Nokia Maps A Strategy Against Apple

Nokia acquiring Navteq is huge, I’m surprised there wasn’t more of a discussion about it. With this move Nokia is going all in with location-based services as a competitive differentiator and if my experiences are any indicator this is a good move.

If you are a handset manufacturer you can’t compete on platform anymore but fashion, media integration, and GPS services and not much else really matters in this market.

Nokia is betting that projections of a tenfold increase in location-based services over the next 5 years is accurate, and that a consequence of consolidating a leadership position in handsets will crossover into non-handset applications, such as vehicle integration and data services for web applications.

I say this because I am increasingly using mobile location-based services and was finding Navizon’s iPhone app to be really helpful until Apple put the ‘ol metal bracelets on my handset and disabled the service.

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Monday Night Book Giveaway

This week I have a copy of an interesting book that a publisher sent to me. I will admit that I didn’t read the entire book, but that’s not uncommon for me so don’t read (no pun intended) too much into that statement. I did find the book to be an easy read, almost as easy as a fiction paperback you pick up in an airport book store.

Focusing on executive leadership team dynamics and “organizational health”, Patrick Lencioni does a great job of putting anecdotes to management theory.

Usual rules apply, first to comment gets it and no international shipping.

“Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors” (Patrick M. Lencioni)

Serena Business Mashups

Serena recently reappeared with a slick campaign promoting business mashups. If you have read my blog for any period of time you will know that I am huge fan of mashups for business use, and increasingly I am seeing that mashup proponents are promoting the notion that RSS feeds are a critical enabler in these mashups.

Feeds (whether they be RSS or APP) are most often associated with blogs but that is changing as IT professionals realize that feeds are simply a great way of delivering data, whether structured or unstructured. Furthermore, as systems increasingly adopt authenticated feeds the big cocern over security is addressed through intregration with identity sytems.

I haven’t seen the Serena products/services but I like what they are talking about. With the backing of their large traditional software business I would hope that Serena would have the resources to push this idea forward.

Interestingly, Rene Bonvanie recently joined the company, which itself is notable as a public company taken private by Silver Lake Partners. Bonvanie was most recently at and prior to that at SAP. The Bonvanie brothers has something in common around their enthusiasm for RSS, Andre leads NewsGator Europe.

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eBay’s Skype Detour

eBay shareholders can only hope that Skype housecleaning doesn’t stop here. The Skype acquisition never made sense strategically, and one reason Skype has struggled, we think, is that it is just a distraction to eBay (which needs desperately to focus on its core commerce business). eBay should immediately sell what’s left of Skype to Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google, all companies that offer portfolios of communications services that Skype might actually benefit from being a part of.

It might be premature to suggest that Skype is a complete failure, but having said that it does seem a stretch to suggest that it had any of the strategic value that Whitman & Co. sold investors on. I would like to see them take a page out of Amazon’s book and build a services offering around Skype like Amazon did with EC2.

Another alternative would be to consolidate the 3rd party developer community around Skype much like Webex is attempting to do with Connect. The opportunity left open by Webex is the very low end of the market, where Skype is a better fit anyways.

Either option would be a tough rock to push given that eBay seems ill-equipped to deal with developers and outside of their core market eBay has little relevance, but they do have a ton of small business customers and Skype already features a robust 3rd party ISV market.

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Smart People… Maybe Not?

I was at the airport this morning waiting for my flight and the gate agent asked for people to volunteer for a later flight. That got me to thinking about the models that airlines must have to figure out the right amount of overbooking. In other words, they know how many seats they are selling versus how many are physically available, which they then use to make assumptions about no-shows, cancellations, and missed connections.

The overbooking model works, presumably, only so long as the cost of providing certificates for free trips "anywhere in the continental U.S." don’t outweigh the revenue they generate from selling seats they don’t have. Then there is the second assumption about certificates not redeemed…

I was thinking to myself that there must be some really smart people working in airlines to figure this out… quickly followed by the question "if there are all these smart people figuring out these interesting problems, why are airlines so screwed up?".

This on top of recent news that airline frequent flier programs may be worth more than the airlines themselves. (thanks Greg for the pointer).

FL Group, an investment fund based in Iceland, said the AAdvantage frequent-flier program is worth at least $6 billion, and that a sale could produce a net gain of $4 billion for AMR.

The stock market values all of AMR at about $5.5 billion.

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