Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How I upgraded my iPad to iPad 2 for a breakfast at Starbucks

I was not in the mood to buy a new iPad 2 and to lose $400. But on the other hand I did want to have a new iPad 2 for testing and because it is new. I had to come up with a way to sell my old iPad and buy a new one without losing money.

I have been late and tried to sell my iPad at craigslist which was a disaster. I tried it twice at eBay and finally got it sold.

I used to have the iPad 64GB 3G. First I tried it as fix price for $650, but did not work out. I posted it again with no reserve and got with some extras like the original cover $570. If you have no extras you can get it still sold for $500.

Shortly after I posted the iPad, I went to the Apple store on a Tuesday at 7am. As expected already 20 people waiting. Around 8:00am there were 60 people. The Apple employees came and asked us what iPad we want. I chose 2 iPad 64GB wifi only (2 iPads is max allowed per person).

60 minutes later I had my iPads. I instantly posted them on eBay and could sold each of them to a good price. One for $850 and the other for $950.

After I shipped the ipads and got the money I went again to the Apple store to get my final iPad 2 (of course again standing 2 hours in the line early in the morning)

iPad 1 plus Case bought: $888
iPad 1 sold $570 minus fees: $555
Difference $333

2 iPad 2 (64GB wifi only) bought: $1450
2 iPad 2 sold: $1800 minus fees $1770

Difference $320

I almost made up the difference. I had a lost of $13 which is just one breakfast at Starbucks which I will skip next week.

Please hurry if you want to try it too. The prices at eBay are falling for both the old and the new iPad because Apple shipping time went now down to 3 to 4 weeks. Every week less for shipping at Apple costs you at least $50 per iPad.

I could have made even real profit if I would have sold the iPads to Europe.

Try it out and let me know if it did work out for you.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

The New York Times trick - saves you a lot of money

Since today the free NYTimes is over. When you start the NYT you will see on many topics a lock to indicate you have to sign up to read the articles. Each page has on top a banner for signing up. But if you want to sign up to read on your iPad you have to pay $20 a month or if you want to read the NYT on all your devices it is even $35.

Otherwise you have only the top news and 20 article free per month.
Here is the trick. You need to subscribe the print issue 12 weeks for $3.15 a week and then the rest of the year for $6.30 a week, which comes to $289 a year, which is $50 more than subscribing iPad only.

As soon you get your NYT delivered you sell the subscription over eBay. But sell only the delivery address and keep account (important pay the year upfront and cancel after 2 months).
There are people willing to get the home Delivery and have no iPad. You might get on eBay for they year around $180 (at least I got it).

The beauty is as a home delivery subscriber you get free iPad access. I am ending up paying $110 for my iPad access which is less than $10 a month, a price I like to pay.

Other people might have the NYT subscription but no iPad, maybe friends of yours. Ask for their account, they are willing to give it to you.

Or search the internet like craigslist, who is selling their access, which there will be soon a few available in Internet. NYT on phones does not make fun to read.

Overall there are multiple ways to get the NYT for less than $20 a month.

BTW the app crashed today when I clicked on the subscription banner. It is a shame that they charge for an app which crashes all the time.

My blog entry about the NYT crashes is so far the most read article in my blog, this tells a lot.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Social network: the interaction is involuntary

We are writing now the second year of social Internet, and I am still not clear why everything is called social, but things which are social are not called social.

Please don't understand wrong. Facebook got big, Zynga is number one Game platform for online games. Angry Birds has unbelievable success. Almost every celebrity is on twitter and having not a linkedin account is fatal if you want to get to the next professional level. And don't forget Groupon the best deals ever. They are all listed when we talk about social networking or social gaming. Together they are valued $170billion, so much money can't be wrong.

I had to surf the Internet to find a definition, to see if I get it now. Wikipedias definition of social:
The term Social refers to a characteristic of living organisms (humans in particular, though biologists also apply the term to populations of other animals). It always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.

This is a start but I did want to know what social networking definition is:
Again Wikipedia was helpful:
A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. A social network service essentially consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web based and provide means for users to interact over the internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging. Although online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service. In a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

In a birds view Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are social networks. But diving deeper, I got the feeling they are not social or not more social than forums which exist much longer. And what is about the dating websites like match.com or eharmony, they should be social too.

FB might has started as a social network, to get students together on a platform to meet and discuss when they can't meet in person. Not much is left since then. FB has over 500 million users and is now more a platform than a network, there are many restrictions and tons of 3rd party applications, everybody gets pressed into the same. FB went to a platform driven by commerce. More and more brands are using this platform to gain brand loyalty. The interactions are many times one sided. We post and hope others will read and interact. FB is surely closer to social than twitter.

In the highest mean of social, twitter is a social network. But it has for me the less social aspect of all. We tweet to gain followers, sometimes retweet or forward tweets. There is no real big social interaction, or otherwise how could it come that a Charlie Sheen can gain 3 million followers with not many tweets (less than hundred) and most of them useless and meaningless.

It is all about with who we are connected. But to be connected does not define to be social. I know my neighbor, but I don't socialize with him. Same with linkedin. How many contacts do we have and how many of them do we interact on a regular basis.

All three social networks are for me platforms which are pretending to be social, but 90% of interaction is given by the platform algorithm. When a system decides the social part, then it is not social anymore. The definition says "The term Social refers to a characteristic of living organisms (humans in particular, though biologists also apply the term to populations of other animals)."

The platforms are software, they are not human. Imagine how less "social" these platforms would be if the user would actually need to look for somebody and Interact with this person. Sure we do this on these platforms but much less than the companies try to tell us. I get connect requests in linkedin. If I like the person profile or I think this person might be in the future helpful then i accept the invitation. This might be then the first and last interaction. However the platform let me believe we are social because I see their user profile updates. Pretty sure most of my contacts do not care, if I know what they are doing.
Look at twitter, we start following people with just one click but are we really reading their tweets all the time. If you follow 100 people, how much of their tweet do you read? But the platform let us believe we care and the people we follow do care. I don't think Mr. Sheen does even know I follow him. And I even don't know when I read the last time his tweets. He might even not tweet anymore. What is social on this?

Facebook let us see all our friends updates and wall entries, but if we are really as social as FB let us believe with all the updates posted on our page, why do we then get only feedback from few friends to some posts.

Social is intersection between at least 2 human beings and not one posting and a computer interacting by posting these infos to other pages.

A Facebook user has in average 130 friends, how can we socialize with so many?

7 out of the top 10 games on Facebook are from Zynga like Farmville. 3 of the top 5 applications on Facebook are Zynga games.

Did you ever play Mafia Wars or Farmville? I did, not much and good, but I get all the time game requests on FB. I accept or not, but where is the social aspect? Only because we send to somebody a request and if this person does accept it, we get more points? Do we really interact to each other? Asking questions, help each others? Maybe some people but not the majority.

Angry Birds:
I play Angry Birds I love the game, but this game has less social than any Zynga game. I can see how well I did in the rankings and the most social interaction with Angry Birds is the coffee break talk how to master level 4-14.

I guess most of my readers did at least get one coupon on Groupon, otherwise the company could not gave been able to generate $1 Billion in revenue and be the fastest growing Internet company ever. But I don't get the social part. Groupon is offering 50% or more discount on products and services (mostly services because it is easier to grant high discount) if enough people are willing to get a coupon. The idea is great and the concept works, but only because multiple people need to want to have a coupon does make it social?
Groupon is a platform for coupons and e-commerce. Not more or less. The most social interaction I had, was asking a friend of mine to sign up that the minimum number of requests are met, that I can get my coupon for a spa day (btw he did not, but I did still get the coupon).

