CES & MacWorld: Strong Start for 2007 ETech

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What a way to start the year…

Firstly, I’ve been completely overwhelmed with work from day one, which has severely affected my ability to blog/podcast on a regular basis. In fact, I’ll probably be swamped for a while, as I prepare for a bunch of meetings leading up to a new drug launch at the end-March, so please forgive the irregular postings over the next few months.

Why is it that the day job always get in the way of doing the things we really enjoy ;-) ?

Anyway, what’s more important is that the year kicked off with two great tech shows:

Firstly, there was CES (JAN 8–11)—the gadget lover’s Mecca—and then there was MacWorld (JAN 10–13)—the launch pad for all things Apple and iPod—both of which featured a myriad of cool new products…

CES
For a comprehensive overview of CES with lots of reviews, pictures, and videos, definitely check out Engadgets @ CES and CNET’s substantial coverage of the event, including: The CES Video Archive, Best of CES Awards, and the Backstage Crew. Of the dizzying array of gadgets and tech toys that came pouring out of CES, here are a few of my faves:

PowerCast and WildCharger
Imagine never having to plug anything into a power adapter/transformer ever again and charging all your devices simply by proximity to the wireless charging device…How awesome is that!?! This will also be nice for traveling—only need to take one device instead of one charger for each gadget you have.

Belkin Tune Studio

Belkin Tune Studio

Now this is one cool product that I’ve just gotta have! If you’re a podcaster and/or have a “garage band” and don’t fancy spending a lot of money on an expensive recording rig, then I think you’re really going to dig this. For an MSRP of $179.99, you get a 4-channel mixer—with 3 band EQ per channel and phantom-powered XLR inputs—that you can simply slot/plug your iPod w/video into as a recording device. Read more about it here. Plus, it has enough stylin’ appeal to fit right alongside your other Mac/iPod accessories.

MS Sync
OK, I never thought I’d be saying this about a Microsoft product, but MS Sync looks pretty cool. Watch the video and you’ll see how this voice-recognition OS for cars works. It’s darn cool to not only control your BT mobile phone, but also your (connected) MP3 player via voice commands. However, let’s hope MS doesn’t shoot themselves in the foot by limiting it to Zune only. I’m looking forward to seeing more such applications being introduced in the near future.

Others include:
- The OQO and Sony UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC)
- Motorola’s FollowMeTV
- Seagate’s FreeAgent

- Sharp’s Network AQUOS


MACWORLD

So, as if all the cool and interesting things coming out of CES weren’t enough, MacWorld had to occur almost concurrently and boy was there some hype around the announcements from that camp as well! Of course the B-I-G, hotly anticipated announcement at MacWorld 2007 was realized in the form of (1) a Phone, (2) a WideScreen iPod, and (3) a Breakthrough Internet Device (whatever that means)…And, as Steve Jobs clearly took som much joy in announcing, these are all one device: The new iPhone! The other big announcement (which was essentially dwarfed by the iPhone news) was the launch of the product formerly known as iTV—now called, Apple TV. You can watch the entire keynote address here.

The iPhone, as expected, has received vast amounts of press coverage from traditional sources as well as the entire blogosphere—here are just a few examples:

- CNET (LOTS of coverage, including videos, blogs, reviews, podcasts, etc.)
- TechCrunch
- PC World’s “20 Things We Don’t Know About the iPhone
- Dave Pogue’s (NYT) “The Ultimate iPhone FAQs
- A fun iPhone vs. Treo Showdown by BBspot

However, all is not “oohs and ahhs” in the iPhone world, as there are also plenty of critics out there who are not so sure the iPhone is going to be as big a hit as everyone was anticipating/hoping. Most notably, are the large numbers of complaints/rants about Apple’s absolutely ridiculous partnership with Cingular and the requirement of a 2yr contract for the iPhone—for example, check out this Cingular employee’s blog on “How to Beat Cingular’s iPhone Monopoly ”, Engadget’s “Who Won’t be Getting iPhone”, and an interesting post from someone considering a switch from T-mobile. And of course, to add to the negativities, there’s also the issue of Cisco suing Apple for the use of their iPhone trademark.

All that aside, one has to admit that the iPhone’s swanky multi-touch user interface is pretty darn amazing. And if you think Steve Job’s demo of the interface at MacWorld was cool, you gotta check out the scoop by Jeff Han from NYU, who presented his “research project” at TED 2006 (thanks to Brent Edwards for pointing it out). You can also read about Han and his research on multi-touch sensors in this month’s issue of Fast Company or watch the video here.

Well, that’s it for this post. It took me a good three weeks or so to finally put this together because of my time constraints due to (real) work. Hopefully, things will get better over the next few months. Either way, it’s good to finally get another post out before the end of this month!

