This week I went to the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference hosted by Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher. I cover half of the show this week, and the other half next week. this week I discussed the interviews with Bill Gates (and how I got to actually meet him), Howard Stringer CEO of Sony (and how Martha Stewart bothered him from the audience), Sharpcast demo, Terry Semel CEO of Yahoo! regarding the situation in China, Robert Iger CEO of Disney, panel from Martha Stewart Living, Google and Discovery communications, Nicholas Negroponte and his $100 laptop for third world countries, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson and Helio’s Sky Dayton about putting wireless across an entire city.
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Big big show today, so long that I’m going to split it in two! this week I went to the Wall Street Journal conference called All Things Digital, hosted by Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher. I’ll get back to that in a few minutes, but first let me get to the mail.
Listener James wrote me a wonderfully irreverant email, and I enjoyed it so much i must read it all to you! I’ll interject with my appropriate responses as I read through. James wrote:
Hey Allison, Love your show and hate that the first time I email you is to criticize. I’m sure you can take it though.
Glad you love the show James and sure, I can take it, grew up with 3 older brothers so I AM tough.
Gripe #1: As you were trying to attempt to find Macsaber, I noticed myself cringing. Especially since you say you are a Quicksilver freak. You could have launched it using Quicksilver OR Spotlight. So, on the next show, you have to promise to demo it for those that aren’t fortunate enough to have a new laptop with a motion sensor (and only a lame Quad G5 w/ 4.5GB of RAM… THAT’S RIGHT! WHO’S YOUR DADDY?!?!). I’m sure your mind went blank under the pressure of being on the air. It’s OK, I forgive you.
well, actually I DID try QS, and it was Quicksilver that could NOT find it, and looking in both Apps and Utilities didn’t bring it up, and that’s when I realized I had run it from a disk image that I had unmounted!!! I didn’t want to admit my stupidity, I mean what a newbie move, eh? Now you’ve forced me to confess! however, it may be another week till I can do the demo, evidently all that lovely thermal cycling that was so clearly “in spec” seems to have trashed the motherboard on my MacBook Pro! If i unplug the MacBook Pro from power, after a few seconds it simply shuts off! I took it in last Monday night, and it’s been sitting in Applecare saying “waiting for part” for most of the week! I’ve been tragically forced to go back to the Powerbook, but what a relief to not be working with a fajita grill on my lap! I’m hoping that when they replace the motherboard they’ll fix the heat problems as well.
Gripe #2: While running down the list of Vista Vs. OS X features, you gave Vista a point for having transparent windows. Both the Terminal & Stickies already have this. Since this feature is at the Application level and not the OS level, I think Vista should only get half a point (or no points, you’re the judge). OK, re-tally and update the total on the next show.
Personally James, Stickies is the stupidest application on my Mac (and I’m comparing it to an app that makes light saber sounds), and just having two apps that can be transparent, whether we need it or not isn’t worth crushing their poor little spirits do you think? I mean, c’mon, we won by a mile, no need to kick them when they’re down.
James continued with:
I’m sure you have already gotten one or both of these things pointed out to you but I just wanted to make sure you knew how much of a screw-up you really are (just kidding… we all love you to death!). Keep up the great work. I don’t know how I would survive my commute from Woodland Hills to Burbank without you, Adam and Leo. Now go wash your car, it’s filthy!
It’s a good thing he sprinkled his insults with endearments, but I had to take issue with the filthy car comment, I mean I washed it TWICE last weekend, once on Friday afternoon and again on Monday afternoon! What’s he mean talkin’ trash about my car for?
Windows Vista Description with OSX showing
Listener David sent in a great video from, where else, youtube.com, that really illustrates the points I was making last week about Vista now having what OSX already has. Someone took the audio from a Vista demo, and dubbed it over a video of the Mac doing the exact same things they’re talking about Vista now being able to do! it’s pretty funny, not complete but sure makes the point. There’s a link in the shownotes or you can go over to youtube and do a search on Windows Vista: First of a Kind Features.
Let’s dig into the first half of the All Things Digital conference!
