Tech Ticker Interview with Elevation's Roger McNamee

Roger McNamee InterviewIn a video posted Friday, Sarah Lacy of Yahoo's Tech Ticker has interviewed Elevation Partners' Roger McNamee on the reasons for Elevation's original investment in Palm and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the new Pre vs the likes of iPhone and Blackberry.

Apart from incredibly long, lustrous hair that would make Fabio cry himself to sleep, Roger also sports a Batman-style utility belt on which he carries every major smartphone on the market including, amusingly, a broken first-gen iPhone with a dud battery. "If you're an investor in Palm, it's really handy to have with you a competitor's product that's a complete turkey," he jokes.

Hit the jump for the embedded video along with some of the best quotes transcripted, including a more detailed explanation of webOS's innovative "thinking ahead" design.

"The thing to understand... this is just the first product on the new platform that we call the Palm webOS."

On competitors:

"Right now, in today's market, Google Android has the best web experience. Apple obviously has the iTunes experience, there's corporate email on the Blackberry. But y'know, the problem is, most people, their life doesn't revolve around iTunes. And their life doesn't revolve around corporate email. These may be really important applications, but that's not your whole life. And the funny thing is, all this stuff comes from personal computer technology. And what we learned at Palm was "Hey, after ten years of personal computer operating systems, it gets old in the real world and it gets really old on a mobile device." So we thought we'd start all over... these guys are about to run out of gas we're going to start a whole new era. And son-of-a-gun, that's what we're doing. The nice thing is that we introduced it last week at the Consumer Electronics Show... it was a Sally Field moment, right? Everybody liked it!"

On how their strategy is not predicated on "beating" those competitors:

"We embarked on this thing two years ago. We concluded that we would not make the investment if our success depended on the failure of either RIM or Apple."

On webOS thinking ahead:

"So when you wake up in the morning, it has taken your calendar and downloaded your maps for the whole day; it's downloaded the Wikipedias for the people you're going to visit and the companies you're going to see... why is it that on PCs you have to go and do all that? And when you're late get this when you're late... remember, this thing has GPS, it has a clock, and it has your calendar. So it not only knows where you are, it knows where you're supposed to be and when. And when it realises you're going to be late, it says "Hey you're going to be late, but I can take care of that for you. I'll send an email to your assistant or the people you're meeting with. Which would you prefer? Oh and by the way, here's the map."

On the future:

"To us, this is the beginning of a new wave. These guys (gestures to iPhone, Android, Blackberry) are totally capable of getting there; our goal is to make them chase us."

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And in this video, he says ...

mikecane @ 1/17/2009 1:29:40 PM # Q
Kara Talks to Roger McNamee About the Palm Pre
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBSdR0H27iE

>>>4:24: And architecturally, the beautiful thing is, that anything developed for either the iPhone or for the Google Android platform will port [to the Pre] very quickly - and vice versa.

Huh? What?! Objective-C/Cocoa/etc on the iPhone to HTML/CSS/JavaScript on the Pre "very quickly"?!!? WTF?

RE: And in this video, he says ...
SeldomVisitor @ 1/17/2009 1:32:31 PM # Q
Fine. Let's see them port the foggy mirror thingee...

RE: And in this video, he says ...
hotpaw4 @ 1/17/2009 2:48:07 PM # Q
Let's see... one runs a cross between Smalltalk and C, another runs a private label implementation of the Java JVM, and the last runs an new incarnation of web browser LiveScript/ECMAScript.

Well, there is the sense that it's theoretically possible to port between any two Turing complete languages, if you don't care about memory size, performance or power, or how long it might take to do this theoretical port... but that's in the same league as "assume a spherical cow"...

RE: And in this video, he says ...
SeldomVisitor @ 1/17/2009 3:58:15 PM # Q
Turing was wrong. His problem was he was stuck in 3 dimensions so left one out.

That one makes all the difference.

All computer programs are not equal.

=========

There's a book - what is it called? "Flatland", I think I remember - yes, that's it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland

RE: And in this video, he says ...
DarthRepublican @ 1/18/2009 5:54:49 PM # Q
Screw the foggy mirror thingee. I want to see them port this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzCj7-3S1Mc

Sky Map works on my T-Mobile G1 even though its a little slow. If they can port a computationally intensive application like this one which requires them to constantly update the screen in real time using GPS and network data which is actually useful for stargazing and astronomy, then the foggy mirror shouldn't be too tough.

