Gifts for the (New) TV Lovers in Your Life

What goes hand-in-hand with gaudy lights, fake snow, and endless holiday music? Shopping lists, of course. Here are a few items I’m thinking about giving — and a few more I’d like to receive — this year.

tivo_hd_xl TiVo HD XL: I know TiVo’s (s tivo) subscriber numbers are tanking, but I still love my TiVo DVR. My trusty old Series 2 TiVo is incompatible with my new HDTV, so it’s gathering dust.  I’d love to upgrade to the TiVo HD XL. It costs $600, but also needs TiVo service ($13 a month or $300 for a lifetime, though now might not be the time to invest  in the company’s lifetime service). But let’s pretend money is no object. The XL in “HD XL” refers to the DVR’s giant hard drive, which will let you store 150 hours of HD programming; the HD XL also supports CableCards (so you can ditch the cable box if your provider lets you), and allows you to record two channels at once. Plus, you can use the TiVo HD XL to watch the movies and shows from your Netflix Instant Watching queue on your TV. Speaking of Netflix…
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Top App Store Downloads for 2008 Paint a Picture of Buying Habits

It may not be a list with many surprises, but the official top App Store downloads of 2008 still makes for interesting reading. Posted by Apple early this morning and available to view in iTunes, the list of chart-toppers is divided into most downloaded overall, and features top ten lists for five of the App Store’s categories: Games, Entertainment, Utilities, Social Networking and Music.

The lists appear as part of the iTunes Store 2008 year-in-review mini-site, which also features the most popular movies, songs, TV shows, and podcasts. Of course, the items on each list differ according to which region you’re in. The list discussed here is that found in the U.S. version.
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F|R Interview: 2 Founders, 2 Careers’ Worth of Funding Tips

Founders Gary Swart and Stephen Pieraldi presided over the Venture Capital and Seed Financing Workshop at GigaOM’s recent Structure 08 conference . This week, the pair sat down with Found|READ to share additional lessons from their careers in fundraising.

Swart is CEO of oDesk, a staffing platform that lets companies hire and manage their global talent virtually. Previously he co-founded Intellibank, which he described as “an ill-fated XRM startup that taught me many lessons, most significantly the importance of focus and product-market fit.” oDesk was seed-funded by its founders and angel Ron Conway. Since Swart joined in 2005, oDesk has raised $29 million in three venture capital rounds.

Stephen Pieraldi is the founder of Iforem, which offers e-escrow services so companies can store their digital assets, in perpetuity. This is his second stint as a founder, and his seventh startup overall. Iforem was seed-funded with $2 million by Gabriel Venture Partners, where Pieraldi is an EIR. Read More about F|R Interview: 2 Founders, 2 Careers’ Worth of Funding Tips

Werner Vogels Explains Amazon Web Services’ Philosophy

One of the questions that I really wanted to get answered at Structure 08 was what the chances of survival are for the myriad of startups out there building their businesses around Amazon’s Web Services. Companies such as RightScale, Hyperic and Soasta depend on both the success of AWS and its shortcomings — the solutions to which they propose to offer. So I sat down with the online retailer’s CTO, Werner Vogels, to see how Amazon viewed this ecosystem. My takeaway? I think most of the these firms are safe. Read More about Werner Vogels Explains Amazon Web Services’ Philosophy

Our Live Coverage of Structure 08 Conference

We’re live in San Francisco today at Structure 08, GigaOM’s cloud computing conference. GigaOM old-timers Katie Fehrenbacher and Liz Gannes have prime seats to give you photo, video and blog updates throughout the day. If you want to pretend like you’re here with us, check out our live-streaming video, which will feature all the main stage speeches and panels, as well as interviews with attendees, conducted by our favorite GigaOM office personalities, Carolyn Pritchard and Chris Albrecht.

