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March 2009

Defending Amazon Kindle’s Reasonable Network Management

To offer its innovative and property-protecting e-book/e-newspaper Kindle service, Amazon engages in reasonable network management of its Amazon-branded Whispernet wireless broadband access service.

  • Amazon’s Kindle service blocks consumers’ access to all content that does not have a commercial relationship with Amazon, and it does not allow open, neutral or non-discriminatory access to the content of consumers’ choice on its leased network.
  • Amazon’s network management is reasonable because it enables the offering of an innovative, secure, quality, affordable service for consumers.
  • Amazon’s unfettered freedom to choose the business model that best suited the Kindle was central to Amazon’s breakthrough innovation.        


Important questions:


First, is “closed” innovation out-performing?


The Open Internet's Growing Security Problem -- Part IV in the Series

Evidence continues to mount that the real problem on the Internet is that it is not as safe/secure as it needs to be -- not the popular neutralist myth that it is not open/neutral enough. (Parts: I, II, III)

  • I would be surprised, if the succinct evidence that I have assembled below, does not deeply trouble the reader.  
  • Moreover, it is also troubling that there is not more focus on the real and increasing problem of Internet safety/security because there is so much attention focused on making the Internet even more open and vulnerable than it already is.    

The Mounting Evidence of a Growing Internet Security Problem:

Will History be a Casualty of an "Ecommony"? If info is free who will pay to archive it for posterity?

Kudos to Eric Auchard's Reuters column for triggering a whole new line of thinking in his brilliant piece: "The Black Hole, how the web devours history." His column is a must read for anyone who cares about history and historical archives, because it brings to life the real-world problems of ensuring that key historical information is permanently archived and retrievable via the Internet.

The more I noodled on Mr. Auchard's thought-provoking premise, I concluded that the origin of this devoured-history problem is not technology, which many might prematurely conclude, but the "information wants to be free" ethos of the digital commons.

Internet "history is written by the victors?" -- or is it "to the victor go the spoils?"

Winston Churchill prophetically said: "history is written by the victors." This truism is timely now given Eric Auchard's great column "How the web devours history," that I built upon in my latest post: "Will history be the casualty of an 'ecommony?' If info is free who will pay to archive it for posterity?" 

Given the Internet's natural first-mover dynamic, global scale and scope efficiencies and powerful reinforcing network effects, which I have written extensively on, could the Internet's 'victor' effectively write history by deciding what information ultimately gets archived and found?

To answer that question requires establishing some important baseline points.

a Twitter in the vortex of the Internet economy?

Who buys Twitter?     

By way of background, Twitter bought the search engine Summize in July of 2008, raised $35m more in capital last month, and reportedly turned down a $500m offer from Facebook.

Why is this notable?

If Twitter's future is similar to other fast-growing technology first-movers, Twitter will eventually be bought by a large player, sooner rather than later, like NewsCorp bought MySpace, Google bought YouTube, and eBay bought Skype.

While Google may be at the top of most people's minds as the most likely buyer of Twitter, given its value as a fast-growing originator of searches,   Google CEO Eric Schmidt's much-reported dissing of Twitter as a "poor man's email" struck me as strange, and prompted me to noodle about why Google is uncharacteristically talking down such a popular first-mover app?

U.S. Leads World in Broadband Affordability per New ITU Data -- Competition works!

America's longstanding bipartisan policy commitment to promote broadband competition has succeeded in making broadband more affordable in the U.S. than any other country in the world according to the ITU. 

  • Data in a broad new study by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) of 150 countries, show the U.S. substantially in the world lead with the lowest broadband prices as a percentage of per capita GNI. (See the tables on pages 56 and 66.)
    • Interestingly, the data show broadband in the U.S. is 2.5 times more affordable than Japan, and three times more affordable than South Korea and France (p. 66).    

I.  This is the sixth independent study that undermines the assertion that America is not a worldwide competitiveness leader in the converging sector of Internet, broadband, communications, and information technology.    

Could "Fritter" be a Twitter-killer in the web 2.0 "ecommony?"

What is likely to be the next Twitter, the hot micro-blogging web 2.0 app/phenomenon that lets Twitterers "tweet" to the world what they are doing at any given moment?

  • To answer that important forward-looking question we need to extrapolate where current Web 2.0 social networking trends are taking us.

First, since Twitter only allows micro-messages of 140 characters or less (the length of my first sentence), the big trend must be "less is more."

This gave me an idea for a new Web 2.0 killer app: "Fritter."

Opening Pandora's Box? The forward-looking Implications of "interest-based advertising"

What are the big forward-looking implications for the broader Internet-related economy of Google's announcement it is launching a new variant of behavioral advertising, called "interest-based advertising."

  • Analytically, this may be one of the most significant developments in the digital economy, Internet advertising and online privacy in a long time.
  • Why? 

First, it is probably a major catalyst escalating and accelerating public discussion about behavioral advertising and online privacy.

Context is always important, and this announcement does not occur in a vacuum. It has broad implications because of the pervasive reach of the issue and the market leadership of the announcer. For example:

Is Some Internet Competition Devolving?

"eBay Retreats in Web Retailing," the WSJ top story today, suggests some Internet competition may be devolving. 

What does it mean that eBay has decided to retreat from competing in web retailing against Amazon and other online retailers of new goods, in order to focus on:

  • Selling secondary-market/used goods, and
  • Brokering overstocked, clearance, or out-of-season goods? 

First, it is a stark reminder of the Internet's unbeatable network effects where the strong tend to get stronger and the weak tend to get weaker.

Do People Own Their Private Information Online? Privacy-Publicacy Fault-line Part VI

Facebook’s big flap last month, over whether or not users own their own private information online, was the subject of my previous post in my ongoing privacy-publicacy fault-line series. (By way of background, Facebook changed its terms of service in a way that was interpreted by many to suggest that users did not own or control their private information. That precipitated a big uproar and Facebook quickly reversed course.)


Well the question of whether people have the right to own or control their own private information online was taken up a notch last month with the release of the FTC Staff’s Revised Behavioral Advertising Principles. Principle Four “states that companies should only collect sensitive data for behavioral advertising after they obtain affirmative express consent from the consumer to receive the advertising.   



Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths