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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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February 29, 2008 11:44 AM

The extreme eating video game: Wii unfit?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Forget all that stuff you're hearing about healthier video games and get ready for "Major League Eating: The Game."


Continue reading this post ...


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February 28, 2008 5:19 PM

Is Google copying Seattle non-profit's voicemail project?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Google's getting kudos today for a new service offering free voice mail for homeless people in San Francisco, a program highlighting its GrandCentral messaging service.

It's a great idea - just ask Community Voice Mail, a Seattle-based philanthropy that's been providing the same service since 1991 and now reaches 40,000 people in 320 cities and towns across the country.

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February 28, 2008 3:16 PM

Kirkland's Akona sold to Chinese outsourcing giant

Posted by Brier Dudley

Akona will be a beachhead in the U.S. for iSoftStone, a Beijing-based tech outsourcing company that's trying to expand its business here and in Europe.

Continue reading this post ...


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February 28, 2008 11:15 AM

Another source of advice for Seattle Web entrepreneurs

Posted by Brier Dudley

The latest local resource for Web startups is a new blog that industry veteran Matt Hulett launched earlier this month.

Continue reading this post ...


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February 25, 2008 4:10 PM

New Seattle search company aims at lifestyle topics

Posted by Brier Dudley

Pioneer Square startup Dipiti is formally launching its "human-powered" Web search service on Tuesday. It's also announcing that it has hired a chief executive:

Continue reading this post ...


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February 25, 2008 2:57 PM

More details on Qwest's broadband plans

Posted by Brier Dudley

Qwest's hoping to increase its share of consumer broadband service to 45 percent from its current 32 percent, according to a presentation Chief Executive Ed Mueller made to analysts today, part of a series of investor presentations he's making.

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February 22, 2008 11:09 AM

RealNetworks buys another game company, doubles syndication

Posted by Brier Dudley

Rob Glaser is becoming the Larry Ellison of the casual games industry.

Continue reading this post ...


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February 21, 2008 3:18 PM

Look out Prius, these hybrids would sell like crazy in Seattle ...

Posted by Brier Dudley

That would be the Karin Dilettante, a hybrid you can drive (and steal!) in "Grand Theft Auto IV," a video game that's going to be the biggest seller of 2008. Even though the Karin's airbags don't work.

A new promo released today:

Continue reading this post ...


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February 21, 2008 2:56 PM

Maritz joins EMC, to battle Microsoft in the cloud

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft's cloud computing efforts have a formidable and familiar new competitor.

Paul Maritz, the former Microsoft platform boss, is becoming president of EMC's cloud computing initiative, which competes directly with Microsoft.

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February 21, 2008 9:48 AM

Microsoft sharing: Lemonade from lemons?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft executives seemed to channel their current Office ad campaign -- "It's a new day, it's a new Office" -- this morning when they announced a bunch of steps they're taking to appease antitrust regulators, open-source developers and customers tired of friction and uncertainty around patents, sharing and litigation.

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February 20, 2008 9:00 PM

T-Mobile aiming for home phones with new service

Posted by Brier Dudley

It turns out the Wi-Fi home phone service that T-Mobile USA launched last summer was just the beginning.

Today, the Bellevue-based wireless carrier is dramatically stepping up its effort to take over your home phone service with a new Internet calling plan debuting in Seattle and Dallas. Plans are to roll out the service in markets across the country after testing.

Internet phone services are a dime a dozen nowadays, including free services, but T-Mobile believes it can lure customers with its quality of service and pricing -- $10 a month for a home phone line with unlimited local and national voice calls.

Called Talk Forever Home Phone, the service requires broadband Internet service and a $50 router with jacks for standard landline phones. You also need a T-Mobile wireless plan costing at least $39.99 per month.

If you sign up, T-Mobile will switch your home phone number to the new service, provide a dialtone and handle all your calls through its network. As part of the signup, it identifies the home address so it can provide 911 location services in emergencies.

This is different from the Hotspot@Home Wi-Fi phone service T-Mobile rolled out last year. That service involves special wireless handsets that can place calls over Wi-Fi as well as T-Mobile's cell network. Subscribers also get a special modem for their home, through which they can make unlimited calls via Wi-Fi for $10 per month, but it doesn't work with traditional landline phones. The service is still available separately.

T-Mobile is starting to sell landline phones in its stores, beginning with a Vtech Dect model that comes programmed with T-Mobile service numbers.

Company representatives talk about this stuff as a "platform" for the home, so expect to see more landline devices and services. In particular, the company wants to make more of the advanced features of mobile phones available on home phones.

"The bottom line is we think it's yet another innovation from T-Mobile that really transforms how people will be communicating in the home," said David Beigie, senior vice president of marketing.

"Landline phone" is probably not the right term. You can use a standard touchtone phone with the service, and the calls will route over your home's broadband line, but they'll be handed off to T-Mobile's network. Instead of Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, this is "mobile technology over IP," according to Britt Wehrman, director of product development.

I'm curious to see whether the $10 pricing will put pressure on Comcast and other major VoIP providers to lower their monthly fees. Maybe it could even push Qwest to offer more attractive voice and broadband bundles.

Beigie isn't overly worried about the slowdown in consumer spending affecting the rollout because T-Mobile is positioning the service as a bargain alternative to wired phone service.

"Given where the economy is in 2008, we think it's an excellent time for people to look at their total communications spending," he said.

It's intriguing and I'll probably give it a try, but I'm probably going to stick with my barebones landline because I want the reliability of wired phone service that can still work during earthquakes, storms, power outages and other events where I've experienced spotty wireless and broadband service.

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February 19, 2008 5:18 PM

What else should Steve Ballmer buy?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Some fun feedback on Monday's column about Ballmer's options, in case he decides to keep shopping.

"I've always thought that MS should just buy Ford or GM or something ... revolutionize the way they do business ... and then spin them off in 5 years.

I think that they could put a little bit of effort into saving Detroit.

And I think that a blank slate -- with Microsoft technology ... would go a long way to bringing Microsoft tech to the real world.

Or how about Microsoft buys AMD / ATI? That would be a steal!!!"

I hadn't thought of that one, but Ballmer already has some connections with Ford, and he probably knows Alan Mulally ...

How about buying Adobe?

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February 19, 2008 2:32 PM

Xbox on HD-DVD demise: Downloadable's the future, anyway

Posted by Brier Dudley

Apparently Microsoft isn't shedding too many tears over its lost investment in the HD-DVD format, which Toshiba put out of its misery today.

Microsoft's also unlikely to add Blu-ray to its Xbox console, judging from a chat I just had with Aaron Greenberg, group product manager for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live:

Continue reading this post ...


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February 15, 2008 12:00 PM

More details on Amazon S3 outage

Posted by Brier Dudley

Here's a verbatim statement from Drew Herdener, AWS spokesman, on the outage:

"For one of our services, the Amazon Simple Storage Service, one of our three geographic locations was unreachable for approximately two hours and was back to operating at over 99% of normal performance before 7 a.m. pst. We've been operating this service for two years and we're proud of our uptime track record. Any amount of downtime is unacceptable and we won't be satisfied until it's perfect. We've been communicating with our customers all morning via our support forums and will be providing additional information as soon as we have it."

Still no posts from Werner Vogels, Jeff Barr, AWS blogs. They're probably still working under the hood.

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February 15, 2008 10:06 AM

Amazon service outage fixed, but what's the financial hit?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Entrepreneurs building companies on Amazon Web Services are having conniptions this morning after an extended crash that began early this morning.

A spokesman said the problem is fixed and service is coming back up:

Continue reading this post ...


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February 14, 2008 2:44 PM

Is Scoble crying about Microsoft's Space-Time Machine?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Even though he's gone old media, Robert Scoble can still stoke the blogosphere. Today he's doing it by teasing a Microsoft Research project that will be announced on Feb. 27.

Scoble said it's world-changing, and he squidged out a tear during the demo ...

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February 13, 2008 2:24 PM

Speaking of sex, Planned Parentood podcast wins NPower award

Posted by Brier Dudley

The popular sex education podcast produced by Planned Parenthood of Western Washington received the annual innovation award from NPower Seattle, an organization that helps non-profits with technology.

Aimed at 18- to 30-year-olds, the "Speaking of Sex" podcast has more than 1,500 monthly downloads, radio stations are asking to play excerpts and national Planned Parenthood affiliates are following suit. Npower's announcement said it's "leading the way into the dawn of digital media for nonprofits."

Finalists were Reel Grrls' "Media That Matters" program involving teen girls who direct videos about nonprofit causes and WithinReach's ParentHelp123.org Web site that offers families access to health and nutrition support.

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February 13, 2008 9:44 AM

WTIA: State VCs expect nine acquisitions, one IPO in Q1

Posted by Brier Dudley

The newly named Washington Technology Industry Association, formerly known as WSA, released its inaugural venture capital outlook survey today, and found financiers have "cautious optimism" about deal quantity and quality but ongoing concerns about finding talented executives.

Highlights from the study, which was sponsored by Ernst & Young and Perkins Coie:

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February 12, 2008 5:26 PM

TeraCloud buys Estorian and a new name

Posted by Brier Dudley

TeraCloud, a Bellevue storage analytics company, today announced that it bought Bellevue e-mail archive analytics company Estorian and assumed its name.

They had pre-existing connections -- Estorian was started by TeraCloud's founder, Ron Higgins.

The merger highlights Estorian's LookingGlass product, which helps companies using Microsoft Exchange archive and retrieve e-mail. Higgins came up with the product in 2005 while working on a project for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but a spokeswoman said Estorian's three employees joined the combined company.

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February 12, 2008 2:38 PM

A first test of Microsoft+Yahoo efficiencies: Handouts from Washington state

Posted by Brier Dudley

Chris McGann has a nice story today about Gov. Gregoire and other politicians showing just how concerned they are about the economic downturn -- so concerned they're trying to slip in $1 billion tax break that would mostly benefit Microsoft.

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February 11, 2008 3:00 PM

Starbucks' free Wi-Fi: What took so long?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Fixing the Wi-Fi mess at Starbucks had to be one of the things on Howard Schultz's "to-do" list when he jumped back in to right the ship. I wonder if he'll be tempted to go overboard.

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February 11, 2008 12:10 PM

Yahoo deal is Ballmer's baby, which now has colic

Posted by Brier Dudley

How long will the squawking over the Yahoo deal continue before it settles down in the arms of papa Steve?

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February 10, 2008 11:00 AM

Windows Mobile scores big win with Sony Ericsson

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft is announcing a lot of things at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, but a clear highlight is today's news that Sony Ericsson has chosen Windows Mobile for a line of smartphones that it's debuting at the conference.

Sony's showing the first model -- a touchscreen with a slideout keyboard and 3 megapixel camera -- that will go on sale in the holiday season.

Of the top five phone manufacturers -- Samsung, Motorola, LG, Nokia and Sony Ericsson -- four are now making Windows Mobile phones and all five are using at least some Microsoft technology, noted Scott Rockfeld, group product manager for the Mobile Communications Business.

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February 9, 2008 10:25 AM

Yahoo opts to negotiate through press, asks for $40+

Posted by Brier Dudley

That's how I'm reading the WSJ story today citing an anonymous person close to Yahoo, saying the board wants at least $40 per share.

The headline says it all -- Yahoo is rejecting Microsoft's bid. In other words, Yahoo didn't reject the deal, it's negotiating for more.

Using the same sort of negotiating tactics you'd use if you were selling a sofa at a garage sale, this anonymous negotiator says in the Journal that Microsoft's getting a "steal" and the offer "massively undervalues" Yahoo.

From the story:

"The company is unlikely to consider any offer below $40 per share, the person said."

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February 8, 2008 1:42 PM

Rob Glaser's live videoblog at Obama rally

Posted by Brier Dudley

This is kind of fun. While reading the New York-based Silicon Alley tech blog, I learned that RealNetworks Chairman Rob Glaser is broadcasting from the rally that's happening a mile or so from where I'm sitting.

Here's a link to his Obama broadcast on Yahoo and an embedded version:

Did any CEOs videotape the Clinton rally earlier this morning? If not here's our video of that one.

Maybe we can get Steve Ballmer to record the McCain shindig at the Westin tonight.

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February 8, 2008 9:59 AM

Farecast adds international flights, overseas markets next

Posted by Brier Dudley

Farecast dramatically increased its offering today, a move that may better position the company to get in on the merger activity happening recently in the online travel space ...

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February 7, 2008 8:59 PM

Catastrophic YouTube demo failure in Microsoft's home court

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft looms large in the Washington Technology Industry Association, the state's high tech trade association.

So large, you almost wonder if it jinxed a YouTube executive's keynote presentation tonight during the WTIA's annual awards dinner.

Suzie Reider, director of advertising for the Google-owned video service, was unable to play a single one of the videos during her presentation.

Her speech began with a jerky start while she waited for the introductory video to roll, but she gracefully ad-libbed with a recruiting pitch before giving up on that video.

Later she tried to highlight a Heinz viral advertising video but it, too, failed to display on the big screens in the Seattle Westin ballroom. She had to describe the video with words instead. Over and over, the videos sprinkled through her speech failed to appear on the screens.

“This is a little comical because this is YouTube and so far I’ve shown no videos,'' she said at one point. "It's also comical because this is now the technology industry association."

Emcee Dave Ross also suffered a glitch when the music stopped halfway through a parody he sang about Microsoft's Steve Ballmer wooing Yahoo's Jerry Yang.

The system worked fine later, however, when local companies up for the awards were featured in short video clips.

I was feeling for the A/V operators. But if they get too much heat for tonight's problems, they should have no trouble finding work in Microsoft's event production crew.

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February 7, 2008 8:42 PM

Tech winners tapped by WSA, er, WTIA

Posted by Brier Dudley

The Washington Technology Indistry Association, the trade group that changed its name today from WSA, announced the winners of its annual industry achievement awards tonight.

