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Looking for the Eureka! Button

By KATIE HAFNER

 

New York Times - Published: June 24, 2004

 

WOULDN'T it be great if your laptop came with a light-up keyboard? It would make it much easier to type in a darkened room or airplane cabin.

 

If you own one of eight million I.B.M. laptops of relatively recent vintage, you have just such a light. You may just not know it: there is no obvious way to turn it on. The secret is to press two keys - function and page up - simultaneously.

 

Some people discover the light by accident; others learn about it from friends. But many remain, quite literally, in the dark.

 

"There are all these people walking around with this great feature they don't know about," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, a research firm in San Jose, Calif.

 

I.B.M.'s keyboard light is one of the great unknowns of the electronic world, but there are many others. As printed manuals grow scarcer while features multiply in computers, electronic gadgets and software, consumers are increasingly on their own in learning what their devices can do. Even basic functions can remain hidden from the user forever, or until some happy accident in which the right buttons are pressed.

 

Kim Mandala, a homemaker in Flanders, N.J., describes herself as electronic-phobic. "Everything I discover on these things is totally by accident," she said.

 

One such discovery was the repeat function on her Palm- One Zire organizer. Ms. Mandala had been entering dozens of birthday reminders from the previous year when she inadvertently touched a button labeled details.

 

"It said repeat, so I pressed that, and then it said day, week, month or year," she recalled. "Now every year it will have everyone's birthdays."

 

"The more I discover, the more I love this thing," she said.

 

Ms. Mandala may have been thrilled, but for many users, the trend is annoying. "It drives me insane," Mr. Enderle said. "You get these products filled with compelling features that no one knows about."

 

For technology-support professionals, the task of teaching people about what their machines can do can be overwhelming. "Much like we only use 10 percent of our brains, we only use 5 percent of our computers," said Steven Scardina, vice president for information technology at a real estate development firm in Newport Beach, Calif.

 

Mr. Scardina would know. He provides support to about 300 PC users, most of whom have learned only the most basic functions of the most basic software: word processors, Web browsers and spreadsheets. He has begun publishing tips in the company's internal newsletter, pointing out software features that are not well known.

 

Part of the problem is that as gadgets and software become bloated with features, the only way to use them is through combinations of keys or buttons that can be described only in a manual. The ThinkPad's lighted keyboard, for instance, came about in 1998 after I.B.M. recognized that people often used their computers in the dark. But there was no place for an on-off switch.

 

"Not everything can have a button," said David Hill, the director of design for the personal computing division at I.B.M. "If we didn't limit them, we'd be looking at products with as many buttons as an accordion."

 

Microsoft's Windows operating system is rife with features most users don't know about. This becomes apparent in a brief tour of the toolbar menu. Start with Programs, then go to Accessories, then Accessibility. There, among other features, are a magnifier and an on-screen keyboard.

 

For years Microsoft has been aware of the gap between the abundance of features in Windows (and in other core programs like Word and Excel) and how often they are used. The company has devoted millions of dollars and teams of employees to what it calls discoverability.

 

Microsoft studies the reluctance of people to explore new features in its usability labs, which are equipped with computers, cameras and one-way mirrors that enable employees to watch users as they traverse Microsoft's vast software terrain.

 

"We're very sensitive to the notion that software today does more than it ever has, and we have put a big effort on making everything usable," said Greg Sullivan, the lead product manager of Windows at Microsoft. "We also make sure the capability that's there is relevant and easy to access and discover."

 

"If it's a feature you can't find," he added, "it might as well not be a feature."

 

Mr. Sullivan's words, intended perhaps to comfort the average Windows user, only frustrate people like Mr. Enderle, who has been following the computer industry for 20 years.

 

"Microsoft's biggest competition is always with its older products because people don't value the newer features," Mr. Enderle said. "And people don't value the newer features because they never learned how to use the old ones."

 

As features have proliferated, the accompanying printed manuals to explain them have gradually disappeared. In recent years, mostly to save money, electronics and software manufacturers have scaled back the printed documentation they provide. Companies now put their guides on disks or online.

