——— Forwarded Message From: Bob Lefsetz <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 15:33:31 -0400 To: Bijan Sabet <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Laptop Hunters
The Web has a zillion sleuths just waiting to be activated, like that worm on your computer delineated on "60 Minutes" last night (PC-only, in fact), in order to verify the veracity of your statements.
Microsoft’s new “Laptop Hunters” TV campaign, in which an uber-attractive girl professes she’s not cool enough to buy an Apple laptop and goes for a cheaper Windows machine.
Within moments, it was revealed that “Lauren” was not an average person, but a member of SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) recruited from Craigslist
In other words, if you think you can pull the wool over the public’s eyes, with your lame excuse denying the truth, you’re wrong. The twenty first century is about transparency. Reveal the facts, admit the truth and move on. People today know life is complicated, mistakes and failures are part of the game.
"The economy is helpful," Ballmer said at a conference today in New York. "Paying an extra $500 for a computer with a[n Apple] logo on it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this economy."
I think the ad is odd and misguided:
1 - Instead of building a better OS and suite of products they focus on price. They should be a bit embarrasessed they don’t have an answer to iLife (iphoto, itunes, imovie, idvd, .mac, etc). Focus on products not price.
2 - Are we gonna see ads that say that Microsoft Windows Mobile powered phones are cheaper than iphones? Would that matter?
3 - How much is Microsoft Office again? Do they really want to talk about price? I just bought a new Mac for our home. It’s the first Mac I’ve ever bought that doesn’t have once piece of MSFT software. We are using a combination of Google Docs and Apple iWork ($50) for our home needs. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Even though I use Macs, I am a fan of Microsoft for many reasons. They make a bunch of great products. And I’ve got a lot of super smart, talented friends that work there.
But this ad doesn’t shine a light on the right stuff.
The previous "I’m a PC" microsoft ads were so much better.
* * *
another related thought: it wasn’t that long ago when Macs were considered toys and the Microsoft pitch was functionality (true multithreaded OS, better apps - ie Office, flexible hardware & enterprise support). Now the pitch is initial price. something to think about.
“Oh help me, please doctor, I’m damaged
There’s a pain where there once was a heart
It’s sleepin, it’s a beatin’
Can’t ya please tear it out, and preserve it
Right there in that jar?”—Dear Doctor - The Rolling Stones
While we were at the store another Apple customer was checking out a Macbook. He had an iphone in his hand but said that he was happy with his netbook running MacOS. My brother also has MacOS working on his Lenovo.
It’s pretty clear what’s happening here.
The users are in taking over. They are essentially “jailbreaking" MacOS and getting it to run on their own hardware.
I have only done a few things to this public page so far. I added a photo and it also grabs my tumblr posts.
I can’t figure out how to configure it so my tweets go there as well. But hopefully I can do set that up too.
I also took the leap and took Fred’s lead and dropped about 400 “friends” on Facebook. Now private is private and public is public. I know there are a bunch of settings, privacy filters, and various knobs I can turn. But I couldn’t figure it out (i realize there are hundreds of millions of people that have figured this out so that doesn’t say much for me!)
So how do I feel about this?
I don’t know yet. But I like having a private place and a public place. I really hope Facebook gets rid of the label “fan”. It’s not accurate and it feels all wrong. And it will no doubt limit the number of folks that may want/consider following me on Facebook.
I’m not a big FriendFeed user but Facebook public pages feel a lot like FriendFeed to me. My flickr photos will end up there and and probably a lot more of my feeds.
I never got much attention to my FriendFeed profile and I suppose it’s because I didn’t invest any time there. It will be interesting to see how my Facebook public page evolves.
Next up: I’m going to add concerts & conferences that I’m attending.
“Because Boxee represents a potential future for television that looks a lot like the Internet’s present. Because it offers the potential for a television with an app store and unlimited content from unlimited creators, decoupled from the machinations and limitations of the MSO. Because it’ll make your 42” HDTV plasma into more than just an idiot box.”—Mike Hudack - Boxee, Not Boxxy
Our portfolio company Boxee keeps building and shipping great new updates.
For those of you that may not be familiar, Boxee is a free media center application that runs on Macs, AppleTV, Linux and Windows (closed alpha for windows users at this time)
In my opinion, Boxee provides the best 10-foot, TV-user interface for navigating music, video and photos from your home network and from the internet. And it’s open as well so third parties can build applications or port the application to other devices.
So with boxee running on a laptop or computer that is connected to your big screen you can sit back with a remote control and surf your photos on flickr, picassa, listen to music from last.fm or stream video from netflix, cbs and others. More content partners coming soon.
With ever increasing bandwidth and great low cost PCs, I think we are going to see more people connect up their computers to their big screen.
