Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Demand For $5000 Cellphones Is So High, Nokia Can't Make Enough Of Them.

I bet you every cellphone manufacturer dreams of a problem like that - the demand is so high, they can't make enough phones that have a price tag of over $5000 each. Read this Reuters news bit.

The luxury unit of the world's top mobile handset maker Nokia, Vertu, has seen strong demand this year and is struggling to increase production to keep up, a senior official said on Thursday.

Vertu targets wealthy customers by producing very costly mobile phones made from platinum, gold and diamonds.

"At the moment we cannot meet demand. Sales are more than doubling this year. We hope that pace will continue also next year," Chris Harris, Vertu's marketing director, told Reuters on the sidelines of a news conference.

Harris also said Vertu's new mobile phone model would hit the shops next month and was expected to boost sales.

Vertu does not reveal separate financial details, and its numbers are included in those of Nokia's Mobile Phones unit.

While analysts expect Nokia to sell about 330 million phones this year at an average of around 100 euros ($129) apiece, Vertu sells "tens of thousands" of phones at prices topping 4,000 euros, Harris said.

"We are not in the hundreds of thousands yet, but our aspirations are there," he said.

Vertu has been reaping the rewards of a global economy enjoying growth rates well above the average for recent decades but there are signs the expansion may be slowing, particularly in the key U.S. consumer market.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Can Red Hat Survive?

Oracle's bid to steal business away from Red Hat has thrust the world's largest Linux software distributor into an extremely challenging position. It might even signal the beginning of the end for Red Hat, industry analysts and insiders said.

Red Hat's shared tumbled 25 percent Thursday after Oracle, the giant database software company, said it would offer support services for Red Hat's open source Linux software—at half the price Red Hat currently charges. The move was almost certain to cut into the lucrative support contracts that Red Hat relies upon for the bulk of its revenues, prompting some industry watchers to suggest the Linux upstart could become a takeover target for Oracle.

Enterprise Applications Consulting analyst Joshua Greenbaum said Oracle's gambit puts Red Hat in a "very dangerous position" because it doesn't own intellectual property and is just offering services. "I don't think this is the end of Red Hat," he said. "This is the beginning of the end, and it's going to be up to them to show how to pull [their] feet out of the fire."

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison caused a stir at the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco this week by announcing that his company would begin offering support services for Red Hat's Linux software. Oracle said it would also indemnify customers against any intellectual property issues arising from using the software. Not everyone believes Oracle's announcement will prove disastrous for Red Hat.

Sanford & Bernstein analyst Charles Di Bona said Red Hat will have to cut prices to survive, even though that will hurt its margins. Others, such as Billy Marshall, chief executive of software appliance company rPath, suggest Red Hat will ultimately survive. "I see this as being a distraction for the Red Hat team in the near term," said Mr. Marshall, who was previously vice president of North American sales at Red Hat.

Matthew Szulik, Red Hat's chief executive, said Friday that his company would not cut prices, despite Oracle's move. Mr Szulik said Red Hat welcomed the competition and would continue to sell its products along with Oracle's database software. Red Hat shares rebounded Friday, gaining more than 8 percent in midday trading, as the company said it plans to buy back as much as $325 million of its stock and bonds.

Some analysts suggested Mr. Ellison was trying to drive down Red Hat's market capitalization, making it cheaper for Oracle to buy Red Hat. "Given the amount of drama involving the PeopleSoft acquisition, you can't rule out the possibility that this is a move by Oracle to make Red Hat a more affordable acquisition target," said Raven Zachary, an analyst with the 451 Group.

Oracle acquired applications vendor PeopleSoft in January 2005 for $10.3 billion following an 18-month war of words that set new standards of nastiness in Silicon Valley. While some people think that Oracle wouldn't benefit much by acquiring Red Hat, Mr. Zachary said the Redwood Shores, California-based company would get Red Hat's talent and customer relationships after the acquisition. Red Hat's current market capitalization is $3 billion.

Getting Emotional?

Dave Dargo, CTO of open source database company Ingres, thought Mr. Ellison's decision to offer Red Hat Linux support was an emotional response to Red Hat's acquisition last April of JBoss, an open source middleware provider and Oracle competitor. "I don't think this is a business decision, this is an emotional decision," Mr. Dargo said. "It's just a matter of being greedy and emotional and they don't think Red Hat should be getting the business."

During his keynote speech at Oracle's conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Mr. Ellison justified this move, saying that it was capitalist in nature. "This is capitalism and we are competing," he said during a Q&A session. "This is not about Red Hat. This is about increasing the adoption of Linux and moving it up to the mission critical spot in the data center."

Mr. Dargo countered that Oracle's move indicated a lack of understanding of the value that Red Hat's support and service provide. But he noted that Red Hat could be vulnerable if Oracle manages to privde better service. "If the strategy at Oracle works out, Red Hat is going to face some serious issues, but I don't think it is going to work out," he said. "There are lots of opportunities for Red Hat to do some aggressive and creative things to turn around."

Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik was not available for comment, but spokesperson Leigh Day said the opportunity for open source just got bigger. "Oracle's announcement further validates Red Hat's technical leadership," he said. "We will continue to optimize Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Oracle and compete on value and innovation."

That may be so, but Oracle's move means that Red Hat will suddenly face a rival with deep pockets that has demonstrated a will to crush rivals. Mr. Greenbaum notes that Red Hat's position is all the more precarious because it doesn't own the intellectual property behind Linux and is extremely dependant on sales of service contracts. "The fact that you are a service provider with having a lock on a software license is a very vulnerable position to be in," he said.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cell phone concerto may be music to your ears

It's one musical performance where your cell phone can -- and should -- ring.

U.S. jazz composer David Baker is encouraging people to use their mobile phones during the debut performance of "Concertino for Cellular Phones and Orchestra" that will open the 20th anniversary season of the Chicago Sinfonietta classical music festival next month.

During the 15-minute composition, members of the audience and the orchestra will be asked to use their cell phones at various points throughout the piece with red and green lights telling them when to turn their phones on and off.

"I think some people would think it is insane to even think about trying to combine the cacophony of cell phones with the pristine purity, sometimes, of an orchestra," Baker, 74, told Reuters in an interview.

He also said this was first time in his career that he had finished a piece but did not know what the result would be.

"There's just no way to replicate 1,000 cell phones going off at once," he added, comparing the idea to that of a jazz band.

Baker, who has more than 2,000 jazz, symphonic and chamber compositions to his credit, said people will also be encouraged to randomly increase and decrease the volume of their ring tones and try to recognize familiar tune fragments on the ring tones sounding on orchestra members' cell phones.

He said he hoped the contrast of chaos and structure in a constantly shifting orchestral scheme would replicate how cell phones create both order and chaos in our society.

"There's a wonderful balance ... because that's how our lives are," said Baker, a music professor at Indiana University.

Chicago Sinfonietta Maestro Paul Freeman came up with the idea of the cell phone concerto at an airport in Prague on his way home to Chicago.

"It just hit me," said Freeman, reached in Chicago.

"Sitting among these cell phones and people talking and laughing and arguing I thought: "Ah, there must be a way of refining this and making it into some kind of musical composition."

Both admit the toughest part of the idea will be to get people to participate. And what if they don't?

"Girl, my heart stops thinking about it," said Baker, adding: "It would be like your soloist didn't show up for your concerto."

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Top 10 Dumbest Online Business Ideas That Made It Big Time.

EBay Success Story

1. Million Dollar Homepage

1000000 pixels, charge a dollar per pixel – that's perhaps the dumbest idea for online business anyone could have possible come up with. Still, Alex Tew, a 21-year-old who came up with the idea, is now a millionaire.

2. SantaMail

Ok, how's that for a brilliant idea. Get a postal address at North Pole, Alaska, pretend you are Santa Claus and charge parents 10 bucks for every letter you send to their kids? Well, Byron Reese sent over 200000 letters since the start of the business in 2001, which makes him a couple million dollars richer.

3. Doggles

Create goggles for dogs and sell them online? Boy, this IS the dumbest idea for a business. How in the world did they manage to become millionaires and have shops all over the world with that one? Beyond me.

4. LaserMonks is a for-profit subsidiary of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, an eight-monk monastery in the hills of Monroe County, 90 miles northwest of Madison. Yeah, real monks refilling your cartridges. Hallelujah! Their 2005 sales were $2.5 million! Praise the Lord.

5. AntennaBalls

You can't sell antenna ball online. There is no way. And surely it wouldn't make you rich. But this is exactly what Jason Wall did, and now he is now a millionaire.

6. FitDeck

Create a deck of cards featuring exercise routines, and sell it online for $18.95. Sounds like a disaster idea to me. But former Navy SEAL and fitness instructor Phil Black reported last year sales of $4.7 million. Surely beats what military pays.

7. PositivesDating.Com

How would you like to go on a date with an HIV positive person? Paul Graves and Brandon Koechlin thought that someone would, so they created a dating site for HIV positive folks last year. Projected 2006 sales are $110,000, and the two hope to have 50,000 members by their two-year mark.

8. Designer Diaper Bags

Christie Rein was tired of carrying diapers around in a freezer bag. The 34-year-old mother of three found herself constantly stuffing diapers for her infant son into freezer bags to keep them from getting scrunched up in her purse. Rein wanted something that was compact, sleek and stylish, so in November 2004, she sat down with her husband, Marcus, who helped her design a custom diaper bag that's big enough to hold a travel pack of wipes and two to four diapers. With more than $180,000 in sales for 2005, Christie's company, Diapees & Wipees, has bags in 22 different styles, available online and in 120 boutiques across the globe for $14.99.

9. TruGamerz

Faux-suede padded covers for game controllers and gel thumb pads for analog joysticks? No one will buy that. Forget it. The product proved to be so popular, it got picked up by and and annual sales new exceed half a million dollars.

