Do technology companies such as Google have a social responsibility?

Read an interesting piece in yesterday’s New York Times.

Google has had this promise of many years: ‘Don’t do evil”.

But the playing field is changing.  Unfortunately the walled gardens are in business e.g. facebook.  This poses real challenges when you want to be able to search against everything of potential relevance but facebook won’t play ball.

Apple is another example of a wwalled garden.  Apple wants us to live in their garden, using their Apple storage and Apple devices.  Another problem for Google.

So can Google prosper and not do evil?

Interesting to see Reid Hoffman of Linkedin commenting.  Linkedin has built up a huge database and network based on data provided by site participants (for the most part not using the paid subscription version of product).  Does Hoffman/ Linkedin have a responsibility to these users?

In many respects the most interesting observation in the article is the reminder that in most cases the creators of new social sites (and other technologies) have very little idea as to what the eventual impact of their invention will be.




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Consolidation of stacks

Interesting discussion between Bradley Horowitz and Tim O’Reilly re Google+.  Tim O’Reilly makes interesting point about an apparent consolidation in the industry along certain stacks e.g. Apple, Google and Microsoft.  He quotes his own preference for using an Android phone because it integrates more effectively with the google calendar.  This has been my own experience also – though as an external consultant do find myself needing to work across more than one stack – depending on client preferences.


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Apple – testing succession planning

Steven Paul Jobs, called Steve Jobs, co-founde...
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Steve Jobs has been the icon in terms of the IT industry over the last 25 years.  Apple was built, rescued and transformed by Steve Jobs.  Apple has transformed the industry.  In the last number of years Jobs has battled serious illness, continued to drive the company forward and developed and implemented succession plans.

As external business advisors we spend a significant amount of time talking about ‘competitive edge‘, strategy, succession planning, talent pool, etc.  Clearly Apple has a real talent pool and has planned for succession.  The real question is how much of the competitive edge was actually Steve Jobs.  His innovative mindset, his emphasis on design, his demands around quality, his show.

It will be interesting to watch this play out.  No doubting the talent of his successor, Tim Cook.  Apple will be different.  This does not preclude Apple being even more successful.  But, to date, this has been a company very much focused on delivering the Jobs magic.  The test of the succession planning is the continued development of the magic.

Good piece in the FT editorial.




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How do you do succession planning when you are Apple?

We all need Steve Jobs back in harness. Love him or hate him – he has contributed gugely to what we are all enjoying now in terms of useful, personal, mobile, flexible, technology.

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
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We all talk about succession planning – at CEO level, at functional head level, in key skills areas.  And then I look at Apple.

Don’t get me wrong – there are things about Steve Jobs that drive me mad.  In some respects while he is a pioneer he also holds back the industry through insisting on living in his world – your music in iTunes, etc.

But…he is a genius.  And he is unforgiving in his drive for excellence and his commitment to design.

And I guess that’s the question that Steve Jobs poses – how does succession planning work when you need to plan to have someone succeed a genius?

Here’s hoping that he cheats his illness again and makes another comeback. The world is a hell of a lot more interesting because of this guy.

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smart phones – privacy being undermined (or ignored)

Privacy is being ignored in the smartphone world

Disturbing report from Wall Street Journal explaining what private data is being passed when you are using various applications on either your Apple or Android phone.  not particularly encouraging wrt either platform.

As an example: ‘…TextPlus 4, a popular iPhone app for text messaging. It sent the phone’s unique ID number to eight ad companies and the phone’s zip code, along with the user’s age and gender, to two of them.’

And remember: ‘”The great thing about mobile is you can’t clear a UDID like you can a cookie,” says Meghan O’Holleran of Traffic Marketplace, an Internet ad network that is expanding into mobile apps. “That’s how we track everything.”‘

Brings Google back into the whole debate about privacy:

‘Google was the biggest data recipient in the tests. Its AdMob, AdSense, Analytics and DoubleClick units collectively heard from 38 of the 101 apps. Google, whose ad units operate on both iPhones and Android phones, says it doesn’t mix data received by these units.

Google’s main mobile-ad network is AdMob, which it bought this year for $750 million. AdMob lets advertisers target phone users by location, type of device and “demographic data,” including gender or age group.’

All in all seems that for now we are relying on self regulation – where both Apple and Google appear to be conflicted by their interests.

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Future of Television

[facebook_ilike]Thoughtful piece by Tom McGuirk in the Sunday Business Post. Part of an interesting debate in Ireland at present re the value of television presenters (lots of pressure to cut their remuneration further in light of the tough economic climate). Tom takes a different angle: plenty of examples of people being able to step in, at relatively short notice with practically no training, to run chat show time programmes. But his other concern relates to the quality fo the content e.g. a chat show that juxtapositions Tony Blair and Jedward. I drove past the studios that night myself – a confused grouping of Any Blair demonstrators and pro Jedward fans gathered at the entrance.

This all takes place in the context of the ongoing debate about the future of television, newspapers, journalism. Major initiatives from Google, Apple, etc re TV promise a new TV experience, integrated fully with the web – including all the social functionality which has become commonplace on the web.

However think Tom’s final comments may ring true with many of us: ‘ But in the 36 years since I started out, I hope television has also become more accessible and more utilitarian for the viewers and licence payers. There should no longer be any mystery or mystique about it. Already, a new generation are emerging who make their own excellent TV programmes with equipment bought on the main street.

They see TV as merely functional, just another means of expression. Most of the time, television is boring and banal – and the truth is that, as you get older, you will probably enjoy a good book far more.’