Archivo de la Categoría ‘English’


Fon and Time Warner, what’s in it for them

Escrito el 24 abril 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en English, Innovación / Innovation, Internet

The press today is covering the story of Fon reaching a really big deal in the USA with Timer Warner broadband division (more than 6 million customers) to allow them to share their connections and have free access when they are out of their homes and close to a Fon user… The deal is great for Fon, giving them not only media coverage (here is the NYT story, among others), but also as a way to get the much needed “serious approach” to their business model: while their proposal can be understood as, at least, difficult from a legal point of view given the current contracts in many countries for broadband usage, the agreements with Telecom players will give a reinforcement to their chances to survive and enter a cash-generating curve that for now is not a reality but a promise.

For Time, is a way to explore value addition for their customers that more and more understand broadband as a pure commodity and will use price as their primary reason to choose a company. What is not clear is how these services compete with municipal wi-fi, that is such a big trend that will probably reach your neighborhood in the next…months?

The reality is that if Fon can finally forge such an agreement with one big player in Europe, then they will become a serious contender in a “community based Telco” world that seems more plausible today than yesterday… but still with some clouds from the legal perspective.


More on Google and Doubleclick

Escrito el 18 abril 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Buscadores / Search Engines, English

The move, which, as the NYT underlines “expands Google’s business far beyond algorithm-driven ad auctions into a relationship-based business with Web publishers and advertisers“, changes the nature of the ad business for Google once again, and creates a real giant in the growing business of intenet advertising. For those not sure of the potential that Google has to grow, this move means that they are now the real middlemen for the ad business, in a space where more and more attention from the customer is placed, in substitution of the TV.

This direct access is really one of the key questions, and John Battelle remarks it:”But will they trust Google? My sources told me that Google was building its own, now it’s clear it wanted the relationships which came via a market leader”, the access to the companies is key in this case. Battelle and Om Malik agree that the price tag probably comes from outbiding the competition (Microsoft?).

With this new move, Google connects with some of the key players in the advertising industry, and though its relations at this time can be difficult given the strong market power of the company, it might help them connect with those companies and build a lasting relationship that can help explore new opportunities in advertising styles that the current approach is not supporting (probably around branding and big companies).


With all the tools available for publishing information and sharing ideas that has been named Web 2.0, it is about time that we talk about another trend that in probably more important for companies and for the hierarchical structures that organizations have been deploying throughout history. The idea behind the name is that you can get real collaboration and idea-sharing if you want it. The tools are there, they are not very sophisticated but they do the job. Wikis, blogs, forums, email… they will contribute to create a flexible and innovative organization… in case you want one.
Andrew McAfee, who coined the term, and Tom Davenport have been exchanging ideas about this issue, and this week they have pointed out the need for an organizational mandate, not only technology, to really get the results of innovation and collaboration. What is interesting is that the discussion is already at this level, meaning that the trend is important enough to spend some time thinking about its future impact in business.
As Prof. McAfee points out, not all organizations will follow the trend, but for those who want to explore new ways to share ideas and foster bottom-up innovation, the availability of these cheap and proven tools is great news.
What I expect is that some of the most innovative organizations will join the group of companies letting this happen, and forgetting about hierarchies, focusing on the concept of heterarchies, in the same lines that Paul Adler defined in a seminal article “Market, Hierarchy, and Trust: The Knowledge Economy and the Future of Capitalism”, that was published in Organization Science, and presented a solution to the dichotomy market-hierarchy for the new organizations that wanted to focus on knowledge and people more than on power and control. These same organizations are the ones that will use these tools, and focus on knowledge and collaboration, rather than positions and power.


These days one can barely hear or read news about anything else but the iPhone. Well, maybe that is not completely true, but the effect of their announcement has been huge. What has gone almost without notice has been the iTV, which tries to take digital entertainment (basically the iTunes store and its contents) directly to your TV. Apple is not the only one. And I am not talking about all the IPTV providers, but about a company that is profiting from the digital entertainment industry with a proposal that is already old -take a DVD to your home and bring it back when you are done- but that works really well. Yes, Netflix is the one. Or maybe it is Blockbuster, which, instead of disappearing after their shares plummeted since 2004, have recovered and captured more that 2 million online subscribers.

