Motorola Working Out the Split - Very Slowly - Too Slowly?

moto-split-up Motorola is getting closer to understanding how to split itself in to two.  They are now planning to split the company sometime next year in an attempt to avoid a fire sale on the cell phone portion of the company.

That will leave a company with a massive library of patents and a current line of profitable business in set top boxes and high end two way radio systems.

not the 2 way radios you used to see in Wal-Mart, that business died after being mis-managed by one of Motorola's unscrupulous Chinese partners and will probably have the plug completely pulled within the next 2-8 months

The new companies will potentially see a stock split as follows (loosely based on today's stock price.

Motorola's handset business will probably have a value of $1.69 a share next year, while the other divisions could be worth $7.49, Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Tal Liani in New York said today in a note to clients. Brown wouldn't comment on the potential market value of the phone unit. Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

On the down side, this transition appears to be fast tracked to a very slow transition.  That means that losses will likely continue to grow while the best and brightest talent left in the cellular operation will jump ship and head for other companies or try and seek a life line in the still profitable section of Motorola.  That's bad news for both businesses as the value of the cell phone unit will be worth even less (missing talent and knowledge) and the currently profitable portion of Motorola will become bloated more people than it needs.

Despite Carl Icahn's attempts to get more information about Motorola's plans to get out from under its own self devised problems, Icahn seems to be failing himself.  Maybe he's catching a little bit of the virus that seems to have plagued Motorola over its long and troubled history of inventing industries and then shooting itself in the foot and bleeding itself out of the industry (Car Radios, Stereos, Televisions, Pagers, Semi Conductors and processors, 2-Way Radios (walkie - talkies) and now Cell Phones.

The real problem here is two fold.  Motorola is a company that suffers massively from group think stodgy bloat, and they are joined at the hip to business in China.  They did deal after deal with the Government of China and Chinese companies and they have rapidly lost control over their business, operations, and intellectual property since.  A happy marriage and example of United States business reaching out to invest in China has been flipped completely around.  Motorola may have gone to the wedding wearing bridal lingerie, but their Chinese Partners have acted more like a pimp and less like a husband turning Motorola out on the street (literally knock offs and worse.)

In the meantime, Motorola is heading from the position of number 3 in mobile phone sales to number 4 or 5.

What's More Annoying that QuickTime Updates? Safari Auto Installations

Keeping Quicktime functioning for that 1 in 500 time when I need the stupid program has long been a bane in my PC existence.  I'm sure if I had a Mac, I'd probably welcome the updates that come about as often as a Windows security update.  But I drive a PC and not a Mac and Quicktime installations are just annoying.

The auto install never automatically installs and usually redirects me to an Apple site where the actual program download is about as easy to find as a Mac in a fortune 500 high rise.

So the other day when I started getting annoying warning pop ups to install Safari (Apple's internet browser) on one of my less used spare home computers, things got even more irritating.

I primarily use FireFox as my browser and keep IE7 around for those oddball websites in the world that only work on IE (like that is a smart way to design a website.)  When I do web design work, I keep a copy of Safari on my design computer for testing purposes so that I can keep the 5% of the browsing from a Mac internet happy.

I'm not a Mac hater nor a Mac User hater, but I don't want another crappy browser forced down my throat.  If I want to run Safari, I will go find it and download it.  I do not need an auto install from Steve Jobs forcing me to install and maintain yet another Apple program that I will rarely if ever use.

This auto install thing from Apple has turned into something of a mini scandal as bloggers jeer and the Mozilla CEO Cries Foul. It is reminiscent of Microsoft's attempts to force first Windows Media Player (like Quicktime or iTunes) on people and then Microsoft's attempts to force IE (like Safari) on people.

You would think that as much as Steve Jobs and Apple do not want to be like Gates and Balmer and Microsoft that they would quit copying the biggest failures from their business plans of the past like a person listening to just a single iTunes track over and over again as they spend too much time looping on treadmills.

EchoStar Enters the Wireless Spectrum Owners Club

EchoStar beat out Google for spectrum in the recent 700mhz spectrum auctions in the United States.  EchoStar bid about $712 million via its subsidiary Frontier Wireless, formerly connected to Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless bought C Block, the largest, with $9.6 billion, while AT&T bid a total of $6.6 billion to pick up the B Block. EchoStar Corp.’s Frontier Wireless LLC made a $712 million bid and Qualcomm totaled $558 million.
Google Inc. didn’t win any license, but there were some new entrants. EchoStar Corp.-owned Frontier Wireless LLC bid $712 million and will sure make its mark with the licenses it won.

The Winners of Airwaves Auction Revealed

Google was expected to place better than they did in the auction as they presumably were looking to launch a new mobile phone service.  But they ended up not placing at all while their stock dropped at the same time over concerns about their earnings potential.  Google has long been considered better at talent management bringing in PhD's and less apt at investment management.

