The ‘air’ car…1,000 miles per fillup and reaches speeds up to 96 mph

A car powered by compressed air and fuel that gets up to 1,000 miles per fillup and reaches speeds up to 96 mph could be arriving for sale in the U.S. as soon as late 2009. Witness the Air-Car. aircar.jpg

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Firefox and IE

It used to be Netscape and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) ie.jpg .

Netscape died this month netscape-logo.jpg . Firefox firefox.jpg reached 500 Million downloads this month.

Firefox has the best and most web-useful add-ons anywhere. IE doesn’t even go there. I stopped using IE about 8 months ago. I’ve used Firefox before that, but not in a dedicated way like I am now. The add-ons did it for me. Next week, I will list some of the best I’ve found. My guess is that unless Microsoft takes their browser ‘where it’s never gone before’ , they might begin to look like Netscape has in the last few years. Even Safari is more interesting than IE.

The biggest brands in the world – Coke, Microsoft, Nike or GE? Nope, you’re not even close.

Umair Haque, the new Director of Havas’ Media lab had a great discussion about the value of brands which got me thinking about all of this over the weekend – and he’s on to something. The greatest and most popular brands in the world have been around for decades. Things that we almost take for granted; Coca-Cola, coke.jpg Microsoft, microsoft.jpg Intel, Nokia, GE, ge.jpg Nike, nike.jpg Toyota, Disney, McDonalds, and the list goes on. These are big companies that all have been around for many years, some for nearly 50 years. Each of these companies spend millions of advertising dollars every year to ‘promote’ their image. However, the world is changing and rapidly. Consumers are being bombarded and exposed to new and ever changing media on the web. When I think about any particular brand, what I believe I’m getting no matter what kind of material object I buy is an expectation of or a standard of quality. For instance, if I buy Nike sneakers, I know what I can expect or if I purchase a Coach wallet, I expect the wallet to last at least 2-3 years (or longer than most every other wallet) because its a Coach wallet. Coach leather is a brand I have come to know and the quality of their products are far superior to other manufacturers (at least that’s what I think). Its an expectation I have or a benefit I expect from a product or service. I know in advance what to expect. So, for years, we’d see advertising on TV or in magazines, on billboards or in newspapers about those brands. Not necessarily advertising the actual products, but big, full page ads proclaiming GE as the company that thinks about your future, etc. Big ads, big dollars and it reached most of us through the media mentioned above. It was and still is expensive, but it worked, that is until now. Enter the internet. The web has changed the game for these brands and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Think about this one – the biggest brand in the world has never spent a nickel to advertise itself. That brand is Google. Why? It doesn’t have to. But why and how did Google manage to become the top or if not the top, one of the top brands on the planet? Through the internet and its commonality of use and discussion among us. A huge, online community emerged that had something in common – they ‘googled’. Google has never spent any money on advertising itself. Its talked about, discussed, and in a short period of time has become a brand by doing nothing more than delivering what it suppose to deliver to us – results. No promises of this or that to listen to or read. The free ‘use’ and global access has created a brand with no advertising. Bigger than most firms over 40 years old that have spent millions every year to keep its ‘brand’ in front of all of us. Information does not need to be contained into slogans or cute commercials during the Superbowl. Its amazing to me that in less than 10 years, Google has built one of the worlds most best known brands without spending a dime on advertising on TV, newspapers, etc. Think about it…its really quite amazing.

Even Yahoo advertised. Maybe they shouldn’t have.

Satellite Internet is dead…bye-bye Directway and Wildblue

We moved outside of Los Angeles 2 years ago and I was forced to subscribe to Directway because there was no broadband coaxial cable nor DSL through the phone companies. Cell service was spotty, so I reluctantly bought a package from Directway (DirectTV sister company that supplies Internet access). I purchased a ‘professional’ package (or what they call a ‘business’ package) with a larger dish ( nearly $2,000 all in including installation ) and all. Supposedly I was going to get 500mbps upload and 2.0 mbps download for…$200.00 per month (Yikes!). The speed wasn’t even close. While I was spoiled by my TimeWarner connection when I did have broadband (3 mbps download) , Directway was barely better than dial-up for $ 200.00 a month. What a joke! Even after calling Directway many times for many months to complain, the service never came close to this kind of speed they claimed it could get . I was maybe getting 500mbps download. To top it off, they had a download ‘threshold’ that was suppose to dissuade people from downloading music and movies. They didn’t need that, because who could or who would want to download anything with the way (slow) their service worked. Then WildBlue came along (a bunch of guys from ATT and Direct got together to form this company). So, I switched. I had to purchase their dish (now I have 2 dishes growing in my backyard). But first, I had to get out of my 2 year contract with Directway which was not easy without paying a disconnect fee of about $ 200.00. So I decided to complain directly to the corporate parent. After a few weeks, I got through to someone there and they reluctantly agreed to let me out of my contract. So, I installed the Wildblue dish (only $250.00 cost) and bought their most expensive package $79.95 for the ‘Pro’ pack. Speed of 1.5 mbps download and 350mbps upload. It worked faster than the 2.0 mbps speed I was suppose to get at Directway. I thought I was in heaven. Until I met with WildBlue’s ‘FAP’ or Fair Usuage Policy’ which was no more than 17,000MB down and 5,000MB up. Since I blog and test various new pieces of software I quickly met that threshold’s ‘upload’ limit. Not download mind you, but upload. Must have uploaded too many blog text entries?? This was just plain stupid. So I called them and they told me that this was a 30 day ‘rolling’ policy and I’d have to reduce my uploading to be less than the 5,000MB for more than 30 days. Well, for $ 80.00 a month this was just unreasonable. So, I turned to Sprint who had just released a new EV-DO modem for plugging into a laptop or desktop. I could get my Internet access through a cell phone tower. So, I signed up, installed the modem at home and guess what. I have no threshold limits, and it works better than either satellite services for $60.00 a month. I then promptly called Wildblue back and lowered my monthly bill and speed to $49.00 a month (as low as I could get it). I will be disconnecting this service next week. Thanks Sprint. So, for anyone who is struck with either of these dinosaurs, drop them and disconnect, get as far away from them as you can as fast as you can. Try anything else but these services. I’m sure you’ll be much happier. Its just a matter of time before wi-fi and wi-max cover all of the rural areas that cable can’t and then hopefully these lame services will go out of business. Its just a matter of time. I plan on writing both of these companies again and I will include a link back to this blog. Hopefully others will read this and NOT send any business their way.

The Newest Pirate on the Block…and it’s NOT Jack Sparrow

Unbelievable. And the quality rocks. Someone’s going to shut these guys down sooner or later. The MPAA is just going to throw the keys away when they catch these guys. I don’t agree with this thinking, however, in the meantime, you can enjoy some movies right now: http://quicksilverscreen.com/. They look a bit like http://www.peekvid.com/ but the quality and site response is soooo much better (maybe that’s because PeekVid moved servers to Albania?). Just pop the corn. pirate.jpg

gPhone update 3

(Courtesy of Bob Cringely):There are two gPhones gphone.jpg slated for release with the first coming in September and the second probably not appearing until after Christmas. Given that the first is the high-end model and the second is cheaper, Google will probably expect to make as much money as possible on the higher-margin units at Christmas before revealing the budget model even exists. How Apple-like, eh?

Both will include WiFi, which makes me wonder if a VoIP client will be there, too. The high-end phone will look somewhat like a Blackberry Pearl, but the screen flips up and there is a keyboard for texting. No word on pricing for the high-end phone, but the second model is intended to be less than $100 — AFTER Christmas.

The actual manufacturer of these gPhones will be Samsung (rumors to this point had indicated HTC, so this is a change) and Google is still talking with both T-Mobile and Verizon as potential carriers (rumors also said Verizon had passed — not). That means there are both GSM and W-CDMA versions in the works. Given AT&T’s success with the iPhone I can’t imagine Verizon will let the gPhone pass, but it will be interesting to see if Google will be able go with a nonexclusive deal and get both U.S. carriers.

Nice ‘eh?

iPhone update 3

So my friend who has an iPhone iphone.jpg that he bought from eBay ‘jailbroken’ that has been working for the most part OK. None of Apple’s firmware updates have proved to be disruptive. He has software that allowed (also got from eBay) him to put in his cell phone number from Sprint into the iPhone and transfer the calls and and account to the hacked iPhone. He still gets a Sprint bill. He just makes and receives all calls using just the wifi connection in the iPhone coupled with the software from eBay. His Sprint bill used to be over $ 200.00 a month. He lowered it to Sprint’s least expensive calling plan (about $35.00 a month) and uses a wifi connection in his home and while on the road to make and receive all calls. The calls are cheap – they are 100% free. So as long as Sprint sees he still has a data plan, they don’t retire his number and bills him at a minimum plan rate. They have no idea he uses wifi to make his calls nor can they find out.

