Archive | June 2007

Like Father Like Son

Game Playing Helps Bond Family
by: Jerry Liao

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) released a new survey of “gamer moms and dads”, showing that over a third of gamer moms (39 percent) play games by themselves at least once a week, and 37 percent report playing computer and video games with their children at least once a week. Gamer moms also play video games with their spouses; in fact, among couples who both play computer and video games, 59 percent report playing together.

“While gamer moms clearly enjoy playing games with their kids, they’re not just ‘kidding around’ – they also enjoy playing alone and with their spouses,” said Carolyn Rauch, senior vice president of the ESA, the trade association that represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. “In fact, a majority of gamer moms (54 percent) say they will play video games as much or more often once their children move out of the house. These women may be married with children, but there’s no doubt that they’re here to play.”

The survey, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., found that gamer dads also are picking up the controllers, playing alone (47 percent) or with their kids (45 percent) at least once a week. In addition, 52 percent of gamer dads report that they will keep playing computer and video games after their children leave home.

Moms and dads who play games with their significant others mostly play puzzle games (30 percent) and driving games (29 percent), followed by card (23 percent) and sports games (23 percent). The most popular reasons why gamer parents play games with their spouses are: “To spend time together doing something [we] both enjoy” (44 percent); “To engage in healthy competition” (23 percent); and “as an alternate to watching TV” (21 percent). “Computer and video games are clearly an important way for families to spend time together, and an integral part of American families’ entertainment diets,” said Rauch.

While most gamer parents agree that gamer dads are the better players, 27 percent of gamer moms hink they have better game playing skills—an opinion shared by 36 percent of gamer fathers.

Other key survey findings include:

– The average age of a gamer parent is 40-years old. Overall, gamer mothers are slightly younger (39) than gamer fathers (40);

– Ninety-three percent of parents who play computer and video games have children who also play them;

– The average gamer parent plays computer and video games 21 hours a month—18 hours per month for gamer moms and 24 hours per month for gamers dads; and,

– Forty-six percent of all gamer parents have played for 10 years or more (gamer moms at eight years, gamer dads playing for 12 years).

The poll was conducted in January, 2007, for the ESA by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., and surveyed a random national sample of 454 “gamer” parents—parents that play computer and video games, but who do not solely play desktop card games or children’s games, and have children between the ages of 2 and 17.

The study reminds me of the time when I used to play video games with my daughters especially with my second born. We love to play the game Dead or Alive (xBox). We can play the game till the wee hours of the morning. The happy days ended when I won the Microsoft Dead or Alive Tournament. I went home so happy and shared my accomplishment with my family. My second born then challenged me to play the game. Coming from a victory, I took the challenge and played with my second born. Guess what, I lost bigtime. The score was something like 30 to 5. That was the last time I played the game.

Yes, you can call me a sore loser. And this is the reason why am relating this story to you – to all dads and moms out there, bear in mind that the reason why you’re playing with your kids is to have fun, enjoy and strengthen your relationship with them. Do not compete. If you want to compete, compete lightly , and if you lose, take it lightly too. Be a good sport.

The ESA is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. ESA members collectively account for more than 90 percent of the $7.4 billion in entertainment software sales in the U.S. in 2006, and billions more in export sales of entertainment software.


Not Just Technology

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative
by: Jerry Liao

When I.T. companies compete, they compete hard. But when they work on a certain initiative, you can expect the same intensity from them.

Google, Intel, Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, PG and E, and other entities, have devised a Climate Savers Computing Initiative, with a goal to save .5 billion in energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year. The goal of the new broad-based environmental effort is to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting aggressive new targets for energy-efficient computers and components, and promoting the adoption of energy-efficient computers and power management tools worldwide.

Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Operations and Google Fellow remarked, ”Today, the average desktop PC wastes nearly half of its power, and the average server wastes one-third of its power. The Climate Savers Computing Initiative is setting a new 90 percent efficiency target for power supplies which, if achieved, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year — and save more than .5 billion in energy costs. We are asking businesses and individuals throughout the world to join with us to institute better power management of their computing equipment and purchase energy-efficient computers.”