Dow Jones and WSJ Sponsor
Walter Mossberg & Kara Swisher (W=Walt, K = Kara)
3rd Year Ive attended
1st Year Gates then Jobs
2nd Year Jobs then Gates, Gates watched Jobs speech
Held at fab Four Seasons Aviara in San Diego posh hotel
Format interviews, then open mic, no PP
Disclaimer on my notes did my best to quote accurately, but not guaranteed
Keynote on tues night Bill Gates
Biggest impression Im a patient man is this good?
o people will remember how great a product is, not when it shipped
o when asked will there be an online version of your products? G many years
o when asked when he was going to catch Google in search, he defended by saying not much innovation has gone on in search in years. What planet has he been on? He said the real innovation has been happening in Korea, not sure what apps he meant. He said its a 5 year battle, no trek, to catch up, but we have the patience and the financial wherewithal to do that.
when asked about Apples iPod and their participation in this market, he said he needs to find a way to participate in the growth by enriching the experience. Boy, that doesnt say much. When asked about the rumor that MS is going to have a music player he responded theres a rumor.
On the first Xbox we were a year late, bigger, heavier more expensive box, didn’t want to do that again. did want it to be an online interactive experience. Xbox Live is the center point. this time early, way less expensive.
W asked should sony give up?
G – no more than MS should give up in search!
o G riskiest thing is that the 2D menu structure from 1900s is a cage that doesn’t let people see what they want. Scary step to get out of that, but we did it.
o About time they took some risk look at Apple removing modems, card slots, floppy, etc
o New Office impressive to me – dynamic update of text fonts, tec., inserting photo auto updates, smart graphics in PowerPoint. Excel – color scales – formats tables live by color, icons for up and down with trends, red/yellow/green, stoplight charts. column headers stay at the top when you scroll.
o Didnt see future in moving Office online, responsiveness, cant work offline, new hover effect requires fast processor
o Gates can lose if you dont store copy elsewhere
o Walt iTunes can have on 5 macs
o Gates complicated!
o Walt no, one menu pick to deauthorize, 30 seconds later you click authorize
o Gates – but my point is the music isn’t there on the 5th machine yet.
o Subscription for music Gates will it get the people who would have bought more or the people who would have bought less. that price point is interesting.
Tablet PC 2M installed, medical & insurance, not sweet spot with students yet Im very patient
Online video youtube, streaming shows, why isnt MS there?
o Gates MS iTV long project, will blow away the network model willing to wait a long time for success (again?)
o Gates mentioned he watches the Feynman lectures online and Harlem Globetrotters
o Gates said that the broadcast television model was a hack if you don’t give people what they want when they want you’re done
OneCare the service where theyll keep your computer clean for a fee, much controversy over obvious conflict of interest.
o Gates defended by statistics like 1/3rd of individual users have an active security system. less than 20% of people are actually doing backups regularly they need to be protected because they wont do themselves
got a chance after dinner to meet Gates – rather than rag on him for anything about Mac vs. PC, I just walked up to him and shook his hand and thanked him for what he’s done for global health. As much as I complain about MS’s monopolistic approach to business and cruddy software products, if I had to choose who to have dinner with and have a real, human conversation, I’d pick Bill Gates over Steve Jobs hands down. He really cares about the planet and the people on it, and I respect him immensely for it.
See guardian.co.uk to understand at a high level what Bill and Melinda are doing, its compelling reading. Much of it will go on research efforts to find vaccines for Aids, malaria and childhood killers that affect the poorest countries. His latest and biggest donation of $750m will help the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), which he was instrumental in setting up.
Dinner was fun, on the way there I met a guy from Adelphia, and after I told him how much I enjoyed my cable modem service, he told me our part of Adelphia is being sold to Time Warner. no worries though, on the way out of dinner I met a guy from Time Warner who said that he’s going to take care of me, that we’ll have rich video content and all kinds of cool stuff. I ended up actually eating dinner with Bob Rosenschein, who happens to be the CEO of answers.com. Remember how I always point you to answers.com to find out info on our new countries? This the guy who made it happen! I spent a lot of time talking to a guy named Mark, who is a venture capitalist who was on the board of answers.com when it was 2 whole people, got in on the ground floor. I tortured him throughout dinner with questions about VC since I know diddly about it. They were both very gracious and entertaining, and later I found out that Bob was on Jerusalem time! Man, I get jet lagged when I go to Texas, what’s it like to come from Israel to California? that’s like 3 days worth of jet lag, isn’t it???
Howard Stringer CEO of Sony
Walt Sony sucks at s/w whatre you doing about it? Stringer great imbedded s/w but not app s/w, was an afterthought. Hired Tim Schaff, Sr. VP Apple self deprecating, calm, thoughtful works with Japanese culture, hes been accepted by the s/w developers
Walt – iPod – too late to significantly dent their share?
Stringer – may dent Apple in Japan for naionalistic reasons, but that doesn’t help across the world. The Sony Walkman phone is very popular across the world (3M sold) but doesn’t work here because of the confusing cellular network issues in the US. Apple’s doing that too though. We’ll have a phone that pushes email soon too, but I don’t think this will keep Steve Jobs sleepless. To buy music on this phone is a fairly awful service called Connect, which was a hydra-headed monster.
Sony Reader kept calling it e-reader, which isnt its name, and even Reader isnt written legibly on the device (done in relief letters, barely noticeable. Form factor good little bigger than paperback, but very thin (1/2 inch?) Stringer said many of these devices have failed, and I wont’ give you this one until it’s ready because it’s not going to fail.
o No backlight, battery life for 25 books, change the font size (large print for vision is free). Uses power only to turn the page
o Cost is probably $300, but the publishers will save so much money in publishing cost, paper costs, they need to help us get this out.
o I have to make the download process seamless, we’ve already got tons of content, this is the last chance to make this idea work.
Service looks very itunes music store-ish
Music service Walt said how’s the music business, how is it to own one of the four biggest entrants in the stupidest industry in the world?
o Increasing CD sales, tried to create download process that was 100% secure, not what customer wants, all about th ecustomer
In reference to Sony root kit: Walt whens your next copy proteced CD coming out? How did that happen? How did it go so far?
o Stringer weasled here it didnt go that far, nobodys computer crashed, we were punished out of proportion to the crime
o I think not. This was criminal behavior, not exaggerating.
o Said it was a low level decision, but didnt abdicate responsibility, just didnt think it was as bad as people said. Hey, they issued patches, right?
Martha Steward on open mic complained about all the chargers she had to carry
o Stringer said he asked the CFO the same question. Noted that their component division is the most profitable is that where they make the chargers?
Sharpcast Demo sharpcast.com/
Explain how they intersperse demos with interviews
Sharpcast is a real time sync program. First demo was between a photo app on the desktop and a web-based app. No Mac-based app yet, but plans.
Rotated a photo on desktop app, rotated as soon as refreshed on website. Rotated on website, rotated on the desktop app.
Make changes offline, when connected to internet automatically syncs
Part of the purpose is to address how normal people dont backup their photos
Worked with his sharpcast-enabled mobile devices see the photos but not downloaded (bandwidth). Took a picture with Treo, synced with sharpcast website on the Mac and on the Windows desktop app.
2nd Sharpcast demo was for contacts. Started with Windows Outlook contact, Address book on the Mac, and contact list on a cell phone. Added Walt as a contact on Outlook, showed up in Apple Address Book. No syncing with cables, all instantaneously. Did it the other way around from the Treo over to Mac and Windows. Cost will be tiered service, starting at a couple bucks a month. Developers can Sharpcast enable their applications.
My impressions very cool, like to see Mac client of course, so tired of syncing by hand, duplicate entries, all those duplicate entries
Terry Semel CEO Yahoo!
Walt said they asked Google and Yahoo! to come talk about situation in dealing with China. My limited understanding is both have agreed to limit searches within China for example in the US if you search on Tiananmen Square youll learn about those massacred during protests in the 1989 when Chinese people believed they were becoming a free society. If you search for the same thing in China on Google or Yahoo!, youll be shown lovely pictures of the square featuring people waving Chinese flags. Im not a scholar on this, but Walter applauded Yahoos Terry Semel for coming.
Semel immediately addressed the issue of how Yahoo! was told by the Chinese government to give up information on one of their citizens, which resulted in his arrest. He said, We’re pissed off, outraged, and feel very badly about it. I think change can happen by giving people access to information, access to the .us domain can help where it isn’t blocked.
Unfortunately I have too close of an understanding of what it means to be arrested in China. The father of a good friend of mine (who is a US citizen and wealthy businessman) was arrested in China in October of 2005 on bogus charges, imprisoned, sleep deprived so he would sign over all of his personal holdings as well as his company to the Chinese government.
