11th > November > 2006 Archive

Motorola buys Good

Motorola has bought Good Technology for an undisclosed sum. Good is RIM's chief rival for corporate mobile messaging - the two have a bitter history of legal battles - and claims 12,000 corporate accounts. Terms of the deal were not disclosed; Good is privately held and does not disclose earnings information. The move follows the trend of handset manufacturers snapping up horizontal vendors to build a vertical applications stack. Nokia snapped up Intellisync, which majors on mobile email, last year. Motorola is only one of Good's customers, however, and one of the most recent licensees. When it launched in 2002 Good originally sold its own purpose-built handhelds, while Windows Mobile and Symbian have been relatively recent additions. Which means most of Good's customers run on PalmOS. Can these enterprise customers feel confident Motorola will support them? Given Palm's increasing dependence on Microsoft, it's not as alarming as it might have been. Motorola unsuccessfully tried to acquire PalmSource, which makes the PalmOS, last year. Motorola's stewardship of the CodeWarrior compiler should give businesses which depend on rival handsets some confidence too. After Motorola acquired Metrowerks, it has continued to support versions for a variety of platforms - including Palm and Symbian.®
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Nov 2006
For Sale sign detail

Microsoft's patent promise 'empty'

Microsoft's promise not to whack unarmed free software developers is useless - and no protection from Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel. That's the view of former Freedom Software Foundation executive director Bradley Kuhn.
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Nov 2006

Pam Anderson's poker palace goes titsup

The collapse of internet gaming activity following the recent enactment of anti-gambling legislation in the United States has claimed another victim- Pamelapoker.com, the online poker website founded by none other than Pamela Anderson. Pamelapoker.com was the latest attempt by a Hollywood celebrity to cash in the Texas Hold’em craze that has swept across the US in the last few years, but unfortunately for the artificially enhanced Canuck, her timing proved even worse than her acting. Pamelapoker was started about four months ago by the buxom sex kitten as an adjunct to the Doyle Brunson Poker Network, and, according to her online diary at pamelaanderson.com, everything was going swimmingly until the United States Congress got its panties in a bunch over the easy accessibility of online gambling to Americans, where wagering is generally illegal. Her diary that had been full of eager plans for revealing photo shoots and online poker games with horny fans took a pouty turn yesterday: Poker site should have been shut down last month. I have nothing to do with it anymore. Too many shady areas. I really don't want to encourage people to gamble. This must be turned off. It just didn't work out. Even in my heart. Good luck to Doyle’s Room. I love him. He is authentic to the game. I made a mistake getting involved in something I know nothing about for a quick buck! Yuck. So unlike me. Glad it's over. Doylesroom.com, the site run by John Huston look-alike and self-proclaimed poker legend Doyle Brunson, has taken over the operation of Pamelapoker.com - a development that only underscores her rather strange and unstable relationship with the gaming industry. According to the gambling news site Gambling911.com, Anderson and her entourage had a meltdown a couple of months ago at a party for the aforementioned impresario Brunson. Comedian Brad Garrett, formerly of the hit American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, emceed the evening and repeatedly hurled sexually charged comments such as “you don’t play at the table - you play under the table” at the former Playmate and Baywatch star. Notwithstanding that this was a celebrity roast, where such comments are part of the tradition, all hell broke loose and Anderson’s manager challenged Garrett to a fight. As Anderson stormed out of the party with manager and friends in tow, Garrett tore into her one last time, yelling to her that she “still had enough time to blow all the members of Whitesnake.” Nothing personal, of course. Although the pressure group Poker Players Alliance has vowed to get an exemption from Congress to the recent legislation - claiming that poker should be reclassified as a game of skill, not chance - the decline of Pamelapoker.com bodes ill for the online poker community. Attempts from the online poker community to elect sympathetic members to Congress met with decidedly mixed results, and yesterday’s capitulation by Betonsports.com to civil penalties by the DOJ indicates that the tide is still going against them. The days of Chris Moneymaker parlaying an online tournament victory into a World Series of Poker Championship are long gone. ®
Burke Hansen, 11 Nov 2006

Whatever happened to... The Wisdom of Crowds?

Future social historians looking back at the web cult - which met in San Francisco this week for a $3,000-a-head "summit" - may wonder what made them tick. Scholars could do worse than examine their superstitions. We'll bet that lurking on the bookshelf of almost every "delegate" was a copy of James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds. It's as ubiquitous as Erik Von Daniken books were in the 1970s. In Silicon Valley this year, "collective intelligence" is the mandatory piece of psycho-babble necessary to open a Venture Capitalist's cheque book. Surowiecki's faith in prediction markets appears unshakeable. Writing in Slate three years ago, in an attempt to save Admiral Poindexter's "Terror Casino" - punters were invited to bet on the probability of state leaders being assassinated, for example - Mystic Jim begged for understanding: "Even when traders are not necessarily experts, their collective judgment is often remarkably accurate because markets are efficient at uncovering and aggregating diverse pieces of information. And it doesn't seem to matter much what markets are being used to predict." "Whether the outcome depends on irrational actors (box-office results), animal behavior (horse races), a blend of irrational and rational motives (elections), or a seemingly random interaction between weather and soil (orange-juice crops), market predictions often outperform those of even the best-informed expert. Given that, it's reasonable to think a prediction market might add something to our understanding of the future of the Middle East." A heart-warming fable, then, for a population robbed of their pensions, and beset by uncertainty after the dot.com bubble. Suroweicki failed to mention however that experts are regularly outperformed by chimps, or dartboards - but no one talks about "The Wisdom of Chimps". This week however the people spoke - and the markets failed. In the wake of the Democratic Party's capture of the Senate this week, we took a look at how well they performed at predicting the result. Here's the result from TradeSports.com: You'll want to study that last week in more detail, so here it is: And here's the one from NewsFutures: When the people really did decide to make a collective decision, the predictive "collective intelligence" of the crowd failed to foresee it. Awkward humans - especially those elusive humans who don't go near the web - keep getting in the way. What next? It's obvious. We need to cull the population so the result meets the market-markers prediction. That way, the facts will eventually fit with the Maoists' theory. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Nov 2006