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative licensed its name from the WWF Climate Savers program, which involves several leading companies working to reduce their carbon footprint. Initial companies who intend to participate in the initiative represent both the demand and supply side of the computer industry, including computer manufacturers and chip makers, as well as environmental groups, energy companies, retailers, government agencies and more. The group will formalize its membership in the coming weeks.

Pat Gelsinger, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group added, ”By 2010, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative will cut greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equal to removing more than 11 million cars from the road or shutting down 20 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants — a significant step in reducing the emissions affecting our planet. Computers have helped us make huge strides toward a more efficient world today, with reduced travel, more productivity, online transactions and more. But with today’s latest energy-efficient technologies, we can do even more. The commitment of the member companies that are here with us today is a firm statement to the collective resolve to make an enormous impact.”

Computer and computer component manufacturers who support the initiative are committed to building energy-efficient products that meet or surpass the EPA’s Energy Star guidelines. Businesses must also commit to requiring high efficiency systems for the majority of their corporate desktop PCs and volume server purchases, and to deploy and use power management tools on desktop PCs.

Individual consumers can also support the Climate Savers Computing Initiative by signing up at, where they will be able to pledge to purchase an initiative-certified system. The Web site will also help consumers learn how to take advantage of their existing computer’s power-saving capabilities such as sleep and hibernate modes, which can reduce the amount of energy consumed by up to 60 percent.

John Donoghue, Senior Vice President for the World Wildlife Fund offered, ”This is the first time our Climate Savers program has been applied to an entire sector, engaging manufacturers, retailers and consumers. We are pleased to join these industry leaders to provide solutions to address climate change.”

The initiative’s energy efficiency benchmarks will initially follow the EPA’s Energy Star guidelines, but with increasing requirements during the next several years. For example, 2007 Energy Star specifications require that PC power supplies meet at least 80 percent minimum efficiency. The initiative will require a minimum of 90 percent by 2010. In addition, the initiative sets a higher efficiency target in the power supply for volume servers (1U and 2U single-socket and dual-socket systems); an increase from 85 percent to 92 percent efficiency by 2010.

Member entities include: Intel Corporation, Google Inc., Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Canonical Ltd., Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, Coldwatt, Inc., Dell Inc., Delta Electronics, Inc., eBay, Electronic Data Systems Corporation, EMC Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, HP, Hipro Technology Inc., Hitachi, Ltd., IBM Corporation, LANDesk Software, Lenovo, Linux Foundation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Microsoft Corporation, Natural Resources Defense Council, NEC Corporation, One Laptop Per Child, PG and E Corporation, Power-One, Inc., Quanta Computer Inc., Rackable Systems, Red Hat, Inc., Starbucks Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Inc., Supermicro Computer Inc., Ubuntu, Unisys, United States Environmental Protection Agency, University of Michigan, Verdiem Corporation, World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, and Yahoo! Inc.

Totally Connected

Globe Telecom’s Blackberry Service
by: Jerry Liao

I am very used to accessing my email and surfing the web using my notebook computer. If I am expecting an email within the day and I need to be out, I will carry my notebook with me. No matter what you say, carrying a notebook with you is still a cumbersome thing. Not to mention the extra baggage, you need to check from time to time if the notebook is still with you. You know how it is here.

Until my Manila Bulletin editor (Art Samaniego) provided me with a Blackberry device powered by Globe
Telecom. It’s the blue colored device, colored screen but a bit bulky. My editor said the device will allow
me to stay connected anytime and I can email my story as it happens. At first, I was a bit hesistant, how can a small device such as the Blackberry outperform my notebook computer?