Verizon Wireless picked up the largest block of spectrum through the auction with At&t coming in second and Qualcomm (the company that didn't share information illegally with the government during the warrantless wiretapping scandal) came in fourth.

Now all four companies will have to kick things in to high gear to justify those investment dollars, pool their resources, and bring in a ROI.

Broken Technology Series: MindManager from Mindjet

About 2 years ago I started this blog called Maven Mapper's Information.  The original goal of the blog was to learn how to blog while talking about knowledge management tools such as my favorite at the time MindManager Pro 6.  A couple years have gone by since then, this blog has grown and moved over to Maven Mappers Information - the light(http://www.mavenmappersinformation.com or http://www.softduit.com/mavenmappersinformation ) and this blog now focuses on digging into technologies and industries to analyze situations critically.

This grew out of a series of articles we referred to as the Broken Technology Series.  MindManager (Pro 7) is still one of my favorite knowledge management software tools.  However, its evolution has not kept the momentum and early promise that it had built through versions 3, 4 and 5.  Six made some improvements that in a vacuum would have been good enough, but the world did not sit still while MindManager took small steps. 

Social networking and blogging and user generated video content sprang into the circles of many technology professionals and MindManager was not there.

With version 5 MindManager moved away from collaborative possibilities with MindManager and focused on the least common denominator, the PC user running Microsoft Office.  This seemed like a good strategic move at the time to increase the business user base.  However, in retrospect it seems to have severely hindered Mindjet's abilities to make innovative improvements in MindManager.

  • Collaborative Usages of MindManager ground to a halt
  • Integrations with Word, Outlook and Excel stalled and left users with a taste of potential but tools that were often times more trouble than they were worth
  • With Version 6 PowerPoint integration improved significantly, but without improvements in other areas it was too little too late.  Many knowledge professionals were already moving away from PowerPoint centric models
  • Mindjet failed to see the direction that Microsoft was moving as it bought Proclarity and headed towards score cards and heavily integrated database systems as well.  This left MindMaps unconnected to the most important data most companies have, their ERP and customer relationship databases.
  • On the Internet, MindManager was completely absent as service after service popped up to offer mindmapping solutions for very low rates and more importantly they offered online collaboration with groups

Mindjet dabbled with tablet PC support enabling people to interface in new ways with knowledge on a laptop.  They then added a stripped down version of their program for Macs but improvements to upgrade the software to the full functionality of the PC version have not happened.  Mindjet came out with version 7 last May to a dull thud.  The new upgrade simply incorporated the new Microsoft look and feel and offered just a few user upgrades in functionality.

This year as Mindjet starts to try and find its future, they have to find a way to become relevant again with version 8.  There are several integral problems with the software that make it tedious for users in 2008:

  • It still does not allow group or online collaboration
  • It has no connection to large databases or systems making score-carding or analysis completely manual
  • Its notes section after years still does not include html support. 
    • This may seem trivial, but it means that MindManager cannot function with any of the dominant social networking tools today from Digg to Facebook to LinkedIn to Blogs, and YouTube
    • MindManager teases us with a difficult feedreader tool that could be powerful, but it has not been upgraded in several years now and does not function at all with feeds managed through Feedburner, the largest and dominant feed management system on the net (recently acquired by Google)

They also need to figure out how to deal with complexity.  When a person digs into a problem, they gather more and more details.  MindManager is an excellent tool for breaking down a problem into core components and giving the user a view of the big picture.  However, just like a person trying to zoom into a satellite view of the earth, all that information can start to look like chaos and unlike other programs such as Topicscape, a 3D mindmapping solution, MindManager has not figured out how to organize the chaos in a way that keeps the interface running and easy to use.

This is still a software tool that I keep on my computer and use on a regular basis, but it is stagnating and needs an infusion and revitalization of its core functionality.  MindManager needs to reinvent several important parts of its tools and for several years now, Mindjet has seemed to be unwilling to consider this necessity.

Music Industry Dies a Little this Month with a Nine Inch Nail

Pretty Hate Machine NIN's debut album in 1989  Nine Inch Nails fired their record company and went online to distribute their latest album.  Maybe that sounds artsy fartsy, but it worked! 

Despite encouraging fans to freely distribute the music on peer to peer sites, the site has recorded 800,000 transactions and made $1.6 million in the first week.

That's a pretty good take for not having a record company slice off 90% of the revenue!

nin-ghosts-order-details

So lets recap the internet is not only good for selling ebooks on how to lose weight, but it can make or break a Presidential campaign, it can compete with Wal-Mart for sales and now it might just put one of those last nine inch nails in the coffin of the music industry that still doesn't get it.