 

"It's a snowballing issue because the PC manufacturers and Microsoft, in order to try to convince people to move up, keep putting more and more functionality into their packages," said Steve Kleynhans, an analyst with the Meta Group, a technology market research firm in Stamford, Conn. "And at the same time, they've taken away manuals and other things that help people."

 

This, Mr. Kleynhans and others say, has contributed to the need to discover features on one's own.

 

"Putting everything online doesn't necessarily make it easier," said Aaron Lewis, a neurologist in San Francisco who has only the barest acquaintance with all the functions of his Dell computer.

 

Some hidden features, though useful, are too obscure to merit space in a manual, printed or otherwise. Consider the summarizing service that is part of the Apple OS X operating system. The program will take any document and reduce it to a pithy prÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâ€Â ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢ÃƒÆ’ƒÆ’â€Â ÃƒƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢ÃƒÆ’ƒÆ’Æâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡ÃƒÆ’â€Å¡Ãƒƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚©cis. Yet Apple does not advertise the feature and mentions it only briefly in its online manual.

 

The summarizing feature is only one of many that are left for the user to discover. Each new Macintosh comes with what Apple calls an "up and running" manual, a 30-page booklet that points out basics.

 

"There are so many hidden gems," said Ken Bereskin, the director of OS X product marketing at Apple. One such nugget resides on the calculator that comes with the Macintosh. Not only is the calculator buried inside the applications folder, but deep within the functions of the calculator is a currency converter that automatically updates conversion rates.

 

Enter the book writers, who make their living off the absence of help.

 

"It pays the mortgage," said Steve Bass, the author of "PC Annoyances: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer" (O'Reilly & Associates, 2003).

 

Although computer guides like Mr. Bass's, filled with cartoons and down-home prose, have been around for as long as PC's themselves, they are selling better than ever. Mr. Bass said his book had sold some 50,000 copies since its publication last October.

 

His tutorials range from explaining how to embed a photo in an e-mail message rather than send it as an attachment, to how to charge a cellphone using a computer.

 

He recounted a recent meeting at which someone needed to charge his phone. Mr. Bass produced a simple cable that plugged into his laptop's U.S.B. port and the phone.

 

"He not only said, 'Whoa!' " recalled Mr. Bass, "he said he wanted to buy my book."

 

The "out-of-box experience" for users of Windows XP, as Microsoft's Mr. Sullivan puts it, includes a short video that begins when the computer is first used. Like the Apple "up and running" manual, the video walks users through the computer's basic capabilities.

 

But the brief video touches on just a fraction of much of the software that accounts for the fact that the Windows folder can grow to exceed 2 gigabytes.

 

Mostly, said Dr. Lewis, the neurologist, he picks up tips about using his computer from colleagues. "You pass down knowledge," he said.

 

The education of the computer user is driven more than ever before by word of mouth. Jenna Lange, a communications consultant in San Francisco, is proof of this. Ms. Lange, who does not read manuals, said she had no idea she could use her Zire as an MP3 player until she saw someone else do it. Now she has 150 songs stored on it.

 

"I learn lots of these things watching other people," she said.

 

David A. Karp, the author of "Windows XP Annoyances" (O'Reilly & Associates, 2002), another popular guide, said the forums at his Web site, annoyances.org, are filled with news of newly unearthed features. "It's amazing how many people there are who find pleasure in sharing the little discoveries they make," he said.

 

During a telephone interview, Mr. Karp could not resist sharing one of his favorite examples of a hidden function. He pointed out that people often hit the insert key by mistake, locking the overwrite function and losing chunks of text. This common problem appears to have escaped the notice of Microsoft's usability labs, Mr. Karp said.

 

"No manual will tell you how to do it, but there's a way to disable the insert key," he said. Clearly delighted at the prospect of imparting this hidden knowledge, he ticked off instructions for creating a simple program, or macro, that keeps the insert key from locking.

 

Mr. Hill of I.B.M. pointed out that computers and hand-held devices are not alone when it comes to hidden features. "Even the popcorn button on my microwave has three different levels, and even that has some level of hidden functionality," he said. But this was not his discovery. His 15-year-old son found the popcorn settings.