Maybe I am to negative, but this is how I see it.

On the other hand we have millions of forums where people are discussing and asking questions and others are answering, full of interaction is going on and mostly around the same topic during the discussion. Why did nobody call this in the time back social network?
I guess because of the last part of the definition.
"....whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary". This let me believe that social Internet networking or gaming is based on the last part of the social definition.
"Social network: the interaction is involuntary."

I wondering who invented the social network, how we understand today the social network.

In 1995, Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded a company called WELL, which could be considered as the first social networking site. Or a few years later Eric Leebow, he claims he had in 1999 a college website similar to Facebook called Freezecrowd.

Finally I found something which could help me to understand why the above companies are named social networks.
The term 'social network' was first coined in 1954 by J. A. Barnes (in: Class and Committees in a Norwegian Island Parish, "Human Relations"). The maximum size of social networks tends to be around 150 people (Dunbar's number) and the average size around 124 (Hill and Dunbar, 2002).

A social network is a social structure made of nodes which are generally individuals or organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds.

Finally I get it, if you have more than 150 friends, followers or connections, then you fall outside of a social network regardless how social FB, twitter etc is.
Period. I am not a member of a social network, because I have more friends or connections than 150. But wait I have less followers. Twitter is my social network.

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Some NFC ideas outside using it for payments

We all talk about NFC and the upcoming iPhone 5 which might have an NFC chip. Mostly the ideas are around payment and loyalty.

Here are some ideas which are different but useful based on that each phone has an unique identifier (EMEI)

1. Office
Would it not be nice to wave your phone to get entry in the office and the time stamp instead of using a batch? I don't know how often i did forget my batch and had to wait till somebody open the door for me in the office. But i never forget my phone. Or would it not be nice to lock and unlock your computer just by sitting at the computer? As soon you leave your desk your computer would be logged off. A NFC chip in your phone could make this happen.

2. Home
After a long working day you come home and the garage door will open without pushing a button. As soon you enter the house a voice is greeting you and tells you how many calls you missed.
You switch your music on your phone on and as soon you enter the living room the music will play over the speakers in the living room. Going in your bedroom the music switches to the speakers in the bedroom.
Maybe all TVs have a NFC reader and you can use finally only one remote for everything, your phone.

3. Car
As soon you walk to the car it will unlock and when you are in the car it will change seat position to your size and the car starts. No need to have any keys with you.

All this is possible with having a NFC chip in your phone and readers in the car, house etc.

These are only a few ideas where NFC could be useful. Even if we still need to carry our Credit Cards, we at least don't need keys and batches anymore.

NFC is surly coming to smart phones

NFC (Near Field Communication) is since a while in discussion to eventually replace the credit cards. the idea is simple. An user is buying something in the store and waves his phone to pay.
Mc donalds as an example has already smart reader to allow Credit Cards with Chip to hold just in front of the reader instead of sliding it through the reader. Google is already working with some manufactures to get NFC into Android based phones. A lot of reports are floating through the Internet that apple might have NFC included into their next iPhone 5.

Unfortunately it is not so easy as we think. There multiple factors in play for NFC which might let us wait much longer on payment through NFC as we think or at least till we can throw our Credit Cards away.

First to know is how Credit Cards are working today. Which each CC payment, MasterCard or other CC companies are getting a good cut (a few $ per transaction)* and the issued bank form where you got your Credit Card will get as well a piece of the payment (around 50 cents)*. This is paid by the stores who are accepting Credit Cards. This is actually one reason why you can still many times reduce the price of an item if you say you pay cash.

With NFC it is not clear who gets the cut for each payment. The Credit Card institute and the bank want to have their part, and then of course companies like Apple who might offer the NFC plus the company who will offer the application to choose NFC.

But who has to pay it? If it is the retailer then their net will go down and therefore the profit.

The next not to forget important part is the hardware which each retailer needs to have. Just because a smart phone has a NFC chip does not mean you can pay with your smart phone. There are today only a handful retailers which have NFC ready equipment like Sears and McDonalds. Getting NFC readers into the stores. But the manufactures are ready for building NFC. A short look at Alibama.com (Chinese trading web site) shows over 162 different NFC readers priced between $30 and $400.

I am not sure if NFC will replace Credit Cards in the near future, even if it would be so cool not to carry 8 CC in your wallet.

But i think NFC will come fast, especially if the smart phone manufactures are including NFC chips in their phones. This helps to boost NFC.

The most interesting thing on NFC is that a retailer could utilize NFC for loyalty programs and special offers in store target and personalized to the consumer. The question is if this would be even allowed.

I remember (12 years ago), i worked for a company where we did experiments on RFIDs. The idea was that we keep the RFIDs in clothes after the consumer bought them. When they come back to the store, the retailer would know what the consumer does wear and could offer special deals around this person.

However, even if the concept was a great idea, we had to cancel our product, because it did violate the privacy of people (at least in Germany).
NFC can be seen the same, but the time changed we are now all used to be 24/7 online and to distribute our information to many. A lot of consumers are seeing privacy different than 10 years ago.

We will see a lot of start ups are coming soon which are combining NFC, Social and mobile. NFC could be the next big thing. New loyalty programs could arise on the horizon and coupons can finally go mobile.

Americans love coupons, but the big disadvantage of digital coupons is, that the consumer has still to print them. NFC readers would allow to have real mobile coupons. The consumer is just selecting the coupons and discount they like and at the cashier wave their mobile phone to get them redeemed. The issuer of the coupons can make sure that a coupon is only used once, because they would know the phones IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identify) which is an unique identifier.

Or think about loyalty programs. You are collecting points with each purchase and if enough points are collected you can redeem them on the website. With NFC the points could be redeemed during your shopping in the Store.

Europe seems already be a step ahead in NFC.

French retailers begin the move to NFC loyalty programmes

Fidbook is offered to consumers by all four of the mobile network operators taking part in the Cityzi NFC project — Orange, Bouygues Télécom, SFR and NRJ Mobile, an MVNO part owned by the Crédit Mutuel-CIC banking group. NFC phones sold in Nice come pre-loaded with Fidbook and consumers can add loyalty cards from any participating retailer to the application, removing the need to fill their wallets with multiple plastic loyalty cards.

The advantage for retailers, it is hoped, is that this will then encourage consumers to sign up for far more loyalty programmes than they would previously have done, enabling even small retailers to gain a better picture of their customers' shopping habits.

Belgian publihser pilots contacless payment & Loyalty scheme for magazine readers

Alcatel-Lucent has launched a contactless payment and loyalty points program with Sanoma Magazines to help the Belgium-based publisher gain insight into the buying habits of its non-subscription customers, according to destinationcrm.com.

In the pilot, customers use prepaid NFC stickers affixed to their mobile phones to buy Sanoma’s ‘HUMO’ and ‘Flair’ magazines by holding the mobile phone to a reader at the point of sale.

The sticker allows customers to buy 12 HUMO magazines for the price of 10, and Flair readers will be able to register online to earn loyalty points every time they use the sticker to purchase a magazine.