STRUCTURE 08: Zach Nelson, NetSuite

Zach Nelson, NetSuiteThe mid-market is the last great business application opportunity, says Zach Nelson, president and CEO of the recently IPOed NetSuite. (That’s his market, but he promises his presentation will not be too self-serving. We shall see!) The cloud makes it economical to reach the Fortune 5,000,000.

The cloud does not solve the problem of application integration, says Nelson. Things won’t all magically work together. The web is very good for loosely coupled things, and the business world needs very tightly coupled applications.

Just like software before it, there’s a world of hurt for traditional services companies based on cloud computing and the expectations of customers. Accenture, PwC and the like.

But no clear mid-market leader, and few examples of moving down market. When you’re talking about synchronizing data, suites win. (Self-serving check: did I hear a “suite”?)

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STRUCTURE 08: Buddy Miller, Level 3

Buddy MillerJim Crowe, president and CEO of Level 3, is sick with the flu, so Buddy Miller, vice chairman, is stepping in.

Going through a little history: Company hoping to make a profit soon. In ’90s you could raise money but turmoil when the bubble burst. Level 3 was funded enough to last and see industry change.

Not long ago, communications was utility — today telecommunication’s function is to provide the standardized connections. View of the future is standardized connections to the cloud. Bandwidth as a commodity — “Oops, I used the ‘C-word’!” But communications services are a technical commodity — successful company must be low-cost provider since demand is unlimited.

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STRUCTURE 08: Harnessing Explosive Growth

OK, so this is the sexy panel. We have tech people from some of the biggest web sites out there telling us about how they scale their sites.

  • Jeremiah Robison, Slide
  • Sandy Jen, Meebo
  • Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook
  • Akash Garg, hi5 Networks
  • Raj Patel, Yahoo!
  • James Barrese, eBay

Alistair: How much of scalability is architecture, and how much is throwing servers at the problem?

Heiliger, Facebook: The cheapest way to scale is adding servers, but over time the product is really what drives the infrastructure, so if the product is bad that’s going to cause you to have problems that are hard to engineer your way out of. When we added chat on Facebook we actually built a new backend for that. See a post on the Facebook engineering blog about this.

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Infinera CTO: Video Swamping Net, Optical Can Help

Drew Perkins, CTO, InfineraOver at Structure 08, the GigaOM conference about cloud computing (where Chris and I are, respectively, live-streaming and live-blogging all day), Drew Perkins, the CTO of optical transport equipment maker Infinera, tells us his company is having to rapidly scale its technology as the Internet grows.

What’s driving the growth? Video. “Video traffic is clearly the biggest consumer on the Internet,” and the addition of video traffic swamps all other traffic. “Video will completely swamp the network,” and there will be exponentially increasing bandwidth demand as video applications grow.

Conventional technology won’t be able to handle the demand, said Perkins, so Infinera is looking to use photon-integrated circuitry to help solve this problem.

Here’s a follow-up interview Om conducted with Perkins in the hallway:

Structure 08: Making Money on the Stack

Cloud computing isn’t as nebulous as its name implies. Thanks to virtualization, one can separate the storage from the servers and the servers from the software—but it’s also about bandwidth. The primary value will be more about moving data from the hardware to the end user. To that end, Google has automated its network and is using structured metadata to track how much it costs the company to move a bit or byte from one geographic area to another, according to Vijay Gill, manager of engineering at Google.

That allows Google to charge users based not just on compute cycles but on their actual costs of moving the data around the world. Gill talked about establishing an auction model for pricing that will reflect that actual costs of moving data. The importance of bandwidth was also highlighted by Lane Patterson, chief technologist from Equinix, who said that a cloud provider that owns its own bandwidth might achieve a competitive advantage.

As cloud computing unfolds it won’t do so only in the U.S., said Dr. Jay Subrahmonia, director of advanced customer solutions for IBM, who points out that developing countries are adopting it because of the speed and flexibility cloud computing offers. Figuring out how to price and value that speed and flexibility is the next big step.