Zynga comes to Seattle

The Pacific NorthWest is a good hotbed for tech companies; and this week Zynga  posted job openings for Web engineers in Seattle, signifying that the social games company is expanding to the Northwest, already a hotbed of game design.

In the Seattle area there are already a bunch of games companies: Big Fish Games, Bungie, Nintendo of America, PopCap, Sony Online Entertainment, Valve Software, and many others.
Now the arrival of Zynga increases the number of co
mpanies, but mostly adds the growing “casual gaming” category to the existing ones.

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Check out the GPI trends…

Wow, Google “top economist” is making a big news splash today with the announcement of their GPL – Google Price Index” (see CNBC, Orbit, or tens of different opinion sites). 
One reason being that it’s different than current inflation indexes, and second that it trends downwards (ugh!!), but I do not think we should use it for demonstrating the real world economy is trending down.

Being an old timer of the digital space it definitely makes sense to use the web for gathering more data (faster, better, easier to build trends etc.); but we have to keep in mind that it is a space different from the real world out there, and some phenomena get amplified or skewed.

ecommerce covers only a subset of products and goods; more, even for goods highly exchanged in the digital space, only a small proportion of the total transactions is digital, and it may not represent a change up or down of their total market.
GPI may not be a good enough index.

What I like is Varian’s little anecdote: he was searching online for the price of a specific good, and got a wide variance of prices; there was room for a new index.

The way I react to the story is that there is *still* a big variance in prices even in the digital space, so consumers even if they’re getting wiser and shop for best prices, may not be able to get best conditions.
Or that the wise shoppers use online to get better (if not best) prices, and online is a space that enables faster process optimization and these consumers have an edge vs. the traditional brick & mortar folks.

So? well, there is still room for building new shopping models (Groupon Woot etc. give you a hint?); and well, digital space is an efficient way to improve the overall effectiveness of an economy.
On the down side: online is not providing its better opportunities consistently across social or demographic groups.

Now, is that to say that if we get all more efficient and prices decline, this generates a economy-wide negative effect, determines a deflation? of course not. Lower prices can represent higher volumes, lower costs eg higher margins, and so forth. But to say that GPI shows the economy is trending down makes bigger news.

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Really?

Yup, I like the concept that a phone is about communications.
And I may like that a phone blends into your life, as per the “really” WindowsPhone7 ad on air now.
Still I know folks (yeah, quite a bunch!) that love their phones for what else they do with it, and get so excited for every cool feature, that I really wish that this ad does not get the “coolness” out of WP7 perceived benefits!

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Should European software companies look west?

You know, east and west are only relative terms (my west is your east), but these days companies should really look at the new opportunities that technology and an economic crisis is offering them…
And it is very true that many Euro companies should challenge their localization, and see where growth awaits them.

TechCrunch discusses how many UK companies are now moving west (to the US, to the Valley). And yes, it hits home when they discuss how many companies do have a gut feeling that now is the moment they may look at this, and consider alternative opportunities.

West is always were everybody has been going (!) and the last stop is on the Pacific – California, the Valley and I suggest and promote Seattle and the Pacific North West.
Alternatively you may think east (China, the big opportunity…) but you may argue that the Pacific is well balanced in view of the Chinese market, and less scary.

What are the options these days?
I believe companies need to understand first how dependent they are of a specific market, and how the new cloud platforms represent the opportunity to de-localize from low growth markets….

[More to follow]

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Windows Phone 7 is here!

Yes, WP7 is here, live & kicking 🙂 and wp7_stevewe will eventually see that Google’s Andy Rubin was wrong when he said the market doesn’t need another mobile platform… (well, he bet already on adding Android to the pack, didn’t he?).
But many commentators wonder if it is in time to make a serious dent in the current Apple/Google smartphone domination…

The good news: my friends @Microsoft are getting their hands on the phones since few days and are super-excited about them; now it’s time to see its debut with real customers. Long live to WP!

The phones, the software are much better than any previous version (yes, I can say that, given all the previous editions that I have been using).

The positioning makes better sense (I really like some comments from Matt Burns, “Windows Phone 7 is about communication, not apps”), phones are neat, and you might say that having AT&T on stage was a success.

But the other comments from Matt, or also see John Biggs‘ comments, provide room for concern.