IMHO, 2006 was the year that…

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I realize that we’re already well into the second week of 2007, but I was reading through everyone’s reelections of 2006 and had a few of my own, so I thought I’d lay them out here…

To me, 2006 was the year that…

Blogging and Podcasting Became Full-Time Jobs
People like Mike Arrington (TechCrunch), Om Malik (GigaOm), Rob Walch (Podcast 411), Michael Geohegan (GigaVox) and others, all had good, respectable jobs. Yet, they still walked away from their “day jobs” to pursue blogging/podcasting -related businesses full time…And some of these guys are doing pretty dang well, I might add (see: Blogging for Dollars). Also, podcasts like RocketBoom, FrenchMaidTV, and 88Slide, and blogs like TechCrunch, all developed lucrative businesses around their podcasts/blogs as well.


Second Life Became Mainstream

Although the 3D virtual world of Second Life (SL) has been around since about 2002, it was only in 2006 that it suddenly hit a tipping point and registered more than one million users (and growing). More importantly, however, 2006 saw SL become: (1) a primary source of income for some folks (2) a novel setting for some serious discussions/meetings; (3) a new venue for performances by big names like Suzanne Vega, U2, Duran Duran, etc.; and (4) the hip and trendy marketing/PR grounds for the likes of American Apparel, Dell, IBM, etc.


Macs Became Cool Among Techies
Up till recently, Macs were often relegated to a small percentage share—mainly among designers and graphic/visual artists. However, something happened in 2006 that turned that around…All of a sudden, where you once saw lots of Dells, Thinkpads, and Vaios you now see the distinct, sleek, white/silver/black form of a Mac popping up even among the most technical of crowds. The line-up of techy folks that I know of who use a Mac include: Joe Kraus, Mike Arrington, Om Malik, Michael Geohegan, Kathleen Gilroy, Chris Brogan, etc, etc. And if you watched the Google: Behind the Screen video, you’ll notice that there’s plenty of Macs even on the engineer-rich Google campus.

IMHO, I believe that part of what really pushed the popularity of the Macs among technophiles was the introduction of Intel chips and a great little program called Parallels, which let’s you run Windows OS simultaneously (as opposed to Boot Camp’s ability to only boot up in one or the other). Moreover, the increase in security flaws and viruses that plague Microsoft OS systems doesn’t help the PC camp either.

BTW, I’m seriously thinking of succumbing to this trend soon :-)


Investors Spent Crazy Amounts of Money on Web Technologies (Once Again)

MySpace ($580million). Skype ($2.6 billion). YouTube ($1.65 billion). Need I say more? Okay, I realize that MySpace and Skype were in 2005, but they were in the latter half of the year and led up to the crazy buying spree of 2006 for the likes of: YouTube, Grouper ($65 million), and so on. Who will be next? Digg (said to be worth at least $200 million)? Facebook (rumored to be holding out for > $1 billion)? This is probably the most “adventurous” that investors have been since the last bubble burst.


Web 2.0 Ruled the Web

Just click here & here—‘nuff said.


Wow, what a year. I’m looking forward to what’s in store for 2007 and hope to spend more time blogging, podcasting, and so on. One thing’s for sure, just looking at some of the new announcements from CES and MacWorld, I can see that we’re in for a great year ahead with LOTS more ETech and Trends!!!

Reflecting on 2006 and Looking Forward to 2007

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I can’t believe that 2006 is over. And with that, I have also made it through my first year of blogging (etechatwork.com) and podcasting (etechcast.com) without fading into oblivion (though the podcast has suffered somewhat due to time constraints).

Although I had some initial doubts, I must say that I’m definitely pleased with the growth that I’ve seen over the last 10 months or so—here’s a simple chart that depicts the increase in “Page Views” and “Distinct Hosts Served” for my ETech@Work blog since it’s inception in FEB 2006:

ET@W 2006 Stats

So…I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all my subscribers, readers, listeners, and friends who have supported me over the year and contributed to the growth of ETech@Work. I am especially grateful to Kathleen Gilroy—who provided me with the opportunity and support to start blogging/podcasting—as well as the following folks who have in one way or another provided great advice, encouragement, and conversation regarding all things related to ETech: Tim and Emile Bourquin, Michael Geohegan, Doug Kaye, Paul Figgiani, Greg Cangialosi, Chris Brogan, Colette Vogele, Eric Olson, Chris MacDonald, Joe Kraus, Scott McMullan, Robert Scoble, Steve Friedman, Kevin Hague, Kathleen Romano, and countless others whom I probably failed to mention.

I also noticed that over the new year period, many blogs have been reflecting on 2006 and/or looking ahead to 2007. So I thought I’d end this first post of 2007 with some examples that I found to be interesting reading:

- Andrew McAfee’s The First Year of Enterprise 2.0, and the Second
- Michael Arrington’s 2007: Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn’t Live Without (TechCrunch)
- Read/Write Web’s The Biggest Web Trend of 2007 Will Be…
- Dion Hinchcliffe’s Enterprise 2.0 year in review and Ten Predictions for 2007
- Rod Boothby’s Predictions for Enterprise 2.0 in 2007 (Innovation Creators Blog)
- Google Zeitgeist’s Top Searches/News in 2006 (Paris Hilton???)


HAPPY 2007!!!


Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2007!

