Google/Sprint team up vs. AT&T/Everything

This is a good one, as it can be a potential game-changer in a business that needs some serious game changing.

Google announced the news, hot on the heels of a Sprint Nexus S 4G rumor, in a blog posting that starts by putting the move in context: “Over time we’ve worked to bring an integrated Google Voice experience to your mobile device by building mobile apps, introducing Google Voice Lite, and most recently number porting. But we felt that ultimately, the most simple solution would be to partner with carriers to seamlessly integrate Google Voice with your mobile phone.”

Then Google revealed the killer news: “Today we’d like to share that we’ve teamed up with Sprint to do just that.”

How can this be? Existing cell phone operators make money by owning (some may say “nickel and dime-ing”) the entire space that their consumers operate in in terms of mobile communications: They own the cell towers, they organize how your phone calls get connected, they charge you for SMSs (which effectively cost them nothing, and return huge profits), they tell you when peak call rates apply, they decide how much you’ll pay and how much mobile data you can access at what speed. AT&T is even getting clever right now with people who jailbreak their iPhone to sidestep an exorbitant “tethering” fee that’s incurred if you want to use your officially un-jailbroken iPhone with its new Wi-Fi hotspot powers.

Google’s Voice system threatens this entire business ecosystem.

via Sprint Embraces Google Voice | Fast Company.

GV is a good step as we move from the POTS (plain old telephone system) into a largely IP based one, and get the cost savings, efficiency, and innovation that come along with it.    Being able to make “phone” calls on your [insert mobile device name here] should be trivial as long as you have decent bandwidth.


Firefox 4 takes off as Microsoft blames and slams their own OS (XP) for their fail

The s0-called “browser” war heated up again, with the release of Firefox 4 and IE 9.   So far Firefox is blowing IE out of the water, and for a very good reason (bolded below)…

Firefox, in contrast, continues to support Windows XP. Mozilla knew coming in that it would have a built-in advantage, based on Microsoft’s choice to support only the newer Windows Vista and 7.

“That’s a decision that they get to make, but it sure did surprise us, because the best metrics that we’ve got say 40 to 50 percent of the web is still on XP. That’s too big for us to just leave them behind,” said Johnathan Nightingale, the Firefox engineering director, in a recent interview.

Why no IE9 on XP? Microsoft’s reasoning is that browsers “should require the modern graphics and security infrastructure that have come along since 2001.” The company says in a statement that “Internet Explorer 9 is intended to be run on a modern operating system in order to build on the latest hardware and operating system innovations.”

via Technolog – Firefox 4 soars, thanks to Microsoft’s Luddite customers.

Got that?  XP is not a modern operating system, with modern graphics or security infrastructure…which is true…when running IE.

Running Firefox or Chrome on XP is not only faster than IE, but much, much safer.    As a long-time MS OS user, there has been no real reason for me to upgrade from a patched and fully functional XP box.

Bad juju on MS for making a silly decision, with even worse logic behind it.

SCOTUS Rules *Against* Corporate Rights (But preserves market shenannigan)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday favored investors seeking to sue companies for failing to reveal adverse information about their products in a 9-0 ruling against a drug company that did not disclose its cold medicine was linked to a loss of smell.

The case involved Matrixx Initiatives and its over-the-counter Zicam Cold Remedy, which had been sold as a nasal spray and gel, and, according to the high court, had accounted for about 70% of Matrixx’s sales.

via Court sides with investors on disclosing drug reactions –

I know, I know, I was pretty flabbergasted too.  So now investors can sue to get information about companies are hiding, corporations do not have a right to “personal privacy”, and drug companies can continue to pay generic manufacturers not to compete against their blockbuster drugs.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court let stand a ruling that drug companies can pay rivals to delay production of generic drugs without violating federal antitrust laws.

The justices refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the dismissal of a legal challenge to a deal between Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s Barr Laboratories. Bayer paid Barr to prevent it from bringing to market a version of the antibiotic drug Cipro.


The Federal Trade Commission has opposed such deals, saying they violate antitrust law and cost consumers an estimated $3.5 billion a year in higher prescription drug prices. It has supported legislation pending in Congress to prohibit such settlements, which it says have increased in recent years.

[full blurb]

So it looks like two steps forward and one step back.   I had always figured that competition from generics couple with the expiration of patent protection and mixing in twenty years would factor heavily in solving the “medicare crisis” (which is largely based on cost, which is increasingly coming from drugs).   Generics usually cost a small fraction of what the name brand drugs do.

Now the SCOTUS has essentially put its blessing on the idea that you can pay people not to compete with you…and that it’s not an anti-trust violation, despite the fact that a patent is itself a government approved monopoly (pretty much by definition).

I was hoping to see this business practice end  (since it seems very reminiscent of organized crime), but now I’d expect it to expand.