Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boot up: responding to Bitcoin, Dropbox v Box, Nest v estate agents, and more

U2's Bono and the Edge with Dropbox founders U2's Bono and the Edge with Dropbox founders. Photograph: Dropbox

A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Glenn Fleishman responds to Marc Andreesen, who has been talking up the wonders of Bitcoin; Fleishman is less sure, having researched it closely.

Bitcoin doesn't eliminate fraudulent transactions; it only eliminates counterfeit payments. This can, of course, save many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars a year globally and translate to more efficiency in commerce. But removing the intermediary also removes recourse outside of courts, and the cost and nature of that can't be determined.

Because Bitcoin is like untraceable cash, the process for solving a dispute would likely follow the same rules as for cash. When a transaction occurs over the Internet, the odds of recovering one's Bitcoins when a seller fails to meet his or her obligations is the same as if you'd sent a wad of bills in an envelope through the mail.

Ben Thompson compares Dropbox (consumer-oriented) with Box (enterprise-oriented):

Dropbox's model makes sense theoretically, but it ignores the messy reality of actually making money. After all, notably absent from my piece on Business Models for 2014 was consumer software-as-a-service. I'm increasingly convinced that, outside of in-app game purchases, consumers are unwilling to spend money on intangible software. That is likely why Dropbox has spent much of the last year pivoting away from consumers to the enterprise.

There are multiple reasons why the latter is a more attractive target for all software-as-a-service companies, especially those focused on data:

The implication, if you follow this line of thought through, is that all that lovely free space on Dropbox is going to stop as it seeks customers who will pay. (Thompson responds: "I doubt the Dropbox freemium will go away, FWIW [for what it's worth].")

Palador co-founder Benjamin Robbins, whose firm helps clients build their mobile strategies, says it is both the end and beginning of an era. "It's the end of an era because AirWatch equals MDM [mobile device management]. MDM can no longer be a point solution and must be part of a larger EMM [enterprise mobile management] framework," he explained. "At the same time, it's the beginning of an era because security firms must have a reputable MDM component as part of the their EMM strategy," he said.

Jack Gold, principal at mobile research firm Jack Gold and Associates, added that VMware was struggling mightily in the mobile space and purchasing AirWatch gives them a fighting chance. He said that VMware specifically brought Sanjay Poonen on board from SAP to give the unit a lift and AirWatch fills in some blanks and brings a growing customer base with them.

AirWatch, MobileIron and Good Technology all offer technologies for controlling smartphones in enterprise environments - in effect, they compete with the non-handset aspect of BlackBerry.

Steve Wildstrom:

I think Microsoft really should pull the two halves of Windows 8 apart and come out with two operating systems (or at least two user interfaces, not quite the same thing), each optimized for its own usage. Tablets should get a touch interface–son of Metro. Traditional PCs, likely to be the smaller market in the future, need a UI designed to work primarily with a keyboard and a pointing device, and that would probably look more like legacy Windows than Metro.

I'm not convinced there is much of a future for touchscreen notebooks. I have used Windows 8 and 8.1 on both conventional clamshell touch notebooks and convertibles of varied design and I am not convinced that any of them come close to a MacBook. In fact, running Windows on a MacBook is a superior experience to most Windows notebooks because of the superiority of Apple's touchpad.

The big question is just what will make a Windows 9 tablet an attractive proposition? The answer has to be what Microsoft has always thought it was: Office.

Becki Saltzman looks a little further ahead on Nest:

In real estate, sellers disclose and buyers beware. Disclosure laws differ state-to-state and so, too, does the buyer burden to figure out exactly what they're buying. Nest products could be a game-changer. Now the thermostat reveals heating and cooling inefficiencies. Now the smoke detector becomes a radon detector, a mold detector, a moisture detector. If those levels are found on the sellers' smart phone and the seller didn't disclose those details to a potential buyer, what recourse might a buyer have? How is the seller to know what is important to disclose once the Internet of Things is able to measure all sorts of things? Should the seller give the buyer access to the application where they can download every measurement every gadget provides?

If a seller likes cutting edge coolness and is one of the first to install the new Nest products, does that seller have a greater responsibility to disclose just because they are now aware of a greater number of measured…things? Will buyers decide that a seller is hiding something and choose to buy only homes that have measurements for everything that is possible to measure?

Surely this will be an episode thread in Modern Family very soon.

It's a Google Labs feature (remember Google Labs?) that you can still implement. It gives you 10 seconds' grace. That might be enough to save you just that once...

Brent Simmons (who is probably not a member of the 1%):

I got an email from Network Solutions — where I still have two domains, originally registered in the '90s — that informed me I have been enrolled in their WebLock Program.

To help recapture the costs of maintaining this extra level of security for your account, your credit card will be billed $1,850 for the first year of service on the date your program goes live. After that you will be billed $1,350 on every subsequent year from that date. If you wish to opt out of this program you may do so by calling us at 1-888-642-0265.

Not a phishing scam; it's real. Network Solutions takes $1,850 from people for doing what it ought to do anyway.

This is why opt-in should be a default on anything.

A Samsung official said Tuesday the firm will hold a developers' forum to promote Tizen-embedded smartphones at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) fair in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

"We are working with leading mobile carriers in Europe and distribution channels to expand the use of Tizen-embedded mobile devices," the official said.

Samsung said the "Tizen Reception" will be held on Feb. 23 by Tizen Association, an open-source group that was created through the merger of the former MeeGo and LiMo platforms. Samsung is the largest backer of the association.

Then again, your correspondent recalls seeing Meego being shown off with great assurance of its viability at MWC a couple of years ago.

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