Thursday, June 17, 2004

Russell Beattie on Nokia

Long time mobile watcher Russell Beattie has a great post on what is wrong over at Nokia. If you follow mobile devices and Nokia in particular, this is a must read. I have only one disagreement with him -- he suggests that Nokia exit the S40 business. Its sometimes easy for gadget wonks like us to forget that most of the world still wants *free* phones -- well, subsidized by operators. Nokia has to have the world's cheapest phones in addition to the world's best phones. It is a delicate balancing act -- maintain the volume with operators and the public so you remain the most important guy on the block, but produce the best mid-range and high-end phones to earn real profits. But without the volume business, Nokia would have less distribution power for the high-profit phones. I mean, would anyone have agreed to carry N-Gage at all, if it wasn't for Nokia's overall market presence?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Deja Vu All Over Again

Just in time for summer, BusinessWeek has rediscovered digital convergence! You know, the coming "Big Bang!" in which the computer industry, consumer electronics industry, and communications industry all merge. Let's turn back the clock and look at a few other times they have "discovered" this phenomenon...

July 2, 2001 -- Technologgy's Unholy Convergence (doesn't sound like nearly as much fun as a Big Bang)

June 23, 1997 -- Is Digital Convergence for Real? (I guess it wasn't...)

For extra credit, how about an examination of BusinessWeek's other lead story -- Wounded, Nokia Comes Back Firing. Where have we heard this before? How about in BusinessWeek...

January 22, 2001 Is Nokia's Star Dimming? (short answer, no it didn't)

August 10, 1998 Nokia: Can CEO Ollila keep the cellular superstar flying high? (short answer, yes he did).

So is it just me, or are there certain stories that the mainstream media has decided sell papers (magazines in this case), and they just roll them out every few years as if they suddenly had a new idea? I can almost hear the folks sitting around the newsroom, "Hey, we haven't run that stupid digital convergence story in a few years... no one will remember the last time we ran it so lets prop up an issue with the usual sweeping statements updated with a few new quotes from the usual suspects..."

I am almost to the point of joining the blog-only news groupies...

Monday, June 14, 2004

This Compromise Stinks

I rarely wander from the beaten path of technology on this blog, but now that I have been firing up IP Inferno as my outlet for tech related commentary and news, I might comment a little more on non-tech. What has me in a lather today? This terrible ruling by the US Supreme Court.

I respect you if you think that the word "God" should be in the US Pledge of Allegiance, and I respect you if you think that it should not be in that Pledge. As citizens we can all respect each other's right to believe in a God (or Gods) or not and express our opinions on what the government should and should not do about those beliefs.

But the Supreme Court is the place where decisions should be made, sometimes hard decisions, on what the relationship between Church and State should look like in the 21st century US. The Justices have abrogated their responsibility to this nation by ruling that Michael Newdow cannot sue his daughter's school because he " in a protracted custody fight with the girl's mother."

This ridiculous side-step of the core constitutional issue comes at the wrong time for the US. We need to be demonstrating to the world that our system of government works -- that it is possible to balance the powers of executive, legislative, and judicial branches and to emerge with a government by, for, and about the people. In this ruling, the court has demonstrated that it is, once again, willing to step away from a difficult issue.

We should be engaging more Americans in the debate about the relationship between church and state, not trying to bury the issue under legal technicalities.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Another State Taxes VoIP

Thanks to Andy Abramson's VoIP Watch for the link to this Seattle Times article --
Washington state regulators yesterday determined that Portland-based LocalDial, which offers Internet phone service, is a telecommunications company and must start paying access charges like any other phone company.
The case is interesting in that it only determines that VoIP is a phone service in a narrow case -- where it is used for the backhaul of voice communications between a caller and call recipient who are both using POTS.