Archive for April, 2009

04 26th, 2009

I need to make up my mind on what phone to get. This is my wish list (more or less in priority)

1. GPS with Google Maps
2. QWERTY keyboard – I don’t particular want ‘get use’ to screen keyboards.
3. Unlimited data plan and not too expensive plan.
4. Do my emails, Twitter, IMs from the phone
5. Good camera that does video too
6. I need be happy with it for the next 18 months.

I don’t want an iPhone. Even though it is a groundbreaking product but I am not interested in having one – mainly due to point 2 and that I am not an Apple fan. I had my eyes on the G2 however after finding out it does not have a QWERTY keyboard, back to square 1 again. Someone at GeeknRolla mentioned that the Nokia’s N97 might be released soon and that looks like a sweet phone. Question is when it is due & how much will the plan be?

Point 3 rules out a Blackberry since they have rather expensive plans unless there is a good deal out there.

I have tried the G1 and I liked it but in general I hold some reservation of the first generation of any product.

While writing this, I am missing the reason why companies will not publish the release date of their products. Their reason is … …? It can’t be that customer should do an informed decision.

And in the mean time until I make up my mind, I am missing not having a smart phone

04 17th, 2009

The unanimous verdict in #spectrial is that all four are collectively found guilty. The Court went on the Prosecutors line.

According to the Judge who gave a press conference after the verdict had been released, the four Frederik Neij (tiamo), Gottfrid Svartholm Varg (anakata), Peter Sunde (brokep) and Carl Lundström have worked as a team, they know that material that was copyrighted when it went through The Pirate Bay tracker. This is why they were found guilty to have assisted in copyright infringement.

The Court decided the crime was severe and handed out a one year prison sentence and damages of 30 million SEK / USD 3,5 million. This level of damages are almost never seen in the Swedish Court system as they want to keep the damages down.

The Judge said that they used a conservative view when calculating the damages. The Court agreed and used the same method presented by the Plaintiffs for the Nordic Movie Companies and dismissed the US Movie companies method as too uncertain.

The Judge also said that The Pirate Bay was a commercial enterprise. Since Finance is my background, I found it very frightening that the Court has gone on the Prosecutors word of this as absolutely no evidence were presented. No bank statement of the The Pirate Bay, no company accounts, no tax returns. The main piece was a signed agreement that was not executed upon and personal bank statements. This surely must be overthrown in the higher Courts.

We have to see this verdict as a trial run for the major Court cases. Learn where things went wrong and how to clarify the facts better. It is all about making our case understood by the higher Court. What we take for granted, they have not got understanding of. We need to improve our arguments to ensure that it gets received correctly by the members of the Courts.

The Judge also said the Court only focus was on the case presented and took not into any consideration of the principals implications that is attached to this verdict. I have to agree with this point as it is not the lower Courts purpose to set precedent, that should only come from the High Court.

Another point that the Judge said – that I can not understand – bit torrent technology is not illegal but was illegal used at The Pirate Bay. I am pretty certain that is what he said but if anyone else could add with more information, I would be grateful!

Judge also said that the main crime had been committed by the users of The Pirate Bay. If this is the case, then why are not they on trial. Surely the main crime should be a priority rather then to look at the ‘assisting’ parties.

04 16th, 2009

Tomorrow, Friday 17 April, comes the first verdict of the #spectrial

As I wrote before, this is the first result for the marathon ahead and this verdict will not matter as much as the last one. Having said that, I still want the Not Guilty verdict so very much. There are several bit torrent / IPRED cases pending and waiting for the verdict of this trial – even though these cases are not necessarily the same as #spectrial . I think a Not Guilty verdict will show the other Courts and Prosecutors where this should tilt and cause less hassle for other citizens in the EU.

The verdict is due 11am Swedish time – 10am UK time. I will be on twitter and write on this blog as information start pouring in.

G20 stimuli

Author: Sofia
04 2nd, 2009

Today an commitment of another stimuli of $1,100,000,000,000 will be introduced to the world economy from the G20 leaders.

This better be co-ordinated with the previous announced stimulus from the different countries. That would be a monumental task but funds are in short supply and every dollar needs to allocated efficiently. The funds need to going to the right place otherwise, it will deepened the crises.

I’d also like to see accountability and openness to where the previous stimuli has been spent with the information of the desired effect and then later on with the actual effect. Anything that can be salvage out this situation needs to be done as this crises comes with a huge negative impact of so many people and companies.

During the G20 protests there were signs with ‘Capitalism is not working’. I’d like to point out that neither did Socialism or Communism. One of the roots of the problem, in my view, is the issue with management in banks.

The management’s power are too strong and does not have an effective counterbalance. It should be the shareholders that keeps the management at bay but they are not involved into the day-to-day activities. Shareholdes are mainly pension funds – who has no experience to review and control management – and small shareholders. Both of these parties main focused on the return of their investment and not what is for greater good of the society.