Last night at Webster Hall in NYC, Boxee held their first NYC meetup. I’m told that well over 800 people attended the event. Avner Ronan who is the CEO and cofounder of the company talked about the upcoming new release and showed off some exciting new updates including support for Pandora and PBS. And you can choose from over 100k radio stations thanks to the new RadioTime support.
Great job team Boxee.
And thanks to the Boxee community that is building something special here.
When I left the bay area, I had dsl in my house. That was in 2001 and I had something like 1.5mbps downstream and I think 256k upstream. When I moved to a sleepy suburb outside of Boston I couldn’t actually get DSL or cable modem. I had to sign up for ISDN. I swear.
Just 8 years later and I now have 20mbps up & down thanks to Verizon FIOS. Right now the internet bandwidth to my home is better than my home wireless network. It wasn’t always like that.
Comcast is rolling out 50mbps.
In a few years we are going to get 100-150mbps up & down.
We should alll think about what that world is going to look like. What’s going to change, what problems need to be solved. Who are the winners, the losers? Future of television? Future of mobile?
“Arrogance shows up in several ways. The most easily identifiable one is Mr. Know-It-All—the venture capitalist who thinks he knows everything. He’s an easy guy to spot because everything he says is a directive about what to do. There’s never any dialogue; he says if you listen to him, everything will work out fine—yet, it rarely does.”—
“I’m not saying that you will pay separately for every channel you might want to watch. Bundles are often easier to service and sell, and that efficiency creates benefits that can be shared with viewers. But it is simply wishful thinking to assume that a pricing model that worked in an era with very limited choices for consumers is going to hold out in a world of nearly unlimited competition.”—
I had the pleasure of working for my friend Steve Perlman twice in my life. In both cases it was an incredible experience and I learned a ton from him directly that I’ve taken with me. I owe him a lot actually.
When it comes to his professional life, there are three things to know about Steve. He loves huge ideas. He is master of the stealth (here’s the original website to Artemis Research which was the stealth name for WebTV in the early days). And he is focused like a laser on the consumer.
His latest company is called OnLive. The service brings “cloud gaming” which delivers any game to any PC, Mac or TV. The big breakthrough here is that Steve and his team have solved major scaling, compression and latency requirements to essentially stream console and high end games to practically any device. So you can use any PC or Mac - not just a computers with high end graphics cards. And you don’t need a PS3 or Xbox or any other console to play either.
That’s a huge idea. The current game console life cycle from Sony and Micrsoft every number of years is always problematic. As a developer its very hard to deal with new platforms and its very expensive. It’s also expensive for users as well. And your choice of titles depends on which console you buy.
Also putting these games in the cloud means new type of game play and other things that I’m sure Steve is working on.
Steve showed me an early functioning prototype of the technology a few years back at his home. It was amazing.
Tonight full details will be available to everyone but the story broke so can read more about it on VentureBeat.
My very first point was we don’t think content people are stupid.
The software business evolved successfully. To me that means that there can be other successful models for video as well beyond current bundling models. There may have to be.
The thing about Mark that surprises me is that he’s resistant to change even though he was a very successful internet 1.0 entrepeneur.
Take a look at this post he wrote back in 2006 about web video & HDTV. At the time Mark didn’t believe that people would have computers that could connect to HDTV and if they did they still wouldn’t connect them to their HDTVs. (my response at the time is here).
Things happened in 2006 much faster than we all imagined with content & technology and the rules are changing constantly. Huge numbers of users watch video on their HDTV thanks to things like boxee, xbox, roku, appletv, macminis and linux boxes.
Who would have thought that movies are showing up on iTunes the same day as DVD release. That is a big change. Next up, I bet that movies will show up on VOD and iTunes the same day it’s in the threater. That will change the windowing business model big time - but it’s inevitable.
Studios will may charge more for this convenience but it’s driven by end user demand and technology.
And that is a good thing.
So now Mark believes that video bundling of the past & today is the only model for the future.
I really don’t agree. It will be a different type of bundling and consumers will get more choice. Just like they do with music. We get subscription and a larte and free. And I get this choice for any song I want essentially.
The software business showed a lot of creativity with new products and business models. I think content owners need to do the same.
Here’s one last point:
Evolution is a good thing and probably the only thing we can count on. The real compeition may not be bittorrent arounds or piracy (which will continue to thrive if content owners don’t embrace the open internet). The competition for cable, satellite and cable networks may be facebook, myspace, youtube, twitter, gaming and the like.
This broadband generation (folks growing up online) prefer facebook and their believed internet to cable tv. Thats the real issue.
It’s a competition for attention not a compeition for business model.
(disclosure: I’m an investor and on the board of Twitter & Boxee. Both companies mentioned in this post)
There is a lot big media can learn from the software industry
I try not to write about why big media is broken or needs to be fixed. It’s complicated and there is huge money at stake.
But I’ve been part of a number of so many conferences, dinners and meetings on the subject lately. I just can’t keep still (read quiet). And I hear that “analog dollars vs digital pennies” thing one more time….