Screw convergence
Palm III->Visor Deluxe->Visor Platinum->Visor Prism->Tungsten E->Palm LifeDrive->Palm TX
Visor Pro+VisorPhone->Treo 180g->Treo 270->Treo 600->Treo 680->T-Mobile G1
http://mind-grapes.blogspot.com/

RE: And in this video, he says ...
SeldomVisitor @ 1/19/2009 3:58:47 AM # Q
That's cool - I'd like to see it used outside with clear night sky visible to see how well it does. Very neat.

Reply to this comment

What does 'The Cloud' REALLY mean?

mikecane @ 1/17/2009 4:57:05 PM # Q
>>>Russ's extensive, big-picture discussion of the cloud turns it from an overused buzzword into an actual collection of useful technical concepts.

So sez Ars Technica, telling people to read this very long Q&A:
http://arstechnica.com/guides/other/hp-cloud-computing-interview.ars/1

All of you can jump on this ahead of me. It's too long for me to read on my monitor. I've dumped it into my LifeDrive to read tomorrow morning.

RE: What does 'The Cloud' REALLY mean?
Gekko @ 1/17/2009 5:22:45 PM # Q

the cloud is great in theory but i don't like the latency, hassle, speed, cost, security, sync, interface, etc. issues.



RE: What does 'The Cloud' REALLY mean?
SeldomVisitor @ 1/18/2009 4:10:44 AM # Q
> ...I don't like the latency...

Oh, that certainly set of a synaptic trigger in the ol' noggin!

I used to consult for a large international company. That company had employees, important employees, banging against databases served from Virginia. For the employees in, say, New York City this didn't present much of a problem - the use paradigm of "Change a field, send off the change, process the change resulting in more changes, send back the results" didn't have impact - their connection was so fast it was as if they were sitting next to the database servers. But the folks in Singapore had a fit; as each person over there tried out a change there were multiple back and forths between Singapore and Virginia as the spreadsheet-like calculations wended their way back and forth across half-second-latency connections; these important people would sit their fuming each for an eternity as they tried things out.

You don't want important people sitting there fuming.

The "solution" was to take essentially all the functionality off the person's workstation and place it on a server local to the database servers with only I/O handled "locally". Thus a change would get sent over to Virginia, massive database manipulations between the Virginia databases and the Virginia "application" would take place at local-to-Virginia speeds, then the resulting screen "deltas" (X-Windows stuff) would be sent back to Singapore.

It was a solution that worked for a single database server location.

It will be interesting to see how "the cloud" - where multiple database server locations and even possibly interesting critical-section-type or race-condition-type conflicts may exist will work in real life.


RE: What does 'The Cloud' REALLY mean?
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 8:43:29 AM # Q
>>>It will be interesting to see how "the cloud" - where multiple database server locations and even possibly interesting critical-section-type or race-condition-type conflicts may exist will work in real life.

The Nightmare of Cloud is already here: just try accessing Fictionwise or using its search engine!!

Reply to this comment

Pre on sale March 15th?!

mikecane @ 1/17/2009 5:09:44 PM # Q
http://twitter.com/caaarlo/statuses/1126367573

Don't blame me. I just searched Twitter!

RE: Pre on sale March 15th?!
vetdoctor @ 1/18/2009 8:22:01 AM # Q
Carlo said it. Good enough for me. I'll be standing in line at the store Midnight the 14th. I'll post a picture from my new pre phone that morning. What could possibly go wrong?

Reply to this comment

PlayPre site

mikecane @ 1/17/2009 5:24:03 PM # Q
http://playpre.com/

Another via Twitter search.

Reply to this comment

More Patent Trouble?

Gekko @ 1/17/2009 5:54:22 PM # Q

Firm seeks to bar Nokia, RIM, Palm from importing devices into U.S.

ITC will investigate the complaint by Saxon Innovations that handheld devices from major vendors violate its patents

At issue are three patents that Saxon purchased in July 2007, a patent for keypad monitor with keypad activity-based activation; a patent for an apparatus and method for disabling interrupt marks in processors or the like; and a patent for a device and method for interprocessor communication by using mailboxes owned by processor devices. Saxon, with five employees, purchased about 180 U.S. patents formerly owned by Advanced Micro Devices or Legerity in 2007, according to its ITC complaint.

The keypad monitor patent was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August 1993 to AMD. The interrupt marks patent was granted in June 1996, and the mailbox patent was granted in March 1997, both to AMD.

http://www.infoworld.com/article/09/01/16/Firm_seeks_to_bar_Nokia_RIM_Palm_from_importing_devices_into_US_1.html

RE: More Patent Trouble?
mikecane @ 1/17/2009 5:59:29 PM # Q
Hey! I have a patent on the letters M and C.

