Patents: A Big Day For Business Process

Yesterday the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its judgment in the Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw case – the appeal was thrown out with the court finding that the hedge fund system was not patentable.

There are conflicting views amongst the legal community as to the effect of this decision on process or method patents. You can read two here and here.

Personally, I’m going to dust off my lawyer’s robe and wig for Halloween and take the weekend to read the entire judgment and form my own views.

One thing is clear though – the case will go on appeal to the US Supreme Court.

[Picture courtesy of vgm8383]

LinkedIn Looks Out For Users By Opening Platform

Reid Hoffman has announced that his professional social networking tool, LinkedIn, has opened up its platform to third party developers. The current roll out includes a suite of, eight external and one internal, apps that are aimed at enhancing user productivity through file sharing, project management, arranging business trips etc.

Open Mobile Markets: How To Drive Impetus

Open mobile platforms and markets are all the rage.

Apple generated $30m in the first month with its iStore, and has attracted a plethora of app developers of all shapes and sizes – from Electronic Arts through to start ups like Palo Alto-based Tapulous.

The first Android-powered GPhone is about to hit the streets and this means the Android market will be open for business. RIM is working on something similar and Microsoft is creating a platform for selling apps on its Windows Mobile systems called SkyMarket.

But take a closer look at the Android Market and one thing is glaringly obvious – it’s relatively deserted. Sure it’s a chicken and egg thing, but what made Facebook’s F8 platform so successful in gaining immediate impetus was the critical mass element.

Currently, only a handful of apps are ready for Android – MySpace has a basic version of its soc network ready, imeem’s Internet radio service and a number of weather related apps are the pick of the bunch.

Where is everybody? EA’s Spore, which is the best mobile game I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing would be a great marquee.

So here’s the rub. The beauty of the iPhone Store was that you could generate revenue immediately. The Android Market is currently missing that key revenue enabler – a closed commerce system.

As the number of app markets proliferates and the total addressable market mushrooms I suspect we’ll see a number of meta solutions appear. In particular meta systems that can market, track and monetize apps across all the platforms as well as tools that allow developers to code once, and release cross platform.

In the meantime, app store owners need to focus on getting traffic in the door, app developers buzzed about their platform and a monetization mechanism in place.

Social Media: Are Families More Connected, Sharing More?

As an initial touchpoint for this post I want to point to a comment made recently by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Talking about Facebook’s redesign at the Future of Web Apps event in London, he noted that sharing amongst people is growing at an exponential rate:

One of the things that we have thought about at Facebook – we don’t have any conclusions on it yet – but an interesting historical analogy is Moore’s Law.” (The Law stated that the speed of processors would double every two years.) “And I wouldn’t be surprised, although there’s no definitive link yet, if something like that exists with the rate of sharing.

This is a key insight and one that is being backed up by a Pew Internet & American Life Project on Networked Families. The report explores how parents and spouses are arriving at a “new connectedness” through the use of key social media enablers.

Read Write Web has a useful summary of the report. Yes, there is always the need for cognizant balance between work and play, face time and screen time, but on the whole we are able to connect more with family and friends, colleagues and compadres. I want to explore this more in a piece I am writing, but it seems to me that we are on the cusp of attaining a whole new level of sharing and connectedness.

Pongr: Are Facebook Apps On The Nose? fbFund Finalists Announced

The Facebook blog has a post today titled, “Drumroll, please”, and goes on to announce the top 25 finalists in their fbFund Developer Competition. Running an eye through the list I’d suggest a clang of cymbals is more appropriate.

Many of the apps are merely derivations of apps that have long since fallen out of favor. And then there are the names – take Pongr as an example. Surely the guys behind this one could’ve thought of a more appropriate name for a mobile price checking app.

One of them does catch my eye though – GroupCard. Initially put into play at Stanford University, this app empowers users to rally their friends to sign the same printable online card to celebrate any occassion. Each friend can add a message, upload photos or audio, and even make a gift contribution.

That sounds like a really neat app.

Cloudera: Hadooping The Downturn

A group of Silicon Valley technologists are thumbing their noses at the down(turn)-talk and setting up a new venture to provide support to companies wanting to make use of Hadoop.

Bay-area based Cloudera will provide enterprise-level support for Apache’s top level, open source map reduce technology, which enables companies with large amounts of data to have significantly more detailed analysis and efficiencies related to this data.

The team includes Michael Olson, the former CEO of Sleepycat Software, makers of the open source embedded database engine Berkeley DB, which Oracle acquired in 2006.

Other founders include Jeff Hammerbacher, who led the data team at Facebook and Christophe Bisciglia, who created Google’s Academic Cloud Computing Initiative.

According to Venturebeat, the fourth founder, Amr Awadallah, is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Accel Partners – while this does not guarantee they will back Cloudera (ask former Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale – he was an EiR with them before they passed on funding Second Life), there is a good possibility they will tip into a round to get the company operational.

iPhone App Development Grows Up: Goldminers and Litigators Arrive

Last year the flavor was Facebook’s F8 Platform. This year it’s been all about iPhone apps. Fast followers, like Google, with Android, and RIM are emulating Apple’s app store, but the defining moment(s) that point to the platform having reached a stage of nascent maturity are twofold:

* firstly, the Sydney Morning Herald has cottoned on to the fact that there is good money to be made from developing apps – I’ll let you read the piece written by Asher Moses for yourselves, but I suspect/hope the developers will now descend on this new vein of “easy” moola;

* secondly, an iPhone developer has taken on Coors in a litigation over a beer drinking app emulation that users the iPhone’s tilt motion. Brave move, I wish Hottrix luck and hope their law firm is taking this on purely on contingency.

It will be great to see more developers tapping into these mobile app stores, but the key will be in keeping up the quality in the apps.

Silicon Valley: WAKE.the F. UP. – this ain’t Wall Street or a Walk in the Park

You gotta hand it to Dave McClure. He has a way of saying things. If you are in Silicon Valley, aspire to be or simply live the Valley-way wherever you happen to be then you oughta read his take on things.

Sure, the rosy glow surrounding our world may have dimmed, but hey – your’e in the fast lane…keep on drivin’ – HARD!

[Picture of Elon Musk driving a Tesla provided by kqedquest]

Photobucket Expands Features With Customized Themes And Advanced Organizer

Recognizing that photos and videos are how we keep and share the most important moments in our lives, Fox Interactive Media-owned photo and video sharing site Photobucket has taken another step towards making the sharing of memories even more personal and entertaining.

The site’s 46 million unique users worldwide will be able to make use of new album design themes and a new photo and video organizer.

With the themes feature, users can choose from pre-made themes in a range of categories (art, entertainment, holidays, nature, sports etc). Artists will be able to provide pre-made themes for their fans – currently Tokio Hotel has a custom theme on the site. In addition, users can create custom themes of their own.

Themes can be added to both individual and group albums and will be viewable by visitors to an entire album, individual photo or video and when photos or albums are shared. Group albums provide access for multiple people to share and view photos in a single album.

The new organizer allows users to add titles, descriptions and tags to photos and videos in bulk, customize the sort order of media in albums, organize content via drag and drop and search through albums based on descriptions, tag contents or titles.

Does Facebook Really Have Three Years To Figure Things Out?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tells us, via an interview with a Frankfurt newspaper, that they are currently experimenting with a number of models and expect to have worked out their optimal way to monetize within three years.

I agree with his premise that the model for social networks is different to the Google ad-based revenue model – people visit socnets to hang out, not to click through. I also agree that experimentation is good, but will it seriously take them three years?

Perhaps something got lost in the translation from Zuckerspeak to German to English.

[via Silicon Alley Insider]