According to destinationcrm.com, the pilot involves about 700 HUMO and Flair customers, who can buy the magazines at seven stores equipped with contactless readers in Antwerp, Belgium. Customers can also pay for other items at the stores using the stickers.

Alcatel-Lucent supplied the contactless technology for the pilot, as well as the payment vouchers and loyalty points program. Proximity BBDO, a customer relations agency, is also participating in the pilot.


Brick and Mortar stores are losing ground against online stores since years; NFC could bring more business back to offline stores. Retailer could offer special discounts only available in the offline store received on the smart phone.

* CC fees and bank fees varies depending on total $ amount and CC card type.

Friday, March 25, 2011

AirPlay for everyone - the Apple TV might be history

Bloomberg reported that Apple is going to license AirPlay for video streaming.
Airplay can right now stream audio to AirPlay enabled devices or can stream from your iPhone video to your Apple TV.

In the future it might be possible to stream video to other than Apple devices.

Airplay is very cool. I watched on my iPhone a movie, but the image was too small so I streamed to my iPad. I walked with my iPad into the living room and decided to watch it on my big TV. I just used AirPlay and the video did run on my TV.

Many times I listen to music in my office, and when I go in the backyard I use AirPlay to switch the music to our porch or even run it in the office and porch at the same time.

If Apple is licensing AirPlay for video streaming will then the Apple TV go away? Yes.

The example I had was cool, but had one big disadvantage. I did not charge my iPad a while and during watching the movie the battery went empty. And when watching movie over AirPlay you can't switch the app otherwise the movie stops. And as we all know, we like to multitask. We like to watch TV and read emails at the same time. All these might be reasons why Apple TV will not go away. We still want to use the Apple TV to stream Netflix and not our phone and then stream it to TV.

But there is a bigger problem for the Apple TV if combined with AirPlay. 50% of recent sold TVs are internet ready and many of them have apps to watch Netflix and hulu. For music they have pandora.

The main reason I have an Apple TV is that I can Netflix, watch my iTunes movies and present my Photos on a big screen.

Internet ready TVs take the need for Netflix and AirPlay would take the need for Apple TV.

The main point for Apple TV 2 was to get consumers more reason to buy iPhones or other Apple products. An Apple product booster which came a few years too late. I did not read or hear any big numbers of the new Apple TV sold, even that the Apple TV is so far the best TV box.
Last news i read was 1million devices sold, but this was in December 2010. If the numbers were much higher now, Apple would have announced them.
The price is so low ($99), you can not do anything wrong (Google TV $300). And it is surly not a device to make money. The manufacturing costs are $64.

Apple might see that licensing $4 per TV would produce more revenue than selling the Apple TV and will reach more consumers, which means more consumers might buy an iPhone or iPad because their TV has AirPlay.

Do I think the Apple TV will go away? yes. If my next TV has Internet and AirPlay, I would retire my Apple TV 2 for sure.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

iOS 4.3 freezes FaceTime

There are many reports and complains in the apple forum that the iPad has FaceTime problems.

According to some users the iPad shows a frozen image and it can only be solved by rebooting the iPad.

This is not totally true. The issues is related to the 4.3 update and happens as well with the iPhone. I had this several times, which is annoying, I have to admit, but it is easy to fix by double click the home button to delete FaceTime from dock, which will stop FaceTime completely, a restart of FaceTime will work fine.

I did not have the problem anymore since I updated to 4.3.1. I would recommend everybody to update if you have FaceTime issues.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Groupon - is there a change to come?

Launched in November 2008, Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 500 markets and 44 countries, and soon beyond. They have about 6,000 people working in Chicago headquarters, a growing office in Palo Alto, CA, account executives based in local markets across North America and regional offices in Europe, Latin America, Asia and throughout the world.

Groupons offers are mostly high discounted (50%) and Groupon gets a 50% share of revenue from vendors. Groupon is so successful because of the high discounts which they are able to offer because mostly their clients are local businesses or high priced products. However a few companies are complaining that Groupon does not bringing repeating customer to their business and they are losing money with Groupon offers.

Other coupon websites are more concentrated on big brands and these brands don't offer such high discount. You might get 2for1 offers for smaller grocery items or maybe a $4 off diapers.

The high discount and the target of local business gave Groupon an estimated revenue in 2010 of $860 Million. Groupon is only 2 years old and grew from 200 people to 6000 and it is named as the fastest growing Internet company in history.
The founder (Andrew Mason) started his career with thepoint.com which got funded by Eric Paul Lefkofsky. Thepoint.com is still online but almost no activities. Mason did build groupon during his time with thepoint and Lefkofsky stayed with Groupon as CFO till Jason Child joined Groupon as CFO.

Today was a small article that Rob Solomon is stepping down as President and COO. Solomon worked before Groupon at Sidestep.com as Founder and CEO which got acquired by KAYAK a travel search engine. Before he served as SVP Commerce & VP/GM Shopping at Yahoo.

Solomon is saying that Groupon grew too much and he can't keep up anymore with the size of the company. Why should he step back when the company is so successful? Should he not be excited to figure out to run it?

There can be only 3 reasons. Either he does not agree with the management at Groupon how they make business, which could mean that groupon does maybe make $680 Million in revenue but might be totally chaotic intern and hire too many people etc that Solomon does see not a great future for Groupon. Or he got so pissed of that Groupon did not accept the offer from google and therefore he did not get the money he was hoping for, which is again an indicator that he does not believe the company is as big and as successful as everybody is saying. He might know the real thing, which we don't know.
Or he does not fit in the formed management and the CEO and Investors want to have him go. To be a successful company it is important that in bad times or in extreme growth, the whole management will fight for the same goals.
If he is not a beloved COO and the staff did not like him neither then there is a good reason that he has to leave, which would give him at $200 Million for leaving the company before contract ends.

If he is leaving because of things he sees at Groupon and does not like, then the problem might be bigger. I am pretty sure if he leaves for this reason he has already a good new position lined up, and in this case he will certianly take some of his team with him (middle management) etc.

I see Groupon as a great idea, but i have my doubts in companies which are growing so fast. Growing revenue is always grew at, but growing from 200 to 6000 people in two years by offering basically the same service as before is suspicious. If groupon has a gross revenue of $860 Million and 600 employees than the revenue per employee is only $72K ($144K before ref share with their clients). As an example Apple and Google has an average revenue per employee of $1 Million. Yahoo a company which does not so well right now still has $500K per employee. The average for the top 100 NASDAQ is $500k much more than Groupon has. (Source J. Bryan Scott).

Maybe this is the reason Groupon posts on their own website they have only 1,500 employyes which would make their revenue much closer to the top companies. However many sources are saying their are at least 2000 people at Groupon which would bring their RPE to $212k or $425k depending how we want to see the numbers.

However my calculation are based on a Reuters article:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Groupon Inc's president and chief operating officer Rob Solomon is stepping down from his position at the Internet company in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The Journal cited an interview with Solomon, who said he would remain special advisor to Groupon, the article said.

Solomon said that he decided to step down partly because "Groupon got really big," growing from 200 employees a year ago to some 6,000, the article said. Solomon said he reached his decision to leave in consultation with Groupon Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mason, the article said.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Amazon’s app store - Apple does not like it

Apple is suing Amazon for its app store name. The Amazon app store is a great deal for Android users, finally a store to find easier apps. The best thing is that Amazon offers every day a paid app free. At the moment it is Angry Birds Rio.

Amazon is starting with 3800 apps for now, but the big difference to Google’s app store is that Amazon is testing all apps before they go into the store. Apple sees Amazon as a threat, which they are right.

Amazon has like Apple a lot of experience in micro payments, and even more experience with e-commerce. Amazon offers video streaming, music downloads and now apps for Androids. Soon Amazon might bring their mobile device or will offer the Kindle with Android OS.

Fighting for the app store name is just a small step but a clear identification that Apple sees Amazon as a big competition. The biggest advantage of Amazon is their cloud knowledge. They have such a advantage as one of the biggest cloud providers.

Apple knows that most of the things we own today will go into the cloud. In a few year we will not have any more big hard drives to store music and video or documents. We will store most of the not too critical data in the cloud and here is Amazon the clear leader against Apple. Google is good in cloud too, but they are concentrated to offer everything as open source which is too much destructing to be really a global player in the future. They might offer the platforms but other companies like Amazon will actually utilize it to grow their user base.

Example the app store: Google uses an open source system therefore Amazon is allowed to sell Androids apps. But the big difference is that Amazon will decide the price of the app and not just the developer and each app will be screened. The screening is missing at the Google app store, therefore a lot of apps with bad user experience or harmful for your device. Amazon goes into the apple direction, however they are only verifying that the apps are working or don’t have malware (but developers get as well 70% of revenue like Apple model). Apple goes a step further and decides if an app is not within their moral.

We all should watch out Amazon (as I wrote in an earlier post), they are clearly coming strong to the mobile market. The idea is great, take the best out of both worlds (Google and Apple) and build your own system.

The Amazon store works very well, it has categories to click through or you can search for apps. The recommendation system works perfect. I looked for First person shooter. There was no Android app for this but it offered me Xbox version of such game. And then Amazon is really good to know you and your taste and offers good software selection. Amazon was always good in this and is good with it with the app store.

Amazon has as well some exclusive apps like Angry Bird Rio for Android. You are only able to get it on Amazon. And for now as special even free, later for $0.99

But of course there are some small not perfect things like “Date first available at Amazon” and Release date.

Technology News app shows at Amazon that it was available at Amazon September 9, 2010. However the store was not open in September 2010

I am pretty sure that soon somebody will build an android app for Amazon apps to search for like AppShopper for the iPhone.

I only could find around 40 tablet apps and unfortunately the app store does not allow yet surfing by tablet or smart phone. I am pretty sure it will come as soon more tablet apps are available.

Nice feature would be as well to search by Android version. Not every phone does support latest Android. The description page for the apps is a little poor, it is too much same look and feel like for books.

There can be some improvements. I heard rumors that Amazon will install an Android render machine that users are able to test the games on the website before downloading and buying, this would be a great addition.

Jonathan Ive – a good Poker player

Jonathan the start designer behind Apple who is responsible for the iPod, iPhone and iMac design and a native Britain did open a few months ago the rumor he might leave Apple (Cupertino) to spend more time with his family in England.

Jonathan Ive 1999 Mac World:

Jonathan Ive today:

Jonathan had an amazing career at Apple and made a big change not only for Apple, once an overweight unattractive guy is now a guy which looks good on TV. His appearance on TV (keynotes and videos) with his British accent makes him one of the best presenters Apple ever had. Only Steve Jobs might come better over the air, but only because he has his own charisma.

After a short time at the London design agency Tangerine, Jonathan Ive moved to the United States in 1992 to pursue his career at Apple Inc. He gained his current job title upon the return of Steve Jobs in 1997, and since then has headed the Industrial Design team responsible for most of the company's significant hardware products.

Today Jonathan is Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Inc. and all new hardware products at Apple have his signature. He is the highest designer at the second big company in the world. 3 years ago he agreed on a handcuff agreement with Apple not to leave Apple for three years – his compensation for this was $30 Million. Just a few months before his contract ended he started the rumor he will leave Apple. I believe he never did want to leave Apple but to get a better financial deal with Apple Inc. The best thing to do is to threaten your company you want to leave. This always helps when the company does believe you are an important asset. And for sure Ive is a very important asset for Apple Inc.

Apple’s success is not only based on Steve’s vision but as well the ability of Ive to give products a look and feel which let the consumer believe the products are better than others. Ive and Steve have one thing in common; both don’t deliver a product which is in their mind not perfect. Steve once did not release the NeXT cube because the black was not the black he envisioned. Sounds familiar? How long do we wait now on the white iPhone?

Ive is getting a $24 Million check end of this month for his stocks and I am pretty sure he signed a new 3 years contract with at least $60 Million compensation or a lot of stocks (source PcMac)

Be honest, why should he leave, to be together with your family? This is an argument if you don’t make millions; otherwise the money is good enough to move the family or to see them every week.

On the other hand he has not made millions yet to allow himself to start his company and be financial as successful. Moving to another company would be downsizing. There are not many big companies in the UK he could join. Big names in the UK:

• BP
• Vodafone
• HSBC Holdings
• Tesco
• Barclays
• GlaxoSmithKline
• AstraZeneca
• Standard Chartered
• National Grid
• BT Group

 (source Timesonline UK)

None of them are really sexy companies for him to work with. If he wants to stay in electronics then leaving Apple and joining another company will not resolve in living in the UK - More likely US or Asia.

Therefore the only thing he could have done is to leave Apple Inc. Move to Britain and live from his savings. He wants more for sure.

Another possible outcome could have been that he stays with Apple but works from Britain. This would have been a win for him to.

He played Poker and he won.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mobile.me maybe soon free

Me, an old mobile.me customer (when it was still called mac.com) is paying every year $159 for an extended mobile.me family account. Since years I am paying it because of the benefits, but I never liked to pay so much. There are many other services for email and data storage free or much cheaper. The most famous one is for sure Google. Google offers a lot of cool features which are free, even cloud documents like Excel, Word etc without having the need to own such software to make changes in the documents.

But I kept the mobile.me accounts because all my devices are Apple products. The really beauty of mobile.me is the total sync of mail accounts, contacts, photos and calendar and even favorites. It is just amazing how well you think it works. As soon you have a new computer you can use your mobile.me account on this computer and all email accounts, contacts etc are synched. However it does not work well as it is supposed. Over the years all my contact and calendar entries got dirty. I had many contacts 10 or 20 times in my contact app and birthday reminders up to 30 times. The biggest issue is that you can't define one device as master and therefore the data gets dirty when you have many devices, it is not really good solved by Apple. Even if the data looks exact the same it still happens. Just last week I did spend 5 hours to clean the data. On such days I am asking myself why I am paying for this service so much.

One good thing with mobile.me is the total integration with I-tunes, iPhone/iPad, iPhoto and iWeb. It is so easy to share your photos over mobile.me or to generate cool looking webpages using iWeb an mobile.me account.
Nevertheless not to forget the ability to locate your iPhone and to locker erase it remotely in case you lost it.

Again a good (not perfect) service which is clear too expensive. I actually only know Apple geeks who have mobile.me accounts. Apple is now a mainstream company and can't afford anymore to offer too expensive services. First they opened the app world on MacOS to offer software much cheaper than the CD version. Now as a logical consequence mobile.me might go free.

