links for 2009-12-03

  • As the long battle over health care is rejoined in the Senate this week, experts remain deeply divided over whether the legislation would rein in soaring health-care costs or simply add millions of people to a system that is already driving the nation toward bankruptcy.
    Optimists say the $848 billion package drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) contains all the most promising ideas for transforming the health-care system and encouraging doctors and hospitals to work more efficiently. They say it would eventually reduce both private premiums and the swelling cost of government health care for the elderly and poor.
    Even pessimists don’t necessarily disagree. But they see scant evidence that those ideas would quickly bear fruit, and in the short term they fear that the initiative would leave Washington struggling to pay for a new $200 billion-a-year health program even as existing programs require vast infusions of cash to care for the aging baby-boom generation.
    (tags: healthcare)
  • I have just spent an intensive week coaching executives in a global organisation, asking my clients the simple question: are you an “In” or an “Out” leader?
    By that, I mean, how much time and energy are you spending in (or with) your team and how much time out in the wider organisation? It might seem like a simple question, but executives rarely take the time to think about it. It’s important to do though, because this single question could answer many other questions that you — or your boss — have about your style and effectiveness.
    (tags: leadership)

  • Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of that little thing called Twitter, is showing off his latest project, and Square is trying to turn iPhones into a mobile payment hub for merchants. It’s a very interesting idea, but, like Twitter, I’m wondering how it’s going to make real money.
    The idea sounds simple and quite amazing: Square is providing merchants with hardware that integrates with the iPhone’s audio input jack for swiping credit cards. There are no contracts or monthly fees, customers can get their receipts e-mailed or eventually texted to them, and frequent customers can even get virtual reward cards that can, for example, give a customer a free cup of coffee on their tenth purchase. The hardware is going to offer some security by enabling photo verification, and a video demonstration over on TechCrunch (embedded below) shows it can potentially be a quick way for businesses to start accepting credit cards.
  • The CrunchPad, a highly anticipated 12-inch tablet computer that was recently named as one of the 10 “most brilliant products” of the year by Popular Mechanics magazine, is “now in the DeadPool,” according to the man who has been its biggest enthusiast.
    Michael Arrington, founder of, called it a “sad day at TechCrunch HQ” in a posting, “The End of the CrunchPad” on his site Monday. Arrington said the “entire project self-destructed” because of “miscommunication” and other issues with an outside project partner.
    Arrington was aiming to have the CrunchPad out soon, and while pricing wasn’t set, it was geared to be a $300 to $400 device which would be mainly for Web surfing on the go.
  • Last week, eMarketer reported data from Compete, Nielsen and ComScore showing a decline in visitors to Twitter from 23 million to 20 million.
    Why might that be?
    Our data here at Meteor, collected from a cross-section of sites (though not necessarily representative), shows a very clear pattern: Click-through rate on tweets is inversely correlated with number of followers. In plain English, the more followers you have the less likely they are to click on your tweets.
    They are, in effect, Ghost Followers.
    What’s happening?
    (tags: twitter)
  • Nokia, the world’s largest cellphone maker, forecast handset market volumes would grow around 10 percent next year, more than analysts’ 8.6 percent consensus.
    Nokia also said on Wednesday its market share would be unchanged in 2010.
    “Going into 2010, the overall mobile devices market is stabilizing and it is growing more in the areas where Nokia has competitive advantages,” Nokia’s new finance director Timo Ihamuotila said in a statement.
    (tags: nokia mobile)
  • Google Inc. is allowing publishers of paid content to limit the number of free news articles accessed by people using its Internet search engine, a concession to an increasingly disgruntled media industry.
    There has been mounting criticism of Google’s practices from media publishers – most notably News Corp. chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch – that argue the company is profiting from online news pages.
    In an official blog posted late Tuesday, Josh Cohen, Google’s senior business product manager, said the company had updated its so-called First Click Free program so publishers can limit users to viewing no more than five articles a day without registering or subscribing.
    (tags: google media)

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