April 24, 2012

Choice was a core driver in America's founding: choice of government, choice of where to live, choice of job, choice of which tea to drink. Choice was also the fundamental flaw in "The Matrix" -- the human desire to choose relegated the mathematical perfection of The Matrix all for naught. So choice is a powerful human driver.

The human want of simplicity (not same as laziness) is also a strong motivation. The whole of human history, to a certain extent, is based on our desire to make our lives simpler, our tools easier to use, and to be more efficient with our time.

That’s why articles such as this one - Blame Netflix troubles on spotty streaming selection - boggle my mind. The technology exists, the concept is perfect, but yet all the streaming players (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, et. al.) are all falling short. And as the article states, lack of content is to blame.

It’s easy, and to a certain extent correct, to blame the content providers (studios, record labels, book publishers). They inhibit progress with shortsighted protection of their content. That said, to my way of thinking, the lack of an aggregated distribution medium that secures providers’ revenue streams, while being profitable for the medium is what’s missing. The brilliance of TV is that it offers compelling, new content almost on a daily basis in an aggregated medium. Consumers pay an invisible bill each month (it’s rare folks skimp on their cable/satellite service) and simply hit a power button and channel toggle for a myriad of content.

As the article makes note, everyone is trying their own thing. That’s all well and good but it misses the 2nd vital motivation with consumers – ease of use. It’s not easy when you have an app for every show, label, or publisher. That’s why, despite its flaws, iTunes continues to dominate. It’s why Amazon has pumped so much capital into the Fire and its distribution rights. Both know the ability to deliver all manner of content is the key.

I subscribe to Netflix for DVD service as it offers more selection. I’d prefer to stream via my PS3, but that’s so limited – especially with TV shows – that it’s not worth the extra expense. Until I get the same content and satisfactory experience, I won’t cut the cable cord. I’m only human after all.

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April 19, 2012

Ron Miller's posting on Internet Evolution - Comcast's Internet Cap Is Self-Serving & Unfair - got me thinking about Internet access and the notion of openness or fairness as it pertains to technology and the Internet.

NOTE: Coincidentally, WSJ.com ran a piece about the Oracle/Google patent lawsuit this week saying that answering "Is Java Free?" would be a complicated answer. Similar concept touched on by Mr. Miller.

Why do we expect technology and Internet access to be free and/or unfettered? Where does this sense of "fair" access come from? What exactly do we get from any business entity (or government agency) that doesn't cost us something (money, time, information, etc.) or come with restrictions/regulations?

To the first part of Mr. Miller's headline - of course it's self-serving by Comcast to not count their content against his bandwidth usage. They're a publicly-traded company, in the business of "maximizing shareholder value," which translates into "make as much money as often as we can." It's a smart business strategy and they're only doing what they have the tools to do (of which the government blessed by certifying the merger w/ NBC Universal; we actually wrote about the dangers of bandwidth providers also being large content providers).

The "Unfair" part if what gets to me. As you know I'm all about users having access to as much content on the web as they can get (legal content). The Internet is the strongest tool we have at our disposal as it disseminates almost unlimited knowledge to end users. But the Internet is not a concept - it's a monstrous mix of hardware, software, and people. It takes a bagillion elements to work properly for you to stream a movie or download a white paper or pay your electric bill online. All those elements cost money, and all that money is being spent by companies like Comcast. Why should they not be allowed to maximize their return on investment (ROI)? Why should their shareholders - of which Mr. Miller might be one if he invests in certain mutual funds - be penalized because end users don't think it's "fair" that Comcast has a cap on their bandwidth usage?

Where the focus should be placed is not on companies like Comcast but on why they don't have more competitors. Competition is the great equalizer, and without it, Comcast can act in a monopolistic fashion. We can bitch about it, but if our elected leaders signed off on that structure, then you're screaming into the wind. The best course of action is to find alternative means for getting Internet to end users. I'm not versed enough to know the logictics and costs, but that's what I want to see.

April 10, 2012

Interesting article on Internet Evolution - Five Enterprise Technologies on Death Row. This is a couple weeks old, but it's still relevant (technology isn't moving THAT fast yet).

As anyone who has talked to us in the last 18 months, we expect BlackBerry to eventually be added to such a list. We see them as the Palm of today's marketplace. I still maintain that the physical keyboard will help keep RIM around longer than anything else (even IT's adherence to BES). If the new leadership can use this to their advantage to refocus the business and buy time until their new platform is ready, RIM just might have a chance. That said, I wouldn't lay down any money on them (I've been wrong before though).

As for Mr. McGarvey's article...

1. Fax - the physical machine is definitely disappearing. That said, state and federal laws about shipping sensitive info electronically will make the fax service relevant for awhile longer.

2. Desk Phones - this I go back and forth on. Everyone on the smartphone bandwagon tends to forget the drop calls on their phones, or that here in NYC, there are more buildings in which you get no service than those you do. Plus, wi-fi still has connectivity issues. For now I'm saying it's premature to put this on the list.

3. T-1 Lines - most definitely. T-1 circuits are what DSL lines were about 5-6 years ago: on the verge. Cable has made significant inroads, and if the fiber providers could figure our a better way to get their services into buildings, they'd be the kings. Still, T-1 lines are most definitely on the way out.

4. Smartphone apps - Mr. McGarvey read my mind. I hate apps (except for Sound Hound) - they clutter my phone and serve limited purposes. Plus, most can be easily converted to a web app. But (I like to hedge my bets), apps will work without connectivity (for the most part). That alone means they're going to be around for the next few years. So I think it's a little early to have them listed.

5. Email - not going to happen. The death of email has been proclaimed for years. It's usually put on these lists by folks who are annoyed by the mode of communication (which appears to be the case here). Hate to disappoint, but I think email is an ingrained form of communication for a good long while.

What say you loyal readers. Anything you'd like to add to the list? Any arguments for/against the list? Let's hear from you.

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April 06, 2012

Typically we like to use this platform to inform/amuse/scare our readers, but we're going to digress into a bit of braggadocio today.

Microsoft Office365 - their umbrella designation for their cloud services - has been live a little less than a year now (BPOS was the precursor). The service has proven to be invaluable to our clients - existing and new - especially hosted Exchange & SharePoint. Syzygy 3 has made Office365 a focal area of expertise (wasn't much of a leap; we've been advocating the cloud for the last 8 years), and that focus helped us reach a milestone yesterday:

We migrated our 2,500th Office365 seat... It may not seem all that impressive, but when you consider our target market is small- and mid-sized businesses, we think it's somewhat of an accomplishment.

Anyway, this milestone further demonstrates (at least to us) that we were right to embrace the cloud as early as we did, and that our experience in the arena makes as an invaluable resource to those looking at their cloud options. Just saying.

If you want to learn more about Office365, visit the Syzygy 3 Office365 Site.

Thanks for your attention.

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