Monday, June 16, 2008

The Web of Location -- This Wednesday -- MIT Enterprise Forum Symposium

Location-Based Services, Geotagging, and Map Mashups

As noted before, I will be moderating this exciting panel this Wednesday, with prominent speakers from IAC (,, etc.), Smarter Agent, MeetMoi, and uLocate.

A nice perspective on major trends that are fueling rapid growth in this area is provided in “Location–Based Services: Back to the Future” in the April-June 2008 IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine. Key strategic changes outlined there are:
  • Reactive to proactive (queries vs. tracking and event driven)
  • Self-referencing to cross-referencing (users only vs. other targets)
  • Single-target to multi-target (many moving objects)
  • Content-oriented to application-oriented (dynamic location, context, and function)
  • Operator-centric to user centric (based on open, standard middleware and user-owned location data)
As noted in my earlier post, this Web of Location relates to a variety of new dimensions in Web services (), including many Web 2.0 aspects, such as the Social Web. We expect to explore this in an interesting session, and hope you can join us.

Tags: Media

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"The Six Phases of a Technology Flop" ...Patents, and Plan B

A nice piece [The Six Phases of a Technology Flop*] by Jim Rapoza of eWeek shows how technologies often go from bubble to bust ...and on to rebirth.

Rapoza's use of "push" technology for his example came particularly close to home for me, since I lived through all six phases of that cycle with my original Teleshuttle "push" technology. My personal experience shows how the long cycles of the patent business can serve as a counterbalance to the fast cycles of technology.
  1. "Useful Invention:" I developed some ideas relating to what came to be known as "push" distribution and filed for a patent and started Teleshuttle in 1994 (well before PointCast launched in 1996).
  2. "Growth and Competition:" Teleshuttle gained lots of interest from '94-96, and got its software distributed on several million computers -- but PointCast, Marimba, and BackWeb made a much bigger splash.
  3. "Hype:" For a few years, "push" was very hot, and even though the Teleshuttle product failed to build a profitable market, I was able to leverage that hype to partner with a company called BTG to work on commercializing my patent.
  4. "Bust:" PointCast went under, and the other guys retrenched. Teleshuttle and BTG tended to the development of a portfolio of patents, and did other things (I was CTO for a dot-com).
  5. "Death:" By the early 2000's push was written off as a classic failure, but we still saw value there -- one minor example being Windows Update (and its Apple counterpart).
  6. "Rebirth:" Push returned in a big way as RSS feeds. We persevered in commercializing my patent portfolio and sold it in 2006 for $35MM.
So it was a very long and often discouraging ride, but all's well that ends well.

Some might say this is exploitation by a "patent troll." But that misses the whole point of the patent system. It is reasonable to recognize a patent as the innovator's well-deserved incentive. Some people excel as entrepreneurs, others excel as innovators -- even if their business does not succeed. The Constitution provided for patents as a way to encourage the innovating part, not the succeeding in business part. The Framers understood that succeeding in business generates ample reward of its own -- it is innovation that needs the added incentive of a patent. Viewing the patent as Plan B provided the hedge that made it easier to justify the risks inherent in developing my ideas and starting the Teleshuttle business. In my case that hedge paid off -- after 12 years!


[*The Rapoza link has broken -- the content is reproduced below:]

"The Six Phases of a Technology Flop"

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Web of Location -- NYC 6/18/08 -- MIT Enterprise Forum Symposium

Location-Based Services, Geotagging, and Map Mashups

I will be moderating an exciting panel, with prominent speakers from IAC (,, etc.), Smarter Agent, MeetMoi, and uLocate on June 18 in NYC.

Location-based services are not just for driving directions anymore. The Web is now richly linked to locations in the real world and visualized on maps. This creates whole new dimensions to navigating the Web and a new class of Web-based services. Links from Web pages appear on maps which show proximity to other pages that can be clicked on. Other Web 2.0 aspects such as social networks can also be viewed through the lens of location.

Think of it as Steinberg's classic "New Yorker's Map of the World" but dynamic -- as your location changes, your location-based view of the world changes. But here it is your view of the virtual world, your view of the Web.

This fits in to the broad trend I wrote of some time back, -- one of which is the dimension of the physical world.

Location-based services are at an inflection point:
  • Global Positioning Systems are proliferating and gaining new exciting features
  • Flickr users are geotagging their pictures
  • Nikon, Sony, and Nokia are building geotagging into cameras
  • Google Map mashups (and the like) are creating a plethora of new services

New businesses are forming to take advantage of this dynamic Web of Location. Established businesses must understand the potential of this growth sector. Financial players, such as venture capitalists and investment bankers, need to know the very latest on this growth sector to stay ahead of the game.

We expect an interesting session!

Tags: Media