10. Lucky Wishbone Co.

Fake wishbones. Now, this stupid idea is just destined to flop. Who in the world needs FAKE PLASTIC wishbones? A lot of people, it turns out. Now producing 30,000 wishbones daily (they retail for 3 bucks a pop) Ken Ahroni, the company founder, expects 2006 sales to reach $1 million.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

How TiVo Can Cut Your Electricity Bill By 15%

I was reading the May issue of Fortune Small Business, when I stumbled upon a great article. Inspired by TiVo, one company decided to create a device that cuts your electricity bill by 10-15%. How do they do it? Simple. Utility companies charge you different rates, depending on the day and time that electricity is consumed. The cheapest rate is at 3AM (no wonder). So this device accumulates electricity when it's cheap and then releases it during peak hours, when the rates are much higher. Brilliant, isn't it? Here is more from that article.

"Our product will allow customers to trim their bills painlessly," says CEO Peter Corsell. "Think of it as a kind of TiVo for electricity."

The device, called GridPoint Protect, is the size of a small file cabinet and connects to the circuitbreaker panel. (The company also offers a lower-capacity version designed for homes, which costs $10,000.) A built-in computer powered by a Pentium chip will make intelligent purchase decisions, buying when prices are low, then storing the electricity for later use. That will make it possible to run your company during the workday with cheaper electricity that you purchased at 3 A.M.

Corsell, 28, estimates that his device will shave a business's electric bill by about 15%. Assuming monthly charges of $2,500, the system would pay for itself in less than four years.

GridPoint Protect offers a second function: Because it stores electricity, it can double as a backup generator that is safer and faster than many models currently available. Standard generators run on gas or diesel, and their carbon-monoxide exhaust fumes can be dangerous. By contrast, GridPoint Protect uses safer gel-style batteries, similar to those that back up cellphone towers. Standard generators also take a few seconds to power up, but GridPoint Protect kicks in within about 30 milliseconds, fast enough to prevent a company's computers or other sensitive devices from crashing.

Founded in 2003, GridPoint has raised $18 million from venture capital firms and private investors and now employs a staff of 50, with no revenues until it sold its first units this spring. The company features an all-star board of advisors, including tech guru Esther Dyson and Bill Bradley, the former presidential candidate and longtime member of the Senate Energy Committee.

"It's a smart company, focused on a couple of regions where there's a real need in the marketplace," says Daniel Violette, a Boulder energy consultant.

Picture it - one day soon you might be at a cocktail party and encounter someone bragging not about his hot stock picks but about how much he saved on his electric bill.

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Consumer electronics dying, Sony chief says

NOBUYUKI IDEI, chairman of the advisory board of Sony, and chief corporate advisor, said he's started a new company to take advantage of the skills of CEOs his age, and to push forward the next stage of convergence.

But, he warned, the Japanese consumer electronics industry is dying. He told delegates at Etre that consumer electronics had already broken 10 years ago. People want to use the TV as a portal to the net and consumer electronics companies should change themselves.

The Playstation is late because Microsoft is not a technology company. Sony and IBM made a next generation CPU. A technology-based company like Sony can create something new. But Microsoft is buying a "very normal chip" from IBM.

As for Sony itself, Idei said that, until 1998, Korea hadn't woken up but it did after the Asian currency crisis. Since then, global competition started. Sony made a lot of transition costs during this period but can reposition its three major divisions. He is optimistic about the future, but Sony paid in advance, he said.

He said that Steve Jobs at Apple studied Sony carefully, and perhaps even wanted to be the chairman of Sony. He talked to a lot of music companies but had difficulties with Sony because it has a music division too. Apple's iPod is the trigger to a product like a PC becoming an entertainment tool. A PC is very complicated to use and if Apple can create something like a consumer TV type of product it could make some "quantum leaps".

All companies have to change, and that's the reason, he said, why he created a company called Quantum Leaps. This company, he said, will use the knowedge and experience of skilled CEOs and leverage manufacturing and quality in Asia.

He said that it's a challenge for Sony to be globalised. Sony is well accepted in America as a best brand. The firm, according to the Roper Report, ranks number one in 30 countries. He said: "It's very difficult to continue the evolution of the brand for the future. We made a soft alliance with Ericsson because we couldn't export our own phone to other countries. It's a good system, but it doesn't work in other countries."

A soft alliance doesn't involve huge capitalisation costs to spread a company's wings. He showed a picture of two voles emerging from their burrows and shaking hands. The other major soft alliance is with Samsung on LCD screens.

He said: "I had a lot of criticism for cooperating with a Korean company like Samsung. You cannot do everything by yourself. If you do everything you end up damaged. "

He said that in the next 10 years the telecommunication industry will experience huge changes. "The border between mobile phones and PCs is becoming very blurred," he said. "Google could be on a phone or in a game. This is a big challenge to government. BT has a totally different approach by saying they're not a telephone carrier but as a service supplier on the internet. The big telecoms companies can either promote themselves as open platforms, or defend themselves.

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