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Friday, February 20, 2009

Google Communications and Media Convergence

By way of introduction to this article, here is an email that I sent to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt:


I am writing an blog article that I have titled "Google Communications and Media Convergence". The basic premise is that Google is poised to become the center of "everyman's" media and communications experience. I envision AdWords/AdSense making the jump to cell phones, television, and home phones using the entertainment and communications as a service model.

Services including Android powered mobile and home phone (or possible VoIP phones using wifi and 3G), Android powered TV's or set top boxes and radios offering streaming media services, all free ad supported services. Enabled by Google's nationwide infrastructure, which will be enhanced by the administrations "Stimulus Package" with funds for broadband, and through your partnership with GE for revamping the power grid.

If you would like to read it, please visit my blog at:


Thank you.

Jeffrey C. Johnson

I recon it's pretty presumptuous to think he or anyone at Google will ever read this post, but thought it would be a nice gesture none the less.

Google wants to be the center of your world by combining rich media and telephony into a giant advertising mashup. Picture this, you turn on your mobile or desktop phone and call Uncle Charlie. During the course of the conversation, uncle Charlie mentions that he is looking for a good price for a digital media center. Your phones then pop up several internet ads for media center packages and components. You click on a link or say, "looks like Big Buy has some good deals", and your touch screen home or mobile phone pulls up the Big Buy ad with a prompt saying "Would you like to be connected to this merchant after your call?" You or your uncle say "Yes" or press "OK" on the phone and when your call ends you are automatically routed to the stores website and the closest store to you has their phone number dialed, and the same ad you are looking at pulls up on store clerks terminal.

Add to this the possibility of GoogleTV. Internet based TV service that includes web enabled features that allow much more focused advertising to viewers. It seems like a logical progression from today's media-center integration. People like having all their various media types available from a central location, which for many is the living room television. Going back to the example above, if you are getting all your services (internet, home phone, mobile phone, video broadcast, etc.) from the same vendor, all the services could be tightly integrated. Instead of the Ad popping up on your phone, it could show up in a ticker at the top of your TV screen. Since your TV is web enabled, you could then pop up a PIP view of the Ad with your remote then connect to the site and buy immediately.

Sounds kind of far out, right? Well, maybe, but the technology already exists and is being used piecemeal right now. Look at some of Google's new products, acquisitions, and partnerships over the past couple of years and you see a pattern emerging. Many have speculated about a Google Desktop Operating System, but I think that completely misses the boat. That is a small vision that is destined to failure. However, a platform like Android, that is vendor, and hardware independent - That is grand, and extremely compelling.

Google has been consistently improving it's infrastructure over the past several years. We have seen stories about Google buying Dark Fiber, and about their work building "portable datacenters". With the Broadband money in Obama's "Stimulus Package", combined with Google's recent partnership with GE for overhauling the nations energy grid, that trend is sure to continue. "Hey, while we have the ground open working on the energy pipelines, how about we add some of this dark fibre we happen to have here ...".

This is just a very rough overview sketch of future possibilities, but like any good pundit, I am going to guess a timeframe for this type of convergence. We should see something like this by 2020. I do believe, however, that we will begin seeing fruition of some of these ideas and technologies sooner rather than later. As with any prediction, there are many factors involved - political, economic, social, and technological.

For example, I think a smart company like Google will go slow on this path, especially during the present "Big Business Hostile" administration. After all, no sooner than the current president has taken office, than his newly appointed "antitrust chief" has set her sights on Google.

Keeping this in mind, unless the newly elected president really messes something up, I think it's safe to assume he will be re-elected, which pushes us out to 2016 before this type of media, entertainment, communication consolidation has a chance. Anything done before then could run the risk of nationalization or at least huge antitrust battles.

This article is subject to editing and revision, as it is somewhat of a rough draft. I also hope to follow up with more details on some of the concepts mentioned in future blog posts.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Plea to Software Companies in Troubled Times

In our currently troubled economy, there is more risk than ever that companies will go under. Those that don't are probably considering trimming the fat on their product portfolios and concentrating on their biggest money makers.

This presents the possibility that some software products may be discontinued or abandoned. My plea is this—that companies open–source their software under an approved license if they are no longer marketing it.

While open–source is not a panacea for every application out there, it does at least add to the wealth of code available to programmers. Why reinvent the wheel if there is already a servicable component to use? Some software is reinvigorated via the open–source model. Some may just benefit other programming projects.

Of course, there is the possibility that a vibrant community will develop around it and opportunities may arise for providing support contracts. An example of this might be NetManage ECCO Pro (though not open–source). Another scenario is that programmers who worked on the product might continue to do so in their spare time, perhaps even with encouragement from their company. This demonstrates good will and is appreciated by many developers and end users. An example here might be OpenOffice (if there is a better example, please post it in the comments). Really, I am surprised that more companies don't do this.

I think perhaps some of them are afraid that the open–source product might be competition for them. Lay your fears to rest. If the open–source revolution has demonstrated anything, it is that despite there being high-quality, free solutions available, most companies continue to purchase commercial software.

Perhaps they do so partly out of habit, but more often than not, they do so because they have a company to hold accountable and service contracts to help with bugs or other issues they encounter. In fact, it is rare indeed to find a company that relies exclusively on free software.

As for competition—I think most people agree that a little competition brings out the best in all parties. It could be argued that many commercial products owe at least some of their success to competing with eachother and with free solutions. Competition drives innovation.

Once again, please consider releasing code for products that are no longer in your portfolio, or to your software assets if you are unfortunately forced to close your doors.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Broadband Infrastructure Included in Stimulus Package

Broadband funding in stimulus plan sparks debate (AP)
Posted on Fri Feb 6, 2009 9:27AM EST
From Yahoo! News
Add articles about technology to your My Yahoo!

The gist of this article is that the President's stimulus package includes some good old "pork" in the funding barrel for his over $900bn blow out. It does not specify how much is earmarked for expanding broadband, but speculates $6bn to $9bn. Here is an excerpt:

"These investments will create new jobs up and down the economic food chain, said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. His group estimates that a $10 billion investment in broadband would produce as many as 498,000 new jobs.

Those include the construction workers and telecommunications technicians who must dig up streets, lay down fiber-optic lines and install wireless towers, as well as the engineers and factory workers at companies that make the fiber, electronics and computer equipment needed to build the networks."

"WOW, that sounds great!" you might say ... and it does, until you do a little simple math. Let's see here, $10,000,000,000 / 498,000 = $20,080.32 / job. OK, so which of you Telecommunications Engineers and other high tech folk are going to rush off for one of these jobs? Any takers? Another thing to keep in mind is that they are talking about a one time investment of $10bn, so is that $20,080.32 supposed to be stretched over 5 years? 10 years?

All this "broadband infrastructure" won't appear overnight. Heck it will take well over a year of planning before they even consider beginning. Most of the money will probably be eaten up by red tape and bureaucracy before they get to the implementation phase.

Now, before you go and get all "this guy is against the 'Stimulus Package'" on me, let me say, I do believe we need either a good stimulus package to help the nation get back on it's feet or we need to buckle our belts and be prepared to wait it out. I am not really sure one option is better than the other.

I am afraid that the current proposed stimulus package will be bad for my wallet in the long run and will fail to get results. The money will just be spread too thin (too many projects), and going back to the example of broadband - what will happen when only 10% of the 14% (example: 14% of 100,000 = 14,000 and 10% of 14,000 = 1400), who geographically do not have access to broadband, sign up for the service? Either MY broadband rates will go up or my tax rate will go higher to cover the shortfall.

A good stimulus package would focus on core consumer spending and limit its scope to the most critical areas. I mean, does an 80 year old farmer in the middle of nowhere really need, or want, broadband Internet? Or does he just need someone to buy his crops?

Commentary by Jeff

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Toshiba handheld hits 1GHz with 'Snapdragon'

Toshiba handheld hits 1GHz with 'Snapdragon'

Looks like Toshiba will be the first to market with a smart phone running a 1GHz CPU! Of course you need every bit of that 1GHz to make Windows Mobile appear to run normally.

I would be first in line to buy one of these with Google's Android or Palm Pre's WebOS. It would also be a great fit for a MID, or for a Netbook based on Linux or another alternative operating system. I would love to see Haiku or AROS run on this chip. It would make for a very fast, portable, full featured device.

For a long time now, I have been waiting on the great Communications and Media Convergence. This has the potential, with the right software and hardware, to bring this vision one step closer to reality.

iolo System Mechanic

iolo technologies, LLC