Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rereading an excerpt from an old post,
"I think there is a big, big play to be made in the mobile arena, [but] ...people have not figured out where it's going to be. Look at the raw number of handsets...As it relates to content, no one has put it together, yet"

Meanwhile, the first "Google Phone," a handset running Google's Android OS, was just released. My initial thought was that Google's an ad company, so this makes no sense, but I realized what Google's after: the mobile ad market. Google's been trying to tap this market for a while, but so far, it's been unsuccessful.

Platform matters. Regular phones are broken at practically every level. Bad hardware, bad provider, and bad software (even within software, the entire stack is broken). In a way, they're practically unusable for anything beyond phone calls and texting, which happen to be where carriers make the most money. Google saw this, and recognized that a new mobile browser wasn't the solution, it had to change the way phones are used.

The plan probably won't work. Google has competition from Apple, and the two carriers with faster networks aren't even involved with the iPhone or Android, so breaking into the market is tough, hence Google's role in the wireless spectrum auction.

Even if Google squeezes its way into the market, I'm still not convinced it can sell a significant number of mobile ads. Squeezing an ad onto 6 square inches just doesn't seem as practical as an ad for printers when I search for "troubleshooting deskjet 810" on a PC.

Friday, September 26, 2008

First to market

Face it; developers today are spoiled. Hardly a minute goes by without them using an IDE, a toolkit, a framework, a platform, an API, or a even a mouse, but that's not to say this is bad. Quality, reliability, and speed have matured in everything from the lowly 7400 series up to the once-perpetually-blue-screed Microsoft Windows. And this is good. It brought computing to the masses, transforming a machine that calculated math tables into a machine that connects us, entertains us, and sometimes inspires us.

But this isn't where the money is. Before Woz worked on the Apple I, he designed functional, but hacked-up CPUs that took half the gates of other designs. For an established company like, cheaper designs were nice, but for a startup like Apple, designs using half the gates of the competition meant a product could have a two-year lead to market.

The best startups develop technology that shouldn't be ready for a few years, and not with architectural pedantics, but with a bag of hacks. When they succeed, they have both a technological edge and an existing user base--barriers--that any entrant to the market would have to overcome. This is what startups are about; not a nifty tool that a Googler could develop in his 20% time, but something that the market hasn't seen, something almost impossible.