Friday, August 02, 2013

Animated GIFs

Lets see if this works...


Monday, July 22, 2013

Innovation doldrums

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Is it just me or has the tech industry hit the doldrums? Are we now in a mature market for PC’s, Smartphones and Tablets? If this article is correct ‘Apple to report dismal results’ then it would appear so. On top of this Microsoft just wrote off almost a billion dollars of ‘Surface’ inventory – what’s going on here?

Well I think we’re just exhausted trying to keep up with the Jones’s and keeping track of where all our data is. I’ve been in the business now for over two decades and I’m trying to cut down to just two devices simply because it’s hard to keep everything in synch and know ‘whose on first’.

With almost a million apps to choose from on iTunes (or is that the iStore, or the App store (am I the only one who gets confused with this?)) what can possibly be left to build? And with the average price of an app now around $0.99 cents Apple has effectively driven software to almost nothing in an effort to support it’s own high margin hardware products.

Microsoft learned early on that it’s all about the developers, and they provided the tools and the ecosystem for developers to flourish with decent margins. Apple has wiped that out and in doing so have given developers no ability to make money.

So with no room to make money and a mature ‘form factor’ for tablets and smartphones we have a ‘more than good enough’ situation which explains the doldrums. More of the same won’t solve the problem – what we need is some good old fashioned innovation and in my opinion it’s not wearable (the last thing I want/need is more stuff to support with software updates).

What’s needed is a way for developers to make what’s there work better and generate them net new revenue. That will have the effect of driving more hardware sales.

What I call ‘upstream innovation’ is really hard, easy to ignore, laugh at, or outright dismiss. But as history has shown us, that’s what drives the next wave (pun intended) – not more of the same.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Do Not Track Conundrum

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When you have a moment please read the following:

Next please read the following from the DNT (TPWG) forum

  • Issue-144 etc - link
    • Key sections 
      • If you are a European citizen and visit a European website you expect your fundamental rights to privacy and data protection to be honored. You do not need to set the DNT general preference because you are already protected by law. The European site is obliged to not gather web history or any other data without "explicit & informed consent", as reiterated the Data Privacy Directive and the forthcoming GDP Regulation.
      • European sites need to have a standard way to signal not only DNT: 0 but also that their embedded third-parties must not gather web history even if the DNT general preference is unset. There only alternative to this is to remove untrusted third-party elements from their sites.

So here's the conundrum…

  • There's now US. legislation pending to force a global DNT policy however HTTP Do Not Track packets do NOT honor geographic boundaries 
  • In Europe they're protected by law, but lack a simple method for the user to invoke a personalized Web page response based on the users ability to control the collection, flow and use of their private data

Summary…

  • Do Not Track is not going away because the alternative is regulation - Currently the approach to regulation is Do Not Track
  • 3PMobile is the ONLY solution that allows packets to honor geographic boundaries and is a simple method that allows the users to selectively control the collection, flow and use of their private data

DNT for better or worse is the only solution on the drawing board so they can't go back now. The only question that remains is how fast what they have goes forward, even though there are some serious issues.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Re-Imagining the future of the Web

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Hmmm…

What we do differently if we had the chance to do it all over again? There's no question that the Internet has ushered in some of the greatest changes of the century. And yet as humans we should ponder the question - What if?

What if in the future, the Web could deliver a richer experience and respect my privacy?

Think about that for a moment. It's actually a pivotal argument which appears to be an almost impossible problem to solve. The Web has always been synonymous with free. As in free content in return for using your private data to deliver advertising.

After 20 years of using the Web i've yet to see an advert that appeals to me on a Web page. It's like they (the advertisers) know absolutely nothing about me. I've often wondered why there isn't a simple menu option in the browser which allows me to 'share my personal ad preferences' with the content provider?

Any yet to this day there's nothing.

The question that no one can imagine asking is how can I share my private data in return for a better experience. There's currently no 'Internet of You' (or Me) and yet with Advertising becoming a limited resource (there's only so many Web pages for ads) why isn't someone 're-imagining the Web' to provide a richer more personalized experience?

