacy every day. Every time I perform a Google search, I am selling a bit of my privacy on the market in exchange for the information that Google provides. In effect, Ask is telling us they are going to charge us less for each search. If they can get this point across to enough of the marketplace then they may get another few points of market share.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Google Asks "Who's Going to Win the Spectrum Auction?" Could it Be...the US Treasury.

It's official. Google is in.

Official Google Blog: Who's going to win the spectrum auction? Consumers.

Google would like to be your telco. Well its not actually clear what they want to do, but if they do succeed in winning their chosen swaths of Spectrum in the 700 MHz auction, they will be able to offer an array of mobile services that could easily googleize our mobile existence to the same extent or more that our static web existence has. A tremendous opportunity that we will have to wait until 2009 to see.

In his post Chris Sacca points out that the big winner in all this is the consumer. A mantra that Google has been repeating over and over again during their push for open access and one that the FCC certainly doesn't mind hearing. Remember they are charged with acting in the "public interest." The biggest winner from Google joining the game, though, is of course the US Treasury. With Google's giant coffers, they can drive up the price on lots they don't buy and competitors can drive up the price on the lots that they do. As we know so well, Google does no evil, so there's no way they would kick up the price on certain lots out of spite or competitive zeal. Nevertheless, their big stake can have the effect of driving prices up in lots where they do compete.

It's official. The FCC gave concessions to Google on open access and the ROI is on the way.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

M2Z Offers Free Horses, FCC Nixes

Infoworld reports that M2Z Networks, the startup co-founded by John Muleta, the former head of the FCC's Wireless Bureau is prepared to sue after the FCC turned down it's request for 20 MHz of currently fallow spectrum. The spectrum between 2155MHz and 2175MHz was to be used to provide free wireless broadband at speeds of 384Kbps downstream and 128Kbps up. In today's broadband marketplace, these speeds are roughly the equivalent of riding a horse compared to driving a car.

Startup may sue FCC over handling of wireless plan

Muleta appears to have read his FCC history when he offered free universal service for broadband with voluntary censorship of inappropriate content if the FCC would provide the necessary spectrum in exchange for 5% of revenue being deposited in the US treasury. In the past such an offer might have been a slam dunk or at least a bank shot of the backboard. The FCC has long used their mission to protect the "public interest" as a means to get concessions from license holders, without ever having to explicitly dictate terms. Free, Universal Service, "Family Friendly", wireless and broadband is surely a litany of desirable goals for the FCC, so why the foot dragging?

First, as I've mentioned previously, the success of the 700 MHz auction will be Chairman Martin's legacy. Until this auction is in the books, the Chairman has no desire to offer an alternate means of spectrum allocation. Approving the M2Z deal would devalue the spectrum being sold in January.

Second, as Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation points out, 384 Kbps down and 128 Kbps up is not really a broadband service by today's standards. Certainly, folks with a mule would take a horse for free, even if you could only ride the horse certain places, but the car industry might have something to say. When current technologies can provide faster wireless broadband, what is in the public interest about licensing an inefficient service?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Nobility of Mobility

Arrington posts on TechCrunch regarding some companies and applications making a go of the Mobile Social Networking space.

The Holy Grail For Mobile Social Networks

He correctly identifies what he calls the "chicken and egg problem" with regard mobile applications - a critical mass of users is required for any one user to find any utility. Of course, economists frame this situation in the theory of network effects and Metcalfe's law. A telecommunications network's value is proportional to the square of the number of users.

The goal for any entrant into this space should be to ensure they have enough users so that their usage reaches a tipping point. The best way to acheive a critical user mass for tipping is to ensure that your application is bundled with an existing mobile provider's product. We are also very likely to see vertical integration of mobile social networking apps from Apple and Microsoft and Google as well if they enter the service provider space through the 700 MHz Auction.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

On the Stalled M2Z Spectrum Giveaway

Om posts today on the scuffle surrounding the dormant M2Z Networks proposal for the FCC to give it 20 MHz of unused spectrum, with which M2Z will build a nationwide wireless broadband network. The network will be managed as a wholesale entity and in exchange for the commission's largesse, M2Z will give 5% of its gross revenue to the US treasury. It has also promised out of the gate to adhere to strict decency standards - a premise that plays in some respect to the FCC but also against the thus far intact stance on network neutrality.

GigaOM M2Z Networks Sticks It To The Martin Man �

I suspect that the commission's "inactivity" is directly related to the upcoming 700 MHz auction. Having already introduced an amount of innovation to the auction process going against ATT and Verizon, and given that the auction finally monetizes a swath that was largely given away as a boondoggle, I doubt that Chairman Martin is eager to hand over 20 MHz to a former FCC official throwing more mud in the eye of ATT and Verizon all for some unspecified future return. To act on this one way or another is about as nice as picking up a sharp stick and poking oneself repeatedly in the eye.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Google Follows The Golden Rule

I was chatting with my father this morning about the upcoming spectrum auction and how the potential "open-access" rule marks a bit of a departure for the FCC with regard to their treatment of the big telcos thus far. My father, as keen and jaded a political observer as you will find, commented that these sorts of things usually come down to "The Golden Rule" as in "He who has the gold makes the rules." Prescient as always. The fact that Google was willing to open its coffers to ensure that the open access rules were met appeared later in the day. Here is OM's always insightful take on the news:

GigaOM Google will bid for Wireless Spectrum �

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pocket Dialing - Mind Your P's and Q's

I have noticed that my Blackberry 8830 has a proclivity for Pocket Dialing - a phenomenon for which I just learned the name:

Pocket Dialing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The P and Q keys are the most commonly pressed which pulls up contacts beginning with one of those letters. This morning it accidentally dialed a sales contact in my address book and we ended up discussing potential firewall solutions that his firm is offering.

Lesson for sales people - change your name to Pamela or Quentin.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The 700 Club - Members Only

So GigaOm reports that Verizon is opposed to the "Google Block's" recommendations for the 700 Mhz auction rules. Big surprise.

GigaOM Verizon: Play fair in wireless auctions, as long as VZ wins �

I think it is very likely that this upcoming auction will be the defining moment for the current regulatory regime. The opportunity exists to set standards for the next decade. As the date approaches things will only get more interesting. Keep your eyes and ears open...

Tailgate Party

So TechCrunch highlighted this new product today:

Tailgate: Fully Transactional Web 2.0 Banners

One of those lightbulbs went off in my head - "Why didn't I think of this..." Really slick way to embed ads that I can interact with in another page. I hate advertising, of course, but if I was reading about Bob Dylan's latest tour on a news site and an ad appeared allowing me to buy tix to Red Rocks without leaving the page, that would be a useful service, indeed.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Failing Grades for Interoperability from the DHS

The Department of Homeland Security's Tactical Interoperabilty assessment can be found here: http://www.dhs.gov/xprepresp/gc_1167770109789.shtm.

The report found deficiencies in all but 6 of 75 of major urban areas surveyed with the Denver Metro area ranking near the bottom. It seems like there is a huge opportunity for the adoption of SDR and CR systems to plug the gaps.
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