But the Blackberry was never designed to replace your notebook computers, it basically provide users the ability to send and retrieve emails while on the go. And as an additional functionality – it allows the user to browse the web, perhaps for some important information like news or stocks. I tried my Blackberry then and it came very handy especially during the hospitalization of my wife Eva. I had to be with her most of the time and I was in touch with a doctor friend of mine based in the States. We will communicate with each other about my wife’s condition then via email so you can expect the hundreds of emails we send back and forth.

I was using my Blackberry for like a year or so when all of a sudden it conked out for no apparent reason. I was charging the battery then and left it overnight. The next day, it just won’t turn on. I told my editor about it and he said that it may be a battery problem. I never had the chance to have it fix and I had to resort back to my notebook to access my email. Calling the attention of Globe Telecom.

Until a couple of weeks back, my friends at Globe Telecom asked me if I could try their new Blackberry Pearl. I was again a bit hesistant because I was so used to using my notebook computer to access my emails. You know what I mean, it’s not that easy to just change a habit right? Anyway, I said yes to my friends at Globe Telecom and to cut the story short, the Blackberry Pearl was with me a couple of day after the request.

The first thing that got my attention was the appearance. The Blackberry Pearl was so so different from the original Blackberry I had. The device comes with a QWERTY keyboard for quick and easy typing and
dialing, features voice activated dialing, supports polyphonic, mp3 and MIDI ring tones, and has a large,
ultra-bright, high resolution (240×260) display. It measures just 4.2” x 1.97” x .57” and weighs only 3.1
ounces and is a quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE-enabled mobile handset.

The display type is 65K colors, display size is 240 x 260 pixels. The device also comes with a 1.3
megapixel camera with built-in flash and 5x digital zoom, a media player and stereo headset jack so users can enjoy their favorite music and videos on the go. It has a 64MB flash memory built-in and supports expandable memory with a microSD card slot to allow storage of music, pictures and videos.

It includes a responsive trackball that makes vertical and lateral scrolling fast and easy. Dedicated ‘menu’ and ‘escape’ keys on either side of the trackball, along with context sensitive menus, make navigation instinctive, smooth, and true to the famous user experience of the BlackBerry solution.

The next thing I wanted to see is of course the device’s performance – especially the Globe Telecom
access. The sending and retrieving of emails is as fast, if not faster than my access with my old
Blackberry. Web browsing is not so bad at all. It will take me around a minute or so to access my Yahoo email account and Gmail email account which I think is fast enough. Actually what’s taking a longer time is for me to type my username and password. It took me a day or two to get used to the new keyboard. Looking for the characters just made me feel old for awhile. But after getting use to it, typing becomes a breeze. I can operate the Blackberry Pearl with just one hand.

The Blackberry Pearl and the Globe Telecom service is not just for sending and retrieving emails. Globe
Telecom also allows users to open attachments and browse the web even while on the go through BlackBerry Internet Service. Users can also open email attachments with the following formats: JPEG, BMP, TIFF, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Corel WordPerfect and Adobe PDF.

For corporate customers, BlackBerry Enterprise Server software tightly integrates with Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and Novell GroupWise and works with existing enterprise systems to enable secure, push-based wireless access to email and other corporate data.

So in effect, the device and the service provides wireless access to communications and information
including email, corporate data, instant messaging, phone, internet and intranet access, SMS and MMS, and organizer.

The Globe Blackberry Service is a real business productivity tool. Perfect for the mobile workforce
who needs to stay connected and be in touch with their clients. It can provide companies a competitive
advantage and a strong return on investment through improved customer service and increased productivity because of its unprecedented level of responsiveness.


No Way To Go But Up

More Than Two Billion PCs Worldwide By 2015
by: Jerry Liao

By the end of 2008, there will be more than one billion personal computers in use worldwide, according to a new report from Forrester Research, Inc. With PC use growing rapidly in emerging markets and high profile programs in place to reach previously untapped markets, Forrester predicts that there will be more than two billion PCs in use by 2015, representing more than 12 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2003 and 2015.

