links for 2009-10-29

  • Does Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Wireless want Apple’s iPhone, or does the iPhone want Verizon Wireless?
    Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg, pointing to his firm’s strong wireless network infrastructure, said Monday that he hopes Apple “will decide to jump on the bandwagonthis is a decision that is exclusively in Apple’s court.”
    The issue takes on more resonance after AT&T (NYSE: T) signed up some 2 million wireless subscribers in its last reported quarter compared to Verizon’s 1.2 million new customers. But AT&T has been victimized by its own success. Its exclusive deal with Apple to market the iPhone in the U.S., is straining AT&T’s network because of the high rates of data usage by iPhone subscribers.
  • When Dr. John Sullivan said last week that employers have lost control of their brand, he likely wasn’t thinking of Sidewiki. Why should he? When the article was published Monday Sidewiki was not even three weeks old; Google launched it on Sept. 23rd.
    But Sidewiki’s potential for deconstructing a brand is enormous. Unlike all the networking sites, Twitter posts, and job board forums where the disaffected go to vent their anger, Sidewiki makes it possible to post these comments directly to your site.
    Just imagine the mischief a disgruntled job seeker or employee can wreak by posting their story directly to your site. Side by side with your video of happy employees talking about the fun and interesting work they do is a post — or multiple posts — from current and former workers denouncing your message as bogus.
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    • Google (NSDQ: GOOG) understands that sometimes people — and businesses — have to pack up and move on to some other service. It is now offering a tool for users of Google Docs whereby they can convert, zip, and download all of their documents at once.
      This is interesting. Google is providing its users with the tools they need to liberate themselves from Google’s services entirely. Google has an entire team of engineers powering its Data Liberation Front. Their task is to help users retrieve their data from the cloud and take it elsewhere via simple import/export tools.
      (tags: Google docs)
    • It all started with a “stupid” idea and a message about pinot noir.
      Two of the founders of Twitter Inc., Evan Williams and Biz Stone, talked about how the micro-blogging service began, the challenges it faced and an eventual potential IPO, at Startup School, an event organized by Y Combinator held at the University of California-Berkeley on Saturday.
      In 2006, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone had an assignment at podcasting start-up Odeo, along with everyone else at the company, to build something new over two weeks.
      Dorsey drew up a simple sketch of a text-entry box with the word “Status” above it and the domain name, my.stat.us. After the pair soon built the technology that would later form the basis of Twttr, and then Twitter, the epiphany came early on when Williams sent a message – they called them status messages at that point – through the site to Stone in the form of a text message.
    • In the annals of corporate retail brands the name ‘Air Jordan’ resonates. The iconic basketball shoes named after the legendary NBA star Michael Jordan have endured for over 25 years.Air Jordan I
      The first pair of Air Jordans debuted in 1985 and immediately became a market sensation, racking up tremendous sales and spawning dozens of updated versions, which Nike continues to release today.
      Fast forward to 2009, MJ the legend is out of the game, but his and the Air Jordan brand’s influence on the game continues, sometimes in unexpected and not so positive ways.
      Jordan’s son Marcus, himself also a basketball player was recruited to play college basketball at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Marcus accepted the scholarship offer from UCF and is set to begin his college basketball career this Fall.
    • Despite a recent slew of negative ads dissing the Apple iPhone in support of Verizon’s new Android-based device, Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg told investors on its earnings call today that the company still covets the iPhone.
      “This is a decision that is exclusively in Apple’s court,” said Seidenberg. “We obviously would be interested in any point in the future they thought it would make sense for them to have us as a partner. And so we’ll leave it with them on that score.”
      This statement jibes with my feeling that Verizon’s embrace of the Google Android operating system is just as much a negotiating tactic as a hedge against the iPhone.
    • Best Buy is selling a transmitting device that lets parents keep track of their children. Parents can place the device in a child’s backpack or lunch box, for example.
      The “Little Buddy Child Tracker” retails for $100 (far less than other devices that sell for $200 to $500). It combines global satellite positioning and cellular technology to signal the child’s whereabouts to a computer or smartphone.
      Parents can program the device to set up specific times and locations where the child is supposed to be — in school or at home, for example — and the device sends a text message if the child leaves the site in that time.
    • One Droid, two Droids, three Droids. How many Droid phones will Verizon unveil before the year is out? Depends on which blogger you ask. Today, the tech blogosphere swirled with rumors that the Verizon Droid will be soon be joined two additional Android-powered smartphones, including one manufactured by Taiwan-based manufacturer HTC.
