Sep 24, 2007

The Business World Today: Two Issues That Affect Many Businesses

This week as I slogged my way through the blogosphere in search of relevant and interesting material on which to write, I came across two rather interesting posts that, upon further inspection, turned out to be very interesting and definitely worthy of this weeks post.

The first of these was found on a blog called The Marketing Technology Blog written by Douglas Karr. The issue being discussed was that of perception vs. reality (in the image to the left, the A and B squares are same) . Mr. Karr was criticized by one of his readers for posting a picture on the header of his blog that depicted him as being younger than he actually was. Mr. Karr did indeed post a picture of himself that was taken several years ago, however the picture was not altered in any way, shape or form, it was truly him albeit a bit younger looking than he apparently is now. Mr. Karr provided an excellent defense of his action and provided his readers with some enjoyable tidbits of information to support his argument.

The second post was from a blog called techdirt, it dealt with a lawsuit that has been filed against a company for violating the terms of the open source GPL software license. This fascinated me because, as you will see from my response, I have worked on several projects that utilized GPL licensed code. The issues being discussed revolve around two main themes; 1) will the GPL actually hold up in court, and 2) if it does hold up, how will monetary damages be decided and to whom will they be awarded.

Without further ado, here are my responses:

Post #1
Response to: Hey Mike! Marketing Is Also About The Make-Up


After reading through this post I felt compelled to comment on it. Studying public relations has given me an interesting perspective on the old adage “perception is reality and must be managed.” I find it fascinating how many people there are - like reader Mike - who are either unaware that this phenomenon exists, or are otherwise completely scandalized by it. I think your argument supporting this as an acceptable practice was very well crafted. It is indeed nice to see a welcoming face at the top of your blog and not at all beyond the scope of reason or morality to see why you would choose a younger, more “welcoming” looking face to present to the public. The Pamela Anderson bit was both fascinating and comical. This was the first time I’d ever seen Pam without her makeup – man, I feel so… lied to! I am sure nobody (other than Mike of course) begrudges you your corporate glamour shot. I for one am quite happy that you chose to post it and even more so that Mike decided to call you on it, without people like Mike, we would never have had the pleasure of that witty retort of yours. After all, not only is marketing “also about the makeup,” it’s also about the ability to deflect the occasional stab of negativity in a manner that is both professional and at the same time witty and creative enough to sway the public to your side. Well done.

Post #2
Response to: Lawsuit Tests The Legal Status Of The GPL

This is a fascinating issue. I have worked on several projects with friends that have utilized open source code under the GPL license and the topic of GPL enforceability has come up on more than one occasion. The issues we’ve discussed have led us to speculate that if the GPL were to be put to the test, it will ultimately be unenforceable. Let me preface this by saying that I am not a legal expert; the issues and conclusions that we’ve made are hardly worthy of consideration to any person with legal training. They are, however, rooted in logic.

The “open source” nature of GPL licensed software/code is very well suited to the morally depraved coder who sees fit to make it their own without following the license agreement. One can easily modify the supplied source code to the point where he/she can argue that it was they who coded it from scratch; after all, how many different ways are there to skin a cat? It is inevitable that coincidental similarities in two completely separate pieces of code will surface somewhere, at some point in time.

There is also the issue of monetary damages and to whom they are due. Since the open source community is so large and all of its members contribute their time and efforts to the project freely, there is virtually no way for a judge to decide who should be awarded the damages. Secondly, the fact that the code is distributed free of charge would also make it very difficult to determine how much, if any, money is due to the defendants for the infringement of the GPL.

(how many pieces can you slice out of this piece of cornbread before there is virtually nothing in each slice?)

Sep 17, 2007

The iPhone: Why Apple Should Support the Development of Third Party Applications.

The iPhone is steadily growing into, and may soon become (if it hasn’t already), the most widely publicized and talked about phone ever released. Apple products are often widely publicized due to the cult following Apple has developed over the years, the iPhone, however, has managed to transcend the boundaries of this avid group of devotees to infiltrate the lives and thoughts of the rest of the world – and rightly so. This minute combination of silicone, metal and plastic has merged the two most popular mobile electronic devices, the iPod and the cell phone, with a host of other widely used applications to produce the ultimate mobile device. However, despite the plethora of monumental advances in mobile technology the iPhone represents, there are many advances that have yet to materialize because of its lack of support for the third party developer community. The iPhone, if opened to third party application developers, would see immeasurable levels of public support and adoption, providing Apple with significantly more revenue possibilities than they would otherwise have with a closed platform.

Apple made it very clear when the iPhone was released that it would not be an open platform. Third party developers were going to have to utilize a different (and much inferior) platform to develop all of their applications – the web. After all, what could possibly require more than a simple web browser interface? The sentiment of the entire developer community is echoed in the famous comedian Dane Cook’s words, “Umm, Helllllo?” However, to present a good argument, one must be fair. Apple did provide some good reasoning behind their anti native development stance. In an article written by John Markoff for the New York Times, Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, was quoted saying, “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore.” Mr. Jobs also expressed concern that a rogue application might somehow crash AT&T’s west coast network.

Hackers, however, are not interested in crashing AT&T’s west coast network or shutting down their iPhones. They are simply interested in gaining increased functionality for the many new hardware features of the device. This has been proven at sites like and where developers have successfully hacked into their iPhones and written native applications to increase the functionality of the device (the image to the right is an example of a custom skin applied to a hacked iPhone). The growing list of unofficial native applications is a testament to the endless expansion possibilities of the iPhone, if only Apple would allow third party development to grow and flourish.

Would opening up the iPhone to third party developers really cater to the publics' wants? The evidence is irrefutable. In just two months, more than 51,000 people have flocked to the two web communities mentioned above –five percent of the total number of people who have purchased the device - and they are all there for one purpose, to hack their iPhones.

It just takes a bit of simple logic to determine why third party developers can significantly boost Apple’s iPhone revenue. More people working on applications for the iPhone equates to a wider variety of available applications. This in turn means that people have a wider variety of options and can accomplish a wider variety of tasks then previously possible with Apple’s limited offerings. All of this means that the iPhone will be a more attractive purchase to more people than it could have ever been under lock down by Apple, thereby affecting their bottom line in a very positive way. The development community has sent a petition letter to Apple requesting not even so much as full support, but only that they do not actively try and shut down the development of native third party applications. Any business or marketing professional worth their salt would not only advise Apple to heed their request, but go a step further and offer them support for their efforts. As of yet, Apple has not responded affirmatively in either direction, it will be interesting to see if they realize and take advantage of the true potential of the native application development community.