I believe the anti-trust angst is valid. The big tech companies do seem to be stifling competition with their sheer size. The Google argument that their competition is just one click away belies the fact that search is a hugely capital intensive effort. It is more expensive to build a search engine than it is to build a Boeing jet plane. That huge cost is a moat around the Google castle. The same is true for the other big tech companies.
But the lack of competition is not true only in tech. Their size makes it obvious but the US economy has a major lack of competition problem in many sectors.
I do think many next big companies are dying too early in the presence of these big tech companies.
But anti-trust is the smaller of my concerns.
Saudi Arabia had oil, but it was undiscovered and it was underground. Western companies swooped in to dig it out. Those companies did not and do not get to take all of the oil money. Data is the new oil. But individual consumers are not getting any pay. There ought to be a 70-30 split. The individual should get 70% and the company that harvests and monetizes the data should keep 30%, which would still be a lot. Especially since the oil wells are about to get huge.
This has to be established as a right. Taking that political step will necessarily bring up legitimate issues of data privacy and security. And in favor of innovation, we could put a floor underneath the arrangement. Small companies would not have to pay. Only after you cross a certain size you pay up.
This would have to be a global understanding. This means the tech companies have an obligation to together offer up the digital equivalent of a Social Security number and online bank accounts to all their users. They can.
Something is amiss. The US Congress does not have jurisdiction over the planet. What we need is a global parliament.
Makes me wonder, though, why is Microsoft missing? Does Congress feel like it already grilled Microsoft back in the days!?
The UBI is infrastructure for the global knowledge economy and is in the best interests of these tech companies. They should bring it about.
The leaders of the four Big Tech companies faced US lawmakers for the first time together on Wednesday in a hearing in which they were accused of harming not only competitors, but also consumers. Here's how it went: https://t.co/pdmassrDlk
It feels like 1999 for Facebook. Microsoft did not split, but all the DC harassing was a hint it was no longer on the cutting edges of innovation. Facebook feels like on a standstill. It has taken quite a beating. There is a backlash.
Facebook is not the next Facebook, and Google is not the next Google, although some of Google's so-called moonshot projects are quite impressive, and in the pipeline.
Today I make free video calls to my parents in Nepal, thanks to Facebook Messenger, although it is true there are others like it. When I showed up for college in Kentucky, and the Internet was the new kid on the block, I had to pay something like two dollars per minute to call my parents. The college phone service was a monopoly. VOIP was unheard of. So when a few years later I came across 20 cents per minute deals, it felt like rocket science to me. Also, at that work study college, you were legitimately paid way below minimum wage. Which meant a week's wages could easily be spent on one conversation. :)
In my home village in Nepal, one of my failed initiatives was to launch a library. It did not fail. We did collect a few books. I donated most of it. But it did not take off as envisioned. Well, in that village today you can get a phone with a data plan. And, boom, there is a library called Google.
The tech giants are subject to public criticism, sure, why not. But let's maintain perspective.
The Big Four -- Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook --- have collected a lot of data on each of us. True. But what would be the best next step? I think data portability. The data around each person is a personal oil well. It will pay for Universal Basic Income.
New York’s subways and buses are in crisis. As it copes with cascading delays, traffic congestion, and declines in ridership, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is seeking salvation from an unlikely source: the tech sector. On Wednesday, the MTA announced the creation of “the nation’s first Transit Tech Lab,” an accelerator designed to vet new high-tech products designed to help improve the nation’s largest public transit system.
The number one solution is Hyperloop. Speed up the construction of the Boston-NYC-DC Hyperloop. One megacity 100 million strong is waiting in the wings. The NYC-DC stretch will be a 30 minute swing, city center to city center. Which means If it takes you 20-30 minutes to get to the city center, you are within reasonable commute distance. All sorts of small residential towns will flourish within that 30 minute strike distance from the DC, Baltimore, Philly, and NYC city centers.
But for NYC that one track will not be enough. NYC needs to go axial with Hyperloop. You know how roads fan out diagonally from the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Something similar needs to happen to NYC with Hyperloop. With Penn Station as the hub, a bunch of 10-15 minute rides need to be carved out. Where I live in right now - Middletown, NY - is a sweet 10 minute Hyperloop distance from Penn Station. What that means is all shorter distances simply don't make economic sense. To that add 15 minutes to get to the train station both ways, and that is a healthy 45 minute commute to and from work. Such Middletowns need to be located in all directions from Penn Station.
You have to rethink real estate. The sector is ripe for disruption. The wooden frame house is the horse carriage. It's time now for the motor car: factory made metal frame homes that bring the costs down 50%.
And then you can hope to tackle the internal congestion. With this radial Hyperloop solution, you will also have solved the housing crisis. Houses are too artificially expensive. Everyone who has a job deserves to be able to buy a house. How do you do that? By bringing the price on the houses down. Manufactured homes have made vast improvements. They offer better designs than conventional houses, are far stronger (try hurricane, fire, earthquake proof ... bring it on, Sandy!) and are on average half the price of similar sized wooden frame houses. And you can set them up by cutting few trees. Heck, you could have tree houses.
You want the rural, rustic lifestyle of trees all around you, but you also want the advantage of having 10 million people congregated on one island. The knowledge economy, the service economy is the future. The soft skills will be in vogue as robots and AI relentlessly eat into the hard skills of hammering nails.
One 100 million strong megacity will also free up large chunks of land across the country. America should plant itself an Amazon forest. The top contributing country to global warming should take the lead on planting some trees.
Once you get the big picture correct and start making moves towards it, you can then come to fixing the trains and buses. Big Data is no substitute for fixing traffic signals, and orchestrating fewer cars on the streets, but Big Data can go a long way. Who says city governments can't invest in tech startups? A few good moves and the city debt is paid for.
Data is the new oil. The city could charge for the data it collects.
WiFi all across the Subway would turn the trains into the place where people go to have meetings. It will also help serve ads. I am for keeping the ticket prices down. The subway cab is where New Yorkers meet each other. 100 maybe thousand times truer than Central Park.
Google's Waymo car service is custom made for NYC. It is already active in Phoenix. Ends up if you don't need drivers cab rides are super cheap. And self driving cars don't need parking space, they automatically do car pooling. One person in a four seater car is the traffic congestion problem that is for lack of intelligence. Artifical Intelligence, that is.
It makes sense for the giant tech companies to pay something like a 3% tax to local jurisdictions globally, why only Europe? It goes beyond purchases. If data is the new oil, the people sitting on the oil wells, those billions of people, ought to have a say.
Over the long run, Google and Facebook are not really in the business of selling ads, and Amazon is not in the business of selling merchandise. No, these technology companies are powered by your eyeballs (and data). Their currency is users. Google, for example, gives away email and search for free to draw users to its products; it needs to innovate quickly, producing more and better products to ensure you stay with the company.
It only makes sense. When a foreign company goes and drills for oil in Saudi Arabia, it pays the country. When Google drills you for data, should Google not pay? Data is the new oil. Tech companies are about to build super rich profiles on individuals. That is fine as long as privacy is respected. And they pay. Google's money might show up in your Gmail account. You should be able to conduct local commerce wherever you are.
This is not really that different from AdSense/AdWords. Google pays you when you display Google ads on your blog.
Just like with ISPs, governments can make companies owning the big pipes allow many small companies to become the last mile provider, similarly, many of these big tech companies are busy building many big pipes of all sorts. At some point it might make market sense to allow for competition in the final mile.
Also true for finance. If the big banks can just make sure your bank deposits are safe, do they also have to be the people providing the basic services? Can not small startups who don't own buildings simply plug in and start offering services?
Google owns Blogger, but Wordpress beats Google's Blogger in blogging platform innovation. Wordpress does the last mile really well.
Like Mao said (at least for a short period of time, very short), Let a thousand flowers bloom.
This is a policy challenge. It is for governments to make sure free competition is kept to the max. Sometimes that requires liberating the last mile to small players who might be more nimble, with their ears close to the ground.
I read somewhere Google is giving 25% ownership to the Sri Lankan government for taking its Project Loon insanity to the ground in that country for use of the airwaves. That sounded close to perfect to me, and might be even more meaningful to many of the African countries. Oil holes in the sky.
it will be located in midtown Manhattan ..... on 34th Street, right between the flagship Macy's store and the Empire State Building. ..... Amazon will accept returns at the location, and will use it as a mini-warehouse particularly tuned for same-day delivery of products in New York. You'll also be able to pick up online orders at the store, meaning you'll be able to buy online and get items even faster. Amazon may also use the store to show off its Kindle and Fire products, which seems like a spectacularly obvious thing to do but is evidently still only being considered. .... the company launched a tool for identifying products, a card-reader for buying them, and much more that suggests it could quickly build a full-fledged physical retail space. It's been rumored for years that Amazon would do this, and even now Amazon tells the Journal that this is just an experiment.
