Monthly Archives: August 2008

Richard Waters

The email has been flowing fast and lurid since I wrote a column earlier this week suggesting that the the software-as-a-service (Saas) business was unlikely ever to be as profitable as traditional software (in fact, one venture capitalist with a lot of experience in the field offered to send me to “reeducation camp.” Can’t wait.)

To recap briefly: I argued that subscription businesses where customers can switch suppliers easily tend to suffer from heavy churn and falling prices. It may be called “software”, but the economics of Saas have nothing to do with the old enterprise software business. 

Chris Nuttall

MashYahoo has failed again to create a compelling social-networking service – announcing the closure of Mash on September 29.

Mash began as Mosh, but changed its name to avoid a clash with Nokia’s service of the same name. It began in beta on September 14 last year and has never been given a full launch. 

Richard Waters

android-market.pngThe App Store has been billed as the secret weapon for the iPhone 3G, a source of third-party content and services that will eventually drive demand for the handsets far ahead of what Apple could achieve on its own (I say “eventually” because, for now, this looks as over-hyped as the launch of the Facebook platform more than a year ago: it is a very big idea, but many of the initial apps have been junk and have done little to prove the real power of the platform.)

So great is the long-term potential, in fact, that Apple’s rivals have been rushing to launch or dust off their own mobile storefronts. On Thursday it was Google’s turn, with an early look at its Android Market (the first Android handsets, from HTC, are due to go on sale from T-Mobile this autumn.) Many important details are still being kept under wraps, but it was at least possible to discern how Google plans to set itself apart from Apple. 

Chris Nuttall

UbiquityThose nice people at Mozilla, the folk who brought you the Firefox browser, have introduced an empowering instant mash-up feature that anyone should be able to master.

Their Ubiquity application also makes the kind of command-line interfaces that went out with MS-DOS actually seem easy to use in their drop-down implementation. 

Paul Taylor

The buzz around femtocells – desktop boxes that boost indoor mobile phone coverage and route calls over a broadband connection – has helped RadioFrame Networks raise an additional $28m in debt and equity backing, bringing its total funding to over $100m.

RadioFrame, which was founded in 1999 mostly by McCaw engineers and executives who left the mobile network operator after it was acquired by AT&T, has spent the last few years designing a femtocell around its own silicon. As a result it expects to be able to sell its petite Omnicell@home device for less than $100 – much cheaper than most rival products. 

Richard Waters

32-nanometer.jpgIntel failed at mobile phone chips before, so why should this time be any different? I got a chance to put that question to Intel CFO Stacey Smith at last week’s developer forum in San Francisco.

He had two answers. One was that Intel won’t make its push into smartphones until next year, by which time its new 32 nanometer technology will be in full swing. This should push the Atom processor (which will be hitting its stride in netbooks in the second half of this year) deeper into the high-volume, low-price mobile market: each wafer will be able to produce 2,400-2,500 die, or 400-500 per cent more than the existing technology, according to Smith. 

Richard Waters

I’m always struck, when writing about Windows Vista, by how many PC users there are out there who immediately feel compelled to write in with their own strong feelings on the subject.

These generally fall into two categories: the XP die-hards who view Vista as an enhancement of dubious value they would happily do without, and the Windows detractors who have experienced all the circles of PC hell (it usually starts with a virus and ends in a decision to wipe the harddrive and start again, or a trip to the Apple store.) 

Richard Waters

tv.jpgWith widgets popping up everywhere from Facebook to the Chumby, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to bring them to TV sets. Intel and Yahoo obliged today, announcing plans to use a Yahoo software platform and an Intel chip for set-top boxes to do just that (think little pop-up boxes on the TV screen that draw content from the internet to complement the shows you’re watching.)

Will this be any more successful than the many failed visions of TV/internet convergence that came before? Beats me. Yahoo should at least have a strong proposition for the TV industry: widgets would be a great way to drop relevant advertising into TV shows in a way that doesn’t intrude on the viewing experience, which is the biggest challenge they face. 

It is possible – probable, even -  that Apple’s latest iPhone software update was designed to address the bad reception and frequent dropped calls that have frustrated iPhone 3G customers over the past few weeks. But if so, Apple isn’t telling.

An Apple spokeswoman called me Tuesday morning to confirm what was already self-evident:  that yesterday afternoon, Apple had indeed launched an iPhone update. When asked for details, Apple would only say that the update was designed to “improve communication with 3G networks.” 

Apple has remained characteristically tight-lipped about the reception problems with its much-hyped 3G iPhone. Indeed, it has yet to even acknowledge that a problem exists – a fact that has provoked frustrated responses from some users on Apple’s own support forums. Could that be about to change?

We hear that Apple is close to releasing a software upgrade designed to ‘fix’ the issues contibuting to dropped calls and poor 3G reception on iPhone handsets. Our industry sources tell us that Apple is expected to launch the new software within “the next few days.”