‘Business’ Articles:

Web Developer Spectrum

March 15th, 2008 by jeremychone | 2 Comments »

Web Developer Spectrum SmallIn the last few years, the technology industry has been particularly focused on Web developers, and the last couple of weeks have been a relatively good example of such attention. First, Adobe released its Adobe AIR and their Flex 3 products; Microsoft did a massive SilverLight push at its now famous MIX event (see Read/Write post); Google announced Google Gears for mobile devices and, finally, Steve Jobs splashed the market with his “Flash not good enough for iPhone” comment (which, in my opinion, is more of a strategic move than a technical reality). Meanwhile, “non-corporate-backed” Web frameworks, such as Spring, Ruby/Rail, and many AJAX frameworks, also continue to attract more and more Web developers. Consequently, Web developers have now, more than ever, a wide variety of technologies at their disposal.

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Seven 2008 predictions

February 2nd, 2008 by jeremychone | 7 Comments »

Despite some worldwide economic difficulties, 2008 might be a very dynamic year for the technology industry. I see two main reasons. First, the economic conditions might favor some interesting acquisitions, in the consumer as well as in the enterprise spaces. Second, I think the enterprise technology industry is going to work actively to leverage the best of Web 2.0 for their business. In other “buzzy” words, 2008 is the start of Enterprise Web 2.0.

1) Facebook to make big push to Mobile

facebook to mobileThis is more of an opinion than a prediction, but I think that Facebook should make a big push in the mobile space. Apple reinvigorated this space from a consumer point of view; however, mobile applications are still hard to develop, integrate, or promote. Facebook has the reach, the technology, and the platform experience to create an online mobile platform allowing application providers to build, integrate (i.e., mashup), and deploy (i.e. provisioning) mobile applications.

The challenge to build a true online mobile platform would be to take some distance from the “PC world” and focus the mobile specific issues, constraints, and value chains.

Google might be another challenger in this space; however, their strategy seems to be very device-centric (with Android), which will take longer to unfold.

2) Ning to be acquired by Yahoo! (or Microsoft)

iPhoneOn the consumer portal front, I predict that Ning will get acquired by Yahoo! (or Microsoft). TechCrunch predicted that it would be Google, but I think that Google has its hands too full with Open Social to buy yet another “framework.”

Yahoo! might want to make an aggressive move in the social network space in a novel way. A Ning acquisition might allow them to differentiate themselves, at least from a developer standpoint. In a way, Yahoo! could become the social network platform for the rest of us.

Note: Google might very well buy Bebo.com to deepen its US/EU social network presence.

3) Apple to revolutionize the media distribution market (iTunes 2.0)

Apple Media Well, this one is not hard to predict, but I think that Apple’s move to online video will become big. The WGA strike definitely works to Apple’s advantage. While Apple’s video rental numbers might look relatively low by the end of 2008, when compared to Blockbuster, I think Apple is going to be in a position to dominate this market (or at least, create its own).

The big question is, how will Apple be able to get into the living room? Apple TV?

4) Apple to acquire Adobe

Apple AdobeThis is an easy and now popular prediction. Despite the fact that Apple has a lot on its 2008 plate, I think, as many others do, that it would be a good strategic move for Apple to “merge with” (i.e. buy) Adobe. Apple is now, more than ever, the king of user experience from a consumer point of view. It would make perfect sense for Apple to also become the tools leader for creating these user experiences.

The irony of such an acquisition would be that, with the newly-acquired tools and runtime (Adobe Flex/AIR), Apple developers would be able to build and deploy applications for Microsoft Windows (as Microsoft developers used to do with Microsoft tools for Apple computers).

5) Microsoft to open SilverLight and/or XAML

SilverLight XAML2007 was the SilverLight year, in which Microsoft first attempted to take over the Flash market. SilverLight is mostly based on an XML language called XAML which is also used to build desktop applications with the WPF runtime. However, while some XAML clones already exist (e.g., Wayne’s post and eFace) none of these technologies are officially open.

I predict that Microsoft will either standardize the XAML language or even open-source the SilverLight code. It won’t do any harm to Microsoft, and will definitely counter some common attacks against these technologies.

Note: In the XAML Wikipedia definition, you might read the following:

“As XAML is simply based on XML, developers and designers are able to share and edit content freely amongst themselves without requiring compilation.”

