Verizon recently won a $58 million lawsuit against Vonage and it may be able to get a permanent injunction to stop Vonage from offering VoIP services. It is quite likely that the Verizon victory in the patent infringement case is going to intensify the war amongst a number of telecom players. BusinessWeek reports that the CEO of one such company, VoIP, Inc., Anthony Cataldo has already asked his lawyers to start proceedings against companies that he thinks are using his company’s technology.
This may herald a new litigious era in the Internet-based telephony. Ed Pennington, head of the patent practice for Bingham McCutchen, a Washington law firm, reportedly told an audience in San Jose, California, “It is not unusual to spend $10 million either prosecuting or defending a patent case.” On another note, BusinessWeek says that according to the Patent & Trademark Office, there are 2,273 patents in VoIP area. With so many patent to protect and with such high cost pretty soon VoIP may cease to be cheap alternatively, thus eroding its inherent appeal against the established telecom providers like Verizon.
Success breeds confidence. Too much confidence – call it hubris – takes one overboard and from then on for most it is a downhill journey. Has worked for eons for people, companies and countries. But, the cycle keeps on repeating. One reason is that the shift from super-confidence needed for super-success to too much hubris - the culprit of fatal downfall - is very subtle, gradual and in many case unnoticeable for the subject undergoing the change.
Is that the case going to be for Google? On the first Monday of March, in a public appearance, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google said:
A day later on the first Tuesday of March, to a question posed by the audience of an investor conference hosted by Bear Stearns, he said, "I'm sure we're arrogant."
Reminds of another compay – a high-flier of dot-com era – AOL, which too treated its vendors and customers arrogantly and came down crashing. Alec Klein covered it quite well in Stealing Time: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner. So did Nina Munk in Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner.
The king of acquisitions is at it again. Cisco, which has acquired 117 companies since 1993 including 69 since 2000, is on another buying spree. This time it is related to social networking technologies. First, it bought Five Across, Inc., a vendor of social networking marketplace, on February 8, 2007. Now it plans to buy – as reported by New York Times – Tribe.net, a social networking site, which at one time declined the opportunity to create a separate network for Bono’s antipoverty campaign, One.org. Bono eventually went with Yahoo! and Tribe.net remained focused on building a destination site like MySpace and Friendster and almost ran out of money.
These two acquisitions are part of Cisco’s shift towards becoming a consumer-oriented company, as Dan Scheinman, the head of Media Solutions Group at Cisco told New York Times, “Part of our job is to form a relationship with media companies and deliver technologies and services to them, so consumers can consume what they want online.”
Cisco formed its Media and Entertainment solutions group to provide an infrastructure platform for media-content companies. In a press release, Scheinman said, "Cisco believes the network is the platform for organizations to connect with their constituents and for individuals to connect with each other." Internet has changed the way the media content is distributed. There is a shift from centralized distribution to on-demand distribution. Cisco wants to capitalize on this shift through the acquisition of social networking companies. Only time will tell if it will be successful.
Ever heard of Barney Google? He was the original Google who came along in 1919. A cigar smoking little guy with big eyes, Barney Google was a hugely popular cartoon character created by Billy DeBeck. He was also a horseracing and boxing aficionado. And, he started a spawn culture that made many others characters famous and popular.
From a modest beginning as a King Features comic strip titled, ‘Take Barney Google, F’rinstance’, Google went on to collect many interesting characters, which became quite famous riding along with him. Sparky Plug, a horse, came to Google in 1922 as a gift from a man whose life he had apparently saved. Google was standing outside the Pastime Jockey Club one day when a man came flying out of the window after a fight inside and landed on him. Believing that by landing on Google he avoided a hard landing and thus saved his life, the man gifted Google the horse. Sparky Plug became so famous that kids who enjoyed the comics were getting “Sparky” as a nickname – even Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz got one. In 1934, Google went to
Today’s Google too has a spawn culture. Many a businesses have been launched to ride on the Google wave. Google also lists – http://Labs.Google.Com – a number of ideas that it says are not yet ready for prime time. Any creative entrepreneurs can pick any of these ideas and create a business out of it.
Like Google, Skype too has been flirting with hype. Even after it was acquired by eBay for $2.5 billion, analysts were wondering, can it go the distance? And, guess what, Skype is spawning too. It is attracting big investment too. One such spawn, iSkoot, a Skype-to-mobile extender service, got $7 million in Series B Financing from Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, ZG Ventures and Jesselson Capital Corp. It is not the only game in town. Skype enthusiasts are already trying to find different ways to improve their Skype experience.
The success of early Twentieth Century Google, Barney, helped many to become famous leaving an indelible impact on the memories of American readers. The Twenty First Century Google is also helping many to succeed creating a ‘Google Spawn’. It is also getting company from another phenomenon, Skype, which is spawning a culture of its own.
|Twitter was started by a group of folks at Odeo – now called Obvious – as a side project. The SMS social updater has grown and a number of people are experimenting with it. Many are using it send out updates to subscriber about downtime and development.|