First a few things.
1. I don’t think big media is stupid. There are amazing businesses built from big media and I love their content.
2. I don’t believe that all big media has the same shortcomings and risk (sig difference between newspaper woes and that facing cable networks and msos)
3. i believe that content owners should be paid.
Okay, with that out of the way, let me share some thoughts.
I believe that big media could learn a lot from the software industry.
The software industry has changed tremendously over the years. It’s clear to me that the old traditional software approach (expensive, finsihed goods, big licenses, piracy risk) is not long for this world. MSFT knows this and they are trying to reinvent themselves (I give them credit for that).
The busines model for great software has changed. It’s about open source (mysql), it’s about open api (twitter), it’s about professional services (red hat), it’s about advertising (google), it’s about subscription services/asp (amazon s3/ec2) and it’s about bottom up (salesforce.com).
Why did this happen? I could write a long blog post on that but there were market pressures combined with innovation. And the old model simply wasn’t going to scale.
The best part about these new models is they created bigger and new value for end users, developers and creators. New entpreneurs could build new things. New businesses could bulid new things. People & companies are making a living with these new models and it’s working.
Consider the iphone app store. if they kept it closed they would have sold less iphones and less developers would be making money.
I’m sure MSFT would’ve liked to remain in the old world forever but wishing for it just doesn’t make it so.
Big media needs to learn from this. Instead of fearing the internet they need to think about a world where every home has 100Mbps up and downstream. And my mobile device will have it too since it has wifi. And cellular will give me 10mbps downstream at some point in the near future as well.
And that is a good thing. More distribution and faster pipes is a gift.
Big media needs to take that and run. Create new forms of content, new packing, new distribution, new business models. Just like the software folks did.
Don’t hide. Time to put stakes in the ground and build the future.
ps: there is a lot the tech community can learn from big media. I’ll cover that in a future post.
“But how will Google ever make money? There’s the rub. The company’s adamant refusal to use banner or other graphical ads eliminates what is the most lucrative income stream for rival search engines. Although Google does have other revenue sources, such as licensing and text-based advertisements, the privately held company’s business remains limited compared with its competitors’.”—“Will Google’s Purity Pay Off?” BusinessWeek, Dec 7, 2000 - via “Remember When Everyone Wondered How Google Was Going To Make Money” - cdixon.org
“Boxee is the scrappy little home media software that continues to win the hearts and minds of geeks all over. These days, old computers aren’t tossed into the recycling heap; they’re turned into home media centers using Boxee (probably the Linux version, that’s likely to run on somewhat older hardware, though there’s a nice Windows version out in restricted beta, too). And the recent upgrade of the Mac Mini is probably going to see quite a few people moving their beloved older Mini’s from a kid’s bedroom desk to beside the big-screen TV in the living room.”—Boxee iPhone App: A Little Late, but Worth the Wait | Geekdad from Wired.com
“Between the venue, David and John’s hospitality, and Gary Vee going the extra mile, this was the embodiment of what SXSW was supposed to be—inspiring people gathered together in an inspiring place for a blending of the professional and the social. Even people who weren’t at the conference were tweeting that it was obvious that the Tumblr party really rocked. So thanks to all involved… Spending my night at Cedar St. really turned the whole event around for me.”—How the Tumblr party and Gary Vee got SXSW’s its groove back | from This is going to be BIG!
You may have guessed that the first spot would goto cnet or a big brand.
Instead it goes to dpreview.com which is a much smaller website about digital cameras and digital photography. The site includes reviews and a very active message board. The site started in 1998 but was acquired by Amazon in 2007. (they nailed SEO well before the Amazon acquitision). Think about the cost structure for dpreview vs cnet camera reviews.
I could show other examples in other categories but you get the idea. Getting Google juice is huge.
We are seeing many young companies benefit from great search engine optimization. They typically are able to do this by building the best product with the best content and they understand search. Or they partner with some interesting technology companies that can add value to their content and as a result improve their SEO. (there are also tricks that people play to try and game Google but that isn’t terribly interesting or durable in my view)
The thing I’ve been thinking about lately is how important SEO will be over time.
If you notice Pitchfork comes up ahead of Rolling Stone on this search. For other albums Amazon may come up first. That position on search is quite important.
But would I rather get reviews from Google/Pitchfork/dpreview? Or get reviews from my online friends or social network or social search engines?
How about other categories? Restaurants? Product reviews? Service provider recommendations?
Ultimately Google isn’t going anywhere. It’s an amazing company and they have the best search engine on the planet for most things.
But I think the value of seo will change over time as search evolves and other social applications and tools offer alternatives.
Update: related posts:
here’s a related piece from TechCrunch back in 2008 when my firm an investor in cnet. We co-authored a paper that was included in that post. If you read the white paper on page 23,24, 25 we cite the Canon search example in the importance of seo)
“And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.”—Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable « Clay Shirky