‘Strategy’ Articles:

How Google can checkmate iPhone

March 1st, 2010 by jeremychone | 10 Comments »

When looking at the future of the mobile market, we can clearly see two big contenders, Apple and Google. While Apple has a definite head start, Google mobile’s strategy and execution has been impressive. In the last couple of years, Google has managed to create an open platform, engage with a wide variety of device manufacturer partners, and promote its own branded device. Although iPhone fans might disagree, it is fair to say that, with the latest Android 2.x generation of devices (i.e., NexusOne), there are fewer and fewer hardware and software differentiators between the two solutions.

The dilemma: iPhone is still the big gorilla

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Adobe on iPhone: Will Apple allow it?

October 15th, 2009 by jeremychone | 12 Comments »

Apple is undeniably the most proprietary and closed technology company in the software industry. In fact, Apple makes companies like Microsoft and Adobe look like nonprofit open source organizations in comparison.

Apple’s iPhone product and marketplace have been the latest example of Apple’s excessive control. Apple ingeniously controls its iPhone platform at both the production and distribution levels. In practical terms, this means that iPhone developers must have the Apple SDK (which only runs on a Mac computer) to be able to produce an iPhone application (even if developers use other application SDKs, such as PhoneGap). Developers also must get the application approved by Apple in order to distribute it. Microsoft would not have even dared to dream of such a market scheme.

Nevertheless, at its annual event last week, Adobe demonstrated how developers can circumvent iPhone application’s production restrictions by using the upcoming Adobe Flash CS5 to produce native iPhone applications. And while this has little to nothing to do with putting Flash or AIR on the iPhone, it is big news for mobile developers. It will allow any developer on any platform (such as Mac or Windows) to develop iPhone applications.

As of now, Adobe’s solution lacks many of the most interesting iPhone APIs, but it is safe to assume that if Adobe is serious about promoting AS3, its language for native iPhone development, Adobe will provide full iPhone API access in the final release.

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Silverlight: Good for Adobe, Bad for Microsoft

August 12th, 2009 by jeremychone | 18 Comments »

While many see Microsoft Silverlight as an Adobe Flash killer, I actually think Adobe should rejoice that Microsoft is competing with Adobe on its own turf (i.e., media plug-ins) rather than putting all its energy, as it once did, into Web standards and innovation (IE 5.0 was the most robust and compliant Web browser of its time).

If Microsoft were to take a similar approach to the one it embraced in 1995, when it actually took the lead in Web technologies and provided the best Open Web browser implementation, new media functionalities such as video and 2D/3D would become an intrinsic part of the Web, making media plug-ins irrelevant to its future. In other word, if Microsoft were to go full Open Web (with SVG, Canvas, Smil, HTML 5, Video, and CSS3) Adobe Flash would be history in couple of years. However, Microsoft decided to follow Adobe’s plug-in strategy by forking visually rich capabilities into the plug-in world and throwing itself into a completely new market.

Why? Why follow when you can lead?

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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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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.

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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