Today is a good day to code

The Post Free Era and What it Means to Google

Posted: September 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Companies, Google, Media | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

For the past few months I have actively quested against using anything that is free, asking difficult questions of the product, and often choosing a paid alternative when the answers were not forthright enough, and I have been noticing similar tension on twitter, and the other social media places that I haunt, as well as casual encounters with friends and family. Why have I have been trying to move off of the free ecosystem? What reason could there possible be? I mean who doesn’t want stuff for free? Well, that answer is complicated, to fully understand it, I think we have to look at some of the things that the “free” ecosystem has brought us.

The first, and most significant negative thing that the expectation of free software and services has brought to us is a huge proliferation of spyware and malware. There are a few reasons that the amount of spyware and malware increased dramatically around the time that software became available for free. It is largely a consequence of the law of unintended consequences. First, fast internet became widely available at costs that are reasonable. In fact, for a while ISPs played around with having a free price point, but that faded away quickly as capital intensive enterprises are incompatible with the gift economy.

The next is a series of unsustainable business models driven by advertising with ever declining value delivered to the sponsoring companies due to consumers being advertised out. This in turn has driven to many choosing not to consume content at all, or destroying once vibrant businesses such as newspapers, music, and movies. What is the answer to the decline, to increase the ads of course, to make up for a clear down trend with increasing the volume and driving down margins while lowering the quality of the product to keep the same profitability. Does this sound familiar, it should, its the same thing that happened in the housing market to continue an unsustainable business model. Instead of innovating out of the crises, the advertising companies are clinging stupidly to the old systems.

Once fast internet became widely available, the GNU / GPL driven software model with distributed version control systems became possible. Now people were able to collaborate on software, in countries where labor costs were cheaper, driving the price of development down in general for large projects. The GPL began with a powerful intent, to make software, and its source code available to facilitate learning and improve the quality of all software. It has largely achieved this end, however it got end users used to being able to download high quality software for free. At first, this was all gravy, but eventually these same people started to get tired of giving away their hard work, some of them graduated college and needed to make money, others just wanted to improve their standard of living, the reasons are too numerous to go into, but the result is that these “alternative” business models started to spring up around software that at its core was free. The service / support model was the first to appear, along with making closed source software available for free but with embedded malicious software. The idea behind this was simple but powerful, by installing covert software on millions of remote PCs you could send spam email advertising whatever you wanted, and no technology ( at the time ) could stop you.

This was the beginning of the advertising ecosystem. Yes it basically came from malware.

TANSTAAFL : There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Truthfully, nothing is free. Businesses saw what was happening in the malware / spam / zombie / email space and wanted to find ways that they could do this in a legitimate way, since millions of dollars were being made off of the spam networks. What the malware / spam networks were getting from users, in addition to their IP addresses, were profiles of their behavior online, the networks could generate information about what sites were trending etc, where people went when they were looking for a product, where they went after the first click. Crack cocaine for marketing executives. It is always surprising to me how many people do not understand what is happening when they use google, bing, yahoo, etc, and why they are free. These are hugely expensive enterprises, with huge costs that could almost never be made up by charging people to use them. I don’t know what Google would cost if they didn’t advertise, but I would imagine that it would cost thousands a year to use it in order for Google to be profitable in the same way.

Webmasters often don’t think about why Google would give away analytics when Omniture has built such a profitable business selling web analytics for years. The reason is simple, Google makes more money from adwords when they can trend users from the Google search page, through their path from site to site. By including Google’s tracking code, an authenticated user logged into Google’s services can be followed.

This has benefits to the user in Google’s case, since Google has so far shown that they can be trusted with the vast amounts of user behavior data that they have amassed, and they do frequently show ads that are highly relevant. So Google’s business is in gathering data points about your behavior, and using that data to present you with the ads that are most appropriate to you. Every application and service that Google builds is to this end.

Yahoo and Microsoft are desperately trying to copy this business model, as are many smaller vendors, and that is the problem. While Google can be trusted, I do not believe that the others can be, and frequently I am not 100% certain about Google. The problem is that Google is behaving as though it were the only company out there doing this, and they seem to be oblivious to the fact that people don’t want to see ads, even good ads. I keep hearing that poor targeting is the culprit, but I am not so sure that is true any more. There is a class of people that is rapidly growing who just don’t care what type of ad it is they are just tired of the cognitive noise. I would be included in that class.

With so many different ad networks trying to copy Google, the result is end-users inundated with ads, everywhere they go there are these behavioral ad networks trying to determine what ads to show you, with varying success and quality. They are all clamoring for data, trying to convince site owners to put their little tracking code into their stream. Unfortunately this hasn’t stopped at the web, iPhone apps, Blackberry and other mobile apps, even desktop apps are showing little ads in order to compensate the developer, whose time is extremely valuable, for their hard work.

The problem for a company like Google that is interested in doing the right thing, or at least trying to, is that the lesser companies are producing ad-fatigue in users, which has lead to adblock pro and other advertising blocking solutions as end-users try to reduce the noise around them. These companies, realizing that their ad driven dreams are beginning to fade have moved to making ads look like content in the old 30’s radio business model. The funny thing is that those old tactics led to the FCC getting involved and setting guidelines as to how advertising should be embedded into programs. It is a vicious cycle that is reproducing itself in all mediums.

The embedding tactics range from “independent” product blogs, to product shils on twitter, to television programs designed to specifically and only show you a car gratuitously. Again, not all of these are bad, I follow several businesses on twitter that do not annoy me, and actually behave more like a partner than someone trying to cheat me out of my money with a product that I don’t want, and can’t use. Some of these ad sponsored “apps” on the iPhone for example are so thin as to be a press the monkey with a batman logo. What is the point of that? It is just noise.

So what’s the problem? Everyone is getting paid.

The overriding problem is this… its too much sponsored content in general. Everyone seems oblivious to this and I’m not sure why. It could be the same thing that lead to the housing crash, everyone was making way too much money to look at the obvious. People are tired of being advertised to. Everyone is touting some kind of free future where everything is free and companies are always making money in “other” ways. Typically these “other” ways are not specified, but I can fill in what “other” is. They are increasingly nefarious and opaque ways of capturing your behavior and data, then using that information to influence your behavior, usually resulting in you buying stuff with you not being able to remember why. This is bad, and is not really a proper way to run a business. It can only end with massive data leaks and a public so unhappy that government legislation is required.

I don’t think this will happen. I believe that the public is smarter than this and that they will start to back away from free software due to being saturated with ads, and begin to embrace paid software from companies with clear agendas and business models. I think that the VC money will begin to follow suit, heading instead to companies with models that a 5 year old could understand, as opposed to models that only a PhD in macroeconomics can comprehend. We make a product ( content ) and then we charge more for it than what we paid to make it.

Another of the problems with the ad model is that where once it liberated artists to develop art without needing to think about how they were going to get paid for it, it is now doing the opposite. Companies are hiring artists to make movies, television, plays, books, video games, you name it just to push some product. Artists are now the slaves to the master that they were once masters over. I would argue that the newspapers have it right, that they just need to start charging for content. It is critical, however that they get their pricing right. I think that PayPal and micro-payments will be the Visa of the future, if Visa gets their act together and drops their rates, perhaps they could be the one. Perhaps newspapers’ circulation will drop, but they would be more profitable and healthy. One company has demonstrated that this is a sound business model, and they are standing astride the world right now as a colossus.

Apple is poised to do very well in this system. Not only have they always chosen to provide high quality products and charge top dollar for them, we see that the public is more than willing to pay for quality software and hardware. MobileMe may have had its issues, but Apple’s motive in making it is simple, they want to sell more iPhones and Macs, they make 50% profit or more on each one, there is no ulterior motive, they are not selling my data, there are no ads, period. They make money in a way that I can explain to my daughter in one sentence. They could put some ads in the iLife suite and give it away for free, but why? They have proven that people will pay not only for the Mac to run the software, but they will pay a reasonable amount for software on top of that.

Microsoft and Adobe are as guilty for creating the free / illicit software market as anyone, by charging ridiculous amounts for their software for what it does, people had to figure out alternative means to get their work done. This feature of software engineering is furthering the dependence on these opaque difficult to understand business models. If you make a solid product and charge a reasonable sum, even a high-reasonable sum, people will pay. Otherwise, they will pirate or find ways to cannibalize the standard method of doing business.

To sum up, the free era is over, Google’s business model is in danger, and Apple and content companies that create quality product and are willing to charge for it stand poised to make a comeback. Microsoft and others following Google are lemmings headed off the cliff. I think the advertising bubble is about to be popped.


Getting Booted from the Android Dev Google Group

Posted: June 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: android, Companies, Google | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

A few months ago, I got banned from the Android dev google group.  You might think it was because I was being a troll, or because I got into an inflamed argument with a moderator, but actually it was for none of the above.  I got booted because, the best I can tell, because I broke protocol and commented on a post that the moderator said was closed.

I say the best I can tell, because I received no warnings, no emails saying, “hey what you did was not OK and this is a warning, the next time you will be banned.”  What was in the comment you ask?  I was responding to a thread about why Google had chosen not to use Jazelle, the Java accelerator built into the G1, and the iPhone.  What it is, is an ARM-7 coprocessor used to speed up interpretation of Java bytecode.  The poster was railing Google for not using it and claiming that Android was not fast enough, and that the only reason they weren’t using the acceleration was that they didn’t want to license Java, etc….  The amazing part is that my response was in defending Google.  I was saying that Android was only at 1.1, and that I was sure that there was a bunch of optimization that was left to be done, also that the Dalvik bytecode was likely not compatible with the Jazelle coprocessor.  I reminded them what the V8 team had done for JavaScript with their assembly language VM optimizations and that perhaps those enhancements would make it into android.

Later in the day when I went back, it was like bam, the moderator has banned you from the group.  My first thought was to get mad, turn off my G1, go back to the iPhone and be done with it, but then I remembered thinking that the moderator’s responses were pretty terse and that maybe they were overworked and angry and banned me for posting to a closed / moved post.  I honestly didn’t know where I was in the maze of Google’s group, I couldn’t tell if I had been redirected to the discussion section or not.  It is frustrating to have a company like Google, who I normally associate with free speech and open discourse, censoring me in that way.  By contrast, I have never been banned from an Apple discussion group, or from any other anything for that matter.  Most of us associate Apple with secrecy and killing off free speech and discourse, but actually I have found that their position on what can be said, and should not be said to be clear and reasonable, and that they are always pretty good about that on their posts.  If the post moves into an area that shouldn’t be there, the moderator deletes the posts, says why they deleted the posts and moves on.  I doubt that they permanently ban their board members.

I have been wanting to port Mides to Android, and to build several applications for it, I have been a huge supporter and advocate of Android in my workplace, where I have some ( very small ) influence over what platforms we support, and to have Google shut me down in this way, makes it difficult for me to continue to convince other developers to build for Android.  I would think that the battle for developers would be where platforms succeed or fail, and to have a company who is steeped in the battle carelessly piss off developers makes no sense to me.  I like Android, and I want to see it succeed, but sometimes I just don’t know.


The TouchBook: The NetBook to End All NetBooks?

Posted: May 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The primary problem with my iPhone, G1, iPod Touch, etc… Is that they are too small and have too limited a battery life.  What I have been hoping for, for a very long time is a single slab tablet computer, sort of like a big iPod Touch with a 3G / LTE modem, a soft keyboard, and an open set of programming APIs so that I can make whatever applications for it that I wish.  Ideally it would have a dual core ARM CPU and great battery life, plus the option for a physical keyboard, well it seems that while I was hoping that Apple has done it, Always Innovating has taken matters into their own hands:
TouchBook

The TouchBook will run a variant of an open operating system called OpenEmbedded, a variant of something called the Angstrom Distribution, which I suppose is a distribution of the OpenEmbedded OS.  Although I have only seen the you tube video:

It seems to have the right stuff to be successful.  At $299 for just the touch part, or $399 for the touch part with the keyboard and second battery, the price is right.  The 3D in the video appears to be sufficient to compete with the iPhone, but what it will likely come down two are a couple of things:

  1. Are the APIs polished, or are they as disjointed as the normal Linux programming APIs
  2. Is Apple going to do a large form factor iPod Touch

If Apple is going to do a MacBook Touch, or a MacBook Mini, even at $499 or more, that can run the current crop of iPhone apps as desktop widgets, it will make it difficult for normal people to justify buying the TouchBook over a big iPod Touch.  Hax0rz, evangelists, early adopters, and general geeks like me may buy the TouchBook, but it is going to be an uphill battle for widespread customer adoption with yet another programming environment for developers to adapt their iPhone apps to.

On the other hand, if they were to make a pre-installed Android option available that was running Gnome or something, but could still run Android apps with little to no modification, in the same widget system as was described above, it could be interesting.

I respect what these guys are doing, its something I have thought of doing many times myself, and I might even spring for one if I get a little personal government bail-out money, but I just am afraid that I will crave whatever Apple makes.  Even though I have switched my personal phone over to a G1 and love it, and love coding for it, I still pine after the iPhone, some things are just simpler.   It really has nothing to do with the G1 hardware, while it is ugly as the offspring of sin and feces it functions adequately.  Its the OS that seriously lacks polish in places, and the unavailability of any sort of desktop synchronization mechanism is difficult at times, especially since the iTunes app doesn’t always play ball when dragging large numbers of UN-DRMed files out.

I suppose Google could modify gears to allow Android to tether to some kind of web app / web management system, that would be interesting, but I see that as being in the distant future.  Love it or hate it the iPhone and the iPod Touch, Cocoa Touch is just way ahead of any of its competitors.  If Apple would loosen up on the app store policies, allow 3rd party libraries and scripting languages on the iPhone, I think most of the competition would disappear overnight.  You’d still see the Linux guys pushing stuff for the fringe crowd, but Apple would have the consumer market locked up.

I think that the App Store situation is what is going to hurt Apple the most.  I am only developing for Android because I can’t flush out my app on iPhone, not because I can’t or because its obscene, but only because Apple doesn’t allow PHP, Ruby, and Perl, which is what my application is all about.  I can’t believe I am the only one who is playing by the rules and doing what Apple is making me do, develop for competing platforms.  I’m sure Apple doesn’t and wouldn’t care, my application applies to only a subset of a subset of a subset of the general population, web developers, and isn’t likely to bring in a ton of money for them or me, but I do it because I love the concept of building web apps while mobile.

The TouchBook is really perfect for my application, so after the Android release, I guess I’ll be doing it again for the TouchBook. Here’s to hoping people buy it, and that Apple doesn’t announce a large iPod Touch at WWDC.


Steven Wolfram’s Computation Knowledge Engine

Posted: March 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: artificial intelligence | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ars Technica has no faith.  They are already saying that Wolfram’s knowledge engine will fail based, I’d imagine on the complete and utter disaster that Cuil and other would be google challengers have been.  Here’s why I think that the computation knowledge engine can be a success.

First of all, its Stephen Wolfram, who truly shouldn’t be underestimated.  He is also not trying to say that it can cure cancer, really he isn’t saying what it can do, or what its ultimate goal is.  Except to say that it is going to answer simple questions.  I don’t understand why this is impossible.  Technology is clearly accelerating at a near exponential rate.  The same improvement in technology and science between 1997 and 2000, was probably accomplished by June 2002, and so on.  If that is to be accepted, then you have to believe that at some point soon we should get to an intelligent system that can answer a simple question like what color is the sky.  Not by looking it up in a database, but by actually reasoning out the answer.

I think that Ars isn’t giving these guys enough credit.  I can’t wait to see what they have cooked up.


Idea For Making the G1 Screaming Fast

Posted: February 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: android, Companies, Google, java, Programming | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

There are a lot of cool things about the G1, but most people don’t talk about he hardware very often. It has a pretty snappy CPU, a good amount of RAM, and expandable storage. The coolest thing about the CPU is that it is a CPU/GPU dual-core combo unit. That gave me some ideas.

I know that Apple is working on their OpenCL that will allow applications on Mac OS X Snow Leopard to leverage the GPU for tasks that use it to advantage, like say floating point math, etc… It abstracts away all of the lower level coding that one would normally have to do for this type of functionality. Nvidia has some APIs for this type of programming, and I believe that Intel does as well. But one of the spaces where I see this as being especially beneficial is in the mobile space for phones and the like. The reason is simple, there is usually no math coprocessor like their x86 counterparts, and while most software doesn’t use it, others, like say speech recognition and image processing could get a huge boost out of it, and at a modest power cost.

What would be awesome is if Qualcomm published some sort of GPGPU language or spec to the Android foundation, and that made it’s way into the Android framework. Then when the GPU wasn’t being used, or when it was being used lightly, it could be used by code in the way one would spawn a thread to be run, but instead of running in the main CPU it could be run in the GPU, and free up the CPU to spend time doing something else.

I’m sure this has already been thought of and discussed by the Android brain trust, but it just occurred to me, and it would be 100% awesome if it made it into the framework.


I Got The G1

Posted: February 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: android, Companies, Google, java, Programming | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Yesterday I got the T-Mobile G1. I’ll be putting it through its paces as I work to port Mides IDE to it. So far, so good, however ido have to say that I’m a little slower with the physical keyboard than I anticipated. I’ll be glad when the cupcake firmware comes out and I can use the virtual keyboard.

The apps so far are mostly good, the device is definitely quicker than the iPhone as far as raw hardware performance, but the navigation around the OS is a bit slower. Still, I’m excited to see what I can do with this SDK.

Overall I’d say that the philosophy of the device is different. The G1 and Android are definitely aiming to be a little computer in your pocket, while the iPhone is still an iPod first, which makes it more of an internet appliance than a computer. As such, it makes a direct comparison challenging at best.

The G1 is ugly, and Android is unpolished, but for a company that doesn’t make music players, it is pretty good. More importantly, it fits in better with my way of thinking, and I appreciate the freedom that Google and T-Mobile have given us. Hopefully it will continue to improve, but either way I am pretty happy with it. Hopefully Mides will turn out to be as good as it is in my head for the G1, and eventually the iPhone. Competition is a good thing.


Developing Mides for the G1

Posted: February 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: mides, Programming | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

For the past few weeks I have been thinking about the limitations placed on my mobile ide Mides in the App store. I have been turning around and around the idea that I should write a version for Android that does some of the things that I really want for it to do, like have a real PHP parsing engine, have a ruby interpreter, etc…

I could put the time into doing it on the iPhone and then submit it to Apple to see what they say, but that could be a bunch of wasted effort, and even if they were to pass it one time, the next update may be rejected. My application is a niche application, so I am really not into it for the money, although it is nice. I think I could actually build a better version, a version that was more inline with what I had originally envisioned on Android.

I don’t think the G1 is better than the iPhone, or that the iPhone OS is inferior to Android in some way, it is just the policy of the AppStore keeps me afraid to try new things with my App, or that the effort could be wasted not because of a technical limitation, but because of a policy limitation, which I hate.

The biggest question now, since I have decided to port Mides to Android is whether to get a G1 developer unit or a straight up t-mobile G1. I think I’ll get the t-mobile unit since I am not rich, and since it is more inline with what my target audience is likely to use.

Boy, I’m not looking forward to having two phone bills, but I guess that is the cost of doing business.


The Microsoft Trinity

Posted: December 31st, 1969 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Companies, Google, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The Microsoft Trinity

Picture of Irv Owens Web DeveloperThis maneuver makes sense in the business world, but it has yet to be seen if Microsoft can truly let these vast entities they have created within the company function independently enough to behave like companies. I think that Microsoft didn't go far enough with the reorganization. It may have been better if they had broken the company up further.

The MSN group should remain on its own, however it should have the full backing and cooperation of the other units. They should focus on adding more web functionality to their applications, like automatic backups for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to a virtual drive so that you could work on things on the road and away from your personal computer.

What Microsoft has done may improve their ability to react to Google, but that is the operative word, “react.” They will not gain a greater ability to innovate. Their organization won't allow it. They are too tied to their established business cash cow. What will happen however is that Google will see this as throwing down the gauntlet, and they will accellerate their pace for world domination.

In a nutshell, here's how I see things shaping up. Google will launch their nationwide Wi-Fi service that will be free, mostly secure, high-speed internet for everyone. This will be followed by a huge surge in advertising revenue, anticipating the expansion of their market. Microsoft will launch something that is vaguely the same, several months to a year later. Then Apple will release Mac Mini's with Intel CPUs first. This will prompt many PC users to buy a mini just so that they can get their hands on OS X for intel, which will by some amazing feat be cracked at launch to run on any PC. This will do two things for Apple. The first is that it will undermine sales of Windows Vista, second it will increase their Mac sales numbers because they will be moving product. Google will follow with more business oriented applications based entirely on the web, using their desktop application as a vehicle. They will start building widgets for the macintosh that mirror those available through the dashboard. This dual-attack on Microsoft will prove to be too much. Microsoft will remain around, constantly behind Google and Apple and will end up like Sun supplying products to the top 1% of the market while enjoying none of the fame of Google and Apple. Apple will be back where it should have been all along; as the dominant computer manufacturer. Microsoft will remain a close second, but they will continue to slip away until they perform another reorganization.

That is the future. Put it in your pocket right next to your iPod nano!


Possible Apple and Google iTunes Deal

Posted: December 31st, 1969 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Possible Apple and Google iTunes Deal

Picture of Irv Owens Web DeveloperI am really ambivalent on the possibility of a deal between Google and Apple to help the search company figure out how to deploy a music solution similar to Yahoo's launch. Google hasn't been making software for Macintoshes. I am still waiting for Google to release Google Earth for the Mac. It shouldn't be that hard, since they already have a direct 3d implementation. I could see if it were, perhaps using Direct X, or using Active X controls to display it in the browser, but this is a standalone program. Does Google really care about the Apple users out there? On the flip side, there is a really strong business case for the deal.

If Google were to feature songs in the iTunes music store it would be possible for them to expand their iPod penetration even further than the amazing levels it has reached. Believe it or not, the numbers say that the once rabid iPod acquisition rate has begun to plateau, and profitibility of the devices has been diluted by the proliferation of the iPod Shuffle. Still, the problem is that most of the people I know who live in the middle and south-east of the country don't really understand the iPod, podcasting, napster, or anything. Many of them still frequent CD stores. The iPod is mainstream in America's big cities, but it is still fringe on main street America. Google has managed to penetrate much of that market, to a much higher level than the iPod, and Google is a trusted name, much the way Westinghouse was in the fifties and sixties. For Apple to tie itself to Google's image can only be a good thing.

Google, however should take care. Any such deal is going to further Microsoft's already boiling ire. They aren't ready for all-out war with Microsoft at this time, no matter how rich they are. Google is still very dependent upon Microsoft's technology as they have the OS market. When the Google OS comes out…. Sporting a thin client Linux system with a slick interface and applications delivered over the web, then Google will be ready. While they are probably working on something like this behind the scenes, they are wisely not parading it in front of Microsoft. Still, as paranoid as Microsoft is, Google should not tie itself too much to the rival Apple, although it would be better for customers, me in particular as a Mac user, it may not be wise to wake a sleeping giant by shouting in their ear.


What Does Google Want With Weak AOL?

Posted: December 31st, 1969 | Author: | Filed under: Companies, Google, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

What Does Google Want With Weak AOL?

Picture of Irv Owens Web DeveloperI'm sorry, but Google buying AOL would be a huge waste of money. First off AOL has nothing that Google doesn't have, and buying it to compete with Microsoft would be stupid. The analysts still don't get it, Google isn't afraid of Microsoft, or anyone for that matter, nor should they be. They are the 500lb gorilla of search. You could take MSN search, multiply it by two, add AOL search, then add the traffic of all the other search engines sans Yahoo and it wouldn't add up to half of Google's search traffic.

The reason Time Warner is of course considering selling AOL to Microsoft is because it is lame. There are only two good things that have come out of AOL in the last decade. The first is AIM, the second is Winamp which does indeed whip the llama's ass. Still, the success of Winamp has not lead to a decent music service, and AIM has not lead to anything except a great platform with an annoying client. They just launched an email service for non-AOL members a little over 6 months ago. They are cash rich and bloated.

For that matter, two sagging fat companies like Microsoft and AOL does not a Google killer make. Why can't they see this? If they read more Sun Tsu – The Art of War, which should still be required reading for any executive in corporate America. Everyone needs to write off broad-based search. Google has won, there is no catching them. Instead they should focus on what they do that Google doesn't in an effort to contain them to search. By trying to follow them in whatever they do, they are following their plan. That is one of the over-riding concepts to the Art of War, if your enemy is larger and more powerful than you are, you have to annoy them into making a mistake. Having them follow you all over creation will weaken them, and allow you to destroy them at home. In this instance Microsoft will follow Google on everything they try to do, while taking their focus more and more off their operating system only for Google to release the Goffice and the GoogleOS. Effectively destroying Microsoft. What Microsoft should do is focus on making Office more available on the web, meaning web based Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for enterprises. They should be focusing on making Vista more than Windows XP service pack 3, it should be robust and provide new and amazing features.

AOL should focus on getting its large base of rural customers onto broadband even if it means losing money. That is the only way to push in the TV over IP that the TimeWarner partnership was supposed to bring. The fact that the majority of their users are on dial-up should signal a problem for them, in addition to the growing impatience of their parent corporation. If they weren't so fat, they would wake up and realize they need to do something right now other than looking for another sugar daddy to keep them providing the same stale services they have been serving up for the past decade.

Other than Yahoo, no one has been able to change their business model to fit Google. Obviously both of them have been reading the abovementioned book. They are playing each other perfectly. Watch that space as the battle between Yahoo and Google will be the future of computing. Short of a miracle of clarity, which Microsoft is capable of, they are going to go the way of IBM. Rich, but not important to the cutting edge of information technology.