Monday, 12 May 2008

Carphone and Best Buy: It Aint About Retail Really

From the day the news broke, the great weight of coverage about Best Buy buying into Carphone Warehouse has been about how Best Buy will attempt an assault on DSG and Comet. That may be the case (especially with weekend rumours about Best Buy hinting it may snap up Currys or Comet), but the actual story here is how the deal makes Carphone Warehouse even more of communications service provider.

In retail it shares the load with a bigger partner, but in broadband services its strategy is one of buying up the big ISP names one by one.

Evidence for this? Today's news about Carphone Warehouse's bid for Tiscali. So how's Dunstone going to spend the remaining £550m of the Best Buy investment of £1.1bn?

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Bay Area still buzzing despite talk of recession.

Having recently returned from the buzzing Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, I was struck by the difference this time around between this possible recession (if indeed it is a recession) compared to the last one back in 2000-01.

The general comment from most exhibitors was ‘what recession’ and the atmosphere was certainly very buoyant and as one exhibitor said: ‘This time around the internet is actually being used by consumers and businesses alike and overall the technology works.’ Indeed, I remember trying to buy items online back then and it was virtually impossible as the technology couldn’t cope nor were companies truly online in their full capacity.

Nor is any kind of downturn likely to change how much we are all going online, in fact aren’t consumers more likely to use the internet in quiet times for shopping, chatting with friends, searching for bargains and reading online?

Unlike in 2001 when I visited the bay area and the business car parks and Starbucks were empty, this time nothing could be further from the truth. In fact plenty of construction work was going on, particularly new office blocks, up and down the bay area. Hardly signs of a long-term downturn.

So I’ve put thoughts of any long-term recession far behind me. Instead, what’s more interesting is some of the exciting companies at Web 2.0 in particular Six Apart, Bungee Labs, Sprout (unusually from Hawaii), and Ortiz. What’s interesting is the total variety of companies exhibiting from the front line consumer guys like Photobucket through to the back room data storage and analysis companies like EMC. In fact, one analyst has commented that this was much more of a business professional show than the previous year when it was dominated by geeks. And the big IT giants were there, obviously recognising that they need to be in this rapidly growing market.

PS – the IT industry might be introducing all the wireless technology it possibly can and although it’s a heck of a lot better than in 01, it still doesn’t totally work 100% of the time either in my hotel room or office blocks and that’s in downtown SF.

Friday, 2 May 2008

The Sound of Keyboards Quietly Hissing

My week is ending with the gently hissing of my colleagues patiently puffing compressed air into their keyboards. Their aim is to dislodge all those pesky toilet seat germs that are scuttling underneath the QWERTYs. The reason is a story that's whipped up a storm of news coverage this week. Which Computer's research revealed that the average keyboard harbours more bacteria than a toilet seat. (Incidentally we did similar research for an old client four years ago. Our results included the discovery of unspeakable body hair in some sampled keyboards)

Ironically this story, which has led to our office cleansing panic and a shortage of keyboard cleaner aerosols in Richmond, appeared alongside another story about the benefits of being exposed to germs. Children who attend daycare nurseries are less likely to develop leukaemia because they build a natural resistance to infection because of germs and diseases they pick up from other children. So germs at your fingertips could actually be a good thing.

So who to believe?