Sunday, April 20, 2008

Week in review

This week I’ve been swamped coaching my two simulation teams in the final rounds of their International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition. A long slog that began on Jan. 7 (during winter vacation) ended Saturday with both teams victorious.

However, I wanted to comment quickly on a few items:

  • The WSJ had a great article (available free) on how Vizio used offshore manufacturing to come from nowhere to be one of the top TV makers — in a virtual three-way tie (with Sony and Samsung) for the most LCD sales in North America. Consumer electronics has been a brutal commodity business with entrenched competitors and (except for flat panels) excess capacity, so Vizio’s success (using open innovation) should be an inspiration for upstarts everywhere.
  • Red Hat has beat a retreat from the desktop Linux business. Which Windows advantage matter most — the one from network effects or switching costs? (The exact question I tried to answer with my dissertation). I don’t know, but If Red Hat can’t make it, it’s hard to see how Linux is going to be a major factor in consumer or business PCs — at least in countries with high existing PC penetration rates.
  • Adobe’s new Photoshop Express website got a very nice writeup in the WSJ — which basically said it’s about as good as the 1.0 of an online photo program can be. This shows that not only is Adobe trying to remake itself into a SAAS company, but its skills are transferrable. Also that by requiring Flash, its can continue to use its position in one software segment to boost another.
  • Some (but not all) of the 4G wireless equipment makers agreed to a patent cooperating agreement to speed adoption of the GSM/W-CDMA derived LTE technology. It’s not clear if the parties have agreed to a formal pool or a set of rules — either for valuing patents or (as announced in August) for deciding which patents are essential. Given the past failure of telecom patent cooperation, this seems more like a promise to agree rather than an ironclad agreement.
  • The patent “reform” bill S.1145 seems to be dying, with those big IT companies that want to weaken patents (e.g. Apple, Cisco) unable to overcome the opposition of those that like them just as they are. I wonder if anyone in D.C. understands “win-win” — such as recent efforts to make patent examination more rigorous and accurate.

1 comment:

Jeff Waugh said...

Red Hat has simply said that they are not investing in a consumer product. Their enterprise desktop product, along with their substantial investment in the desktop infrastructure, is still very strong.

They're definitely not walking away from the desktop, they just don't see that there's any point investing in a product for a segment that is rapidly winding down to zero margin.

If anything, the opportunity for the Linux "desktop" has exploded... Microsoft simply doesn't have a compelling offering for many of the new, interesting and low-cost form-factors.