Winners lauded over a dinner at the Seattle Westin were:

Breakthrough Technology of the Year: TravellingWave, developer of a mobile input technology that combines predictive text and voice input.

Business Product of the Year: Tableau Software, a creator of analytics and visualization software.

Consumer Product or Service of the Year: Yapta (Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant), a Web service that helps travelers find lower airfares and credits when prices fall after they buy tickets.

Technology Innovator of the Year: Byran Mistele, founder of traffic congestion reporting service Inrix.

Best Use of Technology in the Government, Non-Profit or Education Sector: King County District Court, for a project that added intelligence to a call center and reduced abandoned calls from 44 percent (oh my...) to 7 percent.

Service Provider of the Year: Ramp Group, a company that offers services including interface design and software development to help clients complete projects.

Technology Leaders of Tomorrow: Winning a new award highlighting work by middle schoolers participating in the Technology Access Foundation's preparatory programs was Jennifer Chen, an eighth-grader at Washington Middle School.

Chen received a $1,000 scholarship for her work developing a Web site charting her course schedules and budget and highlighting her interest in gemology. She and finalists Travis Duell and William Yip all received Zunes from Microsoft, a sponsor of the event.

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February 7, 2008 4:50 PM

Intel's Tukwila processor, code-named "Southcenter"

Posted by Brier Dudley

A local reader shared her mirth over this story about Intel's upcoming quad-core processors being code-named "Tukwila."

There's a bit more to the story.


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February 7, 2008 11:35 AM

Meee-ow! Cute kitties claw up Seattle startup list

Posted by Brier Dudley

Marcelo Calbucci just posted this month's edition of his Seattle startup list, with the number five slot taken by newcomer I Can Has Cheezburger? - a Cute Overload knockoff featuring photos of silly cats.

I wonder if Cheezburger will attract buyout interest from salty tycoon Sam Zell, who dropped the f-bomb in a recent argument over the importance of cute puppy coverage by his media empire.

Here's Marcelo's latest top 10:

iLike
Zillow
43 Things (Robot Co-op)
BuddyTV
I Can Has Cheezburger?
Wetpaint
SEOmoz
WidgetBucks
ActiveRain
PayScale

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February 6, 2008 5:04 PM

Seattle gamers getting casual in Amsterdam

Posted by Brier Dudley

I wish I was in Amsterdam covering the Casual Games Association conference this week, but I'll have to make do with the press releases floating back to Seattle and talking to industry honchos who stayed in town.

Among the announcements keyed to the show:

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February 6, 2008 4:25 PM

Taking stock of a few predictions

Posted by Brier Dudley

I should go on vacation more often.

While I was away last week, Microsoft became the hot tech story once again and there was some lively chatter on my blog.

Some readers noticed that I speculated a Microsoft-Yahoo merger would be the subject of Microsoft's New York analyst meeting on Monday. I'm not providing stock tips, but if you bought YHOO stock on that guess, you would have done pretty well.

Others took me to task for a post written after Microsoft's earnings came out on Jan. 24, as its stock passed $35 in after-hours trading. I noted the jump, and asked whether the stock could be headed toward $40.

A few Microsoft bears chuckled about that one, after the Yahoo deal and market malaise pulled the stock back down into the high $20s -- it closed today at $28.52, down 2 percent.

"It's now 20 percent below its October high of $37.50," commenter "John" wrote. "I don't expect to see $40 stock this year, & only give it a 5% chance of hitting it within the next 3 years."

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

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February 5, 2008 3:17 PM

Microsoft's ad research, and a 50-in. vertical Surface PC

Posted by Brier Dudley

It was only a prototype, but the vertical Surface at Microsoft's advertising research "Demo Fest" today was pretty distracting.

Continue reading this post ...


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February 5, 2008 1:51 PM

Numbers game: Google users vs. Microsoft and Yahoo

Posted by Brier Dudley

Here's a game that should be almost as fun as Sudoku -- sort these numbers to figure out which company has the "proprietary monopoly" on consumer Internet services.

Challenge 2: Can you add them up to $44.6 billion?

Challenge 3: Can you arrange them in a way that gives Google a good antitrust argument? Bonus points if you factor in the value and utility of search vs. Web mail.

The stats are from a media advisory that comScore sent to media outlets today. It also offered a summary:

-- Google Web sites had nearly 588 million visitors globally in December, more than either Microsoft or Yahoo, but the combined Microsoft-Yahoo had 665 million visitors.

-- Google's search market share is 58.4 percent in the U.S. and 62.4 percent globally, vs. the combined Microsoft-Yahoo share of 32.7 percent in the U.S. and 15.7 percent globally.

-- Yahoo and Microsoft are the clear leaders in e-mail and instant messaging; combined they'd reach nearly 77 percent of the IM audience worldwide.

The stats:

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.