Monday, January 22, 2007

Data Centers in the Wilderness

Since the dawn of the dotcom days a decade ago, there have been many cities that have sprouted up as high-tech hubs across the country. Most of these cities of course are large cities in general, but their tech-specific growth originally was due to a handful of factors - primary of which seemed to be the abundance of technical talent. For example, places like Research Triangle Park in North Carolina (Duke and UNC are nearby), or the SF Bay Area (Stanford and Berkeley), or Austin Texas (U of Texas).

And along with the tech growth in these areas, all of the major ISPs opened data centers in them or nearby, so that the Tech Giants would be close to their data and that they would rely on someone else to manage it.

But now it seems that the trend is reversing. Recently, companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google are opening up data centers in rural Oregon and Washington, and Google recently announced plans to build a data center in western North Carolina, far from the big cities.

Why this boom? Two reasons - Power and Prices. Both real-estate and utility charges are lower in this area. In addition, these areas look forward to cash-laden companies who want to help develop their local economies.

It is also interesting to note that the whole dotcom era practice of using outsourced data centers is seemingly reversing a bit.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two things people aren't really saying about the iPhone

So apple introduced the iPhone last week. While it has all the makings of a potential hit (even at the ludicrous price point -$5-600 with a 2-year deal), there is a lot of talk about how effective it will be and how it will change the face of telephony.

I am not going to jump into that fray right now, as there are millions blogging and reporting on its features and its future. I will, however point out two things that, if they have been mentioned by others, have not been mentioned with as much fanfare:

1. Palm is on its last legs - While the Treo was revolutionary, it never quite garnered the market for business wireless e-mail the same way that BlackBerry did. So, it quickly became the darling of the Prosumer (i.e. High-end consumer world). While the Q-Phone and Blackjack were starting to take market share away from Palm, the iPhone will ultimately do it in. Palms devices are in a form factor that is already tired and lacking inspiration. Why would I want a bulky Palm 750, when I could have a much more svelte Blackjack or Q-Phone running the same Windows Mobile software? Yes the Treo 680 is a nice consumer phone with a lot of plusses, but how many are they really going to sell? I give Palm about 18-24 months left before it goes belly-up or gets acquired, unless it comes out with something innovative.

2. This iPhone isn't anything more than a stopgap measure - If I haven't learned anything about Apple and the iPods is that the first iteration is just a stopgap to wider innovation. Think about it. The first iPod was only 5GB and retailed for 500, with a mono screen and only connected to macs. Dana Carvey once joked to Jay Leno that he considered buying an iPod one morning, but then decided to wait until after lunch when the new ones came out. The iPhone will hit the street in June, which means the blogosphere will not be buzzing with real-world reviews of it until August - just in time to coincide with the MacWorld 08' rumors. Interestingly enough, the form factor of the current iPhone would make for a good iPod as well, and Flash Memory now comes is sizes up to 32 MB. My advice, unless you're one of the true apple faithful, don't jump on the first iPhone. Wait until a year from now for the next version.