To get a better understanding of why Microsoft wants so badly to control the cloud, the case of Encarta speaks volumes.
According to the Encarta FAQ page, Microsoft is killing off the encyclopaedia–the 2009 versions, it would seem, will be the last. The MSN Encarta websites will, with the exception of the one serving the Japanese market, all be taken down on 31 October 2009 (the Japanese version will come down on 31 December 2009). Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium will cease to be sold by June 2009. Customers with subscriptions to online content will be reimbursed. (Neowin)
This could explain the MS obsession with assimilating Yahoo same months back. You could argue that many of Yahoo’s properties are every bit as pooly executed as some of MSN’s best. The important difference is that Yahoo is much more effective at monetizing them even though it trails Google – badly. Microsoft management only seems to effectively monetize on the paid subscription or seat or upgrade models. Product quality matters, but it’s been proven repeatedly that the paid model does not sell on the Internet no matter how good your app is. That spells big trouble for MS as apps move from the local disk to the cloud.
As a 25+ year veteran of the IT industry I’ve mostly learned one thing to be constant under all circumstances. It’s the same old GIGO (garbage in = garbage out) rules you may have learning in a programming class. Automating a good process badly can erase any potential productivity gain. Automating a bad or ill conceived process well sets it on a collision course with disaster. Such is the stuff of the mortgage melt down. Not a believer? Let the creator of the program that enabled the conversion of mortgages into bonds enlighten you:
Because of the news, you probably know more about this than you ever wanted to. The packaging of heterogeneous home mortgages into uniform securities that can be accurately priced and exchanged has been singled out by many critics as one of the root causes of the mess we’re in. I don’t completely disagree. But in my view, and of course I’m inescapably biased, there’s nothing inherently flawed about securitization. Done correctly and conservatively, it increases the efficiency with which banks can loan money and tailor risks to the needs of investors. Once upon a time, this seemed like a very good idea, and it might well again, provided banks don’t resume writing mortgages to people who can’t afford them. Here’s one thing that’s definitely true: The software proved to be more sophisticated than the people who used it, and that has caused the whole world a lot of problems. (more on New York Magazine)
Now our first self proclaimed IT savvy president wants to fix the nations health care system by automating its deeply flawed record keeping, accounting and payment systems. In this case it’s assuming that you can predict a good outcome from automating a bad process just because you know how to use a blackberry – something akin to how we got the mortgage meltdown.
Then there’s the multitudes of unexpected uses for data that are always “discovered” after the data is collected and indexed. Most often these uses are far from beneficial to the individuals on whom the data has been collected. I’m a big proponent of automation and the freeing of information, but the risks of misuse are incredibly high even in the hands of competent people.
The Sun-Times Media Group, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and numerous suburban newspapers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday morning, just a few months after rival newspaper titan Tribune Company did the same thing.
As CBS 2′s Joanie Lum reports, the filing didn’t come as a surprise for many employees at the paper. The only surprise was that the Sun-Times filed for bankruptcy after the Tribune.
On Tuesday morning, the staff of the Sun-Times met in a meeting with the bosses in the Holiday Inn located above their headquarters at 354 N. Orleans St., to learn how bankruptcy protection will affect the newspaper and its readers.
In a letter to readers, Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Halbreich emphasized that the paper is not going out of business. The news, features and sports will continue to be delivered, he wrote.
But the bankruptcy is bad news for employees. In a separate letter to Sun-Times employees that was published on the Tribune’s Web site, Halbreich wrote that employees would no longer receive severance or COBRA benefits when to staff whose jobs are terminated.
Yet another pulp publication now hits the skids. Employees who are severed will receive no recompense on years of service separation pay.
We have indicated previously that the Sun-Times was in discussions with bankruptcy lawyers about a possible filing some weeks back. So this was not unexpected. Whether the company will go into dissolution will be dependent on management’s ability to restructure. Bond holders and creditors will have a stong bearing on Sun-Time’s future.
That decision is, according to iSuppli, enough to make it reassess 2009 predictions for the sector; currently standing at a contraction of 9.9 per cent compared to 2008, when the industry turned over $300.7bn.
For Nokia, however, this means the company is effectively responding to economic realities and is a show of flexibility rather than something to be concerned about – at least until the cuts extend into its own production.
Here is the problem for Nokia and the rest of the legacy labels. Once an overseas OED/OEM firm understands the design and manafacturing process they can enter the market under their own label. They usually do so by selling by brand at 20-30% less than the majors. Once they have a base they slowly move upscale to compete directly with the majors, still at a discount from their product costs.
Its Toyota all over again.
AUSTIN, Texas — Drummer Josh Freese’s musical skills have landed him gigs with major bands, but his marketing genius has generated a huge buzz about his coming solo release.
Freese, who’s recorded on hundred of albums and played with top acts like Nine Inch Nails, Devo and A Perfect Circle, roped in famous friends to offer extravagant, limited-edition packages to hawk alongside his new record, Since 1972, which will be released Tuesday.
For example, you can download a free song or buy the digital download of the whole record for $7. But $20,000 will get you a signed CD/DVD, plus you get to play miniature golf with Freese, singer Maynard James Keenan from Tool and Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo. After the outing, Freese promises to “drop you off on the side of the freeway (all filmed and posted on YouTube).”
At a time when the music biz is struggling to come up with special-edition collectibles to spur sales, Freese has cranked the “freemium” concept to 11 with a wacky and creative tiered pricing system that he maintains is “100 percent” serious. Wired.com caught up with the California drummer/marketing whiz during the South by Southwest music festival in Austin to discuss the genesis of the idea and what surprises might lurk inside his closet.
First of all why not? The man has a right to sell his wares as he sees fit so long as he is not breaking any laws. Go for it. Though one would have to wonder about the sanity of anybody willing to pay $20k for a miniature golf lesson.
But there is the issue of exposure. Too much of a good thing can damage brand labeling as well. Not only that but the issue of value comes to play. Does a miniature golf lesson with Freese have more value than one with Jagger? And does album sales have any bearing on the value of the lesson? Finally one gets to the question of are we trading overpaid guys in suits for similarly overpaid guys in tights and grease paint?
All sounds like great theater. But to paraphrase someone mildly famous — “its about the music.”
[Update] Dear Readers, you won’t believe this! Freese SOLD the $20k record/mini golf package. He’s just waiting for the check. Unbelievable. The power of capitalism. Linky.