Notes of Note from John F. Ince

Archive for January, 2011

Is this the Future? …. Welcome to ISIS

The Isis™ mobile wallet will eliminate the need to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes, fundamentally changing how you shop, pay and save. All with your phone.

via Welcome to ISIS.

Google, Amazon Vets Bank On Jumio To Revolutionize Mobile Payments

Much of what Jumio is building is still very unclear, but chances are this will become one of the hottest startups in 2011, and not just because they hire opera singers to tease their upcoming mobile payments product.This morning, the company announced part of its advisory board, also revealing that its payment solution is now in the final stages of development.The advisory board includes people like former Google exec Zain Khan, former Amazon exec Mark Britto and Maarten Linthorst, CEO of CSI Communication Systems.Khan, now turned private investor, is credited with building Google’s infrastructure from scratch back in 1999. Britto is the founder of Accept.com acquired by Amazon and board member of Bill Me Later which was acquired by eBay.Arguably the most impressive resume of the bunch comes from Linthorst, though:Working with NASA back in 1969, Maarten Linthorst paved the way for the Internet as we know it, interconnecting the first two servers to become the ARPANET. He also developed the X25 protocol, which is used for every credit card transaction worldwide.Linthorst comments that Jumio will “revolutionize the way we think about online payment; both from a technological and a social point of view”.Jumio was co-founded by Daniel Mattes, who sold his latest company, Jajah, to Telefonica for $207 million. Mattes is apparently called the “Bill Gates of the Alps” in some parts.More praise from Bjorn Evers, a former CEO of one of the world’s largest online gambling groups:“Jumio is a definite game changer and the answer to online payment fraud”.Lots of hyperbole and big names involved – now let’s see what they have to show for it.

via Google, Amazon Vets Bank On Jumio To Revolutionize Mobile Payments.

Apple Aims To Take Mobile Payments Mainstream; Perhaps The Greatest Trick They’ve Ever Pulled?

Bloomberg has an interesting report tonight, but they have the headline all wrong. Apple Plans Service That Lets IPhone Users Pay With Handsets — is technically correct (assuming the report is true, of course), but it completely downplays the potential ramifications of what Apple is apparently attempting to do. If Apple can nail Near-Field Communication (NFC) and tie it directly into their already-established iTunes payment system. It could change everything. It could transform Apple from the biggest technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world, period. By far.

Granted, that’s a very big “if” in the above statement. And there are many unknowns from this report, which I’m simply extrapolating out. But there’s also a lot that makes sense, if you think about it.

First of all, Bloomberg’s Olga Kharif reports that Apple will build NFC chips into the next iteration of the iPhone. That should be absolutely no surprise — in fact, we reported on it months ago. Plus, given that rival Google has already done this for the Nexus S Android device, it has gone from a no-brainer to a must-do.

What is somewhat surprising is first of all that the report only mentions the new iPhone “for AT&T” and not Verizon. And secondly, that NFC is said to be built into the iPad 2 as well.

It’s hard to know what to make about the former. Perhaps that’s just a slip up? Or maybe AT&T really will get the iPhone 5 first?

The iPad 2 talk is conceivably more straightforward. Typically, NFC is associated with mobile payments, but don’t forget that it can also be used for a host of other short-distance data communications. In fact, it could well be that NFC becomes a staple of most Apple products for beaming information instantaneously and securely over a short distance. Things like photos, movies, etc. Also, imagine if the iPad is in your bag or purse, it could certainly still be useful when it comes to paying for things by sending a signal to a receiver a few inches away.

But the key to this is really iTunes. Or more specifically, the payment system within iTunes that is already in use by millions and millions of people around the world.

via Apple Aims To Take NFC Mainstream; Perhaps The Greatest Trick They’ve Ever Pulled?.

Arianna Huffington: Davos Diary: Heading to the World Economic Forum at a Crossroads Moment for the World

It’s telling that a survey of Davos participants found that growing economic disparity is seen as one of the two biggest risks facing the world in the coming decade. In a piece previewing Davos, James Ledbetter, the editor of Reuters.com, describes the growing gulf between the world’s rich and poor as “not only immoral, but dangerous, as it can lead to open conflict between nations and internal political turmoil.”

Indeed, today, a country’s internal economic health is as much a national security issue as the size and quality of a country’s army was in the 20th century. The solution, according to Schwab, is an embrace of “basic values and shared norms” that can “guide the decision-making of leaders and help ensure inclusive rather than exclusive outcomes.”

As part of the push for inclusive outcomes, the forum is once again granting full access to a collection of social entrepreneurs from around the world. This is the 10th year the conference has offered a platform to what it considers “voices from the ground.” But there is something different this time around. In the past, social entrepreneurship and efforts at developing civil society were the Davos equivalent of icing on the banker/CEO/head-of-state cake. Now they are an essential ingredient, baked into the cake.

This shift stems from the growing sense, even among the elites, that our current political and economic systems are inadequate to the task of addressing the multiple crises the world is facing. As Schwab puts it, “One thing is certain: we can’t keep doing the same old thing in a new era that requires new responses.”

via Arianna Huffington: Davos Diary: Heading to the World Economic Forum at a Crossroads Moment for the World.

Is Peak Oil Here? US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015 | Business | The Guardian

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: “While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India.”

The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with “an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.”

The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

via US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015 | Business | The Guardian.

Goldman Deal Helps Facebook Remain Private – NYTimes.com

In Silicon Valley, going public used to be the ultimate rite of passage for a start-up — a sign it had arrived.No more.With its $500 million infusion from Goldman Sachs and other investors, Facebook is now flush with cash, and a market value of about $50 billion, giving it the financial muscle it needs to compete with better-heeled rivals like Google.And Facebook hopes for an even bigger advantage from the deal, the ability to delay an initial public offering. That would allow it to remain free of government regulation and from the volatility of Wall Street. It would also allow Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, to retain near absolute control over the company he co-founded in a Harvard dorm room in 2004.This strategy was unthinkable in Silicon Valley just a few years ago, when hundreds of start-ups with scant revenue and no profits, like Pets.com and Webvan, raced to go public, and investors eagerly lined up to buy their shares.Lots of people would stand in line to buy shares in Facebook, but for now, only an exclusive few — wealthy clients of Goldman Sachs — will be able to. On Monday, Goldman sent e-mail to certain clients, offering them the chance to invest in the company.Article ToolsE-mail This PrintShare45 CommentsThat offer is the latest sign of the emergence of active markets in the shares of closely held companies. Those markets are helping successful start-ups like Facebook develop the financial wherewithal to compete in the big leagues of business. They have also become an avenue for venture capitalists and start-up employees to cash in their stock, turning many overworked engineers into instant millionaires.And so a young mogul like Mr. Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest billionaire at age 26, can enjoy many of the benefits of going public without having to tie the knot with Wall Street.

via Goldman Deal Helps Facebook Remain Private – NYTimes.com.

Report: Fiber Optics Not A Real Thing | The Onion – Americas Finest News Source

BOSTON—Members of the worlds engineering and telecommunications communities admitted Tuesday that fiber optics, the supposed technological application that ostensibly allows light to carry signals across optical cables, is not actually a real thing. “Yeah, we sort of made that one up,” renowned physicist Willard Boyle said of the fictitious technology around which a $40 billion-a-year industry has been built. “It started as more of a joke, really. We thought the two words sounded cool together, so we just started throwing that term out there. Trust me, no one ever thought it would take off the way it did.” Sources added that if fiber optics were, in fact, a real thing, it would probably be utilized in some way with Bluetooth technology, if that existed.

via Report: Fiber Optics Not A Real Thing | The Onion – Americas Finest News Source.