The management of the banks have proven that they can not control themselves. They have failed themselves, the companies, the employees and society in whole – in short everybody. This is an area where the Regulator needs to make clear new rules. Any new financial products developed needs to be run by the Regulator in similar fashion when a new drug is being introduced to the market. This is needed to avoid any new sub-prime products produced where the actual risk was carefully made difficult to be calculated.

Old ways needs to come to an end. One major issue with the credit crunch problem is that the banks do not trust each other as they can not calculate the risks of lending out funds. All full discloser of that risk and bad debts are needed by all financial institutions. The risk are there and they will not disappear so it is better to deal with the issue then prolong any uncertainty. For the financial institutions that the worst cases then here where the help needs to be injected and salvage what can be saved. However, there will be no 100% success rate.

04 1st, 2009

Chinwag arranged an interesting event called Freeconomics with the following tagline: ‘Free’ rules supreme in the online world, but is Free sustainable?

This was an interesting event and the panel was very good – more of their points and comment later in the post.

My takes is that we, the users, are going to have to start paying for the services that we use sooner or later. The two main questions facing these services are;
1. When should we start charging the users?
2. How much should we charge?

This is not easy to give general answers. But there are few things that businesses should do and consider. First is to keep the user informed when major changes are coming and not surprise the futures customers – never a good start. Another important thing is to do a business case why your user should pay for your service. What will they get for the money? What are future features are the site thinking to implement? And where do you think your business are heading in general? By charging the users, your site need to become more professional and are you ready for that?

The panel at the Freeconomics event was really good and represented different points of views.
* Nic Brisbourne – Partner, DFJ Esprit
* Azeem Azhar – Managing Partner, Open Capital Partners
* Victor Keegan – Technology Columnist, Guardian
* Charlie Blake Thomas – Commercial Director, Huddle
* Alan Patrick – Consultant, Broadsight

Here are some of the highlights but this does not represent all that was said.

Internet lowers the distribution costs and also competition costs. It also has low entry cost barriers. However there are still costs (for instance employment, rent, utilities, hardware, internet connections) involved with a internet business as there are with a non-internet business. The non-internet business can charge its customers and cover these costs and make a profit. These costs for an internet business are paid for somewhere else be it VCs, equity funding or 2nd jobs.

The user should bare in mind that even if the service is free, that does not mean it is free to operate.

One question raised from the panel was, does it make sense that gmail, hotmail to be free? The guy from YouTube (sorry I did not catch his name) pointed out that gmail is making a profit.

Email creates huge value for all its users and it is is free. Would you pay for your email? Well, I am glad to be gmail user! I want to be with an email service provider that is going to be there for the long term. With all the personal information and history stored on the email, it is a major commitment for me to put so much information in one place.

Google search engine (indexing) is not allowed to access the Guardian or New York Times backlog of published articles and hence they are loosing out in getting higher traffic volumes.

While writing this, I am wondering why can’t the online newspapers reach a similar agreement that Google has with Firefox re search?

YouTube takes approximately 10% of internet bandwidths and that is expensive. User experience goes before anything else within Google. The difficult ahead is to serve the right ads to the right users – but they are close to achieving it.

I would probably be more inclined to click on ads if there was a better targeting. But as it is today, I rarely-to-never click on ads.

The problem with free service is that the users do not understand the value points. are so successful because they understand what their users will pay for.

This is one of the most interesting points that was brought up during this event by Charles Blake Thomas. However, I do think it needs to be joint responsibility from both the business and its user to understand the value points are not and not be one-sided. For the business to know where it creates value, is to know its users very well. This is a crucial point that applies to any business. But for an non-internet business it is easier to pin-point as a value transaction takes place and also being able to analysis the competition value transactions. It is more difficult for an internet business that is operating in a free-economy to get an understanding of the value it creates and to analysis its competitors. However the advantage is if you are doing business on the internet you are much closer to reach your users as it is ‘only’ an email / blog post/ tweet away from getting in touch with them and start the ever-so-important conversation with your users.

There was no micropayment system when the internet business got going and this is how the free-economy developed so strongly. But to say that today’s generation will not pay for anything is completely wrong as they are happy to pay £3.50 for a ringtone. The mobile phone is now becoming a tool for micro payments. With The Kindle, iPhone and Android and coming Nokia devices, a new micropayment system could arise from that.

For a payment system to work there has to be trust between all the different parties. This is one of the problem in today’s financial crises as the banks do not trust each other nor their customers. I am not sure that I would trust my mobile phone operator to run my micropayment system and also that relationship is of a more short term nature then for instance my email service provider. I would rather have Google run the micropayment system since they already have a trusted system with the ads sell. However if they were to go down the route of Paypal with too many & high charges then no.

Free attracts Freeloaders. For instance, who has not tried the interest free credit card deal? And how many today have a interest free credit card? Freeconomics carries its own death warrant as it destroys its value base.

Time will tell. I think there will be a symbiosis with a free and payment model. This route forwards makes more sense to me. This is still a very young business model and environment but the foundation has been laid. Expectations have been set. Innovation on the internet is progressing in fast pace and it is too much to ask for payment models to be implemented before the user knows what the service will be and what the value of it is. The new business has to prove itself before start charging for the services it provides.