Now pay me.

Patents *do* expire, you know. How old are these? The Patent Office could invalidate these if they have moss growing on them.

RE: More Patent Trouble?
twrock @ 1/17/2009 10:03:39 PM # Q
The US patent system sucks. It's that simple. This is a perfect example of what is wrong and just what leaches these kinds of lawyers are.


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)
Reply to this comment

That Hawkins Quote!

mikecane @ 1/18/2009 8:45:41 AM # Q
>>>What are the implications of a world where everyone has a super high-speed Internet connection in their pocket and many gigabytes of storage, super-fast processors, audio, visual and multimedia? What are the consequences of that? How will that change computing when you have all that stuff available to you all the time?
http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=7999

Begins to make sense now, with the Pre.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
Gekko @ 1/18/2009 8:49:47 AM # Q

yeah sounds the iphone.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 8:56:11 AM # Q
>>>yeah sounds the iphone.

You MUST still be hungover from last night. Can't even do English.

And no, it DOESN'T "sounds" the iPhone. The iPhone doesn't aggregate your contacts, the iPhone doesn't do any automagic to Teh Clowd.


RE: That Hawkins Quote!
Gekko @ 1/18/2009 9:04:43 AM # Q

hawkins doesnt mention or imply cloud. in fact, it sounds like a pretty rich and robust LOCAL device.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
Gekko @ 1/18/2009 9:05:55 AM # Q

but - this makes me wonder - did hawkins have ANYTHING to do with the Pre/WebOS? my guess is NO. after the fooleo disaster, they put him out to pasture.



RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 9:18:48 AM # Q
That quote can be taken as either the launch point of what became the Pre or a indicator that he knew what the Pre was aiming to be.

Oh god ... the Pre-Foleo?!

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
SeldomVisitor @ 1/18/2009 10:28:26 AM # Q
> ...a world where everyone has a super high-speed Internet connection...

I seem to remember some guy named Steve had a uniquely high-speed internet connection in his house so he could experiment with what such a world would be like.

10, 15 years ago?

Alas, can't find a link for it, unfortunately.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 10:32:48 AM # Q
It was a wired connection too, wasn't it?

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
SeldomVisitor @ 1/18/2009 10:34:52 AM # Q
yeah, for some reason "T1" pops into my head.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 10:53:15 AM # Q
No, T1 is old hat. Found this:
http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/07/worlds-fastest-.html

Man, what I could do with THAT!

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
SeldomVisitor @ 1/18/2009 12:19:02 PM # Q
Nah, I was thinking "T1" w.r.t. what I read abut Jobs' home connectivity lo those many years ago.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 1:14:46 PM # Q
Listen, you can bet the highest concentration of the fastest home Net connections are all in that Silicon Valley area. Those selfish pigs. This is why the Net gets slow. Because of them! ROTF....

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
freakout @ 1/18/2009 1:56:45 PM # Q
but - this makes me wonder - did hawkins have ANYTHING to do with the Pre/WebOS? my guess is NO. after the fooleo disaster, they put him out to pasture.

I don't think he'd be to blame for Foleo. If it had come out a year earlier it might have been something special, but Palm's idea that it could develop two brand-new operating systems at the same time was nuts and made Foleo late to the party. Heck, maybe we'd have seen Pre and webOS six months ago if they hadn't split their resources the way they did.

Two of his ideas for Foleo have made the transition to webOS anyways - no need to save, multiple-device sync (which is essentially what the cloud-sync is). I still reckon the Foleo is going to get revisited in the days ahead - albeit with the hardware and software it should have debuted with in the first place.

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 -> Treo 650 -> Treo 680 -> Centro

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/18/2009 2:30:51 PM # Q
>>>Heck, maybe we'd have seen Pre and webOS six months ago if they hadn't split their resources the way they did.

Oh wow. I hadn't thought of that!

That might have had a July into ... going up against the opening of the iPhone App Store!
http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/iphone-app-store-now-open/

And the first day of sale for the iPhone 3G!
http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/07/11/no-iday-2008-here/
http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/iday-2008-2-still-lines/

Really, it was better for Palm to intro it when they did, at CES. They got ALL the press.

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
freakout @ 1/19/2009 1:35:39 AM # Q
^^ Hard to believe all that was only six months ago... I think you have a point. (Dear God, did I just say that to Mike Cane? :P )
RE: That Hawkins Quote!
twrock @ 1/19/2009 4:30:05 PM # Q
Really, it was better for Palm to intro it when they did, at CES. They got ALL the press.

And how did McNamee put it? Something about being lucky that Jobs wasn't at Macworld and Apple didn't have anything interesting to announce.


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)
RE: That Hawkins Quote!
joad @ 1/20/2009 11:34:54 AM # Q
Apple's iPhone announcements have only seemed interesting by comparison to the crickets chirping away through the spiderwebs over at Palm. My Treo can run circles around whatever the iPhone can do - problem is that the iPhone looks "prettier," and in this age of style over substance Palm has had an inferiority complex for years.

The "Pre" has some interesting features and looks pretty, but I'm wondering how much of the baby they are throwing away with the bathwater by trying to mimic the iPhone. No removable flash, pitifully low permanent flash, no stylus, etc. There's a reason that Frankengarnet devices are STILL selling years past their perceived obsolescence, and it ain't because we feel charitable toward Palm....

Palm "Preh": as in "eh, where's the microSD and Garnet emulator?"

RE: That Hawkins Quote!
mikecane @ 1/20/2009 11:43:51 AM # Q
>>>>My Treo can run circles around whatever the iPhone can do

Yeah, like Blazer puts Safari to shame.

Next!

Reply to this comment

Waiting for Dvorak to be Stupid again...

mikecane @ 1/18/2009 8:52:02 AM # Q
Dvorak: iPhone battery dead after 40 minutes
http://theappleblog.com/2007/04/04/dvorak-iphone-battery-dead-after-40-minutes/

Don't bother clicking through to the original Marketwatch story. It's 404ed.

RE: Waiting for Dvorak to be Stupid again...
joad @ 1/20/2009 11:37:33 AM # Q
I know few iPhone users that are happy with battery life after a month with the device. By the time you realize you are hosed with that permanent battery, you still have 23 months of ripoff rates to pay Mother Bell.

Even PALM was smart enough to get a replaceable battery into the Treo 6xx series as soon as they took control over it.

Palm "Preh": as in "eh, where's the microSD and Garnet emulator?"

RE: Waiting for Dvorak to be Stupid again...
mikecane @ 1/20/2009 11:42:35 AM # Q
But it's not as bad as Dvorak made out.

I'm not sure anyone anywhere is really happy with the battery life of anything. We all want MOAR!

RE: Waiting for Dvorak to be Stupid again...
abosco @ 1/20/2009 11:49:18 AM # Q
The original iPhone battery was fantastic. I could get two days of usage out of it with no real problem. When I bought the iPhone 3G, the battery life was bad. And by bad, I mean so horrendous, you needed to turn off most of the radios to make it through the day. And not only that, the 3G reception was so poor, I would get dropped calls every day. This was the first time with years of AT&T (formerly Cingular, dating back to TDMA and their switch to a GSM network) that I had experienced dropped calls.

I was left with a phone that had its 3G radio disabled and a battery life that still only lasted half as long as the first. I was ready to return it and go back to my original iPhone with cracked screen.

Update 2.1 didn't help, and neither did 2.1.1. Finally, about six weeks after I first bought it, software update 2.2 completely cured everything. Battery life was back up to my two day standard, and 3G reception was suddenly phenomenal everywhere (with one dropped call in the last six months). So I was in the same boat as those guys you talked to. Fortunately, it has changed very much since then. Who knew a software update could do so much?

The sad truth is that a very tiny minority of cell phone users actually have secondary batteries. That probably prompted Apple to create a non-user-replaceable battery.

-Bosco
m105 -> NX70v -> NX80v -> iPhone -> iPhone 3G

RE: Waiting for Dvorak to be Stupid again...
mikecane @ 1/20/2009 11:58:15 AM # Q
And let's be clear that Dvorak was talking about iPhone NON-3G. And well BEFORE it was released.

RE: Waiting for Dvorak to be Stupid again...
freakout @ 1/20/2009 12:29:45 PM # Q
The sad truth is that a very tiny minority of cell phone users actually have secondary batteries. That probably prompted Apple to create a non-user-replaceable battery.

It's not just about secondary batteries. It's about being able to replace a dud without having to pay $85.95 for the privelidge of sending your phone away for a week and having all your data erased. Or upgrading it, as I did with my Treo 680 when Seidio released a larger-capacity battery.

Sure, only a minority of users might call upon it. But that doesn't mean you say "**** 'em".

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