      According to the folks over Brighthand.com, the HTC handset will likely be a tablet, possibly resembling the HTC Hero
    • Unsurprisingly, companies worldwide told Econsultancy in summer 2009 that the No. 1 conversion relevant to them was sales, with sign-ups and registrations a close second.
      Overall site conversion to sale was also the top metric used by client-side respondents, monitored by 68%. That was followed by overall site conversion to response, lead conversion rate and basket conversion rate.
      But many companies (39%) are not satisfied with their conversion rates. They reported A/B testing as the most valuable way to improve conversion, with more than one-half of companies saying it was highly valuable and another 42% saying it was quite valuable.
    • Not only has Facebook surpassed MySpace as the leading social network in the US, it has moved far ahead in terms of market share of US social networking site visits.
      According to September 2009 data from Experian Hitwise, almost 59% of all social network category visits were at Facebook, compared with just over 30% for second-place MySpace.
    • Twice a week, two hours at a time, the CEO is in.
      Jason Fried, founder of the Chicago productivity software firm 37signals, just began holding “CEO Office Hours,” set periods where almost anyone who wants to can call and chat with the head of the firm.
      While other company chiefs infuriate the public with extravagant bonuses, Fried’s more populist approach is meant to bring the company closer to its clients and to other entrepreneurs.
      The move was inspired in part, Fried said, by university professors and their set availabilities to students.
      “I’ve always like that idea. It is a very personal sort of attention,” he said.
      So when you call 312-416-9980 between 3 and 5 p.m. Central time Tuesdays and Thursdays, you either get Fried or a message suggesting you try back in a few minutes — essentially, a version of waiting outside the professor’s door.
    • When BlackBerry Partners Fund invested in a mobile game developer called SocialDeck, they decided to think small.
      Instead of the millions of dollars venture capital firms used to throw at promising technology industry startups, the fund wrote SocialDeck a cheque for $250,000.
      “If we’d given them $3-million, they wouldn’t have known what to do with the money,” said Kevin Talbot, co-managing partner of BlackBerry Partners Fund.
      Call it bite-size venture capital.
    • Remember the famous Tom Hanks line in the movie A League of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball”? Apparently, entrepreneurs aren’t crying in their beer either. According to a study just released by ThomasNet.com, the online site that connects buyers and sellers globally, “despite challenges that are out of their control,” business owners are both optimistic about their abilities to ride out the rest of the economic storm, and also expect to grow this year.
      An overwhelming 76 percent of those surveyed in the semi-annual ThomasNet Industry Market Barometer believe the economy will improve by the second quarter of 2010 or sooner. And 35 percent actually expect their businesses to grow this year.
      (tags: Innovation)
    • Even the most efficient of web workers may occasionally feel overwhelmed by the nitty-gritty details of running a freelance business or the more-to-do-with-fewer-resources stress of working for a company.
      In either case, when you find yourself in the thick of things, there’s help available in a new breed of ready-to-work, would-be productivity saviors called virtual assistants (VAs). If you’re uninitiated into the world of VAs, they are administrative assistants who work independently via the Internet and phone to provide support to busy entrepreneurs, tired telecommuters and hard-working corporate types.
      But as appealing as turning over your to-do list may seem, it’s not all a bed of efficiency roses. Witness my own first foray into hiring a VA. I made the classic mistake of not screening carefully enough and ended up losing $500, but also gaining insight into how to make the process work for me. But there’s no place for bitterness here.
      (tags: HR)
    • What we’re going through is not just a recession, it’s a reset.
      Sure, the impact of the crisis is being felt economically, but the root cause isn’t economics, nor is it the failure of free enterprise and capitalism. The problem is the abuse of free enterprise and capitalism–greed.
      The problem is that we have lost our story line, as a nation and as a world.
    • Today Google (NSDQ: GOOG) officially made Android 2.0 available to developers and along with it a new SDK, toolbox and APIs for them to use in crafting their apps. Google also spilled some details about the features that are now going to be part of Android. Some of the goodies include support for multiple Gmail and Exchange accounts.
      Any developer interested in snagging the new tools should open their existing SDK and update it. That should be all that’s necessary, at least according to Google. Aside from all the exciting new tools and APIs that developers will have access to, there are some excellent new features included in the next version of Android. Here’s a quick breakdown:

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