Posts from April 2006

Mobile Browsing

I came across this column by Tobi Elkin in MediaPost (registration required) that says 28% of people who have a wireless handset have browsed the web on it.

The data comes from an Ipsos study and the column includes this quote from Adam Wright at Ipsos:

Advanced wireless networks and new handsets
now offer a good browsing experience, so the phone has become a good
way for people to extend the way they conduct their daily activities,"

That is certainly my experience. A year ago, I was never accessing the web on my phone.  Today, I do it all the time, at least 3-5 times per day if not more.

I think there are three issues that have to get solved for this kind of thing to truly go mainstream.  The first is screen size.  My phone has a screen that is 3.5" wide and 1.75" high.  It’s big enough for me to read web pages, but it’s not big enough to read maps and other heavily graphical applications.

The second issue is network speed.  The 2.5 generation networks like GPRS (which is what I am using on my phone right now) are really not fast enough for the average user.  I put up with it, but I doubt that most people will.  However, 3rd generation is upon is with things like Edge and EVDO, and they are getting into phones quickly.  I actually think the network speed issue will be solved before the other two issues.

The third issue is server side recognition and delivery of a mobile browser version of the web service.  Too few web services do a good job of recognizing a mobile browser and sending down the right format for viewing.  This has to change before mobile browsing goes mainstream.

These issues have been mostly solved in other parts of the world, like Asia and increasingly Europe.  As is always the case with mobile technology, the US is the last to get the good stuff.  But I expect the next 12 months will see major progress on all three of my big issues.  I would bet that 50% of the people who have wireless phones will be browsing the web on them this time next year.

In the meantime, we have another category emerging which is wifi enabled devices like the Sony PSP and Nokia 770  that allow you to walk around the house and/or office and browse the web wirelessly via your wifi connection.  With metropolitan wifi 770
mesh networks emerging over the next couple years, these devices may be a better way to browse the web outside the home or office.

Of course, the big reason that all of this matters is that web delivered services are where the action is in technology these days. When the day comes that we can develop a web delivered service and access it on whatever screen we want, computer, phone, flat panel TV in the family room, then the power of the Internet revolution will finally be realized.

It’s not so far away now.

#VC & Technology

Drug Development - Is There Another Way?

I’d like to start this by saying that I am by no means an expert in health care and do not invest in health care companies. 

This post was inspired by Alex Berensons’s piece on the NY Times today talking about the looming lawsuit crisis in the pharmaceutical industry.

Here are the problems as I see them with the way the pharmaceutical industry is set up today:

1 – Drug prices are sky high making them unafordable for many lower and middle income people.
2 – Medicare is going to cost even more because of the new drug benefit which to date over 30 million people have signed up for.
3 – New innovative drugs are not available because of the lenghty clinical trial process.
4 – There is limited competition in the pharmaceutical market due to long term patent protection
5 – It takes at least $100mm and often many times that amount to develop a new drug and get it to market.
6 – The pharma companies are starting to get hammered with lawsuits resulting from deaths or people becoming seriously ill from approved medications.

What if we set up a second way for drugs to come to market?

What if the person who discovers a new compound "open sources" the discovery?  What if they allow any company with a valid license to make the drug?  What if the government allowed anyone to take the drug who knowingly signed off on the risks involved?  What if the person who took the drug waived all rights to sue the maker of the drug?  What if the person who took the drug was required to complete a questionaire on the outcome and side effects that was made publicly available? What if the maker of the drug was not allowed to market the drug to patients?  What if doctors were required to analyze the public data on outcomes and side effects before prescribing the drug?

I have no idea if any of this makes any sense for the drug development business.  But this is akin to the new way that technology is developed and taken to market.  Why doesn’t this make sense for drugs as well?

#Politics#Random Posts#VC & Technology

Google - Oh My

Google posted the following numbers yesterday:

Quarterly revenues – $2.25bn, up 79% year over year
Quarterly EBITDA – $1bn – up 86% year over year

Now let’s just take a second to comprehend those numbers.

We are witnessing a business that is approaching $10bn in annualized revenues growing at 80% year over year.

And we are looking at a business with operating margins of almost 50%.

A former colleague at Flatiron, Steve Miller, once asked me what do I look for in business models.  I told him "high margin businesses that can grow rapidly".

If that is the definition of beauty, then Google is the prettiest P&L that I have ever seen.

Earlier this week, Comscore put out the March search market share numbers which showed Google gaining share and the others losing share.  There was a lot of debate about the accuracy of these numbers, particularly from the companies that are shown losing share.

I think the Google quarterly numbers might cause that debate to die down.  It’s clear that Google is a juggernaut right now which is getting harder and harder to compete with.

Enter eBay.  It’s being reported on the WSJ website that eBay is in talks with Yahoo! and Microsoft regarding some kind of alliance to ward of competitive pressure from Google.

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am not a Google lover. I would prefer a market with a more level playing field.  In particular, I’d like to see Yahoo! step up its competitive pressure on Google.

But the only thing I can do this morning is shake my head in wonderment at those amazing numbers.

#VC & Technology


My Chevy Vega post brought back a flood of memories and one of the best is the time that our friend PJ put on Sultans of Swing on the Vega car stereo. I said, "wow, who is that?"  And thus began my love of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler’s guitar playing.

There are two Dire Straits records that are must haves.  The debut record, Dire Straits, and the third record Making Movies.  Tunnel of Love on the third record is my favorite Dire Straits song.

But my favorite Dire Straits album is the debut record, Dire Straits.  From the opening notes you know its going to be a great record and it is. Sultans of course is a classic song, but there is not one bad song on the record. I was going to name some of my favorite songs but the list turned into the entire record. It’s been too long since I pulled this one out. It’s going into Heavy Rotation for a while.

You can get the remastered version of this record on Amazon.

#My Music#Sucking In The 70s

Some Neil Young Hatin' On This Blog

I love Neil Young.

I loved him when he was for Reagan, loved him when he was for the war in Iraq, and I love him now that he’s written a protest record that is pissing some people off.

Some of those people are choosing to post their Neil Young hatin’ on my blog, in the comments section of my I Love Neil Young post.  You’ll have to scroll down to the last two comments to see the hate but you’ll pass a lot of Neil Young loving along the way.

It is really sad that people who have gotten so much joy out of Neil’s music for "over 20 years" as one of them says would choose to start hating the man because he had the courage to say and sing what so many of us are thinking.

As Jackson says in his post on the same topic:

certainly they weren’t listening too closely for the past 20 years

I am listening to On The Beach as I write this to erase that hate out of my brain.

#My Music#Politics


Josh and I went to see Spamalot last night.

We loved it.  It’s a great show, very funny, and great songs too.

I was under the impression that you had to be a Monty Python fan to like this show, but I don’t think that is the case at all.

It’s just pure fun musical theater and I’d recommend it for anyone who likes that.

#Random Posts