About Growing Entrepreneurial Businesses

Dynamic content on all matters to do with growing businesses from Keith Willey

Tech entrepreneurs in the UK

The rampant success of the tech venture scene in the US – though especially in Silicon Valley – must give entrepreneurs around the world an inferiority complex.  It’s not just the individuals of course but the whole interconnected mass of experienced technologists, execs, financiers, bankers et al.  I won’t try to unpick that but the point is that a lot the essential context that helps you succeed is missing elsewhere.  All the more gratifying then to see people making smart moves over here.  UK-based Omnifone just launched in Barcelona and they are not playing around with their venture – they’re taking on iTunes and manouevring telcos in parallel around the world.  One of the founders Phil Sant is a neighbour and I can vouch for the stealth strategy they have adopted until now (four years in incubation).  I have the UK product manager for iPod in my current LBS class and only last week we were debating DRM in the music space.  Of course she didn’t like me encouraging people to look at allofmp3.com (sorry Georgina).  Either way the omnifone strategy is to get you to pay for music downloads (as of course do iTunes) and I wonder how long this is going to last?  I reckon I’ve got 80% of my lifetime music needs in mp3 format already.  How long can the music downloads market go on for, especially at current steep prices (except allofmp3 of course)?  People say that after music comes video….  in fact Phil showed me a video clip on a mobile long before they said they were aiming at music.  Maybe I’m just getting old but I can see Omnifone selling out early whilst the potential remains unfulfilled.  So who can buy a business which is a set of technology designed to work on every handset and endowed with all those telco deals?  It’s a tough industry with many players using high strategy and brutal tactics to retain their share of the value.  Omnifone need big friends to let them play in this space.  Will a telco, handset maker or platform developer dare buy Omnifone?  Maybe the media players?  The phone companies are certainly busy working on the functionality of handsets as a quick look at http://mobilementalism.com/ shows.  More later…

Filed under: Blogroll, technology, , ,

Current Kit

Just to say my own portability relies on the fabulous Dell X1 (actually a Dell-branded Samsung) plus KJAM Smartphone.  I also have an LG Chocolate into which I swap my SIM for evenings out when KJAM is too big to put in  DJ pocket say.  Sadly this lovely looking piece of kit is incredibly annoying: its fingertip heat-sensitive buttons are over-sensitive, menus are confusing, connections are proprietary etc etc.  Email via exchange server hosted on 1and1. This is one of the best setups I’ve had in ages.  Now getting worried for the day when the x1 goes pop…. not sure the latest equivalent will be as good.  Meanwhile looks as if the KJAM follow-on won’t be any slimmer or lighter. 

Filed under: Blogroll, technology

Portable Apps

Portability is something I’ve been pursuing for a long time, often for irrational reasons. It’s a behaviour that occasionally becomes evident to me when I meet two sorts of people: the person who seemingly goes about their business with no information, papers, laptops etc at all; the people (usually men in this case) who have those great big audit bag style briefcases, or who have laptops with 17 inch screens. Both these types seem to be missing something in life don’t they? On reflection I realise that my personal portable obesssion is learned behaviour built on past experience – like most things in life. Looking back I realise I spent many years on planes, in airports lugging gear that resulted in many visits to back-doctors. So a smaller version of anything is now attractive. I also have poor recall of detail so need to horde information in physical format so I can retrieve it fast. OK this is leading me now to Portable Apps….

…. for the uninitiated, portable apps are programmes you can keep on your USB memory stick. This allows you to sit at any PC running XP and, regardless of whatever else is loaded on that machine, plug in your USB stick and start using all your favourite programmes. They run from your USB stick and effectively do not interfere with the ‘host’ PC. They’re just making use of the PC’s processor, memory, internet connection etc. Imagine an internet cafe with no office suite loaded… a friends Apple… Just plug in your stick and go. When you leave there is no trace you were there.. .no files left hanging around etc. This technology is nudging at the early adopter segment, though largely popular amongst geeks right now. Technology is hyping it – it’s just neat software really. Have a look at http://www.portableapps.com which is the set of stuff I’m using. Many geeks are using quite small USB sticks – 512k say.

Of course given my learned behaviours regarding hording and portability I bought an 8Gb credit card size USB from LaClie.

Filed under: technology, Uncategorized

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