 

"Things were much simpler when there were two or three buttons," Mr. Hill said. "We're just not there any more."

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/24/technolo.../24hidd.html?th

 

 

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Why Venture Funds Don't Want Your Cash

By GARY RIVLIN

 

Published: July 18, 2004

 

ALO ALTO, Calif.

 

THE partners at Sevin Rosen, a top venture capital firm, were braced for the worst last November, when they began passing the word that they wanted to raise a few hundred million dollars to invest in a new generation of technology start-up companies. After all, the venture capital business had just experienced the worst slump of its 30-year history. And if not entirely at fault for the bubble, the industry was not exactly blameless, either.

 

"Given all that's happened in the last three years," said John Jaggers, a partner at the firm, "I would've thought a lot of people would've learned the lesson 'once burned, twice shy.' "

 

Instead, Sevin Rosen was inundated by would-be investors. On July 8, the firm announced a new $300 million fund, but Mr. Jaggers said it could have raised at least five times that much. Potential investors, many from Europe and Asia, called out of the blue; some even provided references in the hope of persuading the partners to take their money. "We were just swamped with interest from new investors," Mr. Jaggers said.

 

Sevin Rosen, which has offices in Silicon Valley and Dallas, is hardly the only venture firm to be deluged lately with offers of money. After a hiatus, other top-tier venture funds have also started raising new funds in recent months, and some are turning away hundreds of millions in potential investments.

 

That may seem a happy turn of events for the tech industry, in sharp contrast to the jittery pronouncements of pundits over the last couple of weeks, wondering if climbing inventories and an assortment of other bad news portend harder times. Yet even the venture capitalists seem a bit nervous.

 

"Everybody wants into venture capital, but we'll have to wait to see if that's a good thing or a bad thing," said Ted Schlein, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Like Sevin Rosen, Kleiner Perkins rejected far more money than it accepted when it closed on a $400 million fund earlier this year.

 

The question is what will happen to all those millions that do not get into top-tier funds like Kleiner Perkins or Sevin Rosen - money that plenty of other venture capitalists would be happy to accept but would not necessarily be able to invest effectively, given a limited pool of bankable ideas. And if too much venture money chases too few deals, the industry may have another mess on its hands.

 

"When the venture industry went from 300 funds to 1,000" during the second half of the 1990's, Mr. Schlein said, "everyone knew that didn't make sense, and assumed we'd drop back down to 300."

 

So far, however, very few firms have shut their doors, according to data provided by the National Venture Capital Association. With all the capital that wants into venture, Mr. Schlein added, "we could end up going from 1,000 funds to 990."

 

Link to New York Times full story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/18/business...ey/18vc.html?th

 

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Hey Cris.....if you are still around.....

 

Looking to various IT/Technology co.s here in AUS I like this one of the most....TNE

Apart of Commonwealth Bank Group sell off...it is looking good on their cards..... http://www.sharescene.com/html/emoticons/smile.gif

 

15-07-05 Commonwealth Bank Group 5.45 -- --

29-06-05 Commonwealth Bank Group 6.49 5.45 3,120,020

16-06-05 Commonwealth Bank Group 7.74 6.49 3,648,982

 

 

Technology One to open UK office

Brisbane

August 26, 2005 - 10:36AM

 

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Software company Technology One believes its push into the British market will serve as a platform for further growth overseas.

 

The Brisbane-based company will open its first office in Britain early next year.

 

Technology One today reported an eight per cent increase in annual net profit for 2004-05 to $10.28 million.

 

Revenue rose eight per cent to $54.54 million in 2004-05 and the company gained an additional 83 clients over the 12 months period. Licence fees grew 17 per cent on the prior year.

 

However EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) margins dropped to 26 per cent, from 27 per cent in 2003-04.

 

Technology One declared a final dividend of 1.7 cents, up from 1.6 cents in the previous year. This lifted total dividends to 3.1 cents from 2.85 cents in 2003-04.

 

Technology One executive chairman Adrian Di Marco said the company spent $10.2 million on research and development, an increase of seven per cent on the previous year.

 

Advertisement

AdvertisementHe said the push into Britain will give long lasting benefits to the company.

