MediaFile

Nokia and Microsoft? Just maybe

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (left) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer address the Senior Leadership Event before they announce plans for a broad strategic partnership to build a new global mobile ecosystem . Nokia and Microsoft plan to form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (left) and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Credit: HO

Before there were smartphones Nokia made smart phones. Sleek. Colorful. Attractive. Sporting a distinctive, trademarked ring that, because there are so many Nokia handsets in the world, may actually be heard 20,000 times a second.

Nokia’s phones never made a huge splash in the United States, but worldwide they are to this day the market leader with some 300 million in use. In Q4 of last year, Nokia’s flagship Symbian mobile phone operating system boasted more than a third of the world’s market share. At nearly 37 percent, that was 10 percent more than the range of devices running Google’s Android, and more than Apple’s iPhone and Rim’s Blackberry combined.

But Nokia is losing, by leaps and bounds. The handwriting is on the wall. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who joined the company only last September, minced no words last Wednesday when he said the company was standing on a “burning platform.”

So it really came as little surprise when two days later the company announced a massive strategic alliance with Microsoft that would mean the end of Symbian and the adoption of Windows Phone 7 by the finicky Finnish handset maker.

Nokia had nowhere to go. The paradigm shift in mobile phones began little more than three years ago with the first iPhone. That isn’t a lot of time to go through the five stages of grief, even if Nokia had immediately appreciated the seriousness of the iPhone challenge.

Sports Illustrated unveils another digital app subscription plan

sports illustratedTime Inc’s Sports Illustrated unveiled the details of another subscription plan for the Samsung Galaxy tablet computer and Android based smartphones — the print version of its  parent Time Warner Inc’s “TV everywhere” idea currently touted by Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes.  Like TV Everywhere, magazines everywhere charges one price for access to content across print and digital platforms.

The SI digital and print subscription plan comes on the heels of  a Time Inc announcement about a similar subscription plan for SI and People for  Hewlett-Packard’s forthcoming tablet device the TouchPad.

“The key to the media business is habituation,” said Time Inc EVP and Chief Digital Officer Randall Rothenberg.

Google and Bing trade blows on ‘copying’ saga

The Internet search world was rocked by a rare spell of intrigue and acrimony on Tuesday, as Google, the world’s No. 1 search company accused rival Microsoft of copying its search results, leading to a public slap-fight between the two tech giants.

“This is the first time in my 20-year career that I am seeing such unethical behavior in another company,” Google Fellow Amit Singhal declared in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, following an earlier blog post in which he accused Microsoft of providing “recycled search results.”

ISRAEL-HOLOCAUST/GOOGLE

Microsoft was quick to return fire, insisting it did not copy Google’s search results and describing Google as engaging in everything from “creative tactics” to click fraud. Microsoft PR honcho Frank Shaw unleashed a fusillade of Tweets throughout the day, stating in one of them that Google was seeking to change the subject because the company was under investigation in the U.S. and Europe for manipulating search results.

Life after Google: Schmidt eyes talk show shtick

GERMANY/What do you do after ten years running one of the world’s most successful and feared companies?

If you’re Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, it seems the role of television talk-show host holds some appeal. The 55-year-old Schmidt, who in April will hand over day-to-day control of Google to co-founder Larry Page, has been working on developing a show that would feature him as the host, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.

The article does not say exactly what type of talk-show Schmidt wants to emcee.

Will Schmidt, who has toiled in the tech industry for decades, cast himself as a feel-good self-help guru a la Dr Phil, or might he see a model of inspiration in Jerry Springer’s tireless work chronicling the everyday dramas and disputes of regular Joes?

Wild news on Apple, Google changes? Not if you’re an analyst

It has certainly been an interesting week in Silicon Valley as two of the most closely watched companies in the world shuffled their executive suites. On Monday, Apple announced that its chief executive  and charismatic leader Steve Jobs was taking a temporary medical leave – his third since 2004  — a day before Apple released its quarterly results.  On Thursday, Google reported a stellar Q4 and dropped that Larry Page would be stepping into the role of chief executive, as Eric Schmidt takes up the executive chairman position.

Big news, right? So it’s surprising then that analysts who have the opportunity to quiz management during earnings calls failed to mention anything about the changes. Not one analyst asked about the C-suite during the Google and Apple calls. Google even made its three top executives, Schmidt, Page and Sergey Brin available for short period on Thursday’s call. The three analysts in the queue pitched questions about the following subjects:  Google’s real estate purchase in New York,  government outreach and social networking plans.

from The Great Debate:

