20080728

cuil search, not so cool findings

cuil is definitely adding something to the web search experience, especially if you want to find something you were not looking for.

You may be "Search(ing) 121,617,892,992 web pages", but if you take the smaller roads, you are likely to find many parasites* on the top of the list, and to turn many beautiful but mostly useless** pages before bumping into something familiar.

Don't try zooming : too many words in the search box, and you're told "We didn’t find any results". "Too many" can start with two. Even one. Actually, the "search" feature can be quite frustrating if you expect to do some googling***.

To me, cuil is not really competing directly with Google. It's more about contexts than words, more a media than a search engine, like opening a newspaper in Borges's library of Babel (without the full multilingual rainbow). Beyond randomness, there is definitely some form of intelligence, and a rather simulating one, but the tool needs some more practice, some more neuronal connexions.

So let's help this newborn grow up and feed it with more of our searches.


* definitely a revenge for fake websites traditionnally barred by other crawlers : empty shells piggybacking on the fame of others to syphon their visitors

** except for announcers, maybe. OK for limiting the number of answers on one page, but one or two items per pages, often the same from one page to the next one...

*** the most comical bug : you type an URL and it doesn't appear in the results



20080711

iPhone vs BIC Phone

iPhone 3G is out there, but I guess you already heard about it.
BIC Phones are out there, too. Soon (TTM september 2008). The first color is Orange, as one could have suspected : before ballpen turned cristal, they used to have that dull color... and oh, Orange France is the partner for the launch*.
BIC Phones also come in green. But hold your horses, pal : nothing environmentally correct to it. The nondescript hanset comes under blister for the cash and carry (EUR 49 / 60 mn included). Alcatel made it, and I'm not sure it will host BIC branded Samsung fuel cell disposable cartridges* from day one. That feature could make a difference***. Much needed for BIC, a company that has been looking for a new hit for decades (now a minor leaguer for blades, lighters are not getting any more popular, and perfumes were a total flop).
The prepaid pack will be sold in BIC's traditional points of sale. Nothing disruptive for Orange prepaid offers (newstands, train stations, airports...) but BIC has 3M POS worldwide and that could prove useful.




* "
Orange et BIC® lancent en France BIC® phone - JUIL08" (BIC press release - 20080711)
** "Bic Wants to Flick Your Cell Phone" (Business Week - Jennifer L. Schenker - 20071129)

*** a disposable cell phone would have too, as a start... (see "Hop-on - yes we can" - 20080422)



20080705

Viacom - vae victis, YouTube

Viacom had better prove the importance of copyrighted content for YouTube users : the traditional media giant had its nextgen rival (now a Google brand) ordered by a NY judge to release user data, but at the bulk level. So no User-Generated Discontent ahead : John and Jane Doe shall remain anonymous criminals. And the blame (if any) on YouTube's broader shoulders. Or the shame on Viacom's, should the figures turn out to be disapointing.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, another safe was apparently cracked as the European Commission allowed NRAs to open for WiMAX part of the 2.6GHz spectrum devoted to FDD / TDD. Not the kind of news John and Jane Does love to download, but who knows, some may find some value in it.



20080702

KT-NTT Venture Forum

Announced last May, the first KT-NTT Venture Forum took place yesterday in Palo Alto, CA.

What's in a name ? This is a forum, it features Venture issues, and is led by KT and NTT, the fixed counterparts to KTF and NTT DoCoMo, whose partnership has been already blooming for a while. The brand KT appears first in this new venture, but NTT is a much bigger player.

What's in a location ? Initially planned to host the premiere, Seoul will organize the next round this September. How "neutral" can the Sillicon Valley be ? Both NTT America, Inc. (
nttamerica.com) and NTT DoCoMo USA, Inc. (docomo-usa.com) are based in NYC, while KT America's HQ are in L.A. (ktamerica.com). But Palo Alto is home to DoCoMo Communications Laboratories USA, Inc. (docomolabs-usa.com), and NTT serves customers in the US far beyond the national expat community (ie Verio).

What's in a program ? 12 start-ups showed up and off at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley. 76 avid investors (VCs, Qualcomm, Sony, Samsung, Cisco, Intel & co) attended speeches by CTOs CHOI Doo-wan and Noritaka UJI. Each operator came with staff from 15 BUs. This was obviously meant to go beyond name-card trading and to let the Sillicon Valley take notice : we may not be the new sheriff in town, but we are no small fish either. And we are willing to invest, to make new things happen.

A few days earlier, SK Telecom confirmed the sale of Helio to Virgin*. To go to Hollywood from Palo Alto, you do have to go South...

Both Korean heavyweights are intensifying the competition at home, where KT and KTF will unite and where SKT purchases his way into the home broadband market. The former PTT is becoming more customer oriented and considering bundles (broadband at home with Megapass, IPTV with MegaTV, VoIP with KT, broadband on the go with KT Wibro...).

On the mobile turf, there seems to be a cultural shift these days :

- KTF found its mojo and developped a taste for marketing entertainment**.
- SKT keeps the overall lead (50%+ market share), but seems to be losing some of its cool factor. It is lagging behind his rival in the WCDMA frenzy : 27.4% of the market have been converted at the end of June 2008 and despite a better month by SKT, KTF holds 51.1% of these 12.3M subs.

SHOW succeeded the old SKT way : massive advertising, devoted shops, an aura of fun and buzz. "T" did enjoy the same treatment but with a rather "Deutsche Telecom" flavor : somehow less fun and less buzz. Actually, this zero-affect-non-brand sounds too techno-oriented and not very sexy, while the Show brand is clearly a hit : just compare "show-time" with "T-time" and it jumps at your face.

The leader is putting all its weight on the new USIM-based solutions (that's "T" and "USIM", not a new brand) including contactless payments. The loyalty strategy lies at the core of mobility, in a tiny little fortress of technology, at the very moment the competitor is embracing a more pervasive kind of ambition.


* see "
Helio lands on Virgin island" (20080509)
** ditto Voda : Vodafone Music Reporter is to rock and roll with MySpace



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