Now they are pushing the envelope even further and encouraging fans to mix up their 36 track set to their own music videos or film.

Nine Inch Nails Make $1.6 Million With Online Album Sales

Bank of America - We Can't Hear You Now through those Energy Efficient Windows

charlotte-bank-of-america-building-bad-cell-coverage Sometimes you can't win for losing, and Bank of America attempted to establish some "green" buildings around the Charlotte area where it has its headquarters.

With more than 15 buildings in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the bank has its headquarters, the three buildings designated as "green" are the ones where the signal problem has been detected, Bridges said.

Energy-efficient windows block mobiles

Unfortunately, the energy-efficient windows that they installed on those buildings are blocking cell phone signals from getting out or in. This was a completely unanticipated side effect of going green, and many people even outside of Bank of America were surprised that the bank would have this problem with energy-efficient windows. As it turns out, these windows are lying with a metallic substance during the manufacturing process.

So now Bank of America has to look at utilizing some slightly expensive solutions to help push wireless signals around the inside of their buildings. These days mobile phone access is essential to business, and it's just not possible that Bank of America could have a mobile phone free zone within their banks. Unfortunately, this presents a warning for companies that are looking to go green. The next time an eco-friendly department wants to go to the mattresses over a new technology, and may need to make sure that that new technology will toward business altogether. Nobody said there would be a learning curve to going green, so looks like were all in for a bumpy ride.

School Takes Study Aid (Ipod) Away From Kids

Schools do some stupid things sometimes. Mountain View High School in Meridian Idaho decided to take one of the best study aids students have had since the computer away from their students to prevent them from cheating. They are banning Ipods.

They claim that a teacher over heard students talking about cheating with Ipods. Neither the teacher nor the school actually caught any students cheating with Ipods.

They claim that students can cheat on tests with Ipods in a number of ways:
  1. downloading crib notes and formulas in audio or text files to listen to or read on the display
  2. slipping a single ear bud into their ear to listen to songs like School House Rock's "I'm just a bill"
  3. using self recorded voice notes to listen to and more
Can you imagine that?

Students would actually take the time to record their notes and put them on their music players. Better put a stop to that right away, that's almost like studying. Those same no good students could, god forbid, listen to their notes on the way to school and home again, or while exercising in the gym or during a lunch break even.

Instead of teaching students to use the benefits of the tool and encouraging them to use the tool for positive reasons (like all those fantastic Duke students that were required to get Ipods so they could study more effectively, remember?), the school has decided to take the tool that might be abused away on heresay.

They claim that teachers and administrators might not have kept up with technology and so they can't keep up with those super smart kids these days.

That's Hogwash too!

The first walkman came out almost 3 decades ago when many of those teachers and administrators were in school or college themselves. You could do most of the same things with a walkman then that you can do with an ipod today. I know, I did them. I used to record my notes and study for tests with my walkman all the time in high school.

This is just an ignorant reaction from this school. I have news for the school. There's a much older form of technology that is much more useful for cheating on tests, its called a book. You can cheat on a test with a book easier than you can with an Ipod. For that matter you can cheat with a piece of paper, or if any of those old fogey teachers ever saw that early 80's movie spies like us, they would know that you can cheat with an ink pen and some skin, or an eye patch, or fake cast or dozens of items.

Maybe if those teachers would get up and monitor the class during the tests they might be able to observe whether or not any students have any wires hanging from their ears, and then if the students actually want to study for their tests in between classes, well that is a good thing.

The thing is that most teachers are not that lazy. This sounds more like a school board getting involved in something and wasting everyone's time. Maybe if they spent more time working to increase teacher's salaries so that teachers did not have to subsist on food stamps and medicare advantage supplements and spent less time trying to make silly headlines the system would make more progress.

Recycling Your old Computers

For small business owners looking to safely get rid of old computers, Ebay might be an option to bring in a little extra money.  Bootstrapping is always a good concept, but if selling used computers is not your core competency and if you have other work that seems to be more important, you might want to hand this chore off to someone else.

There are many companies that specialize in either recycling machines that can not be saved or refurbishing those that can and selling them.

You might look into these options and consider an alternative path such as Twin Cities Digital.  Send them your information on the machines you are looking to get rid of and they will contact you for dates and possibly a quote.  They work with many types of computers from your average HP, Dell, and IBM's to used cisco machines and equipment and more. 

Protect Your DATA!

No matter what, if you do recycle your machine, protect the information on your hard drives.  Invest in steps to both save the knowledge and information on those old computers so that you do not lose something important.  Then invest in powerful tools designed to strip and wipe the sensitive data off those machines and possibly permanently destroy the hard drives before they ever leave your facility and control.

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