The NBR asked if I’d submit a few articles for NBR online. He’s the first.
This came out of a KEA workshop hosted by Stephen Tindall a few weeks ago. I think he coined the ‘Broadband could be our new red socks campaign’ idea.Big software economics
Rare glimpse on the economics of software companies with scale.
It’s believed the Mac BU currently employs around 180 people whose products — including Office, Messenger, and Remote Desktop Client — combine to generate over $350 million in revenues each year.
Say the average person’s annual cost is, say, $US150k. That’s 27m. Even with a lot of marketing spend that’s a good return.
When pressed for details, a spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant would say only that the company expects to release new versions of Office for Mac every 2 to 3 years.
I was hoping the days of 3+ year releases were gone. Seeing the progress that web office companies like Zoho are making in months - imagine how far they’ll go in 3 years.
OSX is being updated every few months. 10.5.4 is almost here. 10.5.3 had quite a few new features. So complexity is no excuse.
I’ve been playing a around a bit with web office tools. The collaboration features are awesome, but they are still clumsy to use. As Silverlight, Flash, AIR, Java and other web hosted runtimes roll out over the next year I’m sure we’ll see office parts that you can embed. You would have to think that’s all going to accelerate well within the 3 year horizon.
It staggers me that the biggest horizontal categories are so ripe for innovation and the door is open so wide. And the rewards for getting it right are so large.
The use-case of office documents are they are ‘hot’ for probably a day - maybe even just an hour of intense collaboration. Once a document is done, 99.99% of them never change again.
Probably 5 times a day I’m hunkered over someone else’s PC collaborating on a document. Or I’m emailing changes around that have to be in series or we have a version control nightmare. That slows collaboration and minimizes review cycles. Worse it’s embarrassing to have to go around again at the last minute. An emotional, painful response. Something you seek when looking for high value problems to solve.
It would be so good if we could use all that processing power on the desktop to deal with the rendering of multiple users attacking a document at once. Easy rollback of changes. Full tracking ability and difference detection. The bandwidth requirements are minimal as it only needs to keep a track of a few people typing and where their mouse is.
Use the power of the computer to empower across the world what people are doing next to each other everyday. It’s such an obvious scenario.
I hope that’s what the Office and MacBU teams are working on.
We are seeing innovation in this space. Zoho seems to be in front technically, speeding past Google. The experience the web guys are gaining in collaborative editing will be invaluable. But I wish they would work on fat client versions as well. They seem reluctant to charge. Hard to find any pricing info on Zoho. I think they should charge so they can accelerate investment.
These numbers show it is a high value space. New entrants getting close to the sacred cow will hopefully drive faster innovation in Office.Nokia’s dilemma: operator friend or foe?
DougalW flicked me an interesting Telco 2.0 article on how the industry is changing from the perpective of Nokia.
Worth a read.
Lot’s of good stuff.
Nokia has to yet to build an acceptable telephone. And it’s taken Apple to come along, release a cruddy 2G phone with zero “computer” features (download an app? nope!), and fix one of the deep problems of standard telephony: the voicemail user interface.
… going forwards, Nokia needs to become a different beast: an original services manufacturer. It’s the services that the users value most, well above the budget for a sexy new handset.
Which operator (until recently) had the highest ARPU and customer satisfaction? Answer is…. Nextel. Motorola built a custom push-to-talk service, where the handset, network and software worked together perfectly to solve a core communications need. The era of that particular product is past, but the lesson lives on.
Milestone. First blog here was 5 years ago today. Saturday 21 June 2003.
(It would be the weekend if we weren’t in IT.)New #1 Bag
In the technology industry, one the things that define you, is your bag.
For travel I have big boy, mid sized and overnight Samsonite wheeled suitcases. I wheelie suit carrier, and a one night away, fits in overhead locker, wheelie case. (Never travel with what you can’t wheel.)
My laptop bag is an issue.
My #1 bag expired a few months ago. It was a Line7, canvas bag with rubber handles. It had a big, but dated, Xero logo embroidered on it which was great for starting conversations and flashing 120 people at a time on the plane.