When are we going to have a mass market proposition for online downloads of digital entertainment. iTunes started the game, with Amazon and Wal-Mart (since 2005) following in the last months, the reality is that, as we were discussing in a previous post, Netflix is still the winner thanks to its recommendation service. But now Blockbuster strikes back with a very mundane proposition: you can return the movies in a store near your home. This basically means using your assets to make your customer’s life easier.

This case should teach us something about the process of development of a digital entertainment offer. That something is related to the relevance of the real life of our customers, which are not willing to make a complete shift in their daily life, unless the change gives them more time, to do other stuff. We will all be happy to shop for online entertainment, if you give us a reason to do so. What are your reasons? That is probably a good question for many of the failed projects trying to sell revolutionary ways of consuming entertainment.


The iPhone is the gadget to talk about these days. Apple has done, again, an excellent job at creating expectation and translating it into free advertising. They have even started a fight with Cisco, getting even more free pages in the newspapers and minutes in the news. If you are in the world, you already know that they have a new gadget. And one that can change the rules of competition in the mobile communications world.

The fact is that theirs is not a really new, breakthrough technology, phone. No great camera, no 3G… a price that is in the upper range. But again the iPod was not such an innovation in terms of technology. They did what they know best: great design and usability, and a lot of expectation. Some others have learned the lesson and applied it to their devices. Motorola came to life again in this market thanks to design and the “be cool” effect. Nokia is building the same usability-design game for the last years. But now the masters of the game, with their leader at the peak of his game, are entering the same market, wich, by the way, is orders of magnitude bigger than the mp3 players has ever been.

But in the same event we have seen a declaration of principles: we are not a computer company anymore. We are something different, a company oriented to the future, to create the devices that will help us take advantage of the new communications –everywhere, anytime – that are already here. We will have two companies at the top of the innovation lists competing face to face. Let’s see what Nokia has to say.


“The day may not be far off when companies receive resumes that include a line reading “level 60 tauren shaman in World of Warcraft.” The savviest employers will get the message.”

Those are the last words of a Wired article of the April edition, “You Play World of Warcraft? You’re Hired!” written by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas, that has been receiving a lot of attention during the last months, while news about how massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) reach traditional media are, suddenly, important for “real” business.

Playing one of these games and being good at it means that you have to develop and improve your skills at leading groups, managing scarce resources, decide with low levels of information, compete against organized groups with the same – or similar- needs and objectives… basically some of the skills that make the “most wanted” list in many business around the world.

Being at a business school, the question to ask is clear: what is the role of gaming in business education? We have been using simulations in online learning for many years. But games and the open frontiers of MMOG are challenging for the systems of many institutions. They challenge the common assumption of someone going to a B-School to improve their negotiation or leadership skills. And though it might only be applicable to younger players, the definition of young is probably escalating to the twenty-something more than staying at the teen’s zone where it was supposed to be.

What is the percentage of work your organization and your employees perform in “virtual teams”? I mean, how many times a day you decide, communicate, share… with people in different places, companies, time zones…? And the number is growing, both in companies involved in this type of work and in the number of interactions and tasks solved. Are the skills of a virtual game related to these needs?

I bet (predictions for 2007) that we will see more and more companies using MMOG for their training needs, and Business Schools reacting to these trends with better simulations, some using the same platforms. At the end, these are games that blend perfectly with roles that are needed in real life, and the fact that they are not announced as such, make the experience even more important and productive. Have you tried these games? Do you feel more capable of managing/ working with teams after the experience?


The software-as-service proposition has been around for some time already. But with the popularization of initiatives like Apps for your domain from Google, it is time for SaS to become mainstream and reach the business press, leving behind the IT rooms. One of the keystones to mark a new technology as something to look at is the moment it reaches the pages of The Economist. Not that this is the first time, or that it will really bring a big change, but it presents sort of a “mature enough” value to many readers and decision makers around the world.

And this article in The Economist deals with software becoming a common service that can be paid for time, compsumption… like any utility. Well, that is not news, the discussion on these issues has been big since the article “IT Doesn’t Matter”. My answer is that, at this moment, complex applications are being offered as services, and the trend is affecting some key services with more and more flexibility, and -what is more important- integration capabilities. That means space for innovation outside and inside companies, using technology and flexibility as drivers, like never before.

