Web 2.0 and online collaboration for Australian retailers

It's time for Australian retailers to get on their online bike. As lawyers specialising in internet and web services we see many IT trends years before they become common knowledge in the market. For example we've noted for years that Australian marketers of apparel will miss potential sales if their brands have a poor online presence.

We now have more statistical evidence supporting our view on IT and marketing trends relating to retailing of apparel.

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Interpreting 1,000,000,000 downloads

Sometime this week Apple's App Store will reach the milestone of one billion downloads. That is a billion downloads of applications, available free-of-charge or for a fee, from the App Store on Apple's iTunes, for use on an Apple iPhone or iTouch. The number is a sign of the mobile changing times.

A less-heralded fact is that back on 19 November 2008 the Mozilla Firefox browser and Firefox Add-ons (ie browser applications or plug-ins) also reached the milestone of one billion downloads. That is a billion downloads, all eating away at the browser leader, Microsoft Explorer. It's a sign of the browser changing times.

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7 key questions for IP valuation

Perhaps you are thinking of selling, buying, investing or advising on a transaction in which valuation of intellectual property is required?

This article sets out seven questions to review with specialist advisers.

Valuation is a complex subject.

To simplify the discussion we'll use the term intellectual property, though broadly defined. That term is used instead of using additional technical terms - such as intangible assets (as used in accounting) or intellectual capital (as used in management consultancy).

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Encyclopaedia content licensing and contracts

Microsoft's announcement in March 2009 that it will discontinue Encarta provides valuable business strategy and management lessons. Encarta is an encyclopaedia offered from 1993 on a CD-ROM disc and subsequently on the web. All will end in 2009.

While money was not the motivator, the crowd that clouds at Wikipedia and elsewhere on the internet has helped starve the business out of Microsoft's Encarta. That crowd are computer users and they in the sense that they are part of cloud computing sending content by them or others to external hosted servers.

This article is a case study on 250 years of business and legal history relevant to three encyclopaedias - Encarta, Encylopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. It is structured by three historical periods, or Acts, as we've called them here. Our focus is on content licensing for these three publications. Their content includes images, text, video and other data. Like them, others with an interest in methods for making money from content include business consultants, authors, creators, and various intermediaries.

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5 ideas for business reinvention

At midnight on 27 February 2009 the news staff of the Rocky Mountain News commemorated the death of their 150 year old newspaper by uploading a video on the free video sharing website, Vimeo. In 2009 that says it all.

This is a story about a failure to sufficiently innovate or re-invent a business to avoid closure. It ends with 5 ideas to avoid business death by making proactive improvements and changes.

Founded in 1859, the Rocky Mountain News called Denver, Colorado its home town. The other local paper was the Denver Post.

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Facebook's monetisation strategy

Commercial websites are often littered with advertising. Facebook is not. Facebook  has long kept it's site clean and with minimal advertising. Why?

In a television interview this month a Facebook board member said  it could have a billion dollars of revenue per year from ads if it wanted to increase the flow from Facebook's advertising tap. So why does Facebook not do this?

What would you say? Is Facebook's interface design an aesthetic design decision set up to help its users? Alternatively, does the interface design reflect deeper business design or business strategy decision?

Lightbulb ponders this question in three steps.

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Copyright licensing 101 for the almost famous

Seeking fame off the back of other people's content is a risky business. If the content belongs to others you may need a licence, permission or consent, preferably in writing.

The Rin on the Rox story this week illustrates the risks. They are an LA amateur vocal duo. They recorded   karaoke-style music videos in their bathroom and uploaded them to YouTube. They attracted millions of viewers singing their Beyonce-style stuff. It landed them a gig on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

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Are you online in real time?


Rather than fall victim to current negative vibes about "the end of business as we know it", U.S. technologist and entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen is now also moving into venture capital for new ventures. Remarkably his focus is very early stage ventures, with investments of US$200,000 to US$500,000.

In the above linked video interview you'll hear in 2 minutes why he thinks the iPhone is a full general purpose computer and part of a new trend. More interestingly, in his full television interview [56 minute on Google video: low resolution version] you'll hear his views on a range of ICT developments.The interview was with Charlie Rose, a US television talk show host.

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Friday IT lawyer humour

Headlines can be funny. I was just reading one of my online news feeds.