I felt that Semel was genuinely distressed over whats happening, and his companys role in it, and he also talked about his disgust with things that are going on in his own country.
When questioned about how Google pushed back against the US government when requested to provide vast amounts of info about searches in the US by the Justice Department, under the guise of the Child Protection Act, he said that he doesnt know what Google was asked for, but the things Yahoo! was requested to give up came with a legal subpoena, and they complied, but he doesnt know if its the same thing Google was requested to provide.
Walt asked when Yahoo! was going to stop including paid-for searches within their results (am I way behind? I had no idea they did this!!!) He didnt get a good answer to this:
o Walt how do I know if a result is at the top because its really the best or because they paid to be there?
o Semel call me and Ill tell you.
o Walt Ill publish your number in the journal.
My overall impression of Semel was that he was a thoughtful, caring man, who cares very much about what part his company plays in the issues of our global society. He didnt pretend to know the answers and seemed very concerned. I felt like he was a man to be trusted.
Robert Iger CEO of Disney
Kara interested in how Disney through ABC is offering shows on iTunes and streaming on their website
o Iger really likes the iTunes application itself, found himself using iTunes playlist for exercise instead of radio. Intent to put more content on the platform, multiplying the number of touch points to the consumer (contrast with NBC who offers very little – $1.99 for one SKETCH within an episode of SNL)
o Kara asked him to talk to the relationship with Steve Jobs he said all the right words, hes not only a great mind but also a Disney enthusiast with great ideas for what we can do. I find him a great adviser. Hes a board member and someone I turn to for advice. But it sounded practiced, an dhe kind of looked down at the ground when he said it no passion and enthusiasm as he said the words. I didnt buy it at all.
Panel with Susan Lyne from Martha Stewart Living, Marissa Mayer from Google and Judith McHale of Discovery Communications
Martha Stewart and Google felt they need to adapt content beyond TV networks, cant forget the network audience because thats still a lot of people. Martha will provide video tutorials on the web e.g. pause playback while basting the turkey. Also moving into crafts e.g. scrapbooking, sales of materials on the same site.
Discovery had interesting approach make available online more content beyond whats on TV. Example Mythbusters on TV put more of the science or directors cut kind of info online.
Google talked about video services 2/3rds user-created, 1/3rd copyrighted material. I have issue with Google video you cant buy videos if youre on a Mac evidently has to be some mutant format called gvi that is windows specific. I put this in the evil category.
Nicholas Negroponte – $100 laptop for third world countries snuck in as an antendee this year. (presenter last year)
2 watts, almost 2 pounds, ears for the mesh network, color, sunlight readable, comes on instantly (W must not be running windows) – Fedora Linux. Will test by hitting with baseball bats, throw ice cream on them, almost Mil-spec. $130-$140 to the governments, $100 by the end of 2008. Launching April of next year. Nigeria Brazil Thailand really excited first.
Mayor of San Franscisco Gavin Newson & Helios Sky Dayton
Discussion of 100% wireless broadband to be available in SF Google/Earthlink won the contract
Odd discussion Sky Dayton looks to be about 18 years old, evidently started Earthlink and boingboing (whatever that is) and he was representing Earthlink I think, but billed as CEO of Helio, but no discussion of Helio and what hes doing there
Lost of discussion about how long it takes.
Interesting part was Gavins explanation of how important it is to get internet access to the people who dont have it today those who need government services like student loans, low income credit. His housing authority was given 250 computers and free wifi, and they have a training program so people will continue to learn to get access to these services.
Next week – the second half of the Digital Conference – VP Al Gore, Richard Sarnoff from Random House Publishing and Lawrence Lessing from Creative Commons Sound off against each other about Googles plans to scan in all of the books in the public libraries, Art Coviello of RSA Security and John Thompson of Symantec talk about security, Demo of the new Zing Music Player, Antonio Perez CEO of Kodak talks about their late shift to digital and new advances in imaging, Barry Sonnenfeld of Right Coast Productions (brought us Men in Black and the new movie RV), Vinod Khosla from Kohsla Ventures talks about how we really could go to Ethanol in the US for auto fuel, and finally a teen panels view of technology.
I’m going to wind up this episode of the NosillaCast – thanks for all who wrote in this week with ideas and suggestions – I really enjoy all the emails, so keep them coming! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed!