Archive for the finance Category

Why Apple Will Lose the Innovation War…AGAIN!!

Posted in finance, technology on April 22, 2010 by atmaweapon42

Okay, a lot of talk has been fermenting about Apple’s recent aggressive moves to shape the developing web market. To be fair, Steve Jobs has been behind many grand devices, and his war to take control of web and communication innovation seems to be going very well. Apple has locked horns with web Titan Google by infringing upon their ad domain. Apple alsolooks to potentially banish one of the web’s most important gate keeper’s Adobe.

By all means, king Steve looks to truly take control and finally reclaim the throne usurped by Microsoft so many years ago. At least according to many bloggers and web publicaitons.

I say not a chance in Hell. Here’s why.

Take a quick look at this post I ran into on Google Buzz a while ago. Its from Zdnet and criticizes Jobs for his lack of corporate manners.

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=6697

There is a lot more going on here than a lack of manners. This article outlines a potentially deadly flaw in Apple’s strategy: one that could banish apple to the fringe of tech and web development once again.

To put it simply, Apple needs to stop making such powerful enemies. Jobs has alienated so many companies in quick succession that his ambition and hubris is obvious. To the masses, this appears to be a demonstration of power, illustrating Apple’s unbeatable strategy.

What I see is different. By alienating Google AND Adobe at the same time, Jobs has potentially created a close relationship between the two. I am also willing to bet that Apple is not finished giving the finger to well established internet forces as well.

Alone Adobe would likely wither away, a company loathed by many savy web lurkers. But Jobs has not simply thrown them out by their loan some. Google lurks in the shadows, and I don’t care what anyone says, Google is one hell of a threat.

Jobs may not want to work with adobe and tarnish his beautifully closed products, but Google probably does. If anyone could help solve adobe’s woes and convert them into a leaner, more affective force, Google can, and likely will.

I am no futurist, and I don’t claim to be. But I know Jobs is sowing some ugly alliances against him here. Google and Adobe could potentially rescue the open source platform so treasured by writers like Zittrain and Lessig. The words of Machiavelli have never rang clearer.

Its better to be feared than loved, but far worse to be hated. Apple is garnering a lot of hate right now, and it is only a matter of time before it rises against them.

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Ning and Vultures

Posted in finance, technology on April 16, 2010 by atmaweapon42

My hopes that Google would acquire Ning and reform it into one of their own awesome services has been a bit dashed. I should have seen this coming, but it is a wonder to know just how quickly Ning’s body will be consumed should the paywall launch.

I have already been approached by several Ning substitutes on twitter, including @edmodo and @mixxt.  I have not tried any of these platforms yet and they both look a bit fishy.

Techcrunch may come to the rescue once again with the following story.

http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/16/grou-ps-and-grouply-welcome-ning-refugees/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29

That’s a pretty good list of potential Ning stand ins, but like the article said, they may not be able to handle the traffic a full fledged Ning exodus. Lets hope one of the big dogs catches on to the potentially profitability of this service and offers something at least comparable.

In Defense of Ning

Posted in finance, technology with tags , , on April 15, 2010 by atmaweapon42

Techcrunch released an article today showcasing the next steps for Ning as a company. Needlessto say, the news is bad. Ning is laying off employees and moving to a pay model, shutting down its free services. For more here is the article by Jason Kincaid.

http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/15/nings-bubble-bursts-no-more-free-networks-cuts-40-of-staff/

Ning has become an amazing resource for me as an educator. The ability to create a social network designed around my composition class has spoiled me quite a bit. I honestly think I would pay to use the service; it is that convenient.

All things considered though, Ning as a company would grow in remarkable ways if it stayed free and marketed itself more as an educational tool. Hell it should take a page from the Google play book and approach educational institutions directly and market itself from there. Many critics have attacked Ning’s business model based on its free nature, but I will happily say that the site has been a dream for me and my fellow instructors at Georgia Southern.

Mr. Rosenthal, you do not have to take this drastic a step because a while untapped market lays at your finger tips. You just haven’t noticed it. I will try to secure grant money to continue using your site, but if you move behind a pay wall, I will be much more inclined to try and make Google groups and Orkut supplement your past services. I really don’t want to blow up my gmail inbox like that, but I don’t make enough money to justify the subscription.

