09 September, 2008

Follow-up odds and ends: Google, Comcast and Microsoft

Well it has been a week since Google released Chrome, a week since I've tracked my Internet bandwidth usage, and 5 days since Microsoft released its ads to compete against Apple. Let's take a look and see how each are doing.
===============

I wrote a little about Google's surprise announcement of their new browser Chrome last week, highlighting some of its features. One feature that intrigued me was the ability to "tear-off" a tab and turn a browser window into a pseudo application on your desktop. I did just that with my email and RSS reader -- I replaced Thunderbird with a direct window into my Gmail account and replaced the RSS reader with Google's RSS reader.

I had looked and tried many RSS readers before settling on Thunderbird, but found that over the last six months that I've used it less and less. I like the Google Reader interface much better than Thunderbird and others and Chrome has made it just a little easier to access it. In addition, in the few times that I want to check it out remotely, the move to Google Reader, spurred by Chrome, enables that capability. But where the real value I found was switching to using Chrome for reading my Gmail. With Thunderbird I still had to periodically go into Gmail through my browser or iPhone and delete and file messages I already read, now that problem is gone. And for the occasional click-through from an email to a web page, it opens quickly in Chrome.

Despite some shakiness at times and the lack of plug-in support, in particular for my favorite -- RoboForm -- Chrome is doing good and has found a home in my daily computing life. I will note that I still use Firefox for my daily web surfing.

===============

Let's move on to the next follow-up, bandwidth usage. I also wrote last week about Comcast's announcement of placing a cap on monthly bandwidth usage of 250 GB, starting in October. Part of this announcement was that they were not offering a way to monitor your usage -- seems odd, huh? Well it's not too difficult to measure the bandwidth of a computer, as there are several application available, and I've been using one, BitMeter. Before I tell you my usage for the last week, keep in mind this is just for my single computer; it does not count the bandwidth consumed by my work laptop, as I worked late one evening in particular; it does not count my Apple TV either, which included accessing Apple's iStore and Google's YouTube; finally, many household that may run into a cap issue likely also have a game machine accessing the Internet. Needless to say, Comcast really needs to connect a bandwidth report tool with your account that you can check any time on their site if they are going to try and hold you to a cap. Until then, it's a scare tactic that will likely lower usage by many household that have no reason to worry about going over.

Here are my statistics for a week. If I take the daily average and multiple by 30, we get 51.5 GBs of usage per month. Of course your milage will vary based on your Internet usage habits, your Internet attached devices (see above), and the number of members in your household.
===============

Finally, let's talk a bit about Microsoft's new ad with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, which I also posted this past week. Apparently Microsoft is investing $300 million, include $10 million to Mr. Seinfeld, in order to fight back for the long running Apple ads that have been bashing Microsoft.

I have not heard many good comments about the lengthy ad, which definitely does not call out Apple, and in fact does not even refer to Microsoft specifically until near the end (1:09 of 1:30). I think many of the industry pundits were just being too critical, and they did not step back and pick up the subtleties.
  1. If you begin with the location of the bit, a discount shoe store, it parallels the difference between Windows (discount) and Mac (higher priced).
  2. And Bill is trying a leather show, which is too tight -- I interpret the leather as being a higher price shoe (Apple), yet its going to have to stretch to fit right.
  3. On the other hand, with the Conquistador shoe, though they are "tight" to begin with a little customization (stretching; wearing in the shower) can make them fit your well.
  4. And even before the full customization, it fits better.
  5. Oh, and Bill is a 10 -- we heard that 3 times.
  6. The family outside (not looking for a new OS, err shoe) knows the Conquistador is a good shoe, yet runs a little tight.
  7. Bill's been shopping at the same place for years, he's a Platinum member, just like most Microsoft customers -- been using Windows for years.
  8. Big Top points? Working on that one.
  9. "...computers moist and chewy like cake so we can eat 'em while we're working. if it's a yes, give me a signal, adjust your shorts." Bill moves his hips -- Microsoft must have something new in store for us.
So no, it wasn't a cool, catchy ad like the ones we all like from Apple. But if we listen closely, we see that Microsoft is laying the foundation for its own story while sublimely reinforcing the Microsoft way -- lower cost and customizable how you want to customize. I'm looking forward to the next ad.

No comments: