Il miraggio del brevetto comunitario

Stamattina ho trovato nella mia casella di posta un messaggio da una persona che cerca informazioni riguardo la brevettabilità delle idee. La domanda in particolare mi ha colpito, come sempre:

se ho ben capito le idee non sono brevettabili e quindi […] chiunque può rivedere la mia idea e ricopiarla con un altro marchio?

Mi colpisce sempre come qualcuno possa pensare di basare il vantaggio competitivo di un’azienda solo su un brevetto. Evidentemente la propaganda pro-brevetti fa breccia nelle menti di alcuni e certamente il mito del povero inventore che di colpo diventa ricco senza faticare è dura a morire. La dura realtà è che un brevetto da solo quasi non basta nemmeno alle aziende farmaceutiche per ottenere un vantaggio competitivo sostenibile. La recente battaglia tra Nokia e Apple dimostra che i brevetti oggi non servono affatto a stimolare l’innovazione, ma piuttosto a limitarla. Nokia ha smesso di innovare, Apple la sta superando ma la prima si è lanciata alla rincorsa con gli uffici legali.

Le ho consigliato di leggere il post di Seth Godin su come proteggere le ideee (non si può) e il libro The art of the start di Guy Kawasaki. A tutti consiglio anche di firmare la petizione di FFII per sensibilizzare i politici europei sui danni che il brevetto comunitario può fare alle imprese nazionali.

How Apple will dramatically increase revenues

My architecture professors repeated ad infinitum that an image is worth a thousand words. Following is a pictures that clearly shows how Apple will dramatically increase its revenues in the next year:

MacBook internals (source: iFixIt.com)
MacBook internals (source: iFixIt.com)

It’s not (only) the cool design or the (un)cool software: it’s mainly the reduced (~60%) bill of material you see in the picture (compare it to an older iBook internals). And the 30% reduction in the packaging volume. The latter reduces complexity in costs of acquisition and management of the parts, plus the servicing costs after the sales. The former means 30% saving in the shipping costs.’  Brilliant.’  This is the kind of sustainable competitive advantage that MBA classes teach managers to aim for.’  I’m ready to bet will make Apple’s revenues skyrocket, even without increasing marketshare or total units shipped.

Goodbye uncle Bill

As Bill Gates finally bows out of Microsoft to pursue his charity interests, BBC looks at some of the hits and misses of the software company he founded.

BBC NEWS | Technology | The hits and misses of Microsoft

Uncle Bill left a Microsoft not having beaten the Free Software movement and fighting to conquer new markets, like the mobile devices, where it is not a leader. I’ve played for a few hours with a Windows Mobile phone at Funambol and I remain skeptical about that OS. Anyway, it will be interesting to watch Ray Ozzie at work and see how he will play.

The next step in desktop innovation

14032008(005)A better filesystem and a better user interface. Haiku filesystem goes in the right direction (read the interview to Kevin Musick, BeServed author). I happily read als that the Sugar UI will be developed also for other hardware that is not OLPC, which is good. I had the chance to play with a XO laptop and I loved it, even though the machine is slow (it was an early prototype from the AMD Italy folks).

Then there is ITSME, for which I hope to see soon something. There is lots to be done.

Ozzie talks about FLOSS and FLOSS advocates talk back

Lots of talking about Microsoft lately.’  As I expected, Ray Ozzie’s public appearances are increasing with declarations of love for the magic word interoperability and with a new, more open, attitude.’  I believe it’s true that “Microsoft fundamentally, as a whole, has changed dramatically as a result of open source,” as Ozzie said.

Roberto wrote a long post about Microsoft Open Source strategy. Having talked to him long enough, I know he sees the big potential for new Open Source firms to prosper on Microsoft ecosystem.’  I suspect he is right, given the fact that the *nix competitors have lost 15 years of evolution fighting each other instead of building a common (superior) platform. Only with GNU/Linux such common platform arrived, but it probably came a day late and a dollar short.

Contrary to Roberto, I think that Microsoft change is not sufficient yet for Free Software advocates like me to merrily lift the precautions. I can still hear Ballmer shouting threats and see him trying to twist the arms of the EU Commission (as Carlo remembers very well). I’m not confident yet that these moves represent a new strategy and they’re not merely tactics to penetrate the FLOSS market and break it from the inside (patent lawsuit?).’  If I were a developer I wouldn’t trust any promise not to sue by Microsoft, even if that promise uses the same (murky) words of IBM’s promises. I don’t care: Microsoft track records on Free Software is bad, bad, bad and worse. Microsoft must do better than IBM, it must be perfect (they can, if they want to).

Microsoft is changing focus, will it change attitude?

I’ve placed a bet that Microsoft will change radically its business model when Gates will leave his chair to Ray Ozzie, so I was trying to get a clue from Ozzie’s speech at the MIX last week. I wasn’t too impressed by his keynote, though, it was too much in the old known ‘corporate style’, too much junk talking about the old products (still talking about zune? Office Live? Come on, that’s so old stuff). And about old strategies.

Even in the GigaOM Interview Ozzie reveals anything new. His comment:

The OS that we’re using today is kind of in the model of a ’70s or ’80s vintage workstation. It was designed for a LAN, it’s got this great display, and a mouse, and all this stuff, but it’s not inherently designed for the Internet.

repeats that Microsoft will focus on the web. And on social interaction through the web. Just like Google. There is nothing new: Microsoft is playing again being the second mover in the online market. With its financial power will try to crush the competition. Disappointing: there is nothing really new coming from there. I still hope that Ozzie will at least introduce respect for open standards.

Now I better put my hope for a revolutionary product in some nice startup, to have some fun.

An Italian startup wants to go beyond desktop metaphor

I think that a document is anything that I save on my computer, anything that ‘documents’ my actions and my life. So bookmarks, images and text files, maps, email messages, calendar entries are all documents to me.’  Saving these digital documents’  in folders as one would in an office phisical-space-cabinet is too limiting.’  What if the same file fits into more folders?’  For example, a remarkable presentation to a client for project A, would it go to ProjectA folder or to Remarkable folder? The picture of my nephew goes to the FamilyPhoto folder, but should the very good one go also to CandidateForContest folder?

With today’s desktops we can do most of this (link, alias, copy), but it’s not easy and it’s not all.’  Emails are stored totally separated from the projects folders and that’s bizzarre. Same goes for pictures if you want to organize them in a meaningful way, with title, comments, tags (using iPhoto or F-Spot) they are separated from the file system folders.’  If we think that the desktops we use today are some 40 years old, I think it’s about time that somebody starts to innovate.

When I met professor Giorgio De Michelis I immediately liked his a vision because it fits in the issues I briefly described, and some others.’  I’m glad he will be presenting the new initiative, called ITSME, that matches hardware design with a new desktop metaphor together with Elserino Piol and Prof. Alfonso Fuggetta at the IDC Italia >> Innovation Forum 2008.

I’ll be there to listen to the event because I’m really not impressed by all the existing operating systems 🙂