I define Privacy as the 'ability to control the collection flow and use of my Private data'. What I want in a re-imagined Web is the ability to control that collection, flow and use in a simple and easy to use manner. And in the act of sharing more value with the content provider in return receive more value in return.

If you go back in time (Innovation, The Internet, Standards And the Arrow of Time – Part I & Part II) you'll see that the key to unlocking the future is to re-imagine the current. In the examples shown you can see how obvious it is as the arrow of time moves forward.

At 3PMobile we started out re-imagining the future of the Web. It's one which aligns perfectly with the current Web, and then extends it into the future for those who want something better.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Innovation, The Internet, Standards And the Arrow of Time - Part II

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In Part I I introduced the notion of the 'causal arrow of time' and how innovation moves forward in time with what has come before, always enhancing existing technology and the infrastructure that has come to depend on it, in the least disruptive way. In each case there is always the same outcome, a lowering of costs, new customers and services, and an increase in revenues. I used two analogies to illustrate how building standards based infrastructure helps drive innovation and move commerce forward. In this final blog i’ll talk about 'Enhancing HTTP' and how a new innovation in three critical areas (Performance, Privacy and Personalization) will drive the next wave of revenue on the Web.

As I mentioned in Part 1 there was no option in the standard version of HTTP to transmit Privacy information over the Internet. In an ironic twist of fate the original designers of the HTTP protocol actually added a method for adding 'standard data' to the transmission. This link points to RFC 2616 which is the actual protocol which runs the Web. Here’s the critical section that points to how the protocol can be 'Enhanced' (see the bold highlights below) …

  • The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application-level protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. It is a generic, stateless, protocol which can be used for many tasks beyond its use for hypertext, such as name servers and distributed object management systems, through extension of its request methods, error codes and headers

It’s those exact highlights which illustrates how you can enhance the Web using 'standards'. Unfortunately as you continue to read the spec (Section 12.1) it tells you why trying to do this is not a good idea. But 'what if you ignored that' and went ahead and did it anyway? Well you’d have to solve a lot of complex problems, but if you did, then you would have successfully enhanced the standard by which all devices connect to the Web.

So what would all this look like?

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Standard HTTP: A browser talks to a Web server over current infrastructure using Web standards

Enhanced HTTP: A new data channel allows the browser to send real-time private data over current infrastructure using Web standards

Enhancing HTTP - Adding a Channel for Privacy, Performance and Personalization Data

The need to transmit private data over existing HTTP infrastructure is increasing. 3PMobile believes the best approach is to use an encrypted channel inside the HTTP protocol itself. Like on a telephone network, this data is hidden during transmission, but recognizable by a Web server. The 'Private Data' being added to the HTTP request can be either STATIC (privacy preferences, personal information, performance enhancing data) or DYNAMIC (GPS, sensor data, etc.). It is added using existing HTTP standards, such as headers and cookies, so devices and developers need not learn anything new.

The addition of a private data “channel”, just like the added channels to the phone networks, enables countless new revenue opportunities without disrupting the existing HTTP protocol or infrastructure. It inserts seamlessly into the existing protocol, to ensure no disruption and no new learning by developers and IT professionals. Location-based services are the first to be monetized and a privacy preference “switch”, like the Do Not Track (DNT) header is currently being considered by governments and the W3C. A sampling of what standards-based, private data channel innovation enables includes:

  • Enhanced Privacy
    • Enterprise policy management & compliance monitoring
    • Secure transmission of biometric user authentication
    • Identity Wallets and consumer sharing choices
  • Personalized Web Services
    • Personalized content and advertising
    • Managing policy, promotion and simplifying navigation via browser menus
    • Mobile apps that can rival apps in UI and functionality
  • Performance Optimization
    • Real-time, real world device and wireless network performance testing
    • Real-time performance monitoring by device, network and location
    • Mobile SLA analysis & remote device testing and management via the Web

Innovating the Standard… 3PMobile®

Since the very beginnings of 'transmission technology', every time a standard has emerged and has been adopted for wide use there have been 'alternate channels' invented and applied to those standards for the purpose of transmitting 'more information' than the original technology was designed to transport…

… all without disrupting or replacing the original technology.