 

"Our initial estimates place this market at over three times the size of the Australian market, and has the potential to provide significant growth to Technology One in the coming years," he said.

 

"Technology One sees the UK as a stepping platform in the medium term into a number of other large markets."

 

AAP

 

 

 

 

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Holden may build the Volt in Australia Tim Dornin August 21, 2009 - 6:39PM Holden says it would be an "enormous leap" but hasn't ruled out building the Volt electric car at its Australian assembly operations in Adelaide.

The company said on Friday it remained committed to bringing the US made version of the car to the Australian market in 2012, before considering local production.

The Volt shared its Delta platform with the Cruze, the four-cylinder car Holden will build in SA from next year.

"Having the same platform certainly gives us a first step in terms of future development opportunities but anything involving electric vehicles would be an enormous leap," Holden spokesman Scott Whiffin said.

"We've only just launched the imported Cruze and are working towards a range of locally built, fuel efficient models on petrol and diesel.

"We'll get this piece right then look at potential alternatives including E85, LPG, stop-start hybrids and other powertrains.

"We plan to bring Volt to market as an imported vehicle in 2012 and we'll look at the market reaction to it before considering any further moves on that front."

The company's comments followed calls from South Australian Premier Mike Rann for the company to build an electric version of the Cruze in Adelaide.

Mr Rann met the head of General Motors, Fritz Henderson, in the US overnight and was also given a test ride in the Volt.

"Because the Cruze has the same architectural base as GM's new Volt, it is technologically possible to ultimately have an electric version of the Cruze manufactured on the new car production line at Elizabeth," Mr Rann said in a statement from Detroit.

"While the Cruze will be a fuel-efficient car, I would like to see the Elizabeth plant manufacturing the same model but with an even greater fuel efficiency in the future as the technology develops.

"Developing and adapting this new Holden four cylinder to even lower carbon emission standards will further entrench our car manufacturing industry."

Mr Whiffin said the premier was clearly impressed by the Volt, judging by his comments.

"Premier Rann is a great advocate for Holden and the Australian car industry and we're delighted he had the chance to meet Fritz Henderson in Detroit," he said.

"We're also pleased that senior Volt engineers were able to give him an understanding of what is an incredibly important vehicle for us."

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-busin...90821-etlz.html

 

 

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Here is a link from the macrobusiness blog to an audio presentation about weally weally big pitcher stuff: where developments in medical science and energy production occur at an exponential pace rather than a linear one. So sit back and be prepared to have your skepticism tested.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/progra...2-01-31/3793018

 

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2012/02/exponential-finance/

 

I have not heard of Ray Kurzweil before but maybe he really is the modern-day Thomas Edison, a claim mentioned by "radio announcer" (which no doubt highlights my ignorance rather than his lack of fame). And maybe the sweeping vistas he paints as unstoppable reality are really that, rather than shots in the dark. He certainly lacks nothing in confidence, and I reckon he uses a bit of futurologist's license with some of his sweeping claims. For instance, he says that technology will result in the loss of menial jobs but only for them and more to be replaced by new higher-end jobs. But most analysis I see posted on the net argues that the US continues to lose skilled and semi-skilled jobs and continues to create instead unskilled jobs that do not require high levels of education (in fact in a high percentage of new jobs being created in the US on the job training is all that is needed). I have not got a specific link for that claim, but I read something along those lines yesterday and will try to track it down.

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one way to access the sector:

 

Bailador Technology Investments Limited (BTI) is an ASX- Listed Investment company and focuseson software, internet, mobile, data, online-market and telecommunication-related businesses with proven revenue generation and management capability, demonstrate business models and expansion opportunities. http://bailador.com.au/about-us#whoweare

Who we are

A growth capital fund focused on the information technology sector, managed by an experienced team with demonstrated sector expertise.

 

Investment Focus

$2-10M equity investment into companies with a proven business model, established revenues, and excellent growth prospects.

 

Our approach

Minority investments with board representation and close involvement with management and founders.

 

Why invest

Investors in Bailador access growth stage investment in a very attractive sector through a diversified and actively managed portfolio.

