Thursday, May 29, 2008

Google Earth on Web!

In my blog post created on the 15th of April 2008, I highlighted that Google has an opportunity to make browsing of Geographic Information (KML) and Web Content seamless. This was after they standardized their Mark-up language for Geographic Information Representation KML.

On the 28th of May 2008, Google announced the availability of a Plug-In which enables web browsers to run Google Earth 3D application inside browsers. This opens up new opportunities for software developers to make the web more interesting by creating Mash Ups that include Google Earth. Currently “Google Earth Web” provides a limited set of features that can be found in Google’s proprietary Earth Browser. However in the long run, I believe that Google will provide the full functionality found in Google Earth over the Plug-In.

This also opens up exciting opportunities for Google to deliver Google Earth to mobile phones, in a manner similar to which they deliver Google Maps for mobiles. In order to make this a reality Google has to certify the Plug-in (Modify if necessary) for Mobile browsers.

O’rielly provides an interesting article about new Google Earth features and the video below was released by Google demonstrating some possibilities.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Innovation and the “Quarterly Company”

Trying to meet Wall Street Analyst’ targets, by focusing on the short term goals can do much harm than good for technology companies. This is mainly because of the fact that sustainability of a technology company is highly dependent on the innovation it brings to the marketplace. If a company loose the focus on the long term strategy due to “external influences”, a company might find itself running the company from “quarter to quarter” - and effectively becomes a “Quarterly Company” with hindered innovation .

Recently there was a good discussion provoked by ZdNet’s Larry Dignan related to the influence that the Wall Street has on the technology companies. However it should be stressed that it is futile to say that shareholders should not be taken seriously. Ultimately it’s shareholders money that companies are spending. However it helps to have at least some majority shareholders who have a sight in the long term strategy of a company. Keeping them enlightened about innovation and R&D strategies of companies is one way of getting the buy-in of such shareholders.

However companies like Amazon and Google have more luxury than some of the small time tech companies to invest more in innovation. Apart from that they have the power to withstand the pressure / criticism of the Wall Street when pursuing high risk long term goals. A recent BusinessWeek magazine’s interview (April 28th 2008 issue) conducted with Amazon’s Jeff Bezoz clearly indicates this fact. Bezoz claims that“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you're going to innovate”. The mis-understanding stems from the fact that when you are innovating you do not have the freedom to enlighten all the stakeholders of the companies on your strategy in an in-depth manner. If you do so this can very well help your competition. Adding to that there is no clear cut path that leads to innovation as well. This makes it even more complicated to spell out a strategy.

At the same time Google does not guide the investors on their future earnings and yet apparently earns the respect of majority of investors. The article titled “No More Earnings Guidance? Hallelujah” provides a brief insight into the “No Guidance policy” of Google. The Reuters article “No guidance" policy jolts Google investors again” echoes the sentiment of some sections of the Wall Street with regard to the said policy.

At the same time, there are examples of companies who got a beating in the innovation side trying to focus on the short term profits. Introducing Six Sigma to increase the efficiency of 3M Corporation was one such example where the creative culture was put on a back foot while attempting to increase the short term profitability.