My university does, and has already paid Google handsomely for customized apps. Hell, if you don’t jump on this, Google will probably just buy your company and make the money you were too stupid to earn yourself.

Your company is quite good, but this move will potentially kill everything you have worked for. It is no skin off of my back either, cause someone like Google will just come along and offer something similar (if not better). Do the smart thing and explore the market you are most suited for.

British Web Bill Will Be Final Nail in Dino Industry’s Coffin

Posted in finance, technology with tags on April 8, 2010 by atmaweapon42

At first I was intimidated by the Techcrunch article describing the latest piece of legislation plowing its way through the British Legislator.

http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/04/08/doublethink-the-digital-economy-bill-against-the-digital-economy/

This article, titled “Double-Think,” outlines the rather dire implications for web start-ups and the general future of web media itself. This bill gives extreme power to the media companies frantically trying to crack down on the rampnat copyright infringements sinking the industry ship.

It’s not going to work. If anything it will just intensify the rot tearing the media industry to pieces. I know from first hand experience what increased Government involvement does to an industry.

My father is a commercial fisherman. He built a fifty foot shrimp trawler and fishes off the cost of Tybee Island Georgia. His vessel is magnificent to behold, especially since he built the damn thing himself.

Dad's Vessel: The Frankenstein

Beautiful huh?

To build this thing, Dad had to put down one HELL of an investment. Long story short, the industry has fallen apart around him. Why? A hell of a lot of reasons: foreign dumping of farm raised shrimp and oil prices just to name a few.

What makes this story relevant to the almost totalitarian tactics offered up by the British? Government involvement and failure. Local wild shrimpers can no longer turn a profit because of either unfair, or simply cheaper practices of competing countries. It’s ugly yes, but it is the truth.

The Government offered a lifeline to the local shrimping industry, taxing foreign imports like there was no tomorrow and offering grants and funding to keep the industry afloat. In a few years, there will be NO local shrimping industry left. The government stepped in to try and resuscitate and dying industry and all of their most pointed and aggressively efforts failed miserably.

The situation with the British is a bit scarier, but I would not give the ultimate outcome of this legislation a second thought. It WILL fail becuase government simply CANNOT sustain an industry with no viability. The fact that media companies are pushing this through proves just how desperate they have become.

There is blood in the water boys. Time to eat…

Web 2.0 Attack on Education: Part 2

Posted in finance, technology with tags , on March 11, 2010 by atmaweapon42

Though this may seem insignificant, it looks to me like web2.0 business just cracked off a warning shot to one of the key responsibilities of many college instructors. Some may look at the arrival of MyEdu as a blessing, taking the burden of advisement from their shoulders and placing it in the hands of an independent agency, aggregating college planning across all levels. This will be a more extensive form of college advisement, beginning with the preliminary search for a school and ending with course planning itself.

Read the entire article for your self at Techcrunch, its a brisk read.

http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/11/myedu-will-be-your-curriculum-guide-and-virtual-college-advisor-rolled-into-one/

What is SO impressive about this is just how sneaky it is. If it works, this service could be embraced by colleges and universities as a way to cut back on some of the more monotonous tasks filled by higher level faculty. I bet few will actually stop and think about the implications here. Everyday, education becomes more of a business, as administrators work language into department policy detailing “customer service.” This startup will easily add fuel to that fire, allowing customization and (seemingly) automated responses to complex degree path questions.

We are being usurped guys. And something tells me this service could do a better job than any of us ever could, considering how weighed down we are with expanding class loads.

Wake up, we are under attack, and  I don’t think we can win.

Education’s Existential War: Web 2.0 Takes Aim

Posted in finance, technology, Uncategorized with tags , , on March 8, 2010 by atmaweapon42

Last week was kind of rough. As an educator, I had to struggle with some fairly dark realities as budget cuts raged and sliced my profession to pieces. Although the fervor has calmed slightly, as evidence of political fear mongering arises amid the worst talk of cut backs, I am forced to sit back and really think about what is occurring in the world of higher learning.

The prognosis is really, REALLY bad, and not for the reasons you may think. I have written quite a bit here about web 2.0’s ability to destabilize and reform entrenched markets. The more I look at education the more I begin to fear those same market forces are at play. The web could, and I would argue is, cracking the foundations of education’s market.