Eureka have been buying (around $1.00)

Eureka Report: Our newest LIC purchase: Bailador by Mitchell Sneddon via www.eurekareport.com.au

 

Summary: David Kirk's Bailador Technology Investments looks for early stage unlisted technology operations with established business models and proven track records. The LIC enters these businesses as a convertible preference shareholder, giving some downside protection. The LIC is currently trading at a 13 per cent discount to NTA, but has closed that gap significantly and has the potential to close it further in near future.

 

Key take-out: At the market open on Tuesday April 11, we will take a five per cent stake in Bailador Technology Investments (BTI).

 

Category: Listed Investment Companies

 

Recommendation: Call = Buy

  • Price = $1.00
  • Risk = Medium
Since the last time I sat down with Bailador Technology Investments (BTI) chief executive David Kirk, the IT focused private equity investment company has been on my mind. It appears Kirk and company are getting it right and they are trading at an attractive long term entry point ÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬Ãƒâ€Â¦ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ this is why BTI is coming into the model portfolio at a 5 per cent weighting.

 

What boxes does BTI tick?

  • Significant skin in the game by management
  • Experience, with now a five year track record for the portfolio returning approximately 24.3 per cent pa since inception
  • No distractions: BTI is the team's only portfolio there are no other portfolios vying for attention
  • Proactive in communicating the investment approach with shareholders and the market

Soul Patts have been buying (@ $1.00)

Bailador has announced Washington H Soul Pattinson & Company Limited (ASX:SOL) will make a substantial investment in Bailador Technology Investments Limited (BTI). WHSP, via its subsidiary Pitt Capital Partners Limited, will underwrite up to $20m in option shortfall following the expiry of Bailador options which were issued at IPO. Once exercised, Pitt Capital Partners will be a substantial shareholder in BTI.David Kirk, BTI Chairman said "WHSP is Australia's second oldest listed company and Australia's leading diversified investment house. We are delighted that they have chosen to make a substantial investment in BTI. We see this as a resounding vote of confidence in our investment strategy and recognition of our success to date."

 

Baillieu Holst has it as a top pick in the speciality space, offering attractive entry points to underlying portfolios with low correlation to the general market

 

. . . . . .

 

BTI is no longer "cheap"; now about $1.17 and has hit NTA ($1.16). The monthly NTA update - out around 14th of each month - offers quite a bit of info, and links to the above

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Digital transformation .... [is] around us, apparently permanent and definitely accelerating. Just as we're getting used to the idea of Uber, we're having to think about driverless cars; Foodora, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are transforming the food business before our eyes; no sooner have we got used to online shopping, and they're working on drone parcel delivery; smartphones are getting smarter and more powerful every year and will soon replace credit cards, just as they have already replaced cameras and record players; the cloud is transforming the efficiency of computing.........

 

Martin Feldman, a Harvard economist, says that technology is actually masking an improvement in productivity. That's because a lot of the improvements are in quality, such as more powerful smartphones or the rating system on Uber lifting the quality of drivers, which can't be captured by the economic statisticians. And economic measurement has become questionable: for example, Spotify is probably showing up as a negative in the stats, including declining musician incomes, even though it's overall a big positive.

 

A recent study by HSBC predicted that the number of digital natives ÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚ defined as those who have spent their entire secondary education in a country with an internet adoption rate above 50 per cent ÃÆâ€â„¢ÃƒÆ’ƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¢ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…¡Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¡ÃƒÆ’‚¬Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚ will rise from roughly 430 million today to 2.3 billion by 2030.

 

According to HSBC's James Pomeroy, "digital natives' receptiveness to change and new technologies means that the global uptake should continue to gather pace. Add, too, the continued spread of internet-based technologies across the emerging world and the number of digital users will rise even more. These changes may be even more pronounced than we realise."

 

Ever greater use of technology as digital natives become the entire population will lead to more downward pressure on prices, either through more choice, better information on pricing, improved supply chains, and access to alternatives and substitutes.

 

So inflation is going nowhere but down, and central banks will need to get their heads around this.

 

Technology and debt are also increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots, and that process probably has some distance to run as well.

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