Color me still skeptical. Jeff Nolan has a thoughtful post on the competitors in the electronic book market. Kindle and its like have definitely broken into the early adopter market, but I'm still cautious. Recall the kerfuffle around Amazon's pullback of 1984 copies, and then contemplate what's going to happen when some of those competitors go belly up or otherwise withdraw from the market. People aren't used to having their books disappear, and the combination of hair-brained DRM schemes and obsolescence is not going to be a pretty one. An open format is going to be necessary for this market to go truly mainstream. Jeff's discussion of Sony's fading fortunes in eReaders drew the following comment:
"Sony's ineptitude at digital services is truly mind boggling. Their never-ending quest to dominate with proprietary technology is a remarkable anti-pattern that is worthy of a business textbook: Beta, MiniDisk, UMD, MemoryStick, ATRAC, and 1001 sony cables, plugs, adapters, etc. "
Sad, but true. I bought my Sony alpha DSLR because it could use all my old Minolta glass, but I knew darn well there would be a proprietary battery and at least one proprietary cable in the package. I was not disappointed. Why can't they quit trying to lock customers in, and just go back to making exceptional products? And so a once-great brand decays.
Update: Verrry interesting. The next time I looked at my RSS reader after posting, this pops up. Is Sony getting a clue, or is this just a last ditch effort to save a failing product line?
Michigan hits bottom, keeps digging. One of my former residences is in long term decline, and has the highest unemployment in the nation. It's not enough that union domination and Federal interference in local automative and related industries systematically discourages investment. Now the state is proposing the country's highest minimum wage, mandating company paid health care, and forcing utilities to cut rates 20%. This isn't some fringe notion, it's the head of the state's Democrat party. That'll sure encourage small business and startup ventures to fill the gap left by the industrial sector, you betcha! And I'm watching for the proposal that'll mandate 20% reduced costs for service providers; what about margins don't these idiots understand? Even if this stupidity doesn't pass, the fact that it's seriously considered speaks volumes about the state's continuing cluelessness, and will and should discourage capital formation there. Picking up 100 politically allocated Government Motors jobs building parts for a model that may be DOA due to price and performance isn't going to fix this kind of damage.
Meanwhile, back in Sacramento. Could there be signs of sanity? Supposedly a state financial commission chartered by the Governator is going to recommend a flat tax alternative to the state's current highly 'progressive' income tax. Someone has finally noticed that taking half the taxes from 144,000 of the 38 million residents leads to highly cyclical revenue, and encourages those targets to move elsewhere. Who knew? Mind you, I've full confidence that our politically correct, economically ignorant legislature is capable of ignoring any such troglodyte recommendations.
Business is booming! If, that is, you want a gig packing townhalls and other public venues in favor of ObamaCare. One of the best sources of market and competitive intelligence has always been employment ads, they're a 'data exhaust' that's impossible to hide. And so with leftist astroturf, as some sleuths datamine craigslist to find out where those people are coming from, and who's paying for them. Meanwhile, Cobb profiles these would-be American apparatchiki. Update: Even the MSM is taking notice.