The Near Futurist
12Nov/09Off

PC World: Don’t Be a Hater


I’ve generally tried to remain Google-neutral in my blog (not favoring, not lambasting) but in this case, I’ve noticed something anti-Google that I felt worth mentioning and examining.

I am, as you might imagine, a fan of Google News. I get all my breaking and topical news about the US, the world, business, health, and yes, Google from Google News. Its automated aggregation and curation gives me comfort. ūüôā
As I’ve been reading news articles about Google, I’ve come across a unsettling trend in the slant of news stories coming out about Google from one publisher specifically: PC World. And IDG company, PC World generally covers all things for your personal computer, and in the last several years, that has of course included things of the Internet, and naturally, Google.
What I’ve noticed about the headlines and stories coming out of this outfit are decidedly biased towards maligning and expecting the worst from Google. It’s as if they think they are Fox News, and Google is the Obama White House: to them, Google can do no right.
Here then are a sampling of recent headlines from PC World (and a few other online sources) on news about Google:

PC World CNET Major Newspaper Online (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.)
Google’s Free Airport Wi-Fi Shouldn’t be a Holiday Treat Google’s holiday gift: Free airport Wi-Fi Free Wi-Fi From Google, Microsoft, eBay and Yahoo (nytimes.com)
Google, Plaintiffs Blow Book Search Settlement Deadline More time needed for revised Google Books deal Parties Seek More Time to Craft Google Books Deal (nytimes.com)
Google’s Cheap Cloud Storage: Worth the Price? Google cuts Picasa photo storage prices Increase Your Gmail and Picasa Storage for as Little as $5 (washpost.com)
Google’s Go Is Promising, but Still in Diapers Google hopes to remake programming with Go Google’s Go: A New Programming Language That’s Python Meets C++ (washpost.com)
Google Bets on Mobile Advertising with AdMob Purchase Google to acquire AdMob for $750 million Google To Acquire Mobile-Ad Firm AdMob For $750 Mln (online.wsj.com)

I had to get to the fifth headline to finally find a PC World headline that didn’t disparage Google in some way.
What’s with this? Does PC World have an axe to grind with Google? How can there be a consistent bias like this across all number of stories and writers at one news site?
That’s why the future of journalism can be found in things like Google News, not to mention individuals like Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen.
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3Jun/09Off

On Competition

Microsoft’s recent launch of Bing, their new and revised search engine, has generated a lot of buzz in the press and blogosphere about whether this is a “Google killer.” It got me to thinking about competition, and how companies can benefit most from having a strong competitor in the marketplace. I’ve managed to distill my thoughts to the following five bullet points. I’d love to hear what others think as well — feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below.

1. Strong competitors should force companies to look ahead, not backwards.
When a competitor comes out with a worthy competitive product or service, often the knee-jerk reaction is to take a look at what the competitor offers, and either trivialize or copy what “the other company” came out with. It is often all too easy to react defensively (“That feature won’t work, our users don’t want it.”) or flippantly (“We can add that feature in very easily.”) when faced with a new competitive product in the market, but the smart competitor reacts by analyzing what the competition has come out with, seeing what features or attributes it can absorb and offer to its customers/users, and spend time figuring out how to innovate new and even better features. Our competitors should help us dictate what our future looks like, not what we can write off or copy in a me-too fashion.
2. The best way to compete with another company is to not be a competitor.
If you are competing against no one, it’s a lot easier to be successful. This is one of the first rules of competition: define yourself and offer products and services that meet customer and user needs that aren’t currently being met. Twitter is successful because they realized there was a latent need to communicate in a fundamentally different way than what was currently enabled, and was able to really run with it. One of the reasons Google was successful in becoming a popular search engine was because at the time Google was created, most thought search innovation was done. Search had become a commodity, and anyone who spent resources in trying to improve search that was “good enough” was wasting their time. With this breathing space, Google was able to gain a foothold and eventually go on to be the most popular search engine on the Internet.
3. When facing a single strong competitor, rally the troops towards a model that trivializes the competitor.
When there is a single strong competitor in the market, it is often difficult for other companies to be successful, even when they are not in the same business. Take Microsoft for example: with their strength in PC operating systems, not only were they able to own that market for many years, they were able to pivot off this strength to also win in office productivity applications. They are only now starting to realize that their strength on the desktop PC is actually a disadvantage as the world moves to a cloud model. With cloud computing and applications, the underlying operating system doesn’t matter. Newspapers are starting to see this as well — their value in providing great information has been virtualized, and people can get that same information in multiple places, including the Web, TV, radio, etc.
4. Underdogs are only successful when they take big risks.
If you are an underdog in a particular industry, particularly one with one or more strong competitors, the only real way you will likely make progress in taking marketshare is by doing something big and bold. Incremental improvements or changes will not get you there — your strong competitors have the resources to incorporate those small changes easily, leaving you an also-ran in the competition. By taking big risks that the bigger, entrenched players can’t realistically take, you position yourself in a place to succeed where your competitors cannot. Google did this with Gmail — with nothing to lose, they offered email accounts with a thousand times the amount of storage space as existing free email providers were offering. This proved to be very successful, and redefined the space.
5. Competition is often not a zero-sum game.
Often companies have a mindset that competition is a zero-sum game. There is one and only one winner, and the rest are losers. There are many examples of mature businesses where this is not only not true, but the competitors in a particularly space work to make the relationship win-win. Cloud computing could prove to be an example of this. The more significant players that enter this market, the more credibility it gives the whole notion of “cloud computing” and the better everyone does.
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16Mar/09Off

How to host Meet the Press

With apologies to David Gregory, for whom I have a ton of respect, I’d like to recreate for you every “Meet the Press” I’ve seen since he’s taken over:

David Gregory: “But first, our first guest is Person A. ¬†This person represents some viewpoint that I’m now going to question by pulling quotes and clips out of context. ¬†Person A, welcome to ‘Meet the Press.’”
Person A: “Thanks, it’s good to be here.”
DG: “Person A, you were quoted this week as taking Postions X, Y, and Z on Topics J, K, and L. ¬†But we’ve got a quote from you ten years ago stating that you took the opposite positions on those topics. ¬†Care to explain yourself?”
A: “Hedge, hedge, wordsmith, conditions have changed, stick to my current positions no matter what.”

DG: “So what you’re saying is though you currently take Postions X, Y, and Z on Topics J, K, and L, the opposite positions aren’t off the table?”
A: ¬†”I oppose those opposite postions, and am sticking to my guns.”
DG: “Yes, but they aren’t off the table?”
A: ¬†”I have always opposed those opposite positions, and oppose them today.”
DG: ¬†”But you’re not stating outright that they are off the table. ¬†OK, let’s move on.”
[repeat the above several more times until Person A’s genuine smile has turned into a snarky smirk.]
DG: “Thank you for being on the show. ¬†Next up, I talk with media pundits with whom I will skewer Person A. ¬†Stay tuned.”
[break]
DG: “Welcome back, I’ve invited media pundits who will have nothing terribly or
iginal to say other than to echo back standard talking points to either defend Person A’s current positions, or point and laugh that they took the opposite positions ten years ago.”
Media Pundit 1: “I’m the pretty one.”
Media Pundit 2: “I’m the old conservative fogey.”

Media Pundit 3: “My goatee represents the hip edgy contingent.”
Media Pundit 4: “I will laugh and encourage the other pundits to laugh at my only-
for-Washington-insiders’ nudge-nudge-wink-wink jokes.”
DG: “Well, that’s all for this week. ¬†If it’s Sunday, it’s ‘Meet the Press.’”
[cue music]

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