Tag Archives: innovation

Success By Litigation

Google Burns AppleIs it too much to ask for a company who recognizes it should only succeed on it’s own merits? Apple isn’t it, that’s for sure. Market domination by litigation is an ugly thing.

Kinda ironic Apple used those “Think Different” ads with the 1984 send-up and they’re now resorting to cajoling the government into enforcing an artificial monopoly on their behalf.

Judges who accept such frivolities ought to be tossed out on their butts. And the companies that make such stupid claims, well, I can think of some things we buyers can do to them.

Once upon a time, Apple portrayed itself as David to Microsoft’s Goliath as it battled the ultimately dominant force from Redmond. A generation later, the world’s attention has shifted from PCs and laptops to mobile devices, and Apple now finds itself in the role of Goliath. It knows full well that dominance isn’t permanent, and anything that can be done to slow down new entrants should indeed be done. That it continues to let a certain degree of historically entrenched fear guide its actions isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Tension, after all, is a great driver of increased performance. But at this level, at this scale, and at this crucial moment in the history of the mobile market, it runs the risk of slamming the industry it helped define into neutral as lesser-endowed players run for the hills.

In that respect, Apple really shouldn’t be living in fear of HTC, Nokia, or any other potential competitor. The real fear belongs to consumers like us, and it should be directed back at Apple.

“Is Apple Afraid Of Google?” at BetaNews.com.

Net Neutrality: Taken For Fools

I, Pandora has had a mixed history on Network Neutrality.

Network what?

Network Neutrality is one response to fears that infrastructure and service companies, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, spell doom for the freedom of the internet as they inevitably begin controlling access to content, enhancing access to content they own, control, or partner with, and limiting access to content they deem contrary to their best interest.

The majority of Network Neutrality supporters want the FCC to step in and set rules requiring the infrastructure/service companies provide equal access to all content and forbidding them from interfering in any way with the freedom of the internet.

Sounds good, right?

As with any other debate, you have to get to the deeper issues. And this debate is rife with deeper issues.

When I first heard of Network Neutrality I was gung-ho for it. I did not understand the goals at the heart of this push.

“Don’t be hasty, master Hobbit!”

There was a reason liberal Democrat leaders were more for this program than Republicans and conservatives. Liberals dream of more regulation and control and private and free systems. The freer the system the stronger the urge to a liberal to regulate it.

My confusion over Network Neutrality did not continue long. I supported it in March of 2007, and by August of that year I wrote about the inherent conflict between government regulation and innovation.

Government regulation is the enemy of innovation.

In the arguments over Net Neutrality, I feel for the plebes. I don’t want my traffic throttled any more than it already is by the ISP. But is it the government’s responsibility to control this? And if we allow the government to say who can access the internet and at what speed, where is our moral authority when the government wants to say who can’t access the internet?

Perhaps I am more libertarian than I like to think myself to be.

Later I quoted Rep. John Sununu (R – New Hampshire) regarding the slippery slope of wishing for government interference:

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that it’s pretty presumptuous to predict what the future will be. We should be very, very cautious about imposing regulations based on what we think competitors will do in the future and how we think consumers will respond based on what we think competitors will do.

Gee, that sounds familiar.

Oh, yea. Attorney General Eric Holder, in a 60 minutes spot on healthcare and specifically Medicare and Medicaid’s extremely high levels of fraud made perhaps the most blind statement regarding human nature I’ve ever heard from a lawman:

People didn’t think that something as well-intentioned as Medicare and Medicaid would necessarily attract um… fraudsters.

People not thinking. Not considering the implications of what they want.

Just because it’s well intentioned doesn’t mean it’s right and good and free of the failings that so plague us mortals.

Are Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast completely good in their actions so far regarding the internet? No.

Comcast has been slapped once for purposely throttling connections to certain types of content during peak times load times.

But is the government the solution?

In my article regarding regulation versus innovation I make it clear that while there is a place for regulation, that regulation is best applied to the government itself, limiting it’s ability to tamper with our system of free enterprise.

There is a question I’d ask of anybody regarding this issue. If Thomas Edison were alive today which entity would be the greatest enemy of his innovation: Government or Business?

Sonia Ericson, writing in TechNewsWorld today provides a meaningful and realistic and proven alternative to network neutrality: private control.

ICANN is currently the organization closest to being “in control” of the internet.

It’s a private organization which controls the distribution and changes to the domain names which make the internet navigable.

(A)sking the FCC to “protect” the Internet means inviting government oversight, which injects more politics — not less — into the operation of the Net.

Sonia then talks about someone I’ve met:

Ashwin Navin, cofounder of BitTorrent, also says he doesn’t support government regulation of the Net, even though his name appears on an OIC letter. He says he’d rather see Internet service providers come up with a self-regulatory plan based on a pledge to keep the Net open and the creation of a third body to arbitrate. Indeed, Navin says that his own company’s scuffle with Comcast was ultimately solved without formal rules after a netizen noticed that Comcast was degrading service and brought the matter to the public’s attention.

“The problem is disclosure,” Navin says. “Consumers need to know if the ISP, which is the most invisible layer in the stack, is responsible for an improved or degraded experience for any of the services they use.”

Geek Out Alert!

In my days working for Fry’s Electronics, Ashwin’s step-dad hired us to build and repair his wireless network. He introduced me to Horchata and I watched the Blue Angels practice over his backyard. Ashwin and his brother came by once while I was there and I basked in the presence of those gods of the internet, the business minds behind BitTorrent.

But Ashwin has a point. A good point. A point I may elaborate on further in the future.

Suffice to say that information is the grease for the wheels of the free market and capitalism. And the internet, above all else in the history of markets, has enabled the dissemination of information more efficiently and the finding and gauging of information more easily.

Why do we trust the government to act in our best interest when it comes to such a powerful information force as the internet? The government has no competitors to blow the whistle on it’s misdeeds. The government self-interest lies in a dearth of information.

Trust the government and be taken for a fool. I’ll not be joining you in your foolishness.

Obama Can Innovate

The fawning over Obama has not yet ceased in the mainstream media.

BBC headlines a story this morning with the appallingly thoughtless “Obama to curb vehicle emissions“.

First off, grammar police here to say: didn’t your mother tell you that every word in a headline or title is capitalized?

Now, to address the fallacy here: The President is not tasked with invention, nor with development. His expect forte is not to spearhead industrial progress, nor is his path laid alongside that of Carver, Watt, or Fermi.

The purpose of the President is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. And nowhere within that auspicious document, envied and imitated by many and equaled by none yet, does it state the role of the Government of the United States or the President thereof have either the responsibility, prerogative, or power to direct industrial invention.

The Times of London leads with the much less misleading but no less grammatically faulty  “Obama to introduce emissions curbs on gas guzzlers“.

It is true I parts of me would prefer the no less true but much more provocative headline “Obama Corks US Industry, Innovation”.

The BBC article begins by quoting the talking points of the White House Press Release:

The plan will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil by 2016 and be the equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road, White House officials said.

Words sure to bring warm fuzzies to everybody with fuzz between their ears, for sure.

I’m completely for innovation making things more efficient and development making things more clean.

I’m all for using the incredible wealth and depth of technology to preserve the environment. I love clean air, camping, tree climbing, fishing, and all the good things tha come with living in a clean place.

But arbitrary requirements which have only shown in history to destroy and hobble and prevent and impoverish have no place here.

A dirty little secret about gas mileage and lower emissions is that, with current technology, there is a bit of a trade off.

My current car qualifies in the state of California as PZEV: Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. It is a small SUV, crossover-type from Mitsubishi. It is in the same emissions category as the Hybrid Toyota Camry. But it would fail Obama’s new “standards”. I only get 20-25MPG. Good for this car, but much less than the 35MPG proscribed by our Inventor In Chief.

One thing consistently noted in the reviews of this vehicle was that Mitsubishi decided to go with lower fuel economy to achieve the lower emissions.

On it’s face this trade-off doesn’t make much sense: burning less gas should mean less emissions, right?

But when you take into account all the various factors that affect emissions, compression in the engine, efficiency of the catalytic converter, richness of gas mixture, you will find that the cleanest burning calibration of the various elements is not the most energy efficient.

And, according to the Times of London article, these regulations and constraints will cost us more:

New vehicles at present average 25mpg, with most cars required to reach 27.5mpg and light trucks 23.1mpg. New Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules passed by Congress are already expected to add an extra $700 to the price of a new vehicle, and today’s announcement will add about another $600.

So in this economically difficult time the Savior of the Earth is costing each family who needs a car an extra 5-10% of the normal cost. So those claims about how these changes will make it as though there are 177 million cars aren’t lying, except for the “as though” bit.

It won’t be an “as though”, it will be fewer cars. It will be reality.