While it took 27 years to reach one billion PCs, Forrester says it will take only five years to reach the next billion, due to advancing technology, lower prices, and global demand on the part of a technology-aware population. According to Forrester, the emerging Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) market will account for more than 775 million new PCs by 2015.

PC use is growing rapidly worldwide, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of more than 12%, Forrester Research said in its report. That trend is expected to continue through 2015. By the end of 2008, more than 1 billion personal computers are expected to be in use globally.

“There is nothing more important to the long-term health of the technology industry — and personal technology in particular — than the ability to deliver relevant, accessible and affordable technology to the billions of people worldwide who have not been exposed to it,” said Forrester Research Vice President and Research Director Simon Yates. “The industry can probably survive selling incrementally better hardware and software to the people who already have technology in their lives, but the vast majority of growth in the PC and related industries will come from emerging markets.”

There is unpredictability ahead, however, according to the Forrester report. Vendors are used to the predictability of buyers in mature markets, but high volume launches into emerging markets are risky. Vendors won’t have the luxury of introducing products on a small scale to test the market before going into full production because the economics will force suppliers to focus on bringing volume to market more quickly at much greater risk.

Selling PCs outside of mature markets, however, is sure to carry its own risks. For example, vendors accustomed to average life cycles of four or five years for PCs in mature markets will find that people and business in other parts of the world will keep older machines longer, Forrester said. As a result, manufacturers will have to scale production differently.

“There are risks,” said Yates. “It is safe to assume that life cycles will be longer in emerging markets. Vendors, accustomed to mature markets where the average life cycle is between four and and five years, will need to have a deep understanding of how to work in these markets and, with less of a market for replacement PCs, will need to band together to scale production for these emerging regions.”

High-tech companies that have launched programs for promoting PC use in emerging and untapped markets include Microsoft, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices. Other major vendors, however, will have to get involved in order for the PC industry to scale production enough to ship fives the number of systems at a fifth the cost.


The Power of Four

Quad-Core Microprocessors in Half of All Mainstream PCs by Q4 2009
by: Jerry Liao

Presently employed exclusively in high-end PCs, quad-core microprocessor technology over the next two years is expected to spread rapidly to more-affordable computers, appearing in nearly half of all mainstream desktop systems by the end of 2009, according to data from iSuppli Corp.’s new Technology Penetration Database.

New microprocessors, such as Intel Corp.’s Core 2 Quad and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s upcoming quad-core processors, offer a high level of performance by combining four processor cores into a single package or silicon die. However, the high cost and limited availability of quad-core microprocessors has restricted their use to the high end of the PC market. Pricing for a quad-core microprocessor is as much as 170 percent higher than for a dual-core chip, according to iSuppli.

In the first quarter of 2007, only 16 percent of performance desktop PCs were based on quad-core microprocessors. By the fourth quarter of 2007, that number is expected to rise to 33 percent and then to 94 percent by the fourth quarter of 2009.

iSuppli defines performance desktop PCs as those having the latest and greatest technology and components and that are priced at $1,000 or more. The performance segment represents only 6 percent of total PC unit shipments.

Meanwhile, quad-core microprocessor technology has not begun to penetrate the mainstream desktop PC segment. iSuppli estimates that no mainstream desktop PCs will ship with quad-core microprocessors in the first half of 2007. However, quad-core penetration in mainstream desktop PCs will rise to 5 percent in the third quarter of 2007 and then to 7 percent by the fourth quarter. Penetration will continue to increase in the following months, hitting 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, and then reaching nearly half of the market, at 49 percent, in the fourth quarter of 2009. iSuppli defines mainstream desktop PCs as those having the most common specification and functionality available and that are priced between $500 and $1000. Mainstream PCs represented 42 percent of total desktop computer shipments in the first quarter.

The low-end value desktop PCs are not expected to make any use of quad-core microprocessor technology over the next two years, according to iSuppli. Value PCs are defined as systems intended to run rudimentary applications and priced in the $300 to $500 range. These systems represent the largest portion of the PC market, at 52 percent of worldwide unit shipments.

“Quad-core microprocessor technology is coming to the mainstream, and with it is coming capabilities that presently are reserved only for high-end systems,” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst, compute platforms, for iSuppli. “It will allow users to do more tasks simultaneously, but now, the more can be converting videos, burning DVDs, playing complex 3D games, or ripping music—all at once—and still have performance to spare. To put this into context, a quad-core-based PC is very similar to a quad microprocessor system from the pre-multicore era, such as a workstation or server, which would have been very high-end system, priced well in excess of $10,000. ”

While the desktop market is rapidly adopting quad-core technology, the notebook segment is lagging. iSuppli doesn’t expect any penetration of quad-core microprocessors in mainstream notebook PCs until the first quarter of 2009, when only 4 percent of systems will ship with the technology. By the fourth quarter, quad core will be in 11 percent of all mainstream notebook PCs shipped. Mainstream notebook PCs are systems that have the most common specification and functionality available and that are priced in the range of $750 to $2,000.

Data in this release was generated by iSuppli’s new report, called the PC Crystal Ball – Technology Penetration Database. The database features iSuppli’s forecasts for the penetration of specific technologies in PCs, encompassing both desktop and notebook platforms, on a quarterly basis. The database includes penetration forecasts for advanced technologies such as quad-core microprocessors, combined CPU and GPU microprocessors, wireless USB, WiMax, Trusted Platform Modules and HDMI, to list but a few of the 40-plus categories featured.


The Digital PlayGround

Kids using Electronics Devices Earlier
by: Jerry Liao

Kids are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, playing video games and using and downloading content to cell phones, computers and portable digital music players (PDMP) as young as age 2, according to The NPD Group’s new study, Kids & Digital Content, which provides insight into kids’ ages 2 through 14 usage and interaction with consumer electronic (CE) devices and the dynamics behind acquiring digital content for these devices.

While downloading games is the most prevalent activity, watching downloaded movies, television, music videos or online streaming video content has already reached upwards of 25-percent penetration with children ages 2 through 14.

According to the report, kids are spending an average of 44 minutes in one sitting playing games on a video game system, and the same amount of time listening to music on a PDMP.

Cell phones highlight the quick progression in usage of consumer electronics, with only 15-percent of 2-5 year olds using cell phones, but 62 percent using them by ages 11-14.

“Without a doubt, kids are digital content natives, seamlessly navigating between traditional and digital sources of media without missing a step,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “To kids, there is nothing new or novel about digital sources of entertainment. Whether it’s time spent on a cell phone or personal computer, listening to a PDMP or playing video games, today’s kids are more tech savvy than ever before. The real challenge for marketers is to be one step ahead of their competition, providing the content and technology kids crave.”

When it comes to downloading digital content, by the time kids are 7 years old, more than one in 10 are downloading content in some form, with 22 percent downloading at age 10 and 50 percent downloading at age 14. Three-quarters of kids with an Internet connection are using the Internet. Among those users, almost half are online and surfing the Internet without any assistance, while another one-third are surfing the Internet with their parents or someone else.

Kids’ favorite websites span from those targeted to younger kids to those that reach older kids and adults. They include Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network websites as well as MySpace and Yahoo!.

According to the report, the availability of free content does not seem to impede kids’ purchasing behavior, as evidenced by the fact that most kids are paying for each type of content. For example, 70 percent of PDMP users are paying for content; as are 55 percent of computer users, 67 percent of cell phone users and 87 percent of video game system users.

I will tend to agree with the report as more and more kids are seen on Internet cafes playing all sorts of online games. You can see kids with cellphones equipped with digital cameras and/or carrying MP3 players with them. My own kids spends countless hours on the web watching their favorite cartoon movies and anime movies using YouTube. They also download MP3 music from the Internet.

Kids & Digital Content is based on an online survey sent to a nationally-representative sample of U.S. mothers with children ages two to 14 in their households. Qualified respondents are required to be parent/guardian of at least one child in that age range. Surrogate reporting is employed for children ages six to 14. Respondents with more than one child in the study’s age range are asked to answer the survey as it relates to only one child, via random selection. Final survey data are weighted to represent the population of children ages two to 14.


When Two Worlds Collide

Gates Meets Jobs and Jobs Meets Gates
by: Jerry Liao

They thought it would never happen but it did. At the All Things Digital conference (D5) in San Diego, Mr. Mac Steve Jobs and Mr. Microsoft Bill Gates shared the stage for the first time in more than two decades. Technology buffs who attended and witnessed the event said that the meeting was long overdue and they were expecting a head-to-head technology discussion between two of the greatest minds of the industry.

The much anticipated battle didn’t happen, instead the discussion turned out to be more of a love-in between old pals.

Asked what Gates’ contribution to computing had been, Jobs said: “Well, you know, Bill built the first software company in the industry and I think he built the first software company before anybody really in our industry knew what a software company was, except for these guys. And that was huge. That was really huge. And the business model that they ended up pursuing turned out to be the one that worked really well, you know, for the industry. I think the biggest thing was, Bill was really focused on software before almost anybody else had a clue that it was really the software.”

When asked what he thinks is the contribution of Steve and Apple, Gates said: “What Steve’s done is quite phenomenal, and if you look back to 1977, that Apple II computer, the idea that it would be a mass-market machine, you know, the bet that was made there by Apple uniquelythere were other people with products, but the idea that this could be an incredible empowering phenomenon, Apple pursued that dream.”

The question whether in five years time, will the personal computer still going to be the linchpin of all this stuff? Bill said: “Well, you can say that it will be predicted that it won’t be. You know, the network computer took this over about, whatever, five years ago we disappeared. The mainstream is always under attack. The thing that people don’t realize is that you’re going to have rich local functionality, I mean, at least our bet, whereas you get things like speech and vision, as you get more natural form factors, it’s a question of using that local richness together with the richness that’s elsewhere. And as you look at the device, say, that’s connecting to the TV set or connecting in the car, there are lighter-weight hardware Internet connections, but when you come to the full screen rich, you know, edit the document, create things, you know, I think we’re nowhere near where we could be on making that stronger.”

Then Steve said: “So people are figuring out how to do more in a browser, how to get a persistent state of things when you’re disconnected from a browser, how do you actually run apps locally using, you know, apps written in those technologies so they can be pretty transparent, whether you’re connected or not. But it’s happening fairly slowly and there’s still a lot you can do with a rich client environment. At the same time, the hardware is progressing to where you can run a rich client environment on lower and lower cost devices, on lower and lower power devices. And so there’s some pretty cool things you can do with clients.”

“What I’m saying is, I think the marriage of some really great client apps with some really great cloud services is incredibly powerful and right now, can be way more powerful than just having a browser on the client. I’m saying the marriage of these services plus a more sophisticated client is a very powerful marriage.”

Then Bill added: “Yeah. Architecturally, the question is, do you run just in the cloud and all you have downloaded locally is the browser? And that is the same question for the phone as it is for the full-screen device. There will always be different screen sizes because these are, you know, the 5-inch screen does not really compete with the 20-inch screen, does not compete with the big living room screen. Those are things that there will be some type of computing behind all of those things, all connected to the Internet, but the idea that locally you have the responsiveness of immediate interaction without the latency or bandwidth limitations that you get if you try and do it all behind, that’s what leads to the right balance.”

And in the area of entertainment, both gentleman has something to say about it:

Bill: “Well, the big milestone is where the delivery platform is the Internet and so you bring the richness and the interactivity. I think you can get a little bit of a glimpse of the future of TV more from looking at community-type things like Xbox Live, where people are talking to each other, finding friends, you know, watching things together, talking about those things.”

