Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gaming and Microsoft

Microsoft at last stopped further rumors by announcing XBOX Elite today.This came days after Sony PS3 European launch.Microsoft is NO.2 player in Game console market and controls around 20% share with Sony and Nintendo controls 70%,10% respectively.Microsoft entered in Gaming market back in 2001 and steadily made progress though it will not turn profitable till 2008.They already burned more than $3bn and it started paying dividends and today it accounts for 8-10% of Microsoft's revenues.Microsoft entered into this 'coz they thought Game consoles can be threat to Windows PCs 'coz traditionally PC is not known for rich gaming experience and Sony's success further pushed them into this.XBOX was the vision of Robby bach,President of Microsoft's Devices and Entertainment division.

Microsoft's weapon was online gaming and it became huge hit and today it boasts more than 6mn XBOX live users.Off late Sony and Nintendo started online gaming service,but lacks the following of XBOX live.Nintendo's Wii proved a big success for it's innovative virtual controller and it continue to be leader in portable gaming market with 60% market share and sony complements with 40%.Microsoft recently opened XBOX live gaming service to Windows Vista PC users also to attract more people to gaming.Microsoft last Nov started introducing Movies and HD content download service for XBOX users and this move mainly aimed at countering Apple TV threat which made debut in the market recenlty.Microsoft also pursuing its IPTV dream in XBOX 360.

Today,XBOX360 is the best selling Game console in US and Europe but it lacks appeal in Japanese market.Sony,Nintendo both Japanese companies giving XBOX a run for its money on home turf.It’s also common for video-game console makers to lose money on hardware, and make up for the loss via video game-title sales.According to iSuppli Sony looses more money on hardware than Microsoft,though it boasts Powerful and advanced processor.Microsoft already shipped more than 24mn consoles and boasts more Game titles than any other.According to Jupiter research Sony will loose 20% share in the coming years which will benefit Microsoft.I admire XBOX 'coz Microsoft shown some innovation,it didn't link windows with XBOX and it created new online gaming market.It's good to see Microsoft competing like any other as it took many things for granted in PC S/W market.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Billion Dollar Market on Mobile

Recently there have been rumors about G-Phone(Google Version of Mobile Phone).Well,Google may eventually enter into this doggy-dog and explosive market.Today,Mobile phone market is highly competitive and all Phone manufacturers are engaged in intense battle to capture next billion customers.Apple Inc. already announced their plans to enter in phone market and Microsoft has been there with Windows mobile.Microsoft captured almost 10% Market share in Symbian and Open Source dominated smart phone OS Market(Black berry controls around 9%).

Well,what does all this mean?Simply put it,the PC and internet companies vying each other to make mobile phones as Software intensive devices.Mobile phone world is still waiting for killer application and it can happen only when it becomes S/W intensive.In the existing Ecosystem only handset manufacturer and Service provider netting $bn.In the data services market revenues doesn't seems to be picking up as most of them locked to carriers.There has been good market for Ring tones,Games but the true killer application is still waiting in the wings.

So,what can be that billion dollar application on Mobile??Is it Search??Is it GPS targeted ads??Music??VoIP on Mobile??Well,it can be any but Search on mobile seems to be priority to many.’Coz it can be ultimate revenue generator and at the same time companies like Yahoo,Microsoft want to win at least on Mobile Search turf.But problem is easy interface and off late interface wars started as Apple bringing touch screen to iPhone and Microsoft recently acquired Tell me networks(Provider of Voice interactive search from Mobile).There are startups like V-Enable,Promptu,Medio,Jumptap,Midomi,Nuance,Nayiomedia etc. in this space.According to one projection voice search market size can be $11bn by 2008.Well,that’s really big money but the question is who'll make it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Google economy crumbling????

Well,not yet.But recently bought You tube woes never seems to end.Now Viacom Inc. a media giant which owns brands like Paramount,MTV,Dream works etc. sued Google/You tube for making moolah on copyright violated content.They recently asked You tube to remove 160,000 videos,which were viewed more than 1.5bn times.They came up with strong criticism against You tube's loose business model and demanding $1bn as a compensation for violating copyright act.Ironically Viacom recently strike a deal with Joost a P2P video distributing service by skype founders.In fact turkey recently banned You tube(lasted for 3 days)for displaying a video which criticizes country's founder.Well,what if people continue to upload videos targeting nations,religion sentiments???Google is very much aware of these issues but they took chance in case of You tube which they viewed it as long term investment.

But Viacom's move can attract further law suits which can eventually have negative impact on Google's stock performance which is currently performing exceedingly well.But if this happens their cash reserves will be dried and have to regret for not making the most of those reserves.Well,You tube also strike deals with BBC,NBA to distribute their content and they increased their effort to crack down on copyright violated content.But these days content gets recycled in net and it's almost impossible to stop these videos appear on net.Interesting days ahead and the verdict can set tone for the media industry.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Look,Who's Talking

Thomas Rubin, Microsoft's associate general counsel for copyright says Google's business model is 'troubling'.Well,he complains Google makes moolah on copyright violated material.In fact Google recently lost a case in Belgium for indexing Belgium news papers in their search results without consent.Google also involved in similar case before for indexing books without the consent of authors and publishers.Recently bought You tube added to this woes.But,point is it's not Google only,many web2.0 companies dies and thrives on user generated content.In fact many sites are using Wikipedia content and earning advertising dollars also?I think Mr.Thomas Rubin forgot the fact that Microsoft was also one of the contender to acquire You tube along with Google,Yahoo.They would've happily wrote the cheque had they got the deal with You tube.What about Microsoft's Soapbox(You tube Killer)?What about Microsoft's Welcome to social approach?In fact Microsoft also co-exists in the same industry?

I think it's the time for industry to mature in copyright violated content issues as today many mashups built on user generated content.Today,internet grown beyond control and power and if somebody thinks they can control,it becomes ridiculous and stupidity.Media companies also should realize that 'coz of user generated content only their content becoming popular which otherwise would've faded into darkness.

User generated content is here to stay forever and it's up to media companies to partner You tubes,Joosts.This kind of viral marketing will enhance their brand visibility and greater response from customers rather than reducing the revenue numbers.It's almost impossible to educate customers on these issues.There has been a talk on Profit sharing,Copyright protection technologies.But,i am skeptic about these too as vulnerabilities of internet can push them on back foot.Let's hope there will be a pull stop to these issues in the near future.