Compare this to getting an iPhone from ATT. You get 2 years in jail (ATT jail that is, a 2 yr. cell plan). And if you want to access the internet and other iPhone functions that you probably will want to (hey, you don’t get the iPhone to make cell calls only) , you must get the ‘Media’ package from for another $ 15-25 a month. But the real kicker is that you ALSO pay Apple a $45.00 a month fee to access other essential online functionality from Apple ( and I don’t have an iPhone yet to be able to tell you exactly what those online items are) but I believe its access to your contact phone book and numbers, photos and other online goodies from .mac . iPhone cell bills are some of the most expensive cell bills on the planet right now averaging over $ 200.00 a month all in.

So, my friend’s iPhone deal from eBay looks like a real deal after all. Except for one thing. He and I had lunch last week and very often he doesn’t answer a lot more calls since he got his new iPhone. So, we tested it at lunch. After trying to call him several times on his iPhone (and he was sitting at the same table as me), the wifi connection did NOT tell him that I was calling -nothing. It was as if I never had called. On the third try, it worked and said he missed a call from me. But the first 2 times, nothing. I sent him an SMS , and that worked fine as did leaving him a voicemail. But the wifi seemed to be a bit if’fy.

Conclusion: if you need to be reached 100% of the time on your cell phone, go to the ATT store and get an iPhone. If you don’t, go to eBay and get an iPhone. You third possibility will come early next year. Free cell phones and cell phone access through Google’s new wireless spectrum and Android advertising laden cell phone. But, to be able to make calls for free, the price could be right.

Viewers spend more time in front of a TV in a single day than they do a whole month with online video but one day…

Surprised? But this is the bigger picture and important because it keeps things in perspective. This is how it is today. Consumers watched 10 billion online videos in December (comScore) . People watched an average of 3.4 hours of online during the month, up 34% from January 2007. TV audiences are shrinking. They are still big and can be huge (like the recent Superbowl numbers prove) but TV has a new competitor. The 10 billion videos watched online in December was the highest total since comScore started keeping track of the stat a year ago. Apple knows this. Apple has applied for a patent that allows widgets to be displayed on TV when you’re watching Apple TV apple.gif. So imagine watching a movie and a small search widget (with advertising embedded in it of course) can be displayed if you want it that allows you to look for any actor or production person in the movie you are watching or reference other info at IMDB, for example. Or give you the ability to chat, read news feeds, get sports scores, etc. What a nice way to integrate the internet with TV viewing. Unobtrusive, but there.

“With the writer’s strike keeping new TV episodes from reaching the airwaves, viewers have been seeking alternatives for fresh content. It appears that online video is stepping in to help fill that void.” This is what the Exec VP at comScore was quoted as saying. I’m not so sure that the writer’s strike had too much to do with these numbers.

The growth in video on the web had been steadily increasing year after year. Consumers are spending less and less time watching TV – and that’s been happening now for many, many years – consistently. This is a trend that is not going away anytime soon.

10 years from today, these numbers will look funny, but for now here is what they look like:

Google Sites google-logo.jpg once again ranked as the top U.S. video property in December with 3.3 billion videos viewed (32.6 percent share of videos), gaining 1.3 share points versus the previous month. YouTube.com accounted for more than 97 percent of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 358 million (3.5 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 340 million (3.4 percent) and Viacom Digital with 238 million (2.3 percent).

I wonder if you’ll be able to get an Apple widget on a Google Panasonic TV set next year? Hmmmm, that will be interesting.

Top U.S. Online Video Properties* by Videos Viewed
    December 2007
    Total U.S. -- Home/Work/University Locations
    Source: comScore Video Metrix

    Property                         Videos               Share (%) of
                                      (000)                   Videos

    Total Internet                10,156,199                 100.0
    Google Sites                   3,314,962                  32.6
    Fox Interactive Media            358,353                   3.5
    Yahoo! Sites                     340,409                   3.4
    Viacom Digital                   237,689                   2.3
    Microsoft Sites                  180,443                   1.8
    Time Warner Network              174,079                   1.7
    Disney Online                    123,009                   1.2
    ESPN                              84,839                   0.8
    Apple Inc.                        50,316                   0.5
    ABC.COM                           47,259                   0.5

    * Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks.
      Online video includes both streaming and progressive downloads

‘The Beatles’ are finally available in a streaming format…across the universe that is.