Mobile.me is the Apple cloud system, still only limited to certain programs, but I believe the mobile.me cloud will soon offer music in the cloud (which you can partly do right now by saving your songs in the mobile.me folder on your mac).

The rumors about new version of mobile me started when Apple end of february selling mobile me in their online store. Students are recommended to use the 60 days trial for now till new version is out.

I believe Apple will have a free standard version for maybe 5GB and then offer more services and data storage for payed service.

My subscription year is running out in June and hopefully till then the new mobile.me is available. I remember a few years ago Apple had problems to merge .mac accounts with mobile.me. Because of the trouble I got 6 months in total free.

I guess we will know the latest at the Worldwide Developer Conference 2011 starting June 5 how the new mobile.me will look like.

Or as early as next month. Charles Starrett, Senior Editor of iLounge, cited "a trusted source" saying that Apple will announce a free version of MobileMe next month

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

The freedom of choice. ATT or Verizon.

One of the reasons why I came the USA was that this is country of opportunities and variety. But after six years I had to learn that this is not always true.

There is still a lot of opportunities, but you need either to know the right people or you need to have a lot of money to come your dream alive.
But this alone is another topic I could write a lot. This post is about the competition.

America was a dream for Germans. I am coming from a country where the state did own or control a lot of business. We had in time back not many private banks, and long ago telecommunications were owned by the German Telekom, owned by the government. I remember in 1994 to make a call overseas or even from door to door was expensive. 23 cent per 8 minutes for a local call and over $2 per minute for a call to the US. At this time (I lived in San Diego) a local call in the US was and a call to Germany less than 99 cent a minute.

But all changed in the last few years. Since then the German Telekom is no monopoly anymore, we can make call to the US for less than a cent a minute and sometimes free.

Calling from the US today to Germany is only free if you have Vonage or other VoIP. A normal landline costs still 9 cent and with a cellphone it costs 99 cent depending on the provider. American companies even charge you money for receiving calls or SMS. In Germany only the sender has to pay, if it is not a roaming call to a German number into another country.

Back to competition. In last few months Facebook did buy some smaller competitors, Google did buy in the last 8 years over 20 companies and Zynga (famous game platform) did buy 10 smaller game competitions.

There is not much competition going on in America. There is no real competition to google and bing, and any competition to FB gets more or less bought from FB. Or Facebook does offer same service like a competition with more financial strength.

Zynga is buying almost all possible competition to keep sole player. Word with friends creators could have been a good competition to Zynga but is now a part of the Zynga empire.

When you look at all potential interesting start ups then the main investors are mostly the paypal or AOL Netscape mafia and then some former google and Facebook billionaires.

At the end a few handful of people own the the American Internet.

Not to mention CPG or CE companies and American Car industry. All comes down to a few main players.

Now the same happens in the telecom business. ATT announced that they are going to buy the American part of T-Mobile for $39 Billion (Sprint thought they had already the deal with T-Mobile but their $25 Billion offer was not enough).

What does this mean for us consumers and Sprint?

ATT will be the biggest mobile carrier in the States, followed by Verizon and then long nothing till Sprint shows up. Sprint stock went already down with this announcement and Sprint might even vanish totally. A few years ago there was at least Nextel, ATT, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and a few other small providers. Soon there are only two left. This means as a consumer we don't have a choice and no choice means higher prices.

America is a great country but if the acquisition and merger goes on, then we are in country with no real competition which will result in more unemployed people and higher prices.

ATT will close approx. 400 stores where ATT and T-Mobile have been too close together like in malls, which will leave at least 3000 people without work.

For existing ATT customers the merger might be better. The price stays stable and the coverage might be better because ATT can benefit from the newer T-Mobile technology. T-Mobile customers will get the iPhone but with a premium. T-Mobile offers much cheaper family packages and cheaper data plans. All this will go away.

And with this acquisition we will miss the cute T-mobile girl in the ads against ATT. Pretty sure somebody will make soon a parody on this.

T-Mobile Germany will use the money to invest in faster Internet and better technology, therefore it is at least a win for the German consumer.

I am a big supporter of open business and that everybody can buy everybody if they have the money, but only to a point when it is for a benefit for the consumer as well. If at the end the consumer is the biggest loser then the government should take action. And this deal will be not good for the consumer neither for thousands of employees. The US has already too many unemployed people, and these people can't afford to help the economy to grow. Our economy needs us consumers to buy the products to invest into the country. If we don't work and the prices are going up then we can't buy anything and the companies have to let go more people and less people can buy good and so on.

Please let me know if I see something wrong? As not a born American I might not understand the system.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eduardo Saverin

From Wikipedia:
Eduardo Saverin (born March 19, 1982 in São Paulo, Brazil) is a Brazilian-American entrepreneur and co-founder of Facebook, along with Mark Zuckerberg and others. It is unknown how many shares Saverin owns in Facebook since it is not a publicly traded company; however journalist Allison Kade speculated that Saverin might have 5%, worth about US$2.5 billion as of January 4, 2011.

Saverin is not anymore with FB but does still get media attention. He recently did invest in two start ups. Jumio and Qwiki.

Qwiki is a kind of multimedia Wikipedia. I signed up for it a few months ago, but can't get really excited yet. However Qwiki has an new interesting approach to search and display the web.

Jumio is a start up which claims to change the mobile payment, which is time, because neither the credit card companies nor paypal do right now a good job with mobile payment and this will be the future. Different than Qwiki the website of Jumio does not give a lot of information. They uploaded today a short video, and it seems that cash and credit cards are the past. This means your phone is the middle of payments.

Saverin is 29 years old and was one of the Facebook founders, but is this reason alone to watch out to companies he is investing?
Yes it is. Not because he might be a genius, but because he is a new generation of investors and influencer. He is of course only an influencer because of the success of FB, but this enough.
I as well think the Internet will change. We are all more visual from nature than we want to read. The bandwidth and speed is now almost there that webpages don't need to be text heavy anymore. And in the time of 24/7 online, cash is not always the first choice anymore. At the same time, carrying credit cards is not necessary when you have your phone with you. As an example I use my iPhone to pay my Starbucks coffee. His understanding of the future is similar to mine, but of course I am not famous or rich enough to influence this.
And older people with influence do not always understands what the youth from today want to have tomorrow. I understand there are situations today where cash is important. There is one thing electronic payment can't provide. This is income not recognized by federal tax. You can ask any bartender and they will tell you, that they prefer to get tip in cash. If it is cash it does not exist for our government. This is a strong argument. Therefore for certain situation we might want to have cash, but otherwise there is no reason to carry more than your smart phone. I can imagine that even the driver license will be at some point a part of your smart phone.

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Surviving Manhattan with Facebook

I have been last week for business in Manhattan, NY. Tuesday night was a rainy night and cold. I have been not in the mood to get a cap or to walk miles to a bar.
I looked through some websites and apps on my iPad to find a cool bar close to my hotel. Nothing gave me enough appeal to leave the hotel room.
I decided to use Facebook to find a place which is not empty and I could like.
I opened the Facebook app on my iPhone (Facebook has no iPad app yet) and clicked on check in. Instantly a lot of bars showed up.
One did catch my attention, it was Katwalk, a bar only 2 blocks away and they offered a happy hour drink through Facebook as coupon. 2 for 1.

I checked if somebody else did check in and found 5 people, who are also checked into Katwalk, People who are not in my network. This was already a good indicator that the bar might be good. One person had a nice profile image. I decided to go there and actually found this person. I went to the person and said I went to the bar because she was there, shown on Facebook. Instantly we had something to talk and it was kind of fun. I don't think I will meet this person again or befriend with her on Facebook but it was nice not to be alone.
The bar is really nice with two big screens and a lot of TVs to watch sports but at the same time an ambient like a cocktail bar. They serve as well some food. I can recommend the spinach cheese dip with nachos.
I checked in claiming the 2 for 1 drink.

However this claim did not work well out. First of all, Facebook indicated that the coupon is still valid, but I ordered the drink (according to bartender and my watch) at 8:44pm, the bartender was not willing to take the coupon. I had to talk to the manager and finally I got my second drink free. However my total bill was less than $20 and therefore I has to tip more that I could pay with my credit card. I totally forgot that CC are not well seen in NY City (how could I forgot to have cash, I used to work in NY).
At the end I paid same price as I would not have had the second drink free.

I learned two important things. First that Facebook can help to find new people in real live and second that Facebook needs to work on their coupons a little more to compete with Groupon. After a little research I figured out why FB said the coupon is still valid. I have been in NY just a few days after the time change, and supposedly not all FB server did change to correct time.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Original iPad prices are falling

Apple reduced the price of the original iPad by $100, as soon the iPad 2 came out.

Resellers like ATT and BestBuy are now reducing the prices of original iPads even more to get them out of their inventory.

ATT is offering the 64GB 3G now for only $529 instead of $829.

However this deal at ATT comes with a side effect. ATT is only selling the 3G versions and consumers are required to sign a two year contract with a minimum of $14.99 a month for data plan. This makes the 3G iPad $360 more expensive. When you buy it Apple you don't need to sign a contract and you can use the 3G as you go, paying month by month.

Bestbuy gives $100 off the iPad in addition to Apple discount but only as voucher, that you have to spend the money at BestBuy.

I have been yesterday at BestBuy and saw a lot of people buying the 16GB version of iPad 1. We are now able to get the smallest iPad under $300 which is in the same price range like netbooks. The people who bought the iPad yesterday at BestBuy have been lower income people who were not able before to get the iPad. When I asked them why they bought the iPad, I got two standard answers.
1. They always want to have one because they did hear a lot of it but it was too expensive.
2. My children have have friends with iPads and want to have one too, but we could not afford it.

Usually when consumers are buying new devices like phones or computers, they retire their older device. Some sell them or give them to friends but most just throw them away or don't use it anymore. They replace a phone when the two years contract is going to be renewed or after 3 years when the computer is now too old.

Different with iPads and iPhones. A lot of people buying after a year the newer version and are selling their old device or giving them to friends. Almost no iPad or iPhone does get retired.
This means basically all iPhone 3GS and iPads 1 are still in use, which gives Apple such a big advantage. Somehow they are able to convince users to get a new device every year and to keep the old devices so attractive that they are still in use till 3 years are reached.

If Apple is able to sell this year 20 million iPads, which they should be easily, then they are no doubt 35 million iPads in use end of the year.

Even if the competition can bring their tablets faster and cheaper out, I doubt that all of them combined will come close to 35 million.

The way Apple does product marketing and that their products are 3 years good, helps Apple to have at least a two year advantage to the competition.

We saw it with Smart Phones, it took two years till Android took over the market, but when we look how many people are using the Internet through smart phones then Apple is still leading. They did not sell as much iPhones as Android phone got sold last year, but as well here the old iPhones are mostly still in use and therefore we need to count them as well.

I am pretty sure shortly before we come into the third year of the iPad, Apple will invent a new category of products we don't think about yet or even think we need it, just to keep the momentum running. If not, then Apple might get in trouble to stay the biggest electronic company.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Facebook comments system - good or bad?

A few weeks ago, Facebook rolled out a their comment system to 3rd party websites. Companies like NYT and TechCrunch did switch to Facebook comments in the hope to get better quality of comments and to be more authentic.

“You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly … Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.“
-Mark Zuckerberg, as quoted in The Facebook Effect

This quote gets more real after now 17000 websites are moved to Facebook comments.

It seems that many webistes get more traffic and more comments since they switched to FB comments. Other got less comments than before like TechCrunch.

Living in America, I can understand that the consumers don't like to out them with their real name if they have a negative comment to something. On the other side we consumer might tend to buy a product if we see the comments from friends or real names.

I believe for companies the new Facebook comment system is much better than any of the other existing review systems just because you have to use your real Facebook account.

I believe with this move the average negative comments will decline and comments against the author as well. It is too easy to find out who comment on which page and how often. We consumer do know this and most of us are smart not to comment everything with &$??### etc.

Who wants to comment that they found a new iPhone 5 prototype? It would not take longer than 5 seconds to track this person down.

We all like to comment things, this does not stop, but if everybody moves to FB comments then we will see much more fake Facebook accounts.
Already today we are estimating that FB has alone in the US over 15 million face accounts.

Back to Mark Zuckerberg quote, he is Not right. The smarter the consumer gets the more likely the consumer will have two identities. One for friends and one for the rest of the world.

If FB is going to be more and more our single sign on place for all we do, then we will either cancel our FB account or have at least two.

And I think this is the reason that FB will not play such an important role in 3 years.

Face it. Facebook is trying to get all tied together to Facebook. Already today people don't get hired or are getting fired because of their FB entries.

Facebook does take from us the only thing we could control, it was our privacy. If we can't control our privacy then nothing is left and we will fight to get it back.

FB success wants that users have to use their real name as handle and not an alias. But this will be as well the death of FB if they keep trying to build all companies around Facebook and real names.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

TV - A shift has begun

A few months ago I felt that TV is dead. But this is not true, it is a shift. The biggest win against TV had Netflix this week by securing "house of cards" (starting 2012) the first show only aired at Netflix which makes Netflix a serious competition to HBO.
Facebook is now number 4 in video streaming and is offering some movies for streaming. Apple is growing with their video offer and hulu is now number 2 behind Netflix.

However I believe TV will survive if the the TV channels will rethink their concepts. Companies like Apple actually helping TV channels to survive by offering light mobile tablets.

The reality is that still most of the shows and news are first on TV before you can see it I'm the Internet. The truth is that most of us are lazy and clicking through channels is easier than going through websites.

But the big winner for TV channels could be the ability to offer shows and materials on multiple devices. Especially in America, consumers are not really good in concentrating on one thing.

I can see a big growth in watching TV when at the same time some content is available through an app on the iPad. Imagine watching football on the big screen and see at the same time extra info on the iPad for the same game.

A really good example was the Oscar event, we could watch it live on TV and at the same time we could get some background info through the iPad.

20 years ago we all thought that TV will be interactive, see products, click on them and then order them through TV. This really never came, because we don't like to miss the show and don't like big remotes with thousands of buttons like a computer.

But with big screen mobile devices everything changes. We could watch "24 hours" on the TV and at the same time run the 24 hours app on the iPad. As soon commercials are coming we can use the iPad to order items we saw in the show. Or even during the episode we use or mobile device to tweet about the show, buy a purse etc without the need to leave the show because it still runs on the big screen.

I believe the combining of TV and mobile devices will be the future of TV channels. The TV might be at the end like radio. It runs for the sake of sound but we might do at the same time something else on our mobile device, but as soon the sound on TV seems very interesting, we put our mobile device away and watch TV.

