Sep 15

Software just ate Volkswagen

When Mark Andreessen explained how software was eating the world, the business disruption he was anticipating isn’t the one Volkswagen faces today. The US pollution test evading functionality engineered into many of Volkswagen’s diesel cars has already claimed the head of its CEO, and others are sure to follow. Other countries are investigating their exposure to this functionality, and executives at competing car manufacturers are probably busy ordering internal reviews.

The scandal was uncovered by the old-fashioned scientific method: test, and when the results seem weird, test again. But the ultimate irony here is that the disruption came from a piece of well-crafted software, intentionally embedded by authorized users but hidden from all but the most careful and knowledgeable investigators.

When the rest of the industry was worried about drive-by car hacking and the disruptive potential of Apple’s future electric cars, Volkswagen shareholders should have worried more about good old internal creative “hacking.”

Feb 10

The other way ebooks prices are changing

Amazon’s troubles with publishers have focused mostly on how the publishers want Amazon to charge more for ebooks. But what about when the $9.99 price is too high?

Take a recent bestseller for instance: The Da Vinci Code. Based on the seeming endless availability of used and new copies, the Kindle price is already adjusted to balance the reader’s wish to get an immediate copy with the abundance of supply.

I foresee Amazon increasingly tweaking prices in this way – in the meantime it’s you can find other $9.99 Kindle versions competing with a cheap used copy, and look for more used book price arbitrage opportunities.

Jan 10

Cultural differences in mobile phone usage

Here’s a review of how cell phones are used in different countries – interesting background for those of us in the wireless industry.

Dec 09

How many pizza joints does 98004 need?

Pizza in 980042010 will be remembered as the year of the “great pizza war” for downtown Bellevue. Already well supplied in pizza delivery/restaurants, newcomers are vying to feed the round red objects to the new condo and office dwellers.

Zeek’s is peparing to displace Nature’s Pantry on 10th, and I just saw another pepperoni palace going up on Bellevue Way.

I anticipate some fine discounts in 2010…  hopefully they will all join the gluten-free bandwagon.