Google’s greatest skill – and challenge

GOOGLE/

By Jeff Jarvis
Jarvis is the author of "What Would Google Do?" and teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His next book, "Public Parts", will be published later this year. The miracle of Google was that it could accomplish anything—let alone become the fastest growing company in the history of the world and the greatest disruptive force in business and society today—while being run by a committee, a junta, a council of the gods. In management, as in every other arena of business, technology, and media, Google broke every rule and made new ones. It should not be a shock that Eric Schmidt has stepped aside as CEO and made room for Larry Page. Schmidt was the prince regent who ruled until the boy king could take the throne while training him to do so. We knew that this would happen. We just forgot that it would. When I interviewed Schmidt a few weeks ago and asked about pressure over privacy, China, and lobbying, he said, “This is not the No. 1 crisis at Google.” What is? “Growth,” he said, “just growth.” Scale is Google’s greatest skill and greatest challenge. It scaled search (vs. quaint Yahoo, which thought it could catalogue this web thing). It scaled advertising (vs. the media companies that today don’t know how to grow, only shrink). It is scaling mobile (by giving away Android). It has tried to scale innovation (with its 20 percent rule)—but that’s the toughest. How does Google stay ahead of Facebook strategically? The war between the two of them isn’t over social. The next, great scalable opportunity and challenge is mobile, which in the end will translate into local advertising revenue. Mobile will give Google (or Facebook or Groupon or Twitter or Foursquare … we shall see) the signals needed to target content, services, search, and advertising with greater relevance, efficiency, and value than ever. As Schmidt told broadcasters in Berlin last year: “We know where you are. We know what you like.” Local is a huge, unclaimed prize. The question is how to scale sales. I have no special insight into the Googleplex. But I have to imagine that when the company’s three musketeers sat down and asked themselves what impediments could restrain their innovation and growth, they were smart enough and honest enough to finally answer, “us.” As well as their holy trinity worked setting strategy and reaching consensus—the one thing I did hear from inside Google was that nothing happened if they did not agree—it has become apparent that Google became less nimble and more clumsily uncoordinated. Google is working on two conflicting and competing operating system strategies, Android and Chrome. It bungled the launches of Buzz and Wave. It is losing talent to Facebook. It needs clearer vision and strategy and more decisive communication and execution of it. If it’s obvious to us it had to be obvious to them that that couldn’t come from Largey- plus-Eric. Google, like its founders, is growing up. It needs singular management. So let’s hope that Schmidt did his most important job well—not managing but teaching. Now we will watch to see who Larry Page really is and where his own vision will take Google. Will he give the company innovative leadership and can Sergey Brin give it leadership in innovation? I imagine we will see a new support structure for Page built from below now rather than from the side. I’m most eager to see how he will cope with speaking publicly for the company. Schmidt’s geeky sense of humor was not grokked by media. (When he set off a tempest in the news teapot saying we should all be able to change our names at age 21 and start over with youthful indiscretions left behind us, he was joking, folks. Really, he was.) Page is even less show-bizzy. As for Schmidt: I have gained tremendous respect for him as a manager, thinker, leader. His next act will likely surprise is more than today’s act. Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His next book, Public Parts, will be published later this year.

The miracle of Google was that it could accomplish anything—let alone become the fastest growing company in the history of the world and the greatest disruptive force in business and society today—while being run by a committee, a junta, a council of the gods.

In management, as in every other arena of business, technology, and media, Google broke every rule and made new ones.

Today In Music: Labels still looking forward to Google Music, Spotify less so

So 2010 was the year that wasn’t as far as a major revolutionary digital music launches were concerned. Label executives have been hoping fervently for some real competition to take on Apple’s iTunes. Not that they don’t want iTunes to do very well but having one company control 70 percent of recorded music sales in your biggest markets like the US and UK is perhaps not best for industry growth.

Andy Rubin GoogleThis has meant that whenever it looks like there could be real competition — remember the hopes for Microsoft’s Zune? There’s always been an overreaction from the labels in the hype department. Remember how Amazon would be a true digital rival? Today it’s market share hovers around the 15 percent mark.

So when Google started talking to labels about a music servicethe labels got very excited. So far we know Google has proposed a download store and a digital music locker which will allow you to access music you own wherever you are. They had hoped to have it up and running by Christmas but dealing with labels takes time. In the meantime Google has been getting its house in order for become more a content middle-man media company by promising to work harder on issues like copyright.This is likely because it would like to have more mainstream content for its Android wireless phones and tablets if it is to be a more complete competitor to Apple’s iTunes/iPhone/iPad/iOS ecosystem.  We’re hearing the labels are still very confident that Google will get something up and running sooner rather than later despite the delays. Google is also still looking for people to run its music service, though negotiations have been led by Android founder and Google VP of engineering Andy Rubin (pictured, above).

Closer look at Google’s Honeycomb

Google stole the show from Verizon at the opening keynote at CES, showing off its new Honeycomb software, the first version of the Android operating system specifically designed for tablets.

Android developer Mike Cleron wowed a packed hall with a quick spin around its features, including a new-look home screen, pixel buttons, multitasking, smooth video and an eye-catching 3-D mapping tool that lets you ’tilt’ the view to get a better idea of what you are looking at.

Google has posted a video of the new system in action on YouTube. YouTube Preview Image

Privacy matters more when you’re mobile

A woman walks past icons for Apple applications at the company's retail store in San Francisco, California, April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithPrivacy concerns are nothing new if you use the Web to tweet or facebook. But with Apple’s mobile platform joining the fray and speculation that Google’s might be next, should you be worried about how your personal information is being used on that 3G-enabled iPad or Android-powered smartphone you picked up over the holiday season?

Apple shareholders don’t seem to think so. Shares in the iPhone maker closed up on Tuesday and were unchanged in midday trading on Wednesday.

And with revenue from mobile apps sales forecasted to see 60 percent compound growth to 2014 and an expected increase in the number of apps downloaded worldwide to reach 76.9 billion in 2014 from 10.9 billion in 2010, there’s good reason for wider investor optimism.

Lawsuits will pressure Apple and Google to protect user privacy

On December 17, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative story that detailed how popular iPhone and Android apps like Pandora, The Weather Channel and Angry Birds breach user privacy. Less than a week later, the first lawsuits were filed.

So far, two suits seeking class action status have been filed, pushing for a ban on the sharing by apps of personal data like geo-location and phone numbers with advertisers. They also seek monetary compensation. The defendants include the developers of the apps in question as well as Apple. Google, which developed the Android platform, may face similar suits.

Smartphone owners who are concerned about advertisers receiving personal data without their consent may be encouraged if these lawsuits lead to stronger protection. But for Apple and Google they complicate matters. There is a fundamental tension between making mobile ads a valuable platform for advertisers and respecting the privacy of mobile device users. It’s going to take a long time to untangle the whole mess, and the lawsuits apply pressure to find a quick solution.