Does Kiko predict more Web 2.0 failures?

I was reading Don Dodge, former executive from Alta Vista. He’s seen his share of failure so I always learn something from him. Anyway, he links to an interesting analysis of why Kiko (a Web-based calendar) failed.

Heck, I’m nearly being forced to use Google Calendar and I really really really hate it (sorry, I’m an Outlook addict). If Google can’t get me excited about its calendar there’s no way that I’ll use a calendar from a company I’ve never heard of, don’t trust. Sorry. That’s the entrepreneur’s challenge. Google can win me over just by sheer momentum. Translation: my boss will say “you vil use Google and you vil like it.”

Actually I’m making Google sound worse than it is, but I need a calendar that synchs with my SmartPhone, that lets me work offline, etc.

A friend who works at Google says that they aren’t even using Google calendar internally right now. I hear that Google’s employees hate the Oracle-based solution they are currently using, but that Google Calendar needs more work to be usable for an enterprise.

I can tell you that is true. I’m using two calendars. One in Outlook, one in Google. Why? Cause the rest of the company is on Google.

Anyway, back to the headline. Does it predict more failures?

Yes.

There are simply too many companies chasing too few users.

I can not keep up with the flow in my email box. I’ll share some of that with you real soon.

Getting the cool kids to try your technology isn’t the same thing as having a long-term business proposition.

It’s my challenge too. If I don’t get an audience and keep it I’ll be laying myself off someday after our VC money runs out (that’s what I did last time the bubble burst).

Onward.

Note: some of these things will win. That’s why we all play the game. Google survived the last bubble&burst. Who’ll do that next time? Not Kiko.

Patrick not welcome at LinuxWorld

Ahh, when the Open Source folks wonder why using Linux isn’t “cool” you have no further to look than this sign for the reason — any conference where I can’t take my son and walk around is just something that’s going to have a hard time impressing me (hint: we both went to MacWorld with Dave Winer and then walked across the street and bought a Mac):

Thanks to Scott Beale for the photo.

Another data point? I haven’t been in Second Life since they told me my son isn’t welcome. Why not? Cause our time together is limited and might as well do things that let us play and learn together.

A big reason I am buying a Mac is so I can use iSight and iChat with Patrick (it’s a lot better quality if you have Macs on both sides of the conversation).

If you want me to use your technology you better figure out how to get Patrick first.

Anyway, everyone knows that 12-year-olds are a lot cooler and more up-to-date on technology than fat, white, 41-year-olds.

Aside: it’s nice as a manager to get photographic proof that your employees are working instead of playing Pacman or sitting on the beach. Damn, Irina and Eddie are getting some cool interviews lately! (That’s Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List, sitting behind Irina, and she’s interviewing Cmdr Taco, founder of Slashdot). Nice new Sony camera, huh?!? :-)

Why did Boeing’s wifi service die?

Three words: Lack of power.

I flew SAS flight to Copenhagen 1.5 years ago and paid my $30. But I could only use the Wifi service for two hours because my laptop’s battery wouldn’t last longer than that.

Om Malik opines that this is a time when listening to early adopters didn’t pay off.

Sorry, normal people will do without wifi if they have to pay $30 for two hours.

But, I was talking with some of Microsoft’s Dynamics managers and employees a few months back. That team does a LOT of travel back to Copenhagen. You’d think they would be very active users of the wifi.

I was suprised to learn that they enjoyed the 10 hours “off the grid” where their employees and managers couldn’t talk with them.

Anyway, what killed this was cost. When I met with the Connextion team they told me it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to outfit a single plane with wifi.

The profit margins in the airline industry are razor-thin, if they exist at all (many domestic airlines are losing money) so there was no way they would invest in something like this, especially in the face of rising fuel prices.

I’m sad to see it go.

Why I don’t write about video games

My brother, Alex, writes for Computer World. Now, you’d think that his obscure little blog would be safe from 14-year-olds everywhere. But, he posted his thoughts about Xbox vs. Play Station 3 and the kiddies show up and start bashing him.

Here’s the quality of the commentary that’s showing up:

“Let me just say Alex Scoble is incredibly naive one sided, retard, You sir have revealed your stupidity in this pointless article. Xbox360 is yesterdays news. You’re reading up on way too much Xbox crap, because if you get your head out of your ass and research a little, you’d know there are thousands if not millions who would plunk down $600 for a PS3. (What the heck is Microsoft thinking releasing external HD DVD drive? Who’s gonna buy it???)”

Oh, boy. That kind of commentary makes Slashdot’ers anonymous cowards look downright erudite.

What the 14-year-old fanboys totally don’t get is there’s a new gameplaying market out there that’s going to prove many many times bigger than the 14-year-old market.

You’re looking at it.

That’s Kim Sacha who has one of the world’s highest scores on Zuma on Xbox 360. My son totally thinks that game is lame, but Kim has introduced me to a whole subculture of people who play Xbox 360 games that you wouldn’t expect to see.

One thing about these women? They have money. And time. And they kick ass.

That’s Kim playing during my party. She played the entire game through, losing only one guy. It’s a joy to watch someone like that.

Hint to the guys who want a big HDTV screen: bring your women over some guy’s house who has an Xbox 360. Let her play Zuma for a few minutes. Then watch what happens.

One downside of doing that? You’ll never be able to play your Xbox without getting her out of the house.

Yes, Maryam, I’m talking about you.

Shhh, don’t you DARE tell Maryam that they released Pacman on the 360. I’ll never get to play if you do.

As to the kids. Patrick says the Xbox 360 rocks. To tell the truth, he took it home while we were moving the big screen and he hasn’t brought the thing back. Sigh. I might have to buy another one.

My brother is right. The games are what sells the console. But there’s more to the Xbox too. Media Center is gonna be important here (you can play your pictures, audio, video that’s kept on a PC somewhere else in the house on your Xbox through its Wifi connections).

It’s stunningly sharp. Every kid who came over and played this summer was jealous.

I just hope those kids don’t come over and flame me. Go talk to my brother. :-)

Hint to the kids: if you think this kind of evangelism impresses anyone, keep doing it.

Linux’ achilles heel: fonts

I was just reading David Berlind talking about Tim Bray’s use of Linux over the past couple of weeks (he’s going back to the Mac). I know what keeps me on Apple and Microsoft OS’s, though, and it might not be what you expect.

What keeps me from using Linux? Three things: readability. Fonts. Aesthetics.

Geeks don’t think they matter. But at Gnomedex I could always pick the one or two Linux users out of the crowd instantly. Why? Their fonts looked ugly and weren’t as readable.

Maryam’s new Mac’s fonts are blurry compared to Windows too, but they still are a HUGE advance over anything I’ve seen on Linux.

Why is this? Because font designers like Matthew Carter don’t work for free. One typeface might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop. Even millions. Hinting fonts takes a LOT of technology (Microsoft has at least two teams that I know of working on font and reading technologies).

It gets even worse if you’re Chinese or Russian or Japanese (I hear there’s a few people living in those countries). Why? Their font families take longer to develop and are harder to do. When I visited Bill Hill (his team developed ClearType and commissioned most of the fonts you see in Microsoft’s default pack on Windows) he was raving about his team’s work.

Why is this important? Name the #1 thing you look at most on your computer screen. For me it’s the characters on the screen. If one OS has better looking characters than another (Windows Vista has a whole set of new fonts coming) then that OS will win with most users who aren’t geeks.

This is the #1 reason why Linux hasn’t seen any significant adoption on the desktop/laptop yet.

Fix that problem and you’ll see a serious third competitor for everyday consumers.

But the problem is that Matthew Carter (and other typographers like him) don’t do their work for free. That means Apple and Microsoft will win this game.

The best fonts win.

Oh, and Microsoft, you better hold onto Bill Hill. If he goes to Google then I’ll know Google is building an OS.

Bill told me that the guy who decided to invest in fonts on Windows was another Bill. You might have heard of him. I think that decision will turn out to be the smartest “keep Windows important” move Gates ever made.