The channels who understand this concept will win.
The easiest transition to this is for sport channels like ESPN. Instead of showing static statistics on the big Screen and covering half of the game, the statistic could be dynamic on the mobile device and everybody could decide which statistics to see or which scene should be a replay on the mobile device. During commercial break the mobile device could have a buy now button to allow the consumer to buy the just featured product or to see more info to the aired product.

Combing TV, mobile app, QR code and augmented reality with a touch of social will be the killer solution for TV channels.

The companies need to understand that we right now live in a multiple device word. And consumers like to multitasking, which is easier if it is distributed through multiple devices than just one screen.

Watch out, TV will experience will extremely change in the next 2 years.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

iPad 2 - how much do we want pay?

We all did hear about the guy how bought the first waiting spot in front of the NY apple store for $900 just to be the first one to get the iPad 2.

If you were not able to order the iPad at night on March 11th, then you have now a waiting time of 4 to 5 weeks through the Apple online store. Originally shipping time was 2 to 3 days.

If you can't wait you might be able to drive through the country to get one at Apple or BestBuy. They get usually 2 times a week a shipment of few iPads. A friend of mine drove 100 miles to get the new iPad.

Or you can go to eBay and try to buy one but the prices are in average 35% higher than in store. You have to decide if you want to pay $400 more just to get the iPad faster.
One guy is selling his ipad 64GB for $5000 at eBay, will see if anybody will buy it. And the earthquake in Japan does delay new iPads as well. Waiting times can get up to 8 weeks in the next couple of days.

It is worse than when the first iPad came out, and in the time back I speculated that Apple does artificial keep the production low and shipping time long to keep the momentum. I still believe it. They should have known from past experience that the demand will be high and even higher than for first iPad. When the first iPad came out, there were no tablets, a lot of people did not think they will need one. But with the iPad 2 everybody (almost) everybody wants to have a tablet and everybody reads that the iPad is the best right now because of 65,000 available applications.

Nobody can tell me that they did not know that the demand is high. They could have produced more iPads for sure. But keeping the demand high and the deliver low seems for Apple a good marketing tool.

If you have an iPad 2 and you want to make some money, then sell it on eBay and order a new one again if you can wait 5 weeks for the iPad.

The only good side effect is that actually, because of the high demand and of the very high price of the iPad 2 in eBay, the average iPad 1 price did go up by 10% again. Therefore I will get the hope I can sell my old iPad for a price I hope for. If not then I will wait for the 4G model.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Friday, March 18, 2011

Skype 5.0 on Mac

I installed today the latest Skype update and it got a total overhaul. Completely new look and feel. Three instead of two windows (dial pad, online list and complete address list)

The Facebook function is unfortunately not available with Apple at the moment.
This 5.0 update is mostly a look and feel update and it takes time to get used to it. I did not see better voice or video quality. The look is really weird. The dial pad and online contacts are in same color as FaceTime, but then the main Skype contacts window is in colors like iTunes. Why using two different color schemes?

I like how well now address book contacts are integrated. The user can choose to see the contacts as a list or as images to flip through. I am disappointed that Facebook is not yet in the Apple version.

Right now Skype is still my most used video calling app, but only because most of my oversea friends and family don't have yet Apple computers or iPhones with cameras.

Otherwise FaceTime would be an alternative because of the better image ad voice quality, however Skype has much better functions than FaceTime.

What I don't understand is, that Apple did a very good job with iChat and all these cool functions in iChat for sharing etc. Why did they do such a bad job with FaceTime UI on iMac and with so limited functions? And then the user has to pay $1 for it.

FaceTime can only be a competition to Skype if Apple steps up.

- Posted using BlogPress, please follow me on twitter @schlotz69

Goodbye New York Times Part 2

All current NYT iPad users got today the official email from NYT about the upcoming changes to the NYT.

If you are a home delivery reader of the NYT and you have the full abo then you would save $15 a month to read it only online or on iPad.

However there are many specials out there and you can save on delivery 50% and then you actually could get NYT delivered and on iPad for only $16 a month.
Deals can be found at websites like couponcactus
If I have to pay $15 for NYT to read o the iPad, I would then order the delivery version with 50% off and free iPad usage. It is sometimes nice to read real newspaper, the smell, the ink and the texture of the paper.

Dear New York Times Reader,

Today marks a significant transition for The New York Times as we introduce digital subscriptions. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Times, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world and on any platform. The change will primarily affect those who are heavy consumers of the content on our Web site and on mobile applications.

This change comes in two stages. Today, we are rolling out digital subscriptions to our readers in Canada, which will enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch. On March 28, we will begin offering digital subscriptions in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

If you are a home delivery subscriber of The New York Times, you will continue to have full and free access to our news, information, opinion and the rest of our rich offerings on your computer, smartphone and tablet. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also receive free access to NYTimes.com.

If you are not a home delivery subscriber, you will have free access up to a defined reading limit. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.

This is how it will work, and what it means for you:

On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.

On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.

The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available at nytimes.com/access.

Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to NYTimes.com and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to homedelivery.nytimes.com to sign up for free access.

Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.

The home page at NYTimes.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.
For more information, go to nytimes.com/digitalfaq.

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Rustock Botnet - This time Microsoft did win big!!!

You can be sure that half your spam you got was from Rustock Botnet. A spam server farm of over 150.000 server.
I get as an example on a daily basis around 150 spams. Since Wednesday i only get 70 a day. Microsoft was able to hunt them down, thank you Microsoft. I hope they hunt more down.

This is a very big success for MS.

Wikiepdia on Rustock Botnet:
The Rustock botnet (founded around 2006)[1] is a botnet that consists of an estimated 150,000 computers running Microsoft Windows, and is capable of sending around 30 billion spam messages a day (each infected PC is capable of sending an estimated 25,000 messages a day).[2] Reported estimates on its size vary greatly across different sources, with claims that the botnet may be anywhere between 150,000 to 2,400,000 machines.[3][4][5] The size of the botnet is increased and maintained mostly through self-propagation, where the botnet sends a large amount of malicious e-mails in the hopes of infecting its receivers with a trojan which will then turn the receiver into a part of the botnet.[6]

The botnet took a hit after the 2008 takedown of McColo, an ISP which was responsible for hosting most of the botnet's command and control servers. McColo regained internet connectivity for several hours and in those hours up to 15 Mbit a second of traffic was observed, likely indicating a transfer of command and control to Russia.[7] While these actions temporarily reduced global spam levels by around 75%, the effect did not last long. Spam levels increased by 60% between January and June 2009, 40% of which has been credited to the Rustock botnet

Full article about MS vs Rustock Botnet: (NICK WINGFIELD WSJ.com article):
Microsoft Corp. and federal law enforcement agents seized computer equipment from Internet hosting facilities across the U.S. in a sweeping legal attack designed to cripple the leading source of junk email on the Internet.

Microsoft launched the raids as part of a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle in early February against unnamed operators of the Rustock "botnet," a vast network of computers around the globe infected with malicious software that allows its masterminds to distribute enormous volumes of spam, peddling everything from counterfeit software to pharmaceuticals.
In recent years, Microsoft has stepped up legal actions against a variety of Internet nuisances like spam that it believes inflict harm on its product and reputation. Spam taxes the servers of its Hotmail email service, and impacts the Internet experience of users of Microsoft software like Windows and Office. The malicious code used to form spam botnets often exploits security vulnerabilities in products like Windows.

A collection of hard drives Microsoft seized in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a nationwide takedown of a leading source of spam.
That lawsuit was unsealed late Thursday by a federal judge, at Microsoft's request, after company executives said they dealt a seemingly lethal blow to the botnet in their raids on Wednesday.

As part of that dragnet, U.S. marshals accompanied employees of Microsoft's digital crimes unit into Internet hosting facilities in Kansas City, Mo.; Scranton, Pa; Denver; Dallas; Chicago; Seattle and Columbus, Ohio. The Microsoft officials brought with them a federal court order granting them permission to seize computers within the facilities alleged to be "command-and-control" machines, through which the operators of the Rustock botnet broadcast instructions to their army of infected computers, estimated by Microsoft at more than one million machines world-wide.

Microsoft doesn't allege in its lawsuit that the Internet hosting companies knew that machines within their facilities were being used as part of Rustock.

Company executives likened the action to a "decapitation" of the botnet aimed at severing the command-and-control computers from sending orders to their network of infected computers, which are typically owned by people who have no idea their machines are being harnessed by outsiders for spam. The Rustock botnet is the largest source of spam in the world at the end of last year, accounting for nearly half of all spam, security firm Symantec Corp. said in a blog post on Thursday.

"We think this has been 100% effective," said Richard Boscovich, senior attorney in Microsoft's digital crimes unit.

The defendants in Microsoft's lawsuit are referred to simply as "John Does 1-11," since the identities of the operators of the botnet aren't yet known.

The move seemed to be largely effective at disabling its target, a prodigious source of spam that at times delivered billions of spam messages a day, many of them offering steep discounts on drugs like Viagra and Cialis, according to Microsoft. Symantec said in a blog post that Rustock ceased sending spam at around 11:30 am eastern time on Wednesday, according to its junk email measurements.

That time is shortly after Microsoft's action on the botnet commenced, according to Microsoft executives.

Microsoft says it confiscated dozens of hard drives and a handful of computers from the hosting providers as part of the raid. Most of the equipment was leased from afar by customers, some of whom listed addresses in Azerbaijan, according to Mr. Boscovich

The move by Microsoft is the second time the company has employed novel legal tactics to target a botnet, the services of which are often rented out by their operators to purveyors of spam and malware. In February 2010, a federal judge okayed a request by Microsoft to seize control of hundreds of Internet addresses that were allegedly being used to transmit commands to a botnet known as Waledac. That move was effective in knocking Waledac out of commission, according to Microsoft.

In its action against Rustock, Microsoft officials say they had to seize actual computer equipment connected to the botnet, rather than simply taking possession of Internet addresses. That's because the masterminds behind Rustock designed their infected computers to receive instructions from Internet protocol addresses tied to specific command-and-control machines.

As a precaution, Microsoft also worked with the companies that provide Internet access to the hosting facilities where the machines were stored to prevent any communications with the Internet protocol addresses allegedly linked to the botnet.

In its complaint, Microsoft alleges that the operators of Rustock are allegedly violating Microsoft trademarks with spam that fraudulently claims Microsoft sponsorships of lotteries and other come-ons.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703328404576207173861008758.html#ixzz1GyNoykoy

Goodbye New York Times

New York Times announced yesterday that they are going to charge (end of march) user reading their online site. Users are allowed to read up to 20 articles free a month and up to 5 articles over search engines as not registered user.

Starting in June users of the ipad app have to pay for the content as well as in line payment (30% goes to Apple). The price for NYT will be on the higher side. $15 for 4 weeks. This is 50% more than other periodicals.

I am reading every day the NYT app on my ipad, but i am not willing to pay $15 a month like many others. Shortly after the announcement NYT had over 1500 comments on their site and most of them have been not positive.

Why should i pay so much for information which is even not unique, most of the articles i read are found in similar context on other free websites. And paying for content and still get hammered with full page ads is something i don't want to do.

NYT is not the only newspaper i read electronically. There are at 5 others i read on a daily basis. If i would need to pay for all of them i would have at $100 more cots a months. I understand the paper version costs money as well. This is true and therefore i almost never bought a newspaper, i would by a monthly magazine but not a newspaper every day. But at least i can i understand costs for a paper version. There are material and distribution costs. We don't have this with online versions. NYT does not need have such high costs for online and can target ads better.

Unfortunately they are the only one charging for content, and more and more are coming. I see this clear failure of their sales force to be able to have a good advertisement concept. Different than paper versions, the ads could be much more targeted and much more interactive and educational and therefore higher recognition, clicks and conversation rates with much better statistics. This is enough to be able to charge much more for ads than on print, but for some reason they seem not be able to do this that they have to double charge the consumer. First to show ads and the not charge for content. NYT is the biggest online newspaper; i think they will lose a lot of readers. NYT says 80% of users don't read more than 20 articles a months on NYT, if this is true then because we all read everywhere and have no preferences of newspaper or it shows that we Americans don't like to read. Either way this move will not generate enough revenue to NYT but will scare away a lot of readers and therefore less ad inventory to sell. I believe this is a first step into the wrong direction.

Newspapers like NYT are helping coming like Verizon and ATT to keep their mobile prices high. I would not wonder when soon ATT announces that an user can pay $80 per month more for having unlimited Internet read access to the 20 top magazines and newspapers.

Then we are in Internet, where we are right now with TV. We pay $150 a months for 250 programs even if we watch only 20 of them, however to get all of the 20 we want we need to most expensive package.

I will say goodbye to NYT as soon i have to pay such high price. i would maybe pay $9 a month, the most. Or pay for days i want to read it.

Instead i will use RSS reader apps or google alerts to get just the content i am interested in and for free.

I don't might to pay, don't understand wrong. But then please ads free. I already don't like that I pay for private channels and must watch ads. The model might had worked for TV (even if i know more and more people cancelling their TV cable), but thus will never work (hopefully) with Internet.

Internet had so much more sources / pages to read information, that the most important things are easily accessible from other web pages. NYT has a bunch of original articles but a) the authors are not the bests and b) within hours these articles are posted in other websites.

I' am pretty sure somebody will pay for NYT and then post all the articles on a free web server.

And this is exactly the difference between internet, print, radio and TV. For all but internet it is not easy to take the content and have it almost at the same time posted or printed free for rest of us.

It never worked with internet, but now the companies are thinking we have mobile devices with apps that they can do this. To be honest, they are mistaken. We don’t install apps on our mobile devices because the app is from NYT or other famous news company. We would switch instantly to other apps to get the content free. IT is about content and not about apps. The better the content is the more we are willing to pay, but as long the content is not unique why paying when we can get almost same content free.

Goodbye NYT. Your app is not stable enough to even consider charge for content. Your app crashed regular, you need to fix this before even thinking about payment. Look at the daily. I have this app since it is out and still don't pay. Do you know why? Because the daily sucks and they know it, besides really bad content it crashes all the time, takes forever to download content. As result it is still free for me. This is the only reason why i have even the daily installed.

Goodbye NYT. Go ahead and charge for content, i leave you. Come back and ask to pay for when your quality of content goes up.

Take an example at Spiegel a German magazine. This is high quality information and i am willing to pay for it, but guess what it still costs much less than you want to charge.

Goodbye NYT, we will meet again but not as a regular reader.