Apparently the opportunities for those willing to provide services for small and medium sized companies are not over with or Research in Motion. Maybe there is some space for innovation here, and an interesting one not only for Google or Microsoft. What do you think? Is this really new or just a consequence of communication and storage costs going down?


At this point we all know what the concept is. If you don’t, go read other page. Wait, probably if you are reading this you already have experienced the effects of the long tail: mainstream products are no longer king for everything, if information and a digital transaction are in the middle, you probably are looking at a wider offer of goods that before. This blog is a perfect example: products of a business school are not only papers and articles in the press, but also more direct, less structured forms of information diffusion that also have a market. Is not The Wall Street Journal or Harvard Business Review, but maybe is the right product for you. Speed of reaction, flexibility and direct contact with the source are your choices, and you can find them using your average search engine, with low search costs for you and low publication costs for us. If you are looking for a book, chances are that something no on the NYT list is good for you, and now your chances of finding it and buying it are better than ever. This is basically the idea behind.

Sloan Management Review has an article about the anatomy of the long tail, written by three friends that are also leaders in the academic analysis of the differences that digital goods present and its economic consequences -and origins. One interesting point they make, that adds to the current discussion of the “theory” (actually they presented the real theory in an article in Management Science back in 2003 (link to the working paper) is the evolution of the market incentives for innovation and product development. From the incentives to invest in new music talent if companies cannot find blockbusters to the emergence of a truth based on content produced and delivered, that is, tailored, for specific tastes and preferences. The impact on society is a mystery, what is clear is that the rule of shooting to the least common denominator might become something old if these models of information sharing and product personalization become part of the pattern of media consumption. How should media companies react? Just wait and see? Change the way they look for talent and distribution? Are they already doing it?


IP Multimedia Subsystem. IMS. Sounds familiar? Well, it should, in fact, sound familiar, because is one of the key technologies for the services that are going to populate your communication services in the near future. Yes, I said communication services, not fixed, cable, xDSL, mobile… It doesn’t matter. The standard (IMS is a set of communication standards) has evolved to allow telecom companies to offer additional services over their IP networks.
You can have access to all your multimedia services, and the system (your mobile phone, your IPTV, your computer…) will recognize you and let you switch sources, receive only one invoice, access the same service from different platforms… that is real convergence.

With more and more broadband at home and in our pockets, the advent of video services in the same session with voice, instant messaging, gaming… makes the need to coordinate the initiation of all those services and its back office management (how you bill them, how to change from mobile to fixed lines, how to keep the user identified at any time…) a priority for telecom companies and their providers. Just try to find IMS in any of the major network providers. See, they are all playing the game.

It has also bad news. The standards are under development. That means technologies that are not completely trusted, which implies slow deployment. That also means (remember, standard) the creation of a new software infrastructure that is based in open standards, taking some power away from the Telco’s, and sending it to the application providers. That could create a new space for competition delivering services directly to customers. But obviously the carriers are not happy about it. What we will see in the next months is a new breed of services combining fixed and mobile communications, voice and data… an opportunity for creativity and a challenge for the industry to develop new concepts. Hopefully we will also see and evolution of prices to help in the roll out of those services.


Pirates of the Caribbean and film revenues

Escrito el 12 julio 2006 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en English, Entertainment

20 million tickets sold during one weekend. $132 million in box office for the first three days. $100 million in two days. Those are the numbers for the sequel of Pirates of the Caribbean. Those numbers are the direct result of the evolution of the film industry business models: get as much revenue as you can during the first weekend and trust home enterntainment (DVDs, cable TV…) to get your money back. With almost 900 digital cinema screens worldwide last year (source), new investments on complex to make the “experience” bette.

That trend could mean new life for theater revenues, which combined by lower distribution costs could expand the offer and generate additional revenues and exposure for titles that currently hardly reach a few screens. That, in fact, could also improve the revenue-generating cicle of DVDs and TV for a higher number of films, increasing the total number for the industry, instead of reducing them. The effect could be similar to process we have seen in the music industry: after initial fears and doubts regarding digital sales of their goods, total revenues and exposure are growing with online sales and non-traditional markets (your mobile phone).

Pirates is also helping Disney with its stock price. And its theme parks also, with lines of customers waiting to see the real-life attractions that inspired the film, and new ones that are exploiting the franchise. The video game and the agreements with telecom companies like Verizon are only starting to produce additional revenue. Not bad for an industry in crisis.

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