First there was a CRN article headlined: "Microsoft wins 10,000th patent, lawyers everywhere rejoice." I was instantly impressed. Scanning down the news feed I saw that at Digg there was another side to the story - a brilliant headline: "10,000 patents, $9BN annually in research...and we get Vista".

There's no exclamation mark in that headline because the story here at Computerworld is balanced. Its author, Preston Gralla, say "I'm one of Vista's few fans, but even I recognize that it's got plenty of shortcomings. ... Vista is history repeating itself. It is Windows Me 2.0. It is crap and we all know it. One can only hope that Windows 7 is as good as Windows XP."

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Lawyers for online retailing in Australia

Defeating the ill winds of the economic downturn, Amazon had good financial results for the last quarter in 2008. If it is so good for the world's biggest online retailer, how is progress for Australian-owned online retailers?

This month Patrick Stafford has a very useful piece on online retailing in Australia for SmartCompany, an Australian online magazine. It comes as two of our retailing clients this month green lighted projects for greater online presence. We've been hand-holding those clients in the projects with referrals to specialist graphic designers, photographers, video film makers, video editors and e-commerce IT specialists.

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iPhone pinch pinched?

The Apple iPhone has popularised the use of a pinch gesture using two or more fingers to increase the size of text, a photo or other data on a screen.

Is the pinch intellectual property? In other words, is it an asset for which Apple can claim a monopoly right of ownership? Some bloggers think so, but given the reality of patent litigation caution is required. This post explains why.

To rousing applause, in January 2007 Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, demonstrated the pinch on an iPhone. By early 2007 Apple claimed it had filed over 200 patents for iPhone. Apple's smartphone was launched in the US on 29 June 2007.

Two years later, on 20 January 2009 Apple's pinch-related iPhone patent application was accepted and US patent #7,479,949 was granted. Listed at the top of the list of its inventors was Mr Jobs.

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Outdoor advertising contract deals and statistics

We're engaged in discussions with a client for its outdoor advertising technology. Our work has been to model and structure its commercialisation roadmap, business models, intellectual property and contracts.This requires understanding the law and business of outdoor advertising.

The work triggered thoughts on why outdoor advertising is among the fastest growing advertising sectors in Australia and the United States.

As a Sydney CBD commuter I'm personally aware of the French outdoor advertising company, JCDecaux. JCDecaux has a great business worldwide. It has 8,900 employees and is present in more than 50 other countries.

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Commercialisation and Advertising Contracts in Paris

The brilliant French film comedy actor, Jacques Tati (1907-1982), made a career out of man versus machine films. They involved fish out of water stories with the fish (him) trying to come to terms with very modern technology.

In Tati's first major feature, Jour de fete (1949), he plays a rural postman. All is dandy in life when the Tati postman delivers the post using his bicycle.

But when new disruptive technology (a postal van) comes to the village, he finds himself struggling and in frantic competition against the van!

Now life becomes all about speed of delivery. Peddling madly the Tati postman's constant motivational refrain to himself is "Rapidito, rapidito!" Modern life has arrived. The Tati postman would gleam with a smile today at the return of bicycles to Paris. This is a commercialisation story, how a problem for some is a business opportunity for others.

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Software ecosystems

In a second year in a row Facebook has won the top prizes at The Crunchies. It won the awards for the best overall start-up in 2008 and Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO, Facebook) won the award for the best start-up CEO in 2008. The Crunchies (see award photo below) are awards for web ventures. They are hosted by TechCrunch, a leading techie web blog. In Technorati TechCrunch is currently rated as the No. 2 blog in the world.

This post suggests some clues on why Facebook keeps getting more popular, both among users globally and the digerati.

But first some background. In a recent artile we used the term "software ecosystem". It's worth exploring this term. It reflects the increasing importance of intellectual property, software licensing and online collaboration.

In the recent post we looked at software ecosystems being formed around smartphones such as the iPhone. Google's Android also has an ecosystem, see its developers page and explore the platform agnostic nature of Google Mobile.

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Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology - Part 3

And so we come to the big concept, habits. We'll consider the importance of habits in ICT marketing in this Part 3, the conclusion of our three part series on ICT developments in 2009 and beyond.

Part 1 and Part 2 consecutively examined the concepts of hype, spin and buzz. They achieve a major payoff when they change consumption habits.

Marketers seek to change consumer habits. With this they seek to redirect the attention, time and money consumers apply in their life, work and play time.

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