Well, given my experience on the subject, I am not sure that XML in itself improves the designer-developer workflow. Better and more integrated tools will do so. The main challenge is that the design semantics are drastically different from the programmatic ones. In other word, a “Designer Component” does not necessarily map to a “Programmer Component.”

6) Oracle to buy RedHat or SalesForce.com

Oracle Redhat SalesForce I was going to say BEA, but this would be cheating now. I think the next one could be either SalesForce.com or RedHat. Oracle has been pretty aggressive in its Linux strategy in the last couple of years. A RedHat acquisition would be definitely in-line with Oracle’s disturb-before-striking acquisition strategy. RedHat new CEO would probably facilitate such acquisition.

I also think that online platforms for enterprise software/service companies are going to become strategic in 2008. SalesForce.com, with its force.com platform, is being aggressive about this, and can become the Facebook for enterprise applications. I am not sure that Oracle is ready to bet big on SaaS or PaaS (Platform as a Service) yet. But P/SaaS is definitely going to continue to grow, and might even become more relevant in economic downturn.

Anyway, both of these acquisitions are probably just a matter of time, and 2008 will tell us more.

7) Enterprise Web 2.0

Enterprise Web 2.0As mentioned in the introduction to this post, I think that 2008 will be a real start for Enterprise Web 2.0, the buzz-word for leveraging the best of the Web 2.0 technologies and paradigms to make enterprise internet applications more usable (i.e. RIA/AJAX), simpler, and collaborative (i.e. social). In this context, SaaS and PaaS (i.e., Platform as a Service) are going to be critical. (see Dion Hinchcliffe’s 12 predictions for Enterprise Web 2.0 in 2008)

To this end, I am now consulting with enteprise software and service companies to help them leverage Web 2.0 technologies and paradigms for their products and services. See www.jeremychone.com for more information.


So, here you have my seven predictions for 2008, hoping the “recession” won’t be too hard on the industry.

And a belated happy new year to you all!

2007 Flashbacks

January 8th, 2008 by jeremychone | Comments Off

I have not even started blogging 2008 and I am already late for my look back at `07. As a “somewhat” regular blogger, it’s my duty to “jump in the pool” by sharing my thoughts on the year in technology , Model 2007. With my last experience in Adobe, I am now equally interested in the consumer and enterprise technology markets. So, here is my insider’s take on the year just passed.

Facebook: A New King is Born

Facebook was undeniably one of the major internet phenomena of 2007. While its online Internet platform was not a new concept in 2007 (e.g., Oracle Mobile Studio), it is definitely fair to say that Facebook matured the concept and pushed it to the masses. I have been impressed by Facebook’s execution on the technical, business, and developer/end-user experience fronts. Facebook has successfully created a new market for itself, and is ruling it.

I personally think that Facebook has the potential to endure like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Oracle. I also think that Microsoft prefers it that way, and it is one of the main reasons why they boosted Facebook’s valuation to $15B (TechCrunch: “Facebook Takes the Microsoft Money And Runs”).

iPhone: Great marketing starts when entertainment supercedes education

iPhoneAnother big phenomenon of 2007 was the iPhone. I am almost more fascinated by the buzz around it than by the product itself. I do not think that everything was planned, but the combination of Steve Jobs’ excellent keynotes, a great product, the desire of users for slick designs, and some entertaining PR glitches, turned this new device into a blockbuster phenomenon. iPhone even had gross weekend sales reports, as do Hollywood movies. Needless to say, with Steve Jobs, Apple has everything it needs to succeed in this new marketing age.

From a practical standpoint, Apple reinvigorated the mobile market, and this benefits everybody. So, as a non-iPhone user, I thank Apple for entering this market and pushing the standard up.

Oracle: Self-Predicted Prophecy

Oracle Larry demanded it, Oracle did it. What might have seemed unthinkable a decade ago has now happened. Oracle and SAP have entered a channel expansion spree which consisted of buying most of the major enterprise companies, such as Siebel, PeopleSoft, Business Object, and Hyperion. Larry predicted it in early 2000, and made it happen in less than a decade.

As Larry used to say, “I prefer to pay $1B and be right, than $100 Million and be wrong”. Well, Oracle did apply his philosophy pretty well.

I actually think this is a very good strategy for companies the size of Oracle or SAP. The consolidation in this market was probably inevitable, given the fact that what big enterprise customers are really looking for when signing an software license/support contract is the insurance on the product as much as the product itself.

This does not change the fact that enterprise innovation can still happen outside of these big companies, it just changes the opportunities (i.e. exit strategies) associated with these innovations.

Beyond AJAX: Return of the Client

SilverLight AIRIf AJAX and Web 2.0 were big news in 2006, technologies to go beyond Web browsers could be seen as an early theme marking 2007. As mentioned in the “Return of the Client” post, the main Internet technology providers are aggressively putting strategic technologies on the market to try to seize this new opportunity.

Although all of these technologies are somewhat based on standards such as XML, Javascript, HTML, and CSS, they are diverging quite a bit. Standardization might happen at some point (e.g., W3C Web Application Formats Working Group), but this does not seem to be a priority for anybody at this point.

The two noticeable new efforts are Adobe AIR/Flex and Microsoft SilverLight. Early applications seem promising. However, CAUTION, while we might get excited about these new possibilities, making a pixel fly does not necessarily give it a purpose.

Media industry: Mutation Started

ABC OnlineSomething a little bit more subtle is the awakening of the media industry to “legitimate” Internet business opportunities. I think that before 2007, the media industry saw the Internet mostly as a threat to their business, and like Bill Gates in the early 90’s, did not really see how to make money out of it. However, after witnessing some almost-no-budget shows such as Ask a Ninja and LonelyGirl15 reaching spectacular audiences, the media industry finally recognized the power and opportunities of the web. I think the WGA Strike is definitely a symptom of this awakening.

The industry has entered a first phase which is to monetize traditional productions (i.e., TV shows and movies) with this new media distribution channel. This is mostly a big-fish game, where the latest entry was Apple.

I think the next phase will be for the industry to create a new market for these next generation productions. It will be interesting to watch the incumbents play this new game; YouTube or Apple might be able to become the backbone of a new market.


We can now definitely close 2007. Next post will be the 2008 predictions.


Update 2008-01-10: TechCrunch reports an interesting "side" effect of the WGA Strike.

IE vs Eolas

December 11th, 2005 by jeremychone | Comments Off

ievseolasThe famous Microsoft vs Eolas litigation has reached a critical juncture following the U.S. Patent Office’s decision in September upholding a patent on browser technology which the University of California has licensed to Eolas.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has decided to change the way its Web browser works rather than paying royalties. Luckily for Microsoft and probably for users too, the change does not seem to be as disruptive as originally thought. User won’t see much of a difference, and the modifications on the application side seem to be modest, as specified by Microsoft instructuctions.

Consequently, Web masters and IT organizations will probably the ones most impacted by this change, since they will have to update their Web applications. Also, it is not clear to me how this case will affect other browsers, such as Firefox, Opera, and Safari. If it does not, it could be a good opportunity for those communities to lure users away from Microsoft IE.

Web 0.x to Web 2.0 Simplified

November 29th, 2005 by jeremychone | 7 Comments »
Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 Small From its creation through its development to its reinvigoration phases, the Internet has never ceased to be a rapid and fascinating center of innovation. Today’s “Web 2.0“, which I refer to as the “reinvigoration” phase, is probably as inspiring and promising as the launch of the Internet itself.

This new excitement is probably generated by the presumption of achieving the ultimate Internet goal of enabling true “Everybody to Everybody” participation. However, while this “new wave” brings tremendous user and social values, it still does not seem to address some of the critical Internet roadblocks to pervasive Internet collaboration.

To better understand these limitations, we need to take a quick look at the evolution of the Internet. I see three main phases in the Internet evolution. (Note: The “Web x.x” numbering scheme is completely artificial, and is just used to support a “relative numbering” scheme leading to today’s “Web 2.0″ term).

  • The Creation (“Web 0.x”): In the late mid `90s, the Mosaic project, created by Marc Andreessen, had the ambitious goal of making network collaboration accessible to the broadest audience possible. With the creation of Netscape Corporation, the idea attained tremendous visibility and support from the market, leading to the proliferation of a new client application allowing unfettered access to network information: The Internet browser.
  • The Development (“Web 1.x”): The exponential growth in popularity of this new medium led established and new software companies to realize the great potential of this new market. On May 26, 1995, Microsoft, in a famous Bill Gates memo (“The Internet Tidal Wave“), reoriented itself towards this new model. Although the over-excitement created an inflated market that eventually burst, many content and service companies such as Yahoo!, Amazon, and eBay have remained strong and growing. The popularity of this new paradigm, coupled with the commoditization of the Browser on many devices, have put Internet in almost everybody‘s hands. This phase could be seen as the popularization of Internet access.
  • The Reinvigoration (“Web 2.0″): Lately, infrastructure commoditization and the flamboyant success of new Internet companies, such as Google, have reinvigorated the drive for Internet innovation. I see two new fundamentals from the previous eras:
    • First, the industry is now focusing on popularizing content publishing. New services like Blog (e.g. Six Apart), Wiki (e.g. Wikipedia), Photo Album (e.g. Flickr), Social Network (e.g. Linked In), and many others are based on the principle of enabling every users to become content producers as well as content consumers.
      This “2 Way” web is already having important social ramifications, where knowledge and information are becoming more and more open and accessible.
    • Second, most of the Internet organizations are placing more emphasis on usage (direct or indirect via APIs) than subscribers (eyeballs). This is a great step towards building a stronger Internet in which closed Internet services, such as today’s Instant Messaging networks, will hopefully be pushed out of this ecosystem. It is always a great milestone when an industry understands that backing a larger cake might be more beneficial than trying to take a bigger piece of a smaller cake (see the Inherent Truths and Value of Community).

The following simple graph represents this evolution, where the “Web 1.x” phase is characterized by “content consumer” growth and the “Web 2.0″ phase by “content producer” growth.

Internet Web 0.x to Web 2.0
Web 0.x to Web 2.0 Simplified

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Internet 2.0 out of VC control

November 18th, 2005 by jeremychone | 3 Comments »

Web 2.0 Out of VC ControlIn the early days of the Internet, innovators and venture firms were equally important forces behind the internet evolution. At the time, most Internet ideas needed some external funding to get started. Consequently, ideas often started with the now infamous PowerPoint presentation to the VC. If ideas were accepted, most first round funds were devoted to building the proof of concept and generating enough buzz to acquire a user base. As a result, venture firms played key role in choosing which idea or group of people would start or not.

Although this model has created some great Internet companies (Amazon, Ebay), it also created the dot-com saga that we know all too much about. Even for companies with good ideas, putting the “Buzz before the Bits” could be very costly.

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Microsoft WAKE UP CALL @20:05

November 11th, 2005 by jeremychone | 1 Comment »

Microsoft Wake Up CallIn the last couple of weeks Microsoft has been pretty loud around the "new Internet wave." First, with the announcement of Windows live and Office live, and then, with the very insightful Ozzie and Gates "leaked" memos.

It is very interesting to watch Microsoft waking up, loud and determined as in 1995. The fact they chose Windows and Office brand for their "Live" offerings is significant.

A few interesting points from the Ozzie memo:

  • Microsoft did openly recognize having missed some opportunities (e.g., Google, Skype, AJAX).
  • They are puzzled about Google’s strategy:
    "[Google's] myriad initiatives … drive scale for their advertising business … or … grow to substantively challenge our offerings"
    (BTW, good job from Google. In less than a decade, they puzzled Microsoft)
  • Ozzie did a good assessment regarding today’s Web hurdles:
    "User identity and cross-service interoperability mechanisms are still needlessly fragmented".
    (I hope this means Microsoft will work on standards and interoperability, instead of creating another proprietary Identity Management "a la MS-Passport"!)
  • Regarding my previous point about this new advertisement revenue potential, Ozzie did confirm that "… no one yet knows how much of the world’s online advertising revenues should or will flow."
  • Ozzie does point out the value of the Internet adoption model and seamless application integration.

Microsoft is certainly doing the right thing by embracing these changes. During the last couple of years, a lot of "underground" work has been done to come to this point. It will be interesting to see Microsoft catching up. Undoubtedly, they can catch-up on the technology side. Their real challenge will be adapting to these new business models.

Some missing points from Ozzie’s memo (just for speculation sake):

  • No mention of Open Source. Ozzie could have said that Open Source is part of this new ecosystem. He probably wants to tackle this topic offline.
  • Ozzie did explicitly mention the term AJAX couple of times, but not Web 2.0. Arguably, Web 2.0 encompasses AJAX. Free speculation: Microsoft might be starting branding MS Live "against" Web 2.0.

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