Have we seen the peak of Microsoft as the force in the Computer Industry?

April 30, 2009

There are so many articles appearing about with bad news for Microsoft:
Is Silverlight Stalling? – PC World.

NewsFactor Network | Microsoft Sees Its Profit Drop with PC Market. “Fresh off one of the worst quarters in company history,Microsoft Relevant Products/Services offered investors little evidence that a beleaguered personal computer market would recover anytime soon.

On Thursday, Microsoft set the wrong kind of record, as it reported the first year-over-year quarterly revenue decline since it first sold stock to the public in 1986. In its third quarter, which ended March 31, Microsoft said its revenue fell 6 percent, to $13.65 billion, from $14.45 billion. It reported net income of $2.98 billion, a 32 percent drop from the $4.39 billion in the period last year.”

Opinion: Microsoft is doing something half right.

“Ever since Bill Gates stepped down and Steve Ballmer took over his role, Microsoft has been getting one thing after another wrong. Vista continues to be a disaster both for users and for the company’s bottom line. And Microsoft’s ad campaign last year, starring Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, is already a model of how not to do television advertising. Somehow, though, after years of stumbling around like a drunken college freshman after an NCAA basketball win, Microsoft is getting its act together.”

And I love this one: “To make matters funnier, all those virtual devices will take their toll on speed, so it won’t run fast at all without very modern hardware. Add in the fact that you will need all of the resources to run Windows 7 PLUS all of the resources you need to run Windows XP. From what we hear, Microsoft recommends 2GB of memory for Windows 7, but then again, it also said you could run Vista in 512MB. Har har. Upgrading to Windows 7 on older hardware promises to be a very poor choice.

So, what you will get with XPM is not an XP machine but a bloated resource hog that emulates the worst of 2004. Slowly. It may be a good fit for green screen COBOL apps that won’t run on the Broken OS, but that is about it, and you will pay for the ‘privilege’ in terms of resources used and speed of operation.”
 Charlie Demerjian from The Inquirer

How can a company that was invincible a few years ago continuously and consistently stumble so badly? I think it is like what happened to GM (only much faster): they are big and bloated, they believe their own PR, and they are Managed by Committee.

The stories you hear here in the Seattle area about working on projects at Microsoft are legendary: where you can be on a team of thousands, and most of the team is just there to  coordinate  communications with the rest of the team.

Design by Committee gave us the Turd Brown Zune, Vista and now the crazy pricing install strategy for Windows 7, where as you use it it will tell you that you can do this or that after you connect to MS and “upgrade,” or rather “turn on,” features already in the operating system you already bought – (this should go over well with customers)!

They have lost any concept of caring about the user experience at the same time the rest of the market is making that their focus!


April 30, 2009

What colors are in? “COLOR SELLS. . . and the ‘Right’ Colors Sell Better!

This link give you a big step up with regard to what colors are hot in 2009: dickharrisonblogspot: HOT COLOR TRENDS FOR 2009.

Some great stuff:

the demand for colors and products that reflect an environmentally ‘greener’ world goes way beyond a trend. It’s now ‘a given.’ ”

Purple, Purple, Purple!
Emerging as a hot fashion color last fall, purple is not just a fad — it’s an entrenched trend, strongly influenced by the election. (After all, red plus blue equals purple.) Look for a grayed-out violet that works equally well as an accent or a neutral, as well as redder, plummier purples and bluer-influenced fuchsias in a huge range of products. Purple is 2009’s “must have” color.

Blue is the New Green >
Various greens have symbolized “green living” over the last few years, but in 2009 the “green” environmental message is delivered by the color blue. There are watery blues, sky blues and a whole range of blues that now represent our commitment to living on a greener planet.

Cooled Down, Grayed Out Browns and Grays
Complex neutrals satisfy our urge toward classic colors in an economically challenged time. They also bridge the area between black, which seems harsh, and brown, which doesn’t seem strong enough.

The neutrals may have grayed, but look for lots and lots of bright vivid yellow to give us energy as we re-build the economy. It’s the standout accent color for 2009.

Bright Accents from India, China, and Turkey
The exotic has become the familiar. Oranges, turquoises and teals, reds, and yellows will abound in hues from far-away countries that now seem very near. They are the optimistic touches we crave.

White is a new Business Color
Technology has produced amazing new (and very practical) finishes, which helps explain why white is showing up everywhere, even in corporate boardrooms. The contrasts are all in the finishes: matte versus gloss; shine and shimmer on reflective surfaces; textured whites versus smooth — all washable and cleanable. White also represents purity of thought, motive and result – exactly what we want from businesses now.

The Return of the “M” Word
It’s mauve. Remember mauve? An old color that looks new again, in dusty violet shades, mauve works as an accent but also serves now as a neutral, punched up by those bright Asian accents (orange, turquoise, teal, red, and yellow.)

Mapping the Current Web Transition – ReadWriteWeb

April 29, 2009

Great overview of where the web is going.  I should write a better version of this! But until then you should reed this:

Mapping the Current Web Transition – ReadWriteWeb .

Some Highlights:

Social Media: Closed social-network sites cannot survive in their current form, and yet they are so dominant today. So the transition to open and pervasive will be a big and messy fight… which will be great fun for journalists to cover!

Actually I think they will open up and link up – facebook and webpress and plaxo are already on this tract.

Advertising: Advertisers will adopt a barbell approach: CPM for branding, and CPA for direct-revenue generation (as soon as publishers figure out how to make money selling CPA). CPC will still be dominated by Google but will become less dominant as CPA gains traction. Google will play in CPA and CPM but won’t dominate as it does in CPC. Publishers will sideline CPA because nobody will be able to compete with the CPC price set by Google. Ventures that bridge the gap between publishers wanting to sell CPM and advertisers wanting to buy CPA will do well.

Revenue: Primary revenue will come from subscriptions and transactions, with advertising as one driver of those revenue lines. Today, we are in transition and in recession, so any revenue is good.

Content: UGC reduced the cost of content but created too much junk. Curation (adding human editors to automated UGC content) will be aided by semantic technologies that aim to do what humans currently do well.

Start-Up Hero: Today, it’s “Nobody” because we are all in a hangover funk. In the near future, entrepreneurs really will hold the best cards; financiers will be secondary.

Funding: The “Big VC” model is broken but will carry on for ages (“Zombie VC”). Angels and small VCs are in the cat-and-bird seat today. But they need a revived public market or something other, which we’ll call “private + transparent.”

Prime Market: This is a century-long shift, like the one from Europe to America. Asia is not ready yet, America is in turmoil, and Europe is conservative, so this is another transitional phase.

Shure acquires Crowley and Tripp a sign of a changing tide?

April 28, 2009

It seems like just six months ago the feeling in the pro audio and MI industry was that the microphone (along with most segments) were all about building cheaper or higher margin products in Asia.  Shure one of the oldest and strongest brands in the industry is expanding their microphone franchise by acquiring a US based maker of high-end condenser microphones:

Shure acquires Crowley and Tripp | Pro Audio | News by Audio Pro.

You can see their products at: Crowley & Trip

Most executives at the larger pro audio companies I have spoken with over the past few years all felt that the microphone market was simply a race to the bottom. 10 years ago a low priced large diaphragm condenser mic sold for $1,500 and now Asian made large diaphragm condenser mics regularly selling in the retail channel for under $100.

Is this move on Shure part a unique phenomenon based on Shure independence and uniquely strong brand? Yes, but I think it is more than that, it is a move away from mass sales and low quality to a different set of values.

These new values are taking root in our industry and the US / European markets as a whole across a broad set of segments (the financial crisis did not create it but it is excelerating   the trend) and they are built on: Sustainability, local support, lifetime value (not low purchase price).

These are the watch words of the market moving forward.

Web strategy

April 18, 2009

Everyone asks me about web strategy these days. We (primarily the Pro Audio Industry – but seems to be all over) have finally moved from people and companies feeling like they need a web presence and building what I call a monument site to people actually thinking about what they are trying to achieve with their web site and designing to meet those needs rather than simply making something impressive.

Here is a good article about web strategy and will be writing my own web strategy post shortly.

Guest Post: Designer Mitch Canter on the Web Strategy Redesign « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing.

Great info on OS X Disk Fragmentation

April 15, 2009

When your disk get fragmented your over all system performance will suffer and applications that use large blocks of data will suffer performance hits especially badly.

The article linked bellow provides a great basic lesson on OS X disk fragmentation and uses the example of installing a boot camp partition for running your Mac in dual boot (Mac and Windows) mode as a reason someone might want to use a defrag application to “fix” your disk.


Disk Fragmentation Diagram

Many people reading this will be doing some digital audio recording with their computers  and along with video editing these type of applications use very large files and can suffer significant performance issues when your disk drive(s) become too fragmented. If fragmentation is bad enough it can easily be the cause of drop-outs or lost frames in AV recording / editing applications (which is why this subject is so important to the pro media creation community).

Apple official word on disk fragmentation is that OS X takes care of this for you, and under most instances it is true. But over time there are a number of circumstances that can cause excessive fragmentation. The biggest is the lack of free space.  I have found (empirically from years of use) it is a good practice to keep a MINIMUM of 10% of your disk free at ALL times.

The 10% is also dependent on the size of your disk and the size of files your work with (when considering the size of files remember the hidden files like cases you programs use but you never directly see – if you are working in photo shop on a 100 mb file you may have 5x or more the file size taken up in cases for undo’s and general workspace).  The overall free space needs to be considerably larger (10x is a good minimum so if you are doing music or video and yoru files sizes are 500 mb you ned 5 gb).

This is fine if you have a 500 gb disk and you can keep at least 50 gb free, how ever it can become difficult when your disk is smaller and the files you work on are big i.e. you have a 80 gb drive and you need to keep 8 gb free (as with a 1st gen Macbook air).  Using your computer for Audio Video hub applications like movies on iTunes can be very problematic on laptops that typically have small (and slower) hard drives.

In the Disk Fragmentation & OS X: When Does it Become a Problem? blog post on theAppleBlog.com  Andrew Bednarz does the best job of telling you what to do to reduce excessive fragmentation inlcuding links to tools you can buy to help.

How to be a Published Author great reference information

April 15, 2009

Anyone who wants to get published should read this (even though it is for a specific market segment most if is applicable to any book project.

How to be a Published Author – TRCB.