3PMobile, with it’s Choice® technology, applies this time-tested and proven approach. The company’s intellectual property adheres to the premise that the most valuable technological advances enable the successful introduction valuable products and services without disrupting the existing technology or economic base. Choice® is additive. It provides a path for new technological and economic growth – without requiring immediate change to current business practices or Web infrastructure. Effectively, the company’s contextual data communications platform simply extends the HTTP protocol with a new ‘data channel’ designed to support Web privacy, personalization, and performance-enhancing products and services.

3PMobile’s approach allows organizations and individuals to change - without forcing the pace of that change. It does so by respecting standards and utilizing existing programming skills for the HTTP protocol. And while many will argue that all standards-based solutions should be open source, one need only look at the number of FRAND and cross-licensing arrangements in play in modern Web and mobile ecosystems to know that while it may be the desire of some, it is not the reality. Market advantage and positive economic disruption is created by early adoption of innovative technologies that plug into the existing infrastructure. Strategically minded organizations have the opportunity to be the first to deliver and monetize products and services that utilize the 3Ps – and avoid the negative market impact regulation can impose on them.

Early adopters will gain the largest economic advantage, but everyone can participate for decades to come. As a standards-based technology, the 3PMobile approach is easily integrated into the enabling infrastructure, just as new services have been added to the fuel delivery, container-based shipping industries. It layers opportunity, just as tone-based dialing and data transmission have been added to the telephone network, or as digital data transmission has beyond simple information about the type of browser.

More data, faster transmissions, more choice in data sharing and management, means, quite simply, more opportunity for the development of profitable products and services. Successful innovation, like Choice®, is additive. It respects the technology, which has come before it. It enables yet-to-be defined monetization models. It ensures replacement revenue for established products and services as they reach their end-of-life. It supports both privacy and personalized content and services – with or without tracking. It is the next major evolutionary step in Internet communications.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Innovation, The Internet, Standards And the Arrow of Time - Part 1

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Like the 'causal arrow of time', innovation moves forward in time with what has come before, always enhancing existing technology and the infrastructure that has come to depend on it, in the least disruptive way. However in each case there is always the same outcome, a lowering of costs, new customers and services, and increase in revenues. Two simple analogies come to mind:

  1. The gas pump
  2. Shipping containers (The Box) and the story of Malcolm McLean

The gas pump of today has changed little from the day it was invented by Sylvanus F. Bowser in Fort Wayne, Indiana on September 5, 1885. There’s a standard nozzle to dispense the fuel and there’s a metering mechanism to record the amount of fuel dispensed. All of this is 'packaged' in an attractive 'pump'. By following a standard there is now a global distribution mechanism for gasoline that powers commerce.

Building on this (the causal arrow of time) pumps have become driver services delivery kiosks. They offer patrons multiple fuel and payment options, along with wait time video and car wash service options. They enable a new generation of revenue generating services for station owners, energy companies, content creators, and carwash mechanism producers. However the underlying theme always remains the same - improvements to existing infrastructure drive new revenue opportunities

In the case of the shipping containers it was the genius of one man, Malcolm McLean who relentlessly pursued an agenda that made ships, railroads and trucks bow to the intermodal container, and in the process made globalization and a new standard possible. In doing so he created a new economic order by leveraging existing delivery methods. There were five critical elements to McLeans vision which are mirrored in all global innovations. They are:

  • Financial: In the beginning, total port costs consumed 48% (or $1163 of $2386) of shipment of one truckload of medicine from Chicago to Nancy, France, in 1960. Fast forward to today: the book quotes economists Edward Glaeser and Janet Kohlhase: “It is better to assume that moving goods is essentially costless than to assume that moving goods is an important component of the production process.”
  • Technology: The key was to figure out optimal container sizes and other system parameters, based on a careful analysis of goods mixes on their routes. Today, container shipping systems are so optimized that an added second of delay in handling a container can translate to tens of thousands of dollars lost per ship per year.
  • Labor: The streamlining of labor unions resulting in a more consistent and economical approach to handling containers
  • Globalization: Containerization represented a technological force that old-style manual-labor-intensive ports and their cities simply were not capable of handling. This required a clean sheet approach to handling containers which is now repeated around the globe, offering economies of scale never seen before.
  • Simplicity: By adopting a standard companies and countries could now easily move their products around the globe. Hard to believe it all came down to a single box.