As information becomes easier to access, instructors and teachers will begin to lose credibility with the net generation student. MIT itself has made an odd push into this territory, publishing lectures to Itunes for all to see. Take a look at their about page and try not to drool.

http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/about/about/index.htm

That’s a hell of a lot of material to simply put out there for free. To be fair, this material does not exactly give merit or prestige to those who view it, but the key product of education is being redefined rather quickly, and I am not sure educators really understand what kind of game they are getting into.

Think for a second about what’s happening to print media. This dissemination of information through lectures on the web is very similar to the way bloggers edit and gather news to republish to their blogs. The result? A generation of readers who refuse to pay for content they can locate for free.

I am not criticizing MIT for this initiative. I actually think its a very good move for the good of society; however, instructors and teachers need to keep a close eye on the development of this freedom and how it affects their employ-ability.

This biggest threat to America’s education system may not be the ravaging budget cuts, but the ever growing presence of online universities like Phoenix and Devry. We chide and deride these institutions from our ivory towers, but from a market perspective, they are actually functioning quite well. What’s worse? They are growing, both in influence and reputability. I can attest that a University of Phoenix employ makes absolutely nothing, and that is terrible considering my own very low salary within a cushioned large university.

If I am right, the future of higher education will look very odd. One, larger university will not survive the fast, direct, and laughably low prices offered by the smaller online and community colleges. This will be magnified if the economy remains sluggish. As this effect begins to take hold, the funding for education will wither even more as enrollment drops to unsustainable levels. Two, the emphasis on education for employment may lessen as well, as personal accomplishment, not the institution awarding the degree, becomes the new gate way to hiring.

The salaries of teachers and professors depends upon our elevated status and understanding of information alien to the general population. In a wired world, that status and understanding is becoming more the norm, and not a basis for elevated employment. My kids question me constantly, and the scary thing is, they are fact checking machines ready to pounce upon my every mistake. That problem will only get worse.

One last point, one of my students is currenly working on a project exploring the inevitable decline and obsolescence of American Universities. He is the primary reason I am writing this blog, because deep down in my heart, I know not to second guess these kids.

They are smarter than you think. The siege upon our industry may not really be about the budget wars or the financial crisis. We could be on the cusp of a world that no longer needs us.

Never Waste a Crisis, but Don’t Bankrupt Students With Your Agenda Either.

Posted in finance, Uncategorized with tags , , on March 5, 2010 by atmaweapon42

A mix of good and frustrating news today as Governor Perdue continue to defend the university system with rather sharp rhetoric. This gets more entertaining every day, as Senators Harp and Ehrhart contradict each other and betray their obvious frustration with the constant deluge of emails and protests. I have never been a big fan of Sonny Perdue, but at this point, he has won a great deal of loyalty from me by standing up to these two.

http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/perdue-chides-lawmakers-over-347988.html

Its not over yet, as  Ehrhart and harp have not officially backed down, but now that the true intentions of these cuts have come to light, maybe the legislators can sit down and craft some REASONABLE cuts to help get us through the final phase of this crisis: cuts not influenced by political agenda.

I use the term “final phase” there rather confidently as economic data has finally pulled into what looks like encouraging territory. Locally, some firms have begun to rehire old employees in an odd trend. Usually employers look for new talent after a bloodletting, but as the AJC reports, this recession has been so damaging, many are turning to the same workers let go less than a year ago.

http://www.ajc.com/business/rehiring-former-employee-is-348045.html

While things are not exactly roaring back, there are  very positive signs of healing as the unemployment numbers stabilize and the stock market has officially recovered all of it losses from the year. I will be honest, I thought we were on the path to another crash, putting us at 8500 hundred on the Dow by the end of March. Thankfully, that does not seem to be the case.

This data is very important, because as the states fight to get their budgets under control, the data suggests that things are actually improving. We need to be on the lookout for politicized budget maneuvers, because obviously, many politicians look at this crisis as a potential gold mine for their agendas. Now that the recession could be losing steam, they could try to ram through all sorts of crazy stuff to just make a political point.

Keep writing and keep pushing. If we let up on these guys now they will just try to sneak it all through again.