RadioShack's long slide coincides the steep ascendance of Amazon as America's great brick-and-mortar destroyer. In 2003, Amazon and RadioShack each had about $5 billion in sales, as WSJ business editor Dennis Berman pointed out. Last year, Amazon had $75 billion to RadioShack's $3.5 billion. ....... At the end of 2013, RadioShack had 5,000 brick-and-mortar stores with 27,500 employees and $3.5 billion in sales, which is $127,000 in sales per employee. Its website is the 1,066th most popular in the world. At the end of 2013, Amazon had zero brick-and-mortar stores with 117,300 employees (full- and part-time) and $75 billion in sales, which is $640,000 in sales per employee. Its website is the 5th most popular in the world. ..... The company's biggest sales category is the wireless market, and that's some of the worst news for RadioShack. “The mobile phones category was very weak, and mall traffic is very weak,” analyst David Schick said. “The majority of folks have their mobile phones. We are past adoption.” ...... the confluence of e-retail and increasingly efficient global sourcing and stocking (i.e.: the Amazon & Wal-Mart Effect) would eventually gut retail employment ...... With $600,000 in sales per employee, Amazon is 3X-4X more efficient than the stores it's eating.
Does Amazon.com have no limits? It does. It has severe limits. (1) It is not even attempting to do High Touch. Health and education are all about High Touch, it seems. That same principle can be applied to traditional retail. (2) You can piggyback on Amazon infrastructure and do retail. You can use their warehouses.
Stores like RadioShack do have the option to rise from the ashes. But I doubt they will. The rethink that is required, I don't think they will go for it. RadioShack is like the New York Times. It has taken a Huffington Post to "get" digital. News is not going away. Neither is retail. If anything it is getting bigger than ever. RadioShack has to move from being a poorly stocked itty bitty warehouse to being an experience.
The incentive for any business hosting an Amazon locker isn’t the monthly stipend the online retailer pays—”not even worth it,” says the manager of a Manhattan copy shop—but the lure of higher store traffic given the online retailer’s enormous sales volume and the gazillions of brown boxes sent across the nation each day...... many people who can’t reliably get their online purchases at work or at home ..... Coffee shops, parking garages, supermarkets, pharmacies, and copy-printing stores don’t have Amazon as a rival, whereas a retailer such as Staples will quickly realize that Amazon sells virtually everything it does—and possibly cheaper. ...... one reason 7-Eleven, home of the microwave burrito and gargantuan Slurpee—neither sold fresh by Amazon—seems to like its lockers just fine. (You can purchase a $24.99, 7-Eleven-branded Slurpee Maker machine on the site, however.) .... Bonhomme says his copy shop’s traffic has gradually picked up over the six months that the business has had a locker.
Walt Disney’s (DIS) $1 billion experiment in crowd control, data collection, and wearable technology that could change the way people play—and spend—at the Most Magical Place on Earth. ..... If the system works, it could be copied not only by other theme parks but also by museums, zoos, airports, and malls. ...... MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things. ..... Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. ...... “a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience”—allowing Disney employees to address a child by name, for example, or wish someone a happy birthday. “The implications for big data and for personalization are extraordinary,” says Quinby. “It could radically change interaction between customers and the company.”
a new technology called iBeacon that can pinpoint your location to within a few feet. ...... Prior to iBeacon, iPhones and other Apple mobile devices relied on GPS and Wi-Fi tower triangulation to track their location. Those are great technologies and remain part of iOS, but they’re only precise within 30 feet or so. That’s fine if you’re walking into an airport; iOS Passbook users already see their boarding pass pop up when they arrive at their terminal. GPS and Wi-Fi are less useful in smaller spaces such as stores. IBeacon can nail down device location more precisely because it uses Bluetooth Low Energy, a new version of the ubiquitous wireless standard. ...... Bluetooth LE can run constantly, announcing your phone’s presence to nearby devices with the short-distance accuracy of a conventional Bluetooth at little cost to battery life. ........ IBeacon’s range is about 84,000 square feet, Gottipati says. A typical Macy’s store of 175,000 square feet would need two or three iBeacon transmitters. Third-party manufacturers such as Estimote sell a three-pack for $99 ...... That’s another advantage iBeacon has over NFC: It’s not just a payment system. “There are opportunities for marketing and selling that don’t play in the NFC world”
For a company whose showrooms are all online, Amazon.com (AMZN) spends a staggering amount on bricks and mortar. The e-commerce giant has invested roughly $13.9 billion since 2010 to build 50 new warehouses, more than it had cumulatively spent on storage facilities since its 1994 founding, bringing the total to 89 at the end of 2012. ..... Software that can sort items by delivery date and optimize storage space has helped Amazon roughly double the number of items it can ship per facility, says Clark. The warehouses are operational within 10 months, down from two years before the building spree started. ..... as the company adds 5,000 full-time jobs in 17 U.S. warehouses to its 20,000 existing employees, along with 2,000 customer service workers ...... Upstarts such as online grocery deliverer Instacart are moving in the opposite direction. “We don’t have to build warehouses, lease a fleet of trucks, or manage perishable inventory,” says Instacart Chief Executive Officer Apoorva Mehta, a former Amazon employee. Unlike AmazonFresh, which ships groceries in Seattle and Los Angeles, Mehta’s San Francisco-based startup guarantees delivery in less than two hours, using contract shoppers who drive their own cars to customers. ..... Since the start of 2010 the company’s stock has more than doubled.
Wal-Mart is testing same-day and next-day delivery of online grocery and general merchandise orders in the San Francisco Bay Area and operates a grocery delivery business in Britain..... FreshDirect delivers food to homes and offices in some parts of New York City and its trying to expand its service into the Bronx. .... If online orders also include higher-margin general merchandise such as digital cameras ..... "Grocery is a frequency business. If Amazon can deliver to consumers' homes two or three times a week, they can up-sell other items" ..... Amazon offers same-day delivery in several cities including New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, and since last year the company has been building new distribution warehouses on the outskirts of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.
Amazon has had an ongoing experiment for the past half decade called AmazonFresh, which offers grocery service and delivery of fresh produce to customers in its home base of Seattle. That program is on the verge of a significant expansion .... grocery has proven relatively impervious to attempts to turn it into an online business thus far, mostly because of immense costs of keeping inventory on hand, factors like spoilage that don’t affect other goods, and delivery complications (refrigerated trucks, for instance).
But no telling how adding intelligence does not make it a better experience.
While doing so Amazon said they would give me a free 30 day trial on Amazon Prime, if I accepted, the product would get free two day shipping. I opted in for the two day free shipping.
Then I have been browsing around their movie catalog. It is quite amazing. I think I am going to stay with Amazon Prime after the month long free trial is over. It is $79 per year. I could easily watch 50 movies in one year. And I guess you get to borrow one book a month for free. I am not a frequent Amazon shopper. But free shipping is enticing. I am now more likely to search on Amazon before elsewhere for some future purchases. I am locked in a little I guess, but I am not unhappy about it.
Here Google and Amazon did not compete. They provided me with a seamless experience. This is sound capitalism. The consumer won.I won.
I help my mom run a cooking blog called The Yummy Life. She writes all the content, and I make sure the site actually works. We've been at it for almost two years, and until recently there wasn't much reason to worry about monetizing it because there was never enough traffic for it to matter. Then one day the Pinterest gods decided that we deserved better and in a frantic storm of pinning, our traffic shot up to about 25,000 visitors per day...... Before the spike we were getting ~4k visitors per day. The peak of the spike brought ~67k. It then fell to about 20-25k and it's stayed there ever since. There hasn't been any downward trend in the past three weeks, and almost all of the traffic is still coming from Pinterest.
#1 - Remove as much crap as possible from the sidebar (Good, Bad)
#2 - Use affiliate links to customize the ads for each post .... create her own ads for each post. Each ad links to a product on Amazon through an affiliate link. .... the Amazon affiliate links are generating almost twice as much revenue per visitor as the AdSense ads (~$5 RPM from Amazon, ~$2.50 RPM from AdSense).
#3 - Have the ads scroll with the page
.... steps #1 and #3 combined to increase our AdSense CTR (click-through-rate) by a factor of 33 (.03% to 1%).
Google AdSense text ads
Amazon pre-made banner ads Amazon aStore .... This month we've had 3,288 orders placed through our on-page ads. We've had exactly zero placed through the aStore.