Now lets fast forward in time the invention that helped usher in the Internet. At it’s core the Internet depends on the telecommunications industry and the enhancements made over time to the design that started it all - two cans and a piece of string which later became the telephone. In the beginning inventors found a simple way to replace 'vibrations on the wire' (the two cans and a piece of string we all played with as kids) with electrical signals. From there the race was on to continue enhancing the existing infrastructure with what’s now known as 'control signals', all without disturbing or having to change the in-place technology and standards. Todays telecommunications systems has evolved to support a myriad of new signals the latest of which we currently know as the Internet.

The history of the Internet began with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. The public was first introduced to the Internet when a message was sent from computer science Professor Leonard KleinRock’s laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), after the second piece of network equipment was installed at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). This connection not only enabled the first transmission to be made, but is also considered to be the first Internet backbone. In 1982 the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected TCP/IP networks called the Internet was introduced. At it’s core the Internet is based in the advances made by the telecommunications industry followed by the computer industry.

Next in the causal arrow of time came 'Standard HTTP' which was layered in as a standard on top of another TCP/IP. HTTP was designed as a very simple stateless protocol. (A communications protocol (layer) that treats each request as an independent transaction that is unrelated to any previous request, so that the communication consists of independent pairs of requests and responses. It can easily be compared to the early days of telephony. The early HTTP technology standards only contained what was necessary to make connections and transfer generic content. There was no concept of 'Private Data' in the early HTTP design(s). It was simply a fundamental hybrid of both a transport and presentation layer protocol for data transfer.

In the next and final installment of this blog i’ll talk about 'Enhancing HTTP' following in the same 'causal arrow of time' footsteps as all of the other innovations mentioned above.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is there room for another browser in the marketplace, the right question to ask ourselves?

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No, I don't think it is.

The standard answer from any VC or investor in regard to the question, is that nobody can compete against Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or Firefox. On the surface I would agree, but if we peer a little beneath the surface things are different.

To illustrate this i'll borrow a quote from Stalin;

  • 'I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.'

Now let's plagiarize Stalin’s quote just a little…

  • I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will use whichever browser, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will use the features of that browser, and how.

Every modern browser now supports a new feature - the ability to turn on a Privacy setting called Do Not Track. It’s the single feature that EVERY OEM has agreed on that MUST be in place. They (the OEM's) control that feature, nobody else can ADD it to ANY browser and compete with them.

So if you're a company focused on Privacy on the Web and wanted to add a 'differentiating feature' via say a browser plugin, you have just been essentially shut out of that market place. (Not only can you not add a plugin to a mobile browser, doing so on the desktop adds no value to the already STANDARD feature).

Two other features like this come to mind. One is the 'Embed' tag and the other is real time disk compression. The embed tag inside HTML allows you invoke an external application from within the page. Real time disk compression keeps the hard drive contents compressed.

Both are 'features'.

But here's where it gets interesting (looking beneath the surface). Features are irrelevant until EVERYBODY decides they have to have them. Then they take on a completely different role. To effectively monetize a feature you need two things - everybody has to have it, AND it has to be deployed on a global scale, preferably as a standard. The embed tag fits that description and so does an operating system that contains real time disk compression. Both are global in nature and both are now standards.

So what is the latest 'Standard feature' inside EVERY modern browser?

It's the ability to go to a Privacy menu in the browser and enable a check box that allows you to send a Do Not Track header to a Web server. Since the standard started to evolve (it's still not a completely finished standard) there are now approaching 500 million browsers in the marketplace that support it.

What could be thought of as insignificant feature, now takes center stage as a MUST have feature for browser companies to remain competitive.

So maybe the real question to ask yourselves is this - who owns the idea behind adding the feature of a Do Not Track privacy header to the Internet which is activated from inside the browser? And for that you may wish to read up on US. Pat. 8,156,206

Footnote… to see how much a 'standard feature is worth' when it goes global.