Is it too late? well, if we judge from the fact that Microsoft was never number one on the market, but more often the one that was able to dominate markets thanks to its tenacity, Microsoft has a definite chance – if they do not do any more mistakes!
Oh well then, it’s not too late but only if the execution is impeccable.

MS must really go after RIM’s market share (the most likely to be dented by Android), and may leverage Nokia relationship better….

They need understand better the carrier space: ok AT&T is anti-Apple, but they’re really missing the boat if they leave Verizon out, since iphones will be there only in Spring 2011 – why miss this Xmas season?
T-Mobile is ok, even if I do not feel very committed; but then add Sprint, who have a better 4G network and you benefit fom the fact there is less competition for bandwidth, so users have a better quality perception…

And last but not least, ok WP7 is about communications, but apps will be required to support that; we do not have much indications that there is a lively dev marketplace (yet), hope they prove me wrong and surprise me with new cool apps 🙂

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Mobile behavior varies across countries

Comscore has released new data that analyze what folks do on their mobiles: US, Japan, Europe. What we do differs a lot, with Japan far more advanced in the use of mobile web and apps.  comScore_Inc[1]
At the end, it is amazing to see how in a global world behaviors are still growing so differently across these 3 regions….

Socialmedia is strongest in US, TV is in Japan, games in Europe. Facebook is not yet in the top 4 in Japan…

While the penetration of communications (text + email) is the same in all geos, in Europe it’s far more leveraging text (cheaper, but with many limitations), Japan is first again in email. You get many more data as per demographics, enjoy.

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Social media properties: relative relevance

Give a look to how the popularity & total traffic has changed in these last 3 years – here the 2007 map:

online_communities_small[1]

and here the more updated 2010 version:

online_communities_2[1]

 

 

Of course we all see the incredible ascent of Facebook, and Twitter, Skype… none of which was almost present few years before. The only geo-specific property worth noting is QQ in China.

PS the source is xccd, and it is not a perfect research, yup; but visuals give the idea!

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It’s already Xmas in retail

Microsoft is almost ready (hopefully!) to launch its Xmas season: tablets (“slates”?), phones, Kinect. Let’s hope for them it is better than Goldman Sachs feedback on the company stock value….

It looks in fact that there will be news, Xmas is a forcing function, uh?
Other than the long anticipated Windows Phone 7 (all MSFTees are looking fwd to their new phones, and choosing Apple’s partner AT&T if true adds some spice), Kinect will be getting eventually out (will it stand to the expectations? will the new Kinect-enabled games be cool?); maybe we also will se the slates, even if so far it is mostly rumors or wishful thinking.

Goldman Sachs seems not to buy into all this, and downgrades the stock (even lower than what it’s been this last 12 months, wow!). And adds that big dividends and cost cutting have not been changing this balance: you need to have good products to succeed….

PS it is interesting to see how the top execs of these consumer division, releasing only now these long anticipated products, got promoted before their products went to market… (a KIN learning?!)

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Amazon Web Services: we had lots of excess capacity..

Real fun to read this interview to Werner Vogels – he puts in perspective that technology is not only central to tech companies, but can represent the success factor for other industries (retail for Amazon). Oh yeah.
And that… their approach to cloud computing was the by product of a strategic investment to support their original business, and the extra quick increase in capacity demand of the Xmas season. LOL.

Now that AWS is a self-standing business, and I might say one of the most successful cloud platforms so far, it will be interesting to see if Amazon will continue investing in it, or what role it will play in the overall Amazon strategy, which is of course (and rightfully so) still very centered on retail. 

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Where Do You Check In? Location-Based Search and Social Networking apps in Seattle

Ok we got it – the must-have for web 2.0 these day include gamization, geolocation, mobile apps, social networking interfaces….
It‘s interesting to see what’s going on in a geographic microcosm (Seattle) on one specific topic, geolocation; and who knows if this common focus will drive faster and richer development for the entire category.

Xconomy lists many of these endeavors, none of which is already as famous as Foursquare or`Gowalla; but there are many, and each has its own peculiarity.
When I look at them, none has yet the standing of an app that I would really use, but must admit I felt the same when I started toying with Foursquare.

And who knows if their success will be in becoming bigger and draw many more users, or they will be the nice addition that other sites (Yelp, OpenTable) will purchase to integrate into their existing sites.
This in the wake that we eventually see what Facebook or Twitter may be coming out with.

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