WiFi consolidation

So the consolidation is starting, according to rumors on the acquisition of Intersil by TI:

Wireless LAN chipset vendor Intersil Corp.’s (Nasdaq: ISIL – message board) stock was up today on rumors that the company is going to be acquired by Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN – message board).

TI is renown as a great second-source manufacturer, if not a fabled engineer, so this deal would place three fab-owning manufacturers ahead of the pack to deliver WiFi chips, which is not good news for the smaller, fabless contenders whose product strategy is dictated by engineering managers.

A question and an answer

Dan Gillmor asks a question about the case of the Brooklyn Bridge bomber:

Why are journalists not screaming bloody murder about this case? Sloth no longer suffices to explain our negligence?

My answer: The man (Mohammed Rauf) copped a plea. Criminals do that every day, and it’s not a story.

Next problem?

Via A-list blogger (heh heh) Jeff Jarvis.

Wild Man of Silicon Valley

Open source is fun, but real software costs money and Larry Ellison wants to keep it that way:

The database software giant’s $6.3-billion offer for PeopleSoft has intensified a debate about Ellison’s larger vision, which is that the software industry is embarking on a massive consolidation that would leave it in the hands of a few huge companies. He wants to make sure Oracle is one of them.

But…Ellison is counting on Linux to bring Microsoft down, and if that could happen, couldn’t MySQL bring Oracle down?

Just speculating.

Nucleus CMS

Nucleus is a nice little piece of blogging software that installs real easily.

It can’t import MT yet, but that’s just a small matter of programming.

India’s sun is setting

Wired News reports on the Jobs Squeeze for Indian Workers:

U.S. companies such as IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and PeopleSoft are already exploring countries with even cheaper sources of technical labor, says a report from research firm IDC. The new destinations include Romania, Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Back in 1990, when I helped some members of an Indian religious cult set up a software company in South India, I predicted this would happen, just as it has in the Little Dragons and in Malaysia. A developing country can only attract business on the basis of cheap labor for so long until it’s choked on its own success and the cheap labor market moves elsewhere. Indians still have an advantage over other Asian countries because of widespread English usage among the educated class, but Indian culture is basically anti-capitalist and anti-Western, so they won’t be able to compete with New Europe for long unless they can deal with their BJP problem and the arrogance of their Brahmin caste.

Better than Linux

Is NetBSD better than Linux? Some people think so, which would be kind of funny for all the companies who’ve stalled new features for a year because they’ve been migrating products from VxWorks to Linux.

What do we mean by better? Here’s a clue:

While NetBSD uses the GNU toolchain (compiler, assembler, etc), and certain other GNU tools, the entire kernel and the core of the userland utilities are shipped under a BSD licence. This allows companies to develop products based on NetBSD without the requirement to make changes public (as with the GPL). While the NetBSD Project encourages companies and individuals to feed back changes to the tree, we respect their right to make that decision themselves

That’s a very big deal. It also emulates Linux and is extremely portable. See BSD forums.

Symbian OS, 3G spell doom

Dan Gillmor’s off-hand reference (“Palm frittered away its long lead, giving Microsoft and the Symbian alliance the time to catch up and in many ways surpass the pioneer”) sent me searching for info on Symbian, which turns out to be the OS of choice for mobile phones, especially those with 3G. Now there’s been a lot of wailing about the imminent demise of 3G thanks to the WiFi bubble, but early returns don’t support that thesis:

“M1 says its customers did not like the Wi-Fi service because it is not really mobile since users must stay within a coverage area 50-100 metres of the hotspot,” we learn. MobileOne will instead invest $150 million on 3G next year.

Beset as it is by technical problems, and suffering from dot.com-sized expectations, 3G has a compelling reason to roll into the market because it gives the operators fourfold efficiencies over the 2G digital networks. They can close off the old transmitters, and save themselves a lot of money. In the UK, the 3 network is branding itself by offering the cheapest calls of all.

No blog, or Pringle Can, can counter the harsh economics: public Wi-Fi doesn’t pay.

So it’s deeper and deeper into the doo for Palm.

UPDATE: Distinguished Valley Old Fart Tim Oren says it’s all over but the shouting.

FCC Rules

After watching the FCC ownership rules hearing on C-Span, and listening to as much of the commentary by folks like KKK alumni Fritz Hollings and Trent Lott as I could stand, I came away with the belief that the uproar over these rule changes is groundless.

Lawrence Lessig said: “The FCC will liberate the networks to consolidate because the FCC feels pressured by the courts” and some other stuff, but the rules expressly forbid mergers or takeovers between the Big Four TV networks, so that’s clearly hooey. The big changes were easing of the limit on local stations a network can own (which brought existing ownership into compliance) and relaxation of the rule prohibiting newspapers, TV, and radio from being owned by the same company in the same market. ClearChannel doesn’t gain by the rules, and may have to shed some stations.

So if the opposition to these rules isn’t rational – and at least some of it isn’t (Susie “Medea” Benjamin, trust fund activist, got herself arrested again at the hearing), then what’s it based on? A lot of folks were comfortable with the way things were in America when TV news came from the three networks plus CNN, the same stories with the same liberal/centrist spin. Then along came Rupert Murdoch and we got the Fox News Channel, the New York Post, and the Fox Network, and the traditional liberal agenda got some competition. Fox isn’t always, or perhaps even often right, but it is a counterbalance and a different point of view.

The opponents of the rule change are scared that people like Murdoch will alter the media landscape at the level of local print news and broadcast news, an area still controlled by the liberal oligarchy. I hope they’re right, because I’d like to have a TV channel or a daily paper in the Frisco Bay Area with a centrist or right-wing orientation, and it certainly appears that we’d never get one under the old rules.

I don’t believe for a minute that opponents to these ownership rules from the left care about diversity of opinion, which is sure to be enhanced by allowing Murdoch to buy more media properties in more markets. More power to him.

The Bubble that Wasn’t

A recent comment of mine that WiFi chipsets aren’t a good bet for investors raised a few eyebrows, but facts are facts. See The Register for the lowdown on current pricing trends for WiFi chips:

The price war is being driven by the entry of new chip makers, primarily in Taiwan. Acer Labs and SiS have begun sampling 802.11b chipsets, while VIA’s networking chip subsidiary will put its own product into mass production in July. Almost all of the newcomers are looking to compete on price. The established players are being forced to do the same.

The need to maintain sales once faster, compatible and at last genuinely standard 802.11g parts come on stream is likely to keep prices down. TechKnowledge reckons 802.11g chips will hit an average $9.68 by the end of the year, just over half the $18 they commanded last year.

Countering the price decline is the fact that many 802.11b chipset vendors buy third-party radio transceivers to connect to their own MAC chips – the parts that handle the network protocols. A limited number of RF chip makers is keeping prices more stable, but again, a number of Taiwanese vendors are believed to be getting reading to enter that market and will drive down the price of RF chips and thus the cost of 802.11b chipsets as a whole.

You generally find opportunity to innovate in the production of IEEE standards only at the system interface and on the analog side, and sometimes with power management, but even those areas are effectively overmined.