In this weeks episode the story is of course Apple's forthcoming announcement on January 27th. Fritz will be there and the anticipation across several industries is building. It's also all but confirmed now that this is in fact a tablet. Yesterday, the book industry's grapevine was set on fire when the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Apple was engaged in confidential negotiations with the big six trade publishers Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin, Hachette, & Macmillan. Amazon, the company behind the Kindle e-book reader, responded almost immediately with a new 70 percent royalty rate that's more favorable to authors (up from 30 percent) and more in line with what Apple offers developers of applications sold through its famous app store.
Fritz and I talk about the specter of the Apple tablet, why Apple will more than likely pick the iPhone OS to run it (after all, is it coincidence that the iPhone OS is getting upgraded too?), as well as some realities when it comes to tablet computing (based on our experiences with other tablets). Tops on my mind: how will the new tablet manage power and will it offer a removable battery?
People in technology and political circles are shuddering at the thought of Google pulling out of China in the wake of (1) a Chinese government-backed exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer in an attempt to compromise the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists and (2) Google threatening non-compliance with China's censorship laws. China says such non-compliance won't be tolerated and that has Google saying it may want no part in the burgeoning market. Can Google really turn its back on China? Has China drawn a line in the sand when it comes to how far it will let the West push its government, culture and people? Is Google stuck in the middle?
Also, we talk about the nature of the attack (now dubbed "Aurora") and I ponder why so many other companies (33 in all) in other sectors (information technology, defense, finance, etc.) were attacked on the same day as Google.
Fritz shares the details of his trip to Austin last week. He spent time with Dell executives to talk about the company's future and how it plans to do to the datacenter what the company did to PCs (see his write up of the trip: Who is Dell?). I don't think it's quite what you might be thinking -- go to Dell's Web site, configure a datacenter, and shazaam!; it shows up the next day via UPS. But Dell apparently sees a high cost pattern emerging when it comes to outfitting datacenters and it thinks it can undercut companies like Cisco who aim to take over your datacenters.
Me? I'm not so sure Dell can repeat the success it practically invented with the direct model that wiped out many of the PC manufacturers in the 90s. Last week, I wrote about whether Dell is an innovator or a laggard. With a lot of compute power moving to the cloud, the question is how easy will it be for companies like Dell to live off the systems and infrastructure appetites of the big cloud providers? That's where the business will be and it's going to be a cut-throat business once all the system manufacturers are all-in.
Finally, Fritz has a bone to pick with all you telepresence vendors out there. He's currently testing a cool telepresence application call ViVu but finds that when it comes to doing it all (video conferencing, document sharing, desktop sharing, presence detection, etc.), no one has the goods: particularly when the Internet is a part of the equation.