Carly quits

No surprise. (Reuters story) Carol Loomis’ story in the recent Fortune painted a pretty bleak picture. Compaq did Carly in. One of the worst considered mergers in tech due to the inevitable commodization of boxes. No one cares anymore about PC or server brands. The things are toasters. So what did HP expect to gain from picking up CPQ? DEC’s legacy technology? The 64-bit Alpha architecture? A reputation set by Rod Canion as an innovator and attacker that was set in the early 80s?

The same generification of technology that compelled IBM to shed its PC assets to Lenovo worked to destroy Compaq’s value to HP. Carly got steamrollered by the toaster-ization of desktop and server tech and of course, a grumpy board.

Shame, she came on strong when she arrived in 1999.

Gmail Ups Invites to 50

I notice Google Mail is now giving me 50 invites to pass around.

screen scrape of gmail

Last week I was down to two.
I’ve got two accounts running, and have been noodling how to open up all 50 of the invites and stitch together 50 free (albeit very disconnected) gigabytes of online storage using a Gmail virtual drive extension.

Having read that a 1 gigabyte drive cost $3,000 ten years ago, what is 50 gigs worth? What does this say about the cost of server space?

Om Malik on Broadband ? Consumer Reluctance on VoIP%u2026 So Far

Om Malik on Broadband ? Consumer Reluctance on VoIP%u2026 So Far

Om posted about a Forrester report slagging consumer uptake of VoIP and sought some comments on why. So, in the interests of incestuous cross-linking, here’s a link to my comment.

Full disclosure: I signed on for Verizon DSL in December to try to cut my cable modem charges (Comcast, maybe $40+ a month to DSL at $29.95) but the damn setup box is sitting under my desk, nagging at me to rip out the cable modem, replace it with the DSL box, call up Comcast and cancel, etc. etc.

Yet I can’t bring myself to do it. Call it broadband inertia but I just don’t feel like hosing my connection (pessimism springs eternal when you provide tech support for a family of completely disinterested PC users who feel compelled to junk up every computer they touch with spyware, viruses, Weatherbugs, Lycos search dogs, etc. etc.).

Spyware Consortium Falls Apart

COAST – the consortium of anti-spyware developers – has fallen apart according to E-Week. What did COAST in? Some members say it was the proposed granting of membership to some spyware companies, , such as 180Solutions, saying that opening the standards-setting group to include the very targets it was trying to thwart would turn the consortium into a farce, lending a marketing blessing to the enermy.

Others said the revenue motivation of some members had slowed progress.

Standard-setting bodies are a tactical dance between the members — often competitors — who must strike a balance between their economic interests and the greater good of the standard. One McKinsey partner, when advising a client who had several options during the frothy hey-day of B-2-B consortia (join an b-2-b group created by a competitor, create its own or join one created by a startup), told the client to accept membership in all of them for the simple, evil reason that if the client ever wanted to insure the failure of a consortia, the best place to work its will was within the consortia, as a member.

In this case, the unique twist on this failed standard is not a dispute over the technical architecture or other fine point, but on the strange position of debating whether to permit the membership of a company the standard was trying to thwart. Hypothetically like NATO falling apart over the issue of letting the USSR join in 1960. The ulterior motive of a 180solutions — which Spyware guru Ben Edelman has blasted for having one of the most befuckticated installation routines of all — and other spyware/ad technology scum is to cloak themselves in the respectability of a consortium like your local meth lab joining MADD.

One publisher’s challenge

I met with a Massachusetts magazine publisher on Friday. They publish three print titles in the IT-executive leadership space and do about $40 million a year in revenue. The CEO said the goal is to have online revenues equal print by 2007 .

Ambitious? Sure, but further indication that the print world is seeing some lasting value from the online component, even going so far, as one former employer did, to predict a cross-over in their business model from paper to digits before the decade is out.

What is particularly interesting is the goal of the publisher I met on Friday, while focused on traffic and inventory development in the short term, is the need to support a very high CPM by transforming impressions into leads.

Lead generation is a tough nut to crack. It requires the pass through of contact information via registration which, past wisdom has held, is impossible unless the carrot is big enough and valuable enough to induce parting with personal details that the owner assumes will result in some form of spam — be it emails, cold calls, whatever.

While one can argue that click-through advertising such as Adsense or Overture is one primitive form of lead generation, the publisher in question, who distributes the print product on a pre-qualification basis, is looking for something far more substantive and informational than a mere adjacent relationship between a keyword and a click.

What is the content bait that needs to be set in the trap? Will users reject any lead-generation scheme, avoid registration via work-around like bugmenot.com, or can they be teased to part with valid information in exchange for something valuable?

This goes back to an observation made by Andy Kessler to me in 1994, that user information is the currency of online publishing; not eyeballs, clicks, or subscription dollars.

Google Did a Billion in Ads Q4 ’04

P.1 of today’s (2.4.05) New York Times has Markoff and Ives reporting on Google’s success with ad sales. The story is jumped inside underneath a Stuart Elliott column about Conde Nast — the publishing house with one of the more befuckticated online strategies (ever try to find a New Yorker article? try to understand why Terra Lycos owns Wirednews.com? wonder why Vanity Fair isn’t even online?) when it comes to a trying to push the power of print on advertisers.

One stat cited is that readers spend 45 minutes between the covers of a magazine.

George Sansoucy, senior vp and managing director at Initiative is quoted:

“When marketers buy media, ultimately it is about the quality of the engagement with consumers … the average time spent reading a magazine is 45 minutes … makes magazines a superior engagement medium.”

Superior to what? Buses? The roof of a cab? Banners towed over the beach in August?

I love how the noses grow on magazine ad execs faces when they start babbling about “engagement”, “pass-a-longs” and the latest Audit Board of Circulation audit. Online is the most trackable advertising medium in history and still ain’t getting the respect it’s owed.

ranting over. no blogging until this evening. off to Boston on job interviews today.

Forbes.com: Which Search Engine Is The Best?

Forbes.com is running a poll on the occasion of Microsoft’s launch of MSN Search asking readers what their favorite search enginer/service is. No surprise, it’s Google by a mile, followed by Yahoo, followed by MSN.

Forbes.com: Which Search Engine Is The Best?

From the handful of searches I ran on MSN yesterday, I’d say Microsoft has a long way to go, not necessarily based on any keen insights into their methodology, but on the fact that I find the MSN site butt-ugly and cluttered beyond belief compared to good old spare Google.

Charles Ferguson had a great piece in the MIT Technology Review in December on the Microsoft/Google battleplan. It says it better than any other analysis, given Ferguson’s front row seat at Vermeer (developer of WYSIWIG web builder Frontpage) during Microsoft’s call to action against Netscape. He builds a plausible scenario for how the battle for dominance in search will come down to a classic architectual platform battle, with ISVs and APIs becoming the arsenal.

Microsoft knows that game.

I’d like to link to the Ferguson article, but even me, a paid subscriber to the digital Zinio edition of the Tech Review, can’t get the to the piece. Maybe Charles did the world a favor and has it posted elsewhere. I’ll chase it down.