I was saddened when the clasps went as it it took me a long time to locate last #1 bag. But our logo had changed so I knew it was time.
I saw some OK bags in Sydney a few months ago and splashed out on 2 that we could brand up. After a 3 hour flight I had bag buyers remorse. They weren’t quite right.
My current squeeze is a WAS bag generously sent to last years Small Biz Expo exhibiters that was lying in my conference bag collection. WAS bags are made up from the billboard skins of the their ads. I needed to find a bag quickly and as I was heading into this years expo season so I thought I’d get points with SarahT. (It worked). It’s safety orange so is off brand.
The time has come to find a new #1 bag.
I need your help.
Rowan brought a nice bag from NY but his taste is german cars is at the opposite end of the spectrum to mine so is not suitable The bag is such a personal thing we need a model to assist with selecting.
I’ve plotted my bag related personality on the model below.
So I need a dark coloured, mid+ sized, primarily canvas with leather trimmed, brandable, executive laptop bag.
Probably a great opportunity for some rails guys to turn this in a web 2.0 start up.
So please help, send me links to your best bags.Sproutcore
If you were blown away by the MobileMe interface, then this link is very, very interesting on a number of levels.
Google needs an open web because it can’t compete and sell ads if Adobe or Microsoft infect the open web with proprietary Flash or Silverlight plugins and subsequently convert web content into opaque binaries instead of open HTML.
I remember Pink, Taligent and Copeland. Man that goes back a while.
That makes SproutCore a light Cocoa alternative for deploying web apps that look and feel like Mac OS X desktop apps. At WWDC, Dr. Michael B Johnson of Pixar gave a lunchtime presentation where he pointed out that if you don’t need 64-bit addressing, multithreading, or other desktop-only features, it makes a lot of sense to deploy apps using the web.
But aren’t web apps awful? They historically have been, particularly in the days when every server response required a page load. The development of Ajax technologies, which allow the current page to draw new data from the server asynchronously in the background, has helped. Modern Ajax websites such as Flickr offer drag and drop features, and Google’s use of Ajax in its web apps has made them more desktop-like, but web apps are often well behind those designed for the desktop in terms of a usable interface.
SproutCore helps push things forward; it keeps rich interaction local within the user’s browser and supports offline functionality, making web apps behave more like desktop apps and less like the constantly reloading HTML pages that users dislike. They also look like desktop apps, and in particular can look like Mac OS X desktop apps.
The SproutCore framework also solves a lot of problems for web developers. It takes care of browser incompatibility issues to run cross-platform in Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer 6/7. It also makes it easy to leverage the fancy CSS features of modern browsers.
On Apple SaaS …
Apple already has a silent lead in the consumer “Software as a Service” market with .Mac; While Google, Yahoo, and MSN have built models around pushing ads to fund their online mail, photos, and other applications, Apple has been quite unique in being actually able to sell its .Mac service to subscribers. Everybody wants to do what Apple is actually doing.
Fascinating. Another few bites of the Apple strategy revealed.$1 a day
Woohoo! We needed something like this to change mobile data habits. Nice one Vodafone.
Vodafone launches $1 a day mobile broadband
Vodafone has blown apart the mobile data market with the launch of its new casual rate of $1 a day.
From July 28, customers will be able to surf the net, download music and games and play on their favourite sites without committing to a fixed monthly data contract.
The $1 a day casual rate gives customers up to 10MB of data – more than enough for most casual users on their mobile devices. Customers who go over that limit will be charged at $1 per megabyte and users who regularly need more can take advantage of our suite of data plans.
Vodafone’s GM of Products and Services, Kursten Shalfoon, says the new casual rate will change the way customers use the internet on their mobile devices.
“Over the past year we’ve increased network capacity, the handsets are evolving rapidly and now we’re able to bring mobile internet alive with sharper prices.”
To make sure customers can take advantage of the new rate, Vodafone’s network is optimising websites for viewing on customers’ mobiles – a first for New Zealand.
“There’s nothing to install at the customer’s end, and it works with all our WAP-enabled mobiles. It means customers don’t spend ages downloading a page they can’t read on their mobile device. Instead they’ll get a page that’s optimised for their own personal device making the experience that much better for all concerned.”
The new pricing is simple and affordable, and now applies to almost all internet data, including the Vodafone Live! portal. Sky Mobile TV and Vodafone Compass will continue to be free of data usage costs.
“We have great content deals, and Vodafone Live will still bring the best of the internet to Vodafone customers, but it means the customers can decide what they’ll want to look at and what they want to get involved with.”
Billy is one of the many great people I met at Quest. We were travel buddies on a few trips.
I’m a cross between football coach and computer nerd.
Much as I love technology, my favorite topics are about people, leadership, and teamwork. That’s my passion for coaching coming out. There’s no better feeling than helping someone to succeed. In my current role, I get to marry passion for people with the coolness of technology.
Worth following Billy if you’re interesting in the people and personal development side of tech biz.Latest McKinsey SaaS report
RobinB flicked me this link. Very useful if you’re into SaaS. Easy to read format.
Big points (italics mine)
- Software industry is on the upswing with SaaS a key driver.
- SaaS is becoming mainstream.
- Battle between traditional mega vendors and SaaS vendors. Questions whether traditional vendors can transition.
- Demand driven by the SMB sector. Sales models are key. Huge new market
- SaaS momentum is happening faster than expected.
- Ease of conversion is key. We see this at Xero.
- Growth in the sector should be immune from the current economic downturn.
Useful report the confirms a lot of the things we’re seeing.Bill shock
I’m sure there is non-iPhone stuff going on somewhere in the world. This will be my last iPost for the week, I promise.
Chatting to one of the 2500+ iPhone users in NZ this morning - who was not a technical user.
He just got got a bill for $900.
I showed him how to turn on wifi.Interaction Design example
We really believe in design for competitive advantage. So its great seeing examples of the design process.
iPhone take two
After a day to digest the iPhone news I have a few more thoughts.
They are going after a very broad market:
- Kids. Addition of parental controls makes sense and I’m not aware of any other phones doing that. Clever.
- Consumers. They are hitting a price point that makes this a fairly compelling device at the moderate to high end consumer level.
- Small Business Owners. Integrating the iPhone with push email and shared contact services gives smb’s access to services normally associated with enterprise software. Questions remain over if they will allow hosted domains, or if the client applications will work with Google Mail.
- Enterprise. It may take another version but this is a credible first offer to Enterprise customers.
The breadth of this is also noticeable in the simultaneous launch in 20 countries, coordination of device and hosted services with MobileMe and embracing Windows users. Even the way that the country sub-sites all updated was impressive. This is an awesome execution project. Compare to HP who launched 50 new products today, including a gorgeous looking laptop, that I can’t find on HP.com.
They are also going Enterprise. Not just iPhone but broadly with Exchange support in Snow Leopard, the next update to the MacOS. This was overshadowed but is big news on its on.
Apple have become a broad execution company. What other companies are executing simultaneously on so many fronts - to this quality?
As well as this, it’s hard to think of another company that can hype up the entire world like Apple can. They have the marketing side cracked as well. Nuts.
There are a few potentially insidious bits. Coated in sugar.
The distribution network of iTunes is potent and quite reasonable priced at 30% margin which includes hosting and credit card payments. As it goes to so many countries all ISV’s need to think - do we have an iPhone app strategy just to get access to that channel. That is very interesting for SaaS vendors. Software + Services to get the distribution.
The application notification service ties Apple into such a wealth of information. Yet it makes sense to solve the background application issue. This is a scary/brilliant part of their strategy. Very, very clever.
The MobileMe applications were slick. The demo’s looked like some of the the best web apps I’ve seen to date. More importantly, here is a compelling Software + Services model.
So Apple gets hardware, software, clips the ticket on apps, and has regular SaaS revenue. A multilevel, vertically integrated cash machine.
Who is doing this stuff at Apple? The very few exec’s they wheel out don’t really blow you away and have gaffed a few times. It can’t just be SJ. There must be a very tight strategy team in there somewhere.
Will I get an iPhone? Depends on the soft keyboard experience. I assume they’ve learnt a lot in the last year and it will be improved. The BlackBerry is still the ‘power email’ device.
