Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Some quick reflections on this week's SIIA Conference in San Francisco:

- Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy kicked the conference off with a sweeping top-of-mind on where he saw the industry going. Not surprisingly, he sees the future in terms of complete systems and platforms using a standards-driven interface that is at least browser-like. He made it a point to pick up and show his Java-enabled cell-phone at least seven times during the chat, and was very proud that 200 million of these devices are likely to ship around the world this year - far more than PC sales. But when I asked him about where content figures into his vision, given Microsoft's aggressive positioning with content channels, he drew rather a blank. Sun has brilliant focus, but product loyalty will hinge as much on content as it will on features.

- Dow Jones sent its top brass to reflect on the success of their online content initiatives over the past couple of years. Derided as heretics when they put their prestigious Wall Street Journal online as a premium subscription product, WSJ Online is a huge success that is moving aggressively into new market segments. Probably the most interesting is their reflection that they have been both a print and an electronic company since their inception, so their ability to author effectively for both online and paper audiences has been a given since the beginning. Big unanswered question: how individual sales and corporate sales are going to merge in the future.

- I looked at a vendor display that was showing its wares for managing software duplication and licensing. I asked them if they did anything with content licensing: No. In the content licensing session, no talk of how to license content using techniques enabled for software distribution. What's wrong with this picture...?
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