Monthly Archives: January 2001

StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 01/24/01

From Evernote:

StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 01/24/01

Clipped from:

The News – 01/24/01

Microsoft and Sun Settle Java Suit

The long national nightmare is over. Sun has won, unequivocably and convincingly. In an extraordinary press release, Sun makes some very bold statements about the Java conflict between the two computing giants:

Microsoft realized it needed to offer the Java technology to its developers and customers. But the technology also threatened Microsoft’s monopoly hold on the desktop operating system market because the technology can be used to develop applications and products that are not dependent on the Windows operating system.

Microsoft’s response to this issue was to license the technology from Sun in 1996, promising to deliver only compatible implementations of the technology. But Microsoft broke its promise, and began distributing incompatible implementations so that applications written to those implementations would run only on Windows.

Sun repeatedly asked Microsoft to stop shipping incompatible implementations of the Java technology. Microsoft refused. As a result, Sun terminated the Technology Licensing and Distribution Agreement.

Holy Mackerel! This is pretty harsh, especially considering the two companies continue to do business together. I wonder if this language was approved by Microsoft before publication. The company takes a different tone in its PR:

"Microsoft is very pleased with the successful conclusion of this litigation," said Tom Burt, deputy general counsel for litigation at Microsoft. "This settlement will not impact our customers or current products in any way and will allow us to focus our time and resources on what we do best: developing great software."

The license agreement and the settlement agreement confirm Microsoft’s freedom to independently develop technology that competes with Sun’s technology.

Anyway, Sun gloating aside, this agreement is really good for the Web and its users. Not only does it ensure that developers can develop to one Java standard (eventually, once Microsoft brings its version of Java into compliance, which could take seven years), but it is the first time I can recall that Microsoft’s “embrace/extend/co-opt” approach to competing standards has failed. Perhaps this heralds a new attitude out of Redmond, or maybe just a recognition on Microsoft’s part that they won’t be able to implement their very ambitious .NET initiative without the cooperation of other vendors. Microsoft’s effort to get SOAP accepted as an XML standard may be other evidence of this shift in approach.

Whatever the reason, this landmark agreement, in which Microsoft pays the token (!) amount of $20M to Sun, indicates that the future of the Web will continue to be interesting. And you may recall the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.



Those Crazy Democrats!

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for pranksters, so I have to admire those merry outgoing White House staffers who stole all the ‘W’s from the White House computer keyboards! Reading about this made me laugh out loud (LOL).

What’s even funnier, in a way, is the fact that OfficeMax recognized this prank as a PR opportunity. The office supplies company is donating 100 new keyboards, and 500 ‘W’ keys to stem the crisis. Their press release is priceless:

Michael Feuer, OfficeMax’s chairman and chief executive officer, said, "This bi-partisan move is a reflection of Corporate America’s sense of urgency and desire to ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but instead, what can we do for our country?‘"

The keyboards, manufactured by Logitech, feature a full assortment of the complete alphabet of 26 letters, including the "W." The Company said providing the extra supply of "W" keys is added protection in the event there are any similar reoccurring problems in other agencies of the government."

A bi-partisan move! I love it! Extra ‘W’s in case of copycat crimes! Who says government is boring?

Now I wonder if the Logitech marketing department is getting a kick in the butt by the CEO for allowing OfficeMax to capitalize on this opportunity?


StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 01/22/01

From Evernote:

StratVantage Consulting, LLC — 01/22/01

Clipped from:

The News – 01/22/01

New Domain Names Delayed

Well, ICANN apparently CAN’T. Can’t get the new registrars for gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) up and running as quickly as they promised, that is. ICANN is the relatively new authority that controls the generic TLDs such as .com, .net, and .org. They recently approved seven new gTLDs (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .name, .museum and .pro) but are having problems getting the registrars ready to go. Potential registrars had to apply to ICANN last year for the right to register the new gTLDs. Once accepted, they needed to get the registration systems together before opening for business.

Many people worldwide have been clamoring for new gTLDs because .com has gotten so crowded, and because they hated the monopolist policies of Network Solutions, who was forced to give up the monopoly last year. Somehow these (supposedly) intelligent people think it will be easier if there are more gTLDs. I don’t necessarily agree. I think more gTLDs solve little and add more confusion. As an example, do you think Coke will allow anyone else to register, or, or coke.anything? I think not. So the biggest brand holders will try to dominate the new domain landscape like they’ve dominated the current .com.

And think of the user confusion. Nowadays, if you want to find a company, you tack .com on the end of their name and take a stab at it. Chances are good you’ll find them. But with the new gTLDs you will have to think if they’re a museum or a professional association (lawyers, doctors, accountant) or a co-op. You may have to try .com AND .biz. It could be a nightmare.

The only ray of light is that the new gTLDs are not available to just anyone who wants to register a name. To qualify for .pro, for example, you have to prove you’re a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. But what if you’re an architect? Aren’t you a professional? What about an engineering firm? How about a strategic Internet consultant? I can see a world of hurt coming as various professional groups try to barge their way into .pro.

The other gTLDs are similarly restricted: .aero (air travel), .biz (businesses), .coop (cooperatives), .museum (museums), .name (family names). So will I need to give up and get Will companies be forced to give up .coms to get .pros? It’s hard to say, but stay tuned. It will be interesting.


B2B Means Back 2 Basics

Hold any B2B stock? If you’re like me, you’re a hurtin’ unit. Ariba is trading down from a high of 183 at about 52, Commerce One went from 165 to 22, FreeMarkets dove from 370 to near 19, PurchasePro only lost 80 percent of its value, at 16, down from 87, and former media darling VerticalNet is just above 5, down from a high of 148.

Chris Vroom, an analyst at CS First Boston, said he expects a “wave of recovery” because B2B technology is the next big thing in IT.

Why is this? Because, for the most part, B2B technology works, and it addresses real needs that real companies have. And companies are going to modernize their procurement and supply chain systems, maybe not this year, but certainly soon. All it takes in each industry is for one company to gain a competitive advantage by driving cost out of their supply chain, and the whole industry will tip.

So the technology enablers like Ariba, C1, SAP, Oracle, i2, and Manugistics should prosper. It’s not as clear that exchanges will flourish, however. See my presentation at a recent Delphi Group conference for my take on the subject. Basically, I believe that public exchanges will wither while private exchanges, AKA intelligent supply chains, become the dominant form of B2B e-commerce by the end of the decade.

The other news for exchanges is good, however. Some analysts are seeing reason and realizing their earlier irrational bias against transaction fees was misguided. Where exchanges provide value, expect to see them collect a transaction fee. It probably won’t be based on the value of the transaction, but businesses will pay it like they pay the phone bill.

Any way you look at it, it will be an interesting year.

[Standard disclaimers apply. If you
saw my portfolio, you wouldn’t take stock advice from me!]


A Revolution in Retail

NetPOS is selling an Internet Point of Sale (POS) system that uses the Application Service Provider (ASP) model to provide real-time purchasing information to a central site. They aim to replace cash registers and the headaches retailers have in keeping them running and extracting meaningful information from them. They are also offering various value added ASP applications like employee scheduling and video conferencing.

So the CEO is 23 and I think to myself, what can he know about the challenges of replacing cash registers in retail settings? Then I look a little further and see that Nathaniel Borenstein is Chief Scientist at NetPOS. Holey moley! This guy is really bright. I met him back in 1994 (AKA, The Dark Ages) when I was part of the Dun & Bradstreet Electronic Commerce Special Interest Group. At the time he was with First Virtual, the first serious online payments company. He also authored the MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) standard, which is the reason you can get an email today with graphics imbedded, and he is the author of three books, two patents, and numerous articles. So now I’m interested, and impressed that this major smart guy is involved.

Do these guys have a chance against the NCRs of the world? Can’t really say. It will probably boil down to bandwidth. If they can get decent bandwidth dropped into the stores, they’ve got a chance. If they need to rely on modems, they’re toast.

Nonetheless, some kind of rapid transfer of POS data along the supply chain will be developed. It remains to be seen if NetPOS will be the ones to hit the home run.


StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 01/18/01

From Evernote:

StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 01/18/01

Clipped from:

The News – 01/18/01

You’ve Got . . .Wireless!

As you know if you’ve been following these news alerts, I hate headlines about AOL that begin “You’ve got.” Nonetheless, I perversely thought I’d preempt today’s headline in (take your pick) InfoWorld, PC Week, Upside, or Business 2.0. After reading what follows, you may understand why I considered making the headline, “You’ve got . . . a Problem with Your Web Site!

So, AOL and Nokia inked a deal for AOL to use Nokia’s microbrowser technology, which allows cell phones to display Web pages. Now this makes me a little confused, since I thought Nokia had licensed’s microbrowser. So I go to Nokia’s site to check it out and was informed access was forbidden. Hah? After several reloads of the page, I get their main page, but the problem happened again minutes later. So I finally use their search to look for “microbrowser”, and half the links I try to follow are not found and, too boot, the server can’t even find the error document it wants to display to tell me the page isn’t there. Cripes! I guess AOL should be glad they’re not licensing Nokia’s server technology!

This just underscores the paramount importance of making sure your Web site works. All the time. No excuses.

I finally managed to dig up some interesting stuff, like a nice little piece on mobile architecture , and a closer look at the new 7100 phone . But bupkis on whether Nokia’s microbrowser is based on’s.

A visit to causes me to recall that they’re not any more. (Yeah, that’s a stupid name for a company! No marketing potential there!) They combined with (Yeah, let’s abandon that worthless brand as well!) to become . . . OpenWave. Much better, I’m sure you agree.

Anyway, after much fooling around, I find that, indeed, Nokia licensed’s UP.browser. But that doesn’t mean that’s part of what Nokia is licensing to AOL.

At this point, I’m tired of looking. It’s just too difficult. Like most, these sites are not good at answering a specific question quickly and efficiently. Their search engines do a spotty job at best (try finding anything at, for example). I guess we should just be grateful for easy access to their press releases.

So it’s a great point to reinforce: Your Web site is your face to not only your customers and suppliers, but also to people who would like to write about you. Making it easy for them to do their jobs is just as important as making it easy for your customers to do business with you. I’m interested enough in the Nokia/AOL thing to look at the Web site and write this, but I’m not interested enough to call press relations in Finland. There are lots of people out there with a similar level of interest in your company.


Web Maturing – Users Now Need a Break

According to a recent study, online holiday sales reached $9.8 billion this season, more than double last year’s $4.7 billion figure. However, there’s evidence that Web use is no longer a novelty, but a normal activity, from which one needs to take a break now and then. A Nielsen/NetRatings report shows that individuals spent an average of 14.9 hours surfing the Web in December, compared with an average 17.5 hours in October. In another measure, the average individual held 33 online sessions in October, compared with just 28 sessions in December.

So if your business plan is predicated on ever-increasing consumer Web use, I’d rethink it. Usage may be ready to plateau. At least until decent wireless Web phones get here.


News Flash: Latest Internet Security Threat Doesn’t Involve Microsoft!

It’s no secret that I don’t like Microsoft operating systems. Not only are they unreliable (how many times do you want to reboot today?) and hard to use (ever try to resolve a hardware conflict?) their design principals favor ease of use for developers and not security. They offer a fertile ground for script kiddies, Internet crackers with little technical skill who use MS’s scripting languages for attacks such as the “IloveYou” virus. The list of incidents for Microsoft OSes in the last year is as long as your arm.

So it’s weird to see a major news story on a security threat involving a non-MS OS. Now all the Microsofties out there, don’t get irate. I’m not saying other OSes are perfect. They do have their own security problems, just not to the degree that MS OSes do. Anyway, it seems that there’s a new Internet worm (like a virus, but spreads even more quickly) that attacks Red Hat Linux systems that have not been properly configured.

Known as the Ramen worm, the worm spreads by scanning the Internet for servers based on Red Hat 6.2 or 7.0–identifying the servers by their release dates–and then attempts to gain access using several methods that exploit well-known vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities all have patches or workarounds available, but some users are either lazy or ignorant of the issues.

Anyway, since Red Hat Linux accounts for almost 70 percent of all Linux servers on the Web, this is a big deal. Infected servers display a main page claiming: "RameN Crew — Hackers looooooooooooove noodles."

So Microsofties, you’re not alone! There are stupid system administrators even in the Linux world!


Shameless Plug: Free Wireless White Paper

A white paper I wrote on the emerging wireless market is now available from Geneer, a premier enterprise software consulting company and one of my clients. You can get it free just by surrendering a little contact information at: