Digital investment and financial analysis

To oversimplify the data-fiction of our world, let it be said that in the 1970s and 1980s data began growing.  It has grown exponentially since then causing the birth of several new industries.  One of which is ‘search’.  The search industry exploded onto the mainstream in the 1990s and according to Stephen Arnold, author of   Beyond Search,  is fizzling out like a dying star.

His recent post “Enterprise Search: Fish Floundering Out of the Water” presents a brief history of the all-stars of search beginning with IBM, Oracle and Autonomy and cruises on through to Google and Exalead in the early 2000s.  All the companies he mentions were novel in their time and made gobs of money to prove it.

The problem with the current attempts at recreating the search boom is that open-source is redefining the field, or more accurately, what is left of search.  As Mr. Arnold has said – search is dead. Also, the current economic situation cannot be ignored.  Money is scarce and great think tanks are struggling to fund the next big thing.  Also, the demands of the search user have changed in the last thirty years, expecting free or low-cost search.

A sucker is born every second and for those labeled as such the search industry is still alive and kicking.  The article predicts, however, that the current search boom and promise of an easy buck (as proven reliable by past performance) is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Several observations and predictions are made in the article:

The big name search systems which have generated lots of money are now going to be like snow globe scenes. I just don’t see the resources required to reengineer, enhance, and beef up these systems becoming available over the long haul. The focus is on quarterly earnings, not on research which may or may not pay off in a 12 week window…Most of the buyers of these “big name” search engines will follow standard operating mega-corporation procedure. The technology will be bundled, wrapped, embedded, and repurposed.

While Arnold won’t commit to a list of top-picks in the search industry, the article does give several guide points to help those watching current search events navigate the field.  First, those who care about such things need not be fooled by catchy marketing schemes.  Next, they should look outside the red, white and blue box to other countries leading the way.  Lastly, to reiterate Mr. Arnold’s infamous quote – search is dead.  The world is moving on and so should investors.

Catherine Lamsfuss, October 27, 2011

Forbes declares, “Sony Wants Full Control of Sony Ericsson to Boost Smartphones.” It seems that Sony, tired of Sony Ericsson’s sluggish smartphone development, is considering buying out its partner’s share. The move would advance and streamline Sony’s development of smartphones and handheld games, according to analysts. The company hopes to regain ground in a field dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung.

If Sony does buy out Ericsson, it could cost around $1.5 billion; this figure includes Ericsson’s mobile tech patents. Remaining separate, however, would allow Sony to move forward with long-anticipated PlayStation-branded smartphones and tablets.

Whatever the companies do, they had better do it soon:

“The indecision about the partnership’s future is causing smartphone delays, and an unclear gaming path for both, and giving the competition a big headstart.”

Yes, no news is not always good news.

Would more control ultimately benefit Sony? That’s what the company is trying to decide.

Cynthia Murrell   October 27, 2011

Inspired by reflections on the life of Apple’s Steve Jobs, ABC News has put together a list of “10 Tech Visionaries and Innovators.”

“From Apple’s unassuming beginnings in a suburban garage, Jobs has always had a passion for counterculture. His desire to bypass popular trends led him to create new ones, propelling Jobs into the top ranks of the world’s greatest tech geniuses.”

“In that spirit, compiled a list of the most influential tech visionaries and narrowed it down to the top 10, beginning with two men whose contributions spurred the Information Age.”

Jobs is not on the list, so I presume this is meant to be the top ten aside from him. Right?

The list begins in 1959 with Jack Kilby, and Robert Noyce, inventors of the integrated circuit. Other notable entries include Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; Larry Ellison of Oracle; Microsoft’s Bill Gates, of course; and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame. See the article for the complete list.

I can’t disagree with any of the names listed here. All are men who have made fundamental contributions that have shaped the way we live and do business today. All deserve to be celebrated.

A couple of decades from now, however, I’d love to see more women and minorities on any similar list. Make that any women or minorities. What do you say, folks? Let’s all dream big!

Cynthia Murrell    October 26, 2011

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Adobe Systems is taking to the cloud in “Adobe to Sell Software Online to Spur More Frequent Buying.” The graphic-design software giant has traditionally banked on large biennial releases, but is trying a new tactic to create a more consistent revenue stream.

Versions of Adobe programs like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign will soon be available for rent online at a per-month charge that will be considerably less expensive than purchasing the products. These Creative Cloud versions will also allow users to share their work online.

The Mac and PC versions of these tools can cost over $1,000 each. As UBS AG analyst Brent Thill noted, creative professionals, especially freelancers, often have limited funds. This change allows Adobe to better tap that market.

Writer Aaron Ricadela puts the move in perspective:

“Adobe’s creative-solutions division supplied 45 percent of the company’s profit last quarter and delivered a gross margin of 95 percent. The company is facing competition from Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. and an industry shift away from its Flash technology for Web programming. The new way of selling software will add another challenge: protecting a gross profit margin that tops the software sector, according to Bloomberg data.”

But will switching up the business model be enough to protect that margin and to meet Adobe’s bottom line goals?

Cynthia Murrell October 25, 2011

This interview with a Samsung senior VP has been surfacing across the web. We caught site of it in the Washington Post’s online edition under the title “Samsung Says It’s Stepping Up Patent Fight With ‘Free Riding’ Apple Inc.”.

The battle over intellectual property rights and the myriad claims they have been infringed upon are certainly not limited to Samsung and Apple. Nor do any of the squabbles seem poised to be resolved in the near future.

The trouble for Samsung began just after the release of the Galaxy line of products, which Apple contends is a blatant copy of their iPhone and iPad devices. Apple filed a lawsuit in early Spring seeking monetary compensation for the perceived infringement atop a healthy list of additional demands.

What adds a certain absurd dimension to this particular case is the fact that Samsung manufactures vital components for Apple products. This element of their relationship apparently will remain intact despite the ongoing litigation. The VP, Lee Younghee, framed Samsung’s attitude toward the dispute in this manner:

“We’ve been quite respectful and also passive in a way” in consideration of those links, Lee said during the interview in her office at Samsung’s headquarters building in southern Seoul. “However, we shouldn’t be … anymore.”

What does this mean for future releases from the second most popular producer of cellphones? Aside from the issues with Apple, one must also consider Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola and what this may mean for its partnership with the Korean firm and the Galaxy line. For the moment, Samsung is fervent in its optimism. According to their mouthpiece, the company has rededicated itself to claiming the lead slot in the global market, verdict pending of course.

Micheal Cory      October 20, 2011