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ET@W Xmas 2006 Greeting

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE !!!

QOTW: Eric Schmidt (CEO, Google)

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Blogware is finally accepting my blog post again…It took a while and it was extremely frustrating, but at least it’s working agian. So here’s the QOTW that I was trying to post for the past 2 days…


I’m back!!!

WOW…I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since my last “regular” blog post and even longer since my last podcast. Things at work became ABSOLUTELY HECTIC over the last few weeks/months and, even though I thought life would resume semi-normality after my big meeting on December 1-2, stuff just kept piling up—clearing the clogged inbox, presentations to give, meetings to attend, budgets to reconcile, etc, etc.

Anyway, I think I can finally breathe a (small) sigh of relief for now, so I’d better get blogging again while I still can…

To continue on a topic that I most recently discussed, I thought I’d kick-off my “return to blogging” with a QOTW from one of the opening events at the 2006 Web 2.0 Summit: A Conversation with Eric Schmidt (CEO, Google). You can also download the full audio (MP3) or video (MP4) podcast from the Web 2.0 Conversations page.

In this on-stage interview, John Battelle talks to Eric Schmidt about “…Google’s recent purchase of YouTube and the importance of video as a format… Why Google stood up to the request to provide end-user data… [And,] if Google is building an online suite to take on Microsoft Office.

While the interview itself was quite interesting and fairly candid, I personally thought that the Q&A session—in the last ~10 mins of the podcast—was more revealing of Google’s philosophies and worth listening to for Schmidt’s insights on various topics.

So our QOTW comes in the form of Eric Schmidt’s answer to a question by an audience member that really taps into Google’s strength—attracting and retaining bright, innovative people.


Here’s the question:

You guys are famous for having attracted and kept some of the smartest minds in business; period—what have you learned about attracting, developing, and keeping those folks that could help others?


And here’s Schmidt’s answer…

The simplest answer is that people don’t work for money; they work for impact. And if you can figure out a culture where (1) you listen to the people and (2) that they have an impact, you have a winner.

Google is run in an unusual way. It’s very consensus-driven; we don’t have single decision makers; it’s hard to deal with and our partners have learned this, and we’re working as hard as we can to address that. But ultimately, the fact that everything is done in groups—people talk to each other and so forth and so on—has produced more robust decisions and greater buy-in.

Another way of saying that is: you tend to get better answers if you ask a question as a manager, rather than telling people the answer. So the way we do our strategy, for example, is we produce 29 questions for next year (which are reasonably obvious to people in this audience) and we send teams off to try to answer them, and we’ll see what they come back with. Much better than telling them the strategy—promotes buy-in.


I’m not sure if I agree 100% with the whole “consensus-driven” process, but I really like that Schmidt stresses the importance of getting internal buy-in for corporate strategy (“Gettin’ ETech Support” anyone?), as well as the need for “listening” and “”impact”. To me, this is the hallmark of the Web 2.0 movement, which is typified by the likes of Digg,Flickr, Facebook, and many other Web 2.0 companies, including Google itself.

From what I understand of these Web 2.0 companies, the founders didn’t set out to gain profit and fame from the start (although many eventually did). In fact, many were simply trying to build a better web app for themselves and mostly in their spare time (at least initially). So, instead of simply trying to build the next “hot app” and marketing the heck out of it, they listened to what their peers were saying about existing apps, sought to make them better and create an impact through innovation, and then ultimately obtained buy-in from users throughout the development process and beyond.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that the issue of attracting and retaining good talent will always be an issue for expanding businesses, and particularly for major corporations of a reasonable size (like Google), where it’s easy to get lost in hierarchy. However, just like everything else in business, we should look to new and better models for people-management as well; and the Google playbook for this seems to be a really good one to follow.

Blogware Issues!!!

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HELLO!

I'm finally back after a long, busy period without regular blogging. So, I was all excited and prepared to resume my blogging status with a new QOTW by Eric Schmidt from the Web 2.0 Summit.

Unfortunately, Blogware is not letting me post anything that is not typed directly into the “Post Article” interface. I usually write everything out in a text file (typically MS Word RTF file) and then
copy-and-paste, which I've done for the last 59 posts. However, this time it doesn't seem to work–I've been trying to post this new article all day and all I get  is a bloody annoying message that says:

We are temporarily unable to process your request. Please try again later. Thank-you. Message ID 3546-BW3-2-5.

So, even though I'm trying so hard to “return to blogging”, Blogware is just not letting me do my usual copy-and-paste from anything–I tried it from a word doc, notepad, etc. and nothing seems to work. This has happened before, but never for longer than a couple of hours. It's now starting to annoy me and I'd rather rant and whinge about it than re-write and re-link my entire QOTW piece.

Sorry for the negative re-entry to blogging, but all I have left to say is THIS SUCKS!!!

I'll give it a try again in the morning and if it continues to do this, I'm gonna have to look for a new platform to host this out of. I've had a long and hectic several weeks/months and all I want to do is get back to blogging again without any hassle. Sigh…


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