I don’t think Vodafone locally know too much yet but the burning questions are
- What if you’re already on an Enterprise plan?
- Visual Voicemail?
- Mobile data rates?
A lot of stuff came together today. A few holes but the breadth of execution is unprecendented. Fanboy or not, that’s what impresses me.July 11
New Zealand is on the official country list for July 11 iPhone 3G launch. Who’d have thunk this a few months ago?
About to skim through the keynote but from what I can tell there are some interesting hooks.
- After panning RIM for a single point of failure in their email service Apple does the same with an central, Apple only, app notification service, instead of background applications
- The have developed their own push email service. I wonder what Google will do with their mail - can they use the same push mechanism or will it be Apple only?
More later …
Q: I wonder if MobileMe supports hosted domains?
And on fake Steve …
Did you see it? Were you watching? Were you there? People, word up. That. Just. Happened. A faster, better iPhone, for as little as 200 bucks. Yeah. You should have seen the faces in the crowd. For a moment they were all just sitting there with this glazed, worshipful, vaguely confused look on their faces. It was the same look Joan Baez had on her face the first time she slept with me, right after I finished — just this curious look like, Who are you? What planet do you come from? Why do I hear angels singing? How did you do that to my lady parts, you strange intense monkey man?
Just saw this …
Snow Leopard will also include out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 and is scheduled to ship in about a year.
Mac goes Enterprise!?!Backloop
While the rest of us were working, Troy (41) sends me some pictures of what he was doing at Plimmerton on Friday.
I’m working too much.
Watershots by Chris Brown.3G iphone will run on Telecom’s new network
Confirmation looks to have arrived on what chipsets are in the new 3G iPhone to be released this Tuesday.
quad-band GSM support (as we currently have), A-GPS, and tri-band UMTS / HSDPA — which would make the new iPhone(s) 3G-capable in just about every market in the world.
It covers 850MHz and 2100MHz which is the new Telecom network.
Lost of shipping information around that Apple has been flooding the US with unmarked boxes and even Australian retailers have received packages embargoed until Tuesday. So iPhone 3G units may be available in volume sooner than expected.
We should know all Tuesday morning.I don’t like these sort of ads
Surfing stuff.co.nz this week I’ve been noticing this LTSA advertising message for ‘cars with stability control’.
I guess there is a joke here on pop up’s.
But I don’t think it’s good practice for web advertisers to mimic browser elements and fool the user into a click. Especially not a Government department.
Older web users get flustered by pop up’s and while this is no doubt well intentioned I think this crosses the line.
Maybe because it’s election year but as I know from experience what advertising on the few big New Zealand web sites costs it offends me to see my tax dollars spent on such a campaign which I can’t imagine has any cut through what so ever.
What do you think. Does this cross the line?At the movies
Just did 4 hours in the car. Once the kids dozed off managed to sneak on National Radio.
Simon talks to influential British director Mike Leigh about his new film Happy Go Lucky, and his unusual working method. He also looks at Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light, and the film about real life maths wizards who broke the bank at Las Vegas, Twenty One.
I usually enjoy Simon’s reviews but this interview is brilliant. Two very bright people and Mike Leigh gives no quarter but I think likes that Simon asks some intelligent questions. Not out on podcast yet but bookmark it.Global influence
Been a busy week. Deep south end of the week. Excellent X|MediaLab event over the weekend and been in Auckland today doing a World Class New Zealand workshop.
One of my WCNZ colleagues is next to me in the koru lounge waiting to fly home and just whooped loudly. Alison just got her IT Governance Standard approved. ISO/IC 38500.
That’s pretty cool. Contact email@example.com for more information. Global influence.
X | Media Lab was quite a cool event. I was a mentor which meant that I got to spend an hour each with some very cool companies and talk through strategy and give them feedback. It was very rewarding and a lot of fun. I was blown away by the quality of much of the work. I especially noticed how rich media was just another data type for many companies. Coming from a business software background I get blown away by how sophisticated cross media applications can be.
Met some great people who were visiting. If you get the chance I’d recommend heading to an offshore X | Media Lab event to build in market connections. If you are in NZ this should be an event you shoot for next year.