If you are extraterrestrial in the neighborhood of Polaris, the North Star, you’ll be able to listen to ‘Across the Universe’ in 431 years for free and without any DRM. NASA on Monday will broadcast the Beatles’ song “Across the Universe” across the galaxy to mark the 50th anniversary of the agency, the 45th anniversary of NASA’s Deep Space Network, and the 40th anniversary of the song (not to mention Tuesday’s DVD release of the movie bearing the same name). The song will be broadcast as an MP3 and with the blessing of the The Beatles estate thebeatles.jpg . Polaris is 2.5 quadrillion miles away (umm, that’s why it’s 431 years away). But that seems a lot closer than downloading anything ‘Beatles’ soon from iTunes. To Polaris anyone?

What’s really behind Microsoft’s proposed takeover of Yahoo?

A long time ago, in another galaxy far, far away (1997), before there was a popular engine named ‘Google’ there was a search engine called GoTo.com. gotologo1.gif GoTo was one of the dot-com’s that idealab! idealab_logo.gif started in the early days of the internet, pre-March 2002 meltdown. GoTo occupied office space right next to the lab where I was working at the time, in young and fashionable downtown Pasadena. A lot of people scoffed at Bill Gross’ notion of using a bidding mechanism for advertisers within a web search engine when you entered a search term. The notion that you could ‘buy’ your ad placement to be displayed when users searched for something was totally out of line with the norm of the time. AltaVista, Lycos, and the other big search engines that dominated the landscape then did NOT use this new-fangled algorithm that GoTo adopted to allow what amounted to a virtual bidding war in a cloud for the top spot where your ad was seen when you searched for ANYTHING. GoTo basically did a ‘branding’ act for its first year. Didn’t really have too many advertisers and no one really looked at what they were doing seriously. Then, to increase its mass, it landed a deal with then search giant database Inktomi in June of 1998. Now when a user searched for something, many more listings would appear and many more paid listing could appear as well. In the summer of 1999, they offered an online set of tools for advertisers. These tools allowed advertisers access to keyword bidding and basically was a switch from a system that required reps to sell space to a self-serve model online (sounds a lot like Google huh?). In 1999, GoTo went public and later that year changed its name to ‘Overture’ overturelogo.gif . The rest you can probably guess. In 2003, Yahoo bought Overture for $2.2 billion. Then, Overture bought AltaVista, AllThe Web and FAST adding to its number of pages crawled or searched. Yahoo/Overture and Google now had the lions share of the search business. And that’s the way its been. Unless the Microsoft deal goes through. You can see that combining MSN Search with Yahoo/Overture (Yahoo Search Marketing) would vault MS to second place in the search biz and puts the combined entity a lot closer to Google’s share of the search market quicker than nif they tried to grow thier share over time online. Here are some stats from ComScore just last November:

November U.S. Core Search Rankings

In November, Google Sites share of core searches stood at 58.6 percent, virtually the same level as in October. Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 22.4 percent, followed by Microsoft Sites (9.8 percent), Ask Network (4.6 percent) and Time Warner Network (4.5 percent), which had the largest share point gain during the month (up 0.3 points).

comScore Core Search Report*
November 2007
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore qSearch 2.0

 
 
 
 

Core Search Entity

Share of Searches (%)

 

Oct-07

Nov-07

Point Change Novt-07 vs. Oct-07

 

Total Core Search

100.0%

100.0%

0.0

 

Google Sites

58.4%

58.6%

0.2

 

Yahoo! Sites

22.8%

22.4%

-0.4

 

Microsoft Sites

9.8%

9.8%

0.0

 

Ask Network

4.7%

4.6%

-0.1

 

Time Warner Network

4.2%

4.5%

0.3

 

* Based on the five major search engines including partner searches and cross-channel searches. Searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites that are not on the core domain of the five search engines are not included in the core search numbers.

That’s the golden fleece that MS wants from the Yahoo deal. Sure, part of it is the traffic, but the real crown jewel is paid search. Bill Gross got the last laugh. Congrats Bill!

(logo courtesy of AdAge)  mycrosoft-logo020108.jpg