Wednesday, April 29, 2009

At "LA Games" Conference

My company is not in the gaming industry, but we have some technology that could be utilized in the market. So one of my VPs asked me to stop by the LA Games Conference to get a feel and understanding of the segment.

This is the middle of the second day, but some major themes are already emerging:
  • The iPhone and App Store has created an inflection point in how games are created and distributed. It has turned the economics and distribution of games on its head, and people are wondering what it means for phone manufacturers, carriers, creators and investors. In addition, it points to how cellphones and handheld games are merging/converging.

  • My favorite term from the show: Linger Time. Your mobile device will be the way you entertain yourself during Linger Time, whether it is gaming, browsing or social networking.

  • The line is blurring between Massively Multiplayer On-line Games (MMOG) and Social Networking sites (after all, when you go onto Facebook and poke around for a while you are basically playing a "game"). There will be a big effort in the future to combine these two now separate segments together.

  • A lot of time is being spent on "monitization" of gaming. Most people thing that while advertising will continue to be around, "virtual goods" via micropayments are the way of the future (Facebook sells through millions of virtual goods and of course it is a way of life on MMOGs)

  • An interesting panel on music and gaming discussed that up to 30% of music industry revenues is now coming from games, Guitar Hero being the obvious big one. (this percentage was disputed, but it is agreed it is large). Catalog companies are pushing older songs into games as way to keep revenues going, and there are several examples of "mainstream" musicians getting their starts in gaming.

There is a lot more, which I will post up here if I get some time. Interesting show.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Intel's Ten Tech Predictions of the Next Decade? Meh.

Intel's predictions are fairly safe assumptions assuming a steady ramp of current technology or things just now coming out of the lab (and I doubt number 5):
  1. New classes of portable devices with ten times more battery life
  2. Low-cost silicon photonics for faster, more reliable data transmission
  3. New heights of realism in visual computing
  4. Realistic computer generated images
  5. Malware will become a thing of the past
  6. Personal internet devices will be truly personal
  7. Interactive computing devices make 'composable computing' a reality
  8. Next-generation TV will not be about pixels
  9. Seamlessly connected 3-D worlds
  10. A spectrum revolution is looming
To be fair, if this list is for actual consumer products (and not lab breakthroughs), the time it takes to get something from the lab to development to the production line to the retail channel is 3-4 years, so the stuff that is going to be on the shelves at Best Buy in 2013 is fairly well known.
The missing one is flexible displays. I think a break-through in that will come and be on the shelf the next decade.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Got My Tamiflu Stock

Like we really need the worry of swine flu to send what few shoppers and diners that are left scurrying back into their homes. Hopefully this is being overblown, like most things in the press these days (thousands of people die from the "regular" flu every year).

But just in case I have my Tamiflu stockpile right next to my gold stockpile. Maybe dry goods should be next?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Can I Increase Travel Enough to Avoid Taxes?

I travel about 25% of the time overseas. The question is can I increase it enough to not pay U.S. taxes? Jim sent me the following link about becoming a Perpetual Traveler:
Perpetual travelers are people who live in such a way that they are not considered a legal resident of the countries in which they send time.

By lacking a permanent residence status, they seek to avoid the legal obligations which may accompany residency, such as income and asset taxes...

Sounds like a plan.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scent of a Woman

I was in the grocery store picking up a few items and it hit me. I smelt her. In an instant I was transported back 24 years. I turned around expecting to see the woman (girl?) to whom I promised to conquer the world and lay at her feet.

I turned around and instead found a woman old enough to be my mother. Expectations crushed, I returned to 2009. But, for just an instant, I was there, in 1985.

Smell is one of the most powerful memory enhancers, and for this reason I have made sure that none of the women in my life have used the same perfume. By never disassociating the scent from the woman, I can find myself back in time, if only for an instant. So in grocery stores I have flashbacks of Christine, in an elevator I will catch a scent of Joy (her name and her perfume), while strolling in a mall Kimberley will come to mind, and in the airport I’ll be forced to remember that bitch of a first wife.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New Word of the Day: Shanzai

What's a Shanzai?

A Shanzai is a small, nimble, knock-off cellphone maker out of China. They ignore government regulations, avoid taxes, have no R&D, and no sales promotion. The leverage China’s huge Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS) industry to come up with low-cost cellphones for people who cannot afford Nokia, Samsung, and, of course, Apple.

The most egregious example is the "HiPhone", a blatant knock-off that is selling like mad in China.

These guys get a phone from concept to market in about six weeks and the companies come and go pretty quickly, allowing them to avoid authorities.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Trillion Dollar Deficits as Far as the Eye Can See

Who's going to pay for it? Everyone. Here's a great economic analysis of the current budget, but the best is at the end:

But what is not just worrisome but dangerous are the growing trillion dollar deficits in the latter years of the Obama budget. These deficits are so large for a prosperous nation in peacetime -- three times safe levels -- that they would cause the debt burden to soar toward banana republic levels. That's a recipe for a permanent drag on growth and serious pressure on the Federal Reserve to inflate, not the new era of rising prosperity that Mr. Obama and his advisers foresee

Higher inflation, lower growth. Who does that hit the hardest? The lower classes, or people who voted democrats into office. It's sort of funny how much democrats hate their constituents.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Signs of Improvement in Tech

Based on both my last trip to Asia and what I am hearing on the street in Silicon Valley, there are signs of economic improvement in tech.

The basic view is that everyone turned off manufacturing from Dec-Feb in a panic and bled down inventories. Well, all inventories are now bled dry and manufacturing has to be restarted. So right now the tech supply chain is starting to re-fill, with utilization capacities up and sales noticeably up at the front end of the chain.

CapEx is still down, however, and will be the last to recover. I think what is going to happen is that capacity will attempted to be filled with present infrastructure, and companies will see if the "new equilibrium" of capacity to sales is now in match. It won't be until later when there are definite signs of demand outstripping supply that there will be Cap Ex increases.

So bottom line is that companies that sell components are starting to see a recovery while companies that sell cap-ex are still waiting in the wings.