Steve: “I think people want to enjoy their entertainment when they want it and how they want it, on the device that they want it on. So ultimately, that’s going to drive the entertainment companies into all sorts of different business models. And that’s a good thing. I mean, if you’re a content company, that’s a great thing. More people wanting to, you know, enjoy your content more often in more different ways, that’s why you’re in business, but the transitions are hard sometimes.”

The interview went on but the most interesting answer I think was when co-host Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher’s asked Steve about Apple’s late-’90s competition with Microsoft, Steve said: “You know, Apple was in very serious trouble. And what was really clear was that if the game was a zero-sum game where for Apple to win, Microsoft had to lose, then Apple was going to lose. But a lot of people’s heads were still in that place. But the net result of it was, was there were too many people at Apple and in the Apple ecosystem playing the game of, for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. And it was clear that you didn’t have to play that game because Apple wasn’t going to beat Microsoft. Apple didn’t have to beat Microsoft. Apple had to remember who Apple was because they’d forgotten who Apple was.”

The message of Steve here says a lot about how companies should do to beat or at least stay afloat with its competition. Its not about beating your competition, it’s about knowing your own company’s strength.

The bottomline here is Steve needs Bill and Gates needs Jobs. Both Microsoft and Apple are better off with each other strong in the market rather than losing one or the other. The market is big for the iPod and Zune. An even bigger market for the PC and Mac. At the end of the day, both Steve and Bill are enjoying their status in the industry today. So why change the formula?

The transcript of the entire interview can be found at:


A Touch of Magic

Microsoft’s Surface Computing
by: Jerry Liao

Picture a surface that can recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer will soon unveil Microsoft Surface, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft that breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects.

Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.

The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, just like in the real world. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. From digital finger painting to a virtual concierge, Surface brings natural interaction to the digital world in a new and exciting way.

“With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology,” Ballmer said. “We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision.”

Microsoft Surface puts people in control of their experiences with technology, making everyday tasks entertaining, enjoyable and efficient. Imagine ordering a beverage during a meal with just the tap of a finger. Imagine quickly browsing through music and dragging favorite songs onto a personal playlist by moving a finger across the screen. Imagine creating and sending a personal postcard of vacation pictures instantly to friends and family, while still wearing flip-flops.

Surface also features the ability to recognize physical objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes. This means that when a customer simply sets a wine glass on the surface of a table, a restaurant could provide them with information about the wine they’re ordering, pictures of the vineyard it came from and suggested food pairings tailored to that evening’s menu. The experience could become completely immersive, letting users access information on the wine-growing region and even look at recommended hotels and plan a trip without leaving the table.

Surface computing at Microsoft is an outgrowth of a collaborative effort between the Microsoft Hardware and Microsoft Research teams, which were struck by the opportunity to create technology that would bridge the physical and virtual worlds. What started as a high-level concept grew into a prototype and evolved to today’s market-ready product that will transform the way people shop, dine, entertain and live. It’s a major advancement that moves beyond the traditional user interface to a more natural way of interacting with information. Surface computing, which Microsoft has been working on for a number of years, features four key attributes:

– Direct interaction. Users can actually “grab” digital information with their hands, interacting with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard.

– Multi-touch. Surface computing recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger like a typical touch-screen, but up to dozens of items at once.

– Multi-user. The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather around surface computers together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.

– Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses, including the transfer of digital content.

“Consumers now have an entirely new way to get the information they need, turning their everyday tasks into enjoyable and engaging experiences,” said Pete Thompson, general manager of Microsoft Surface Computing. “There are hundreds of thousands of restaurants, hotels and retail locations that are looking to give their customers the unique and memorable experiences that Surface will provide. In turn, companies have a new opportunity for generating additional revenue streams and increasing retail traffic.”

Remember the movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise? There was a scene where Tom was accessing a computer, dragging information here and there using only his hands directly on his computer screen. Surface computing will be like that and more. Of course that doesn’t mean all of us will be like Tom.