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Gate's newest road ahead

Bill Gates' latest revelation concerns Microsoft's two products coming soon: Windows Live and Office Live, writes Deepak Mankar.

business Updated: Nov 18, 2005 16:51 IST

Words and phrases have fascinated me all my life. I somehow manage to 'sense' a coming trend in usage as it's catching on. 'Powered by' is a vogue phrase I've often noticed in web writing but never really paused to think about. The other day, I read Ken Fasimpaur's post, 'Friday Forbidden Phrase: POWERED BY', where he calls it "a fine illustration of linguistic devolution". I'll quote some of its interesting bits: "Some forbidden words are manifestly evil from the moment they're coined, created only as marketing speak or existing only to evoke faux novelty. (Webinar anyone? After all, 'web seminar' is so lengthy and unhip.) [A relevant digression with your leave, folks: 'Faux' too is a vogue word that ought to be verboten. 'Verboten' likewise, for that matter.] "In other cases though, perfectly valid pieces of language are slowly corrupted until there's scarcely any hope left for them," he argues. About 'Powered by', he has this to say: "At first glance, it's a nice functional piece of language. In a statement like 'Powered By Apache' where it names the web server software that make (Sic!) a site operate, it's quite descriptive." With 'Powered By Novell' and 'Powered By CNN', though, there's quite a serious problem. "Can an entire company truly be said to drive a web site? Is CNN a steam engine or a web server? A news engine?" is his legitimate query. Then, he gives an extreme example from "this wonderful ad from Cisco": "The main headline, run across a picture of a newborn child and happy mother … [is] …'8 lbs. 3 ozs. powered by Cisco', That's right - your child's motive force is a router company who drives smart people into the arms of its competitors!"

WINDOWS & OFFICE 'LIVE '. Gate's newest 'road ahead'.

Bill Gates' latest revelation concerns Microsoft's two products coming soon: 'Windows Live' and 'Office Live'. Targeted at smaller businesses and consumers, they will allow the company to sell online subscriptions and advertising. "The products won't replace the company's ubiquitous operating system or productivity suite, and people don't need to have that software loaded to tap into the Web versions," reports Ina Fried ('Gates: We're entering 'live era' of software'). She cited Bill's key pronouncements at a news conference: (1) "They are not required to use Windows or Office." (2) "This advertising model has emerged as a very important thing." (3) "We'll have licenses and subscriptions as well." (4) "It's a dramatic sea change. The live phenomenon is not just about Microsoft. It's partners, it's competitors...the whole space is being transformed." It seems that 'Live' is a set of Internet-based personal services, such as e-mail, blogging and instant messaging, primarily supported by advertising and separate from the operating system itself. Office Live will come in both ad-based and subscription versions that augment the popular desktop productivity suite.

SOUND THE CLARION. Radio to 'adopt' podcasting soon.

Bridge Ratings, a Glendale, California-based broadcasting-ratings service, spoke to 4,400 listeners in the age group of 12+ in ten urban markets (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta). An estimated 4.8 million persons - up from 820,000 podcast users in 2004 - had at some time during 2005 downloaded a podcast from either a radio station or other source (iTunes, for instance, was cited as the most often accessed portal for podcast downloads). Two factors that may accelerate the growth in this nascent industry quickly were: (1) the rapid acceptance of the technology by the radio broadcast industry in 2005 and (2) Apple's iTunes distribution. The two key defining metrics of the podcast user universe are (a) weekly users and those that have ever downloaded and listened to a podcast. By 2010, podcast audience growth may reach a conservative 45 million users who will have ever listened to a podcast. Or, maybe closer to 75 million, suggest some aggressive estimates. Currently, approximately 20% of users have ever downloaded and listened to a podcast on a weekly basis - downloading an average of six podcasts per week and spending approximately four hours a month listening to the podcasts they download. Also, on average, less than 20% listen to their podcast downloads on an MP3 player or other digital device - a rather startling revelation. [The Portable Media & Podcast Expo presentation is worth looking at.]

K.I.S.S. REVISITED. With Dave Pell as the guide.

'Keep It Simple, Stupid' is an old-but-gold advertising thumb rule. Dave Pell of Davenetics in his 'A Round Thing with Salt' post reiterates it with an on-a-New-York-street story. Keeping it simple works every time, he claims. Like calling a pretzel "a f****** round thing with salt". The reason, I feel, is not difficult to find. New York folks are short of time and patience. Ditto the attention span of a typical ad message recipient. Dave illustrates his tale-with-a-moral by redefining Tivo as "a f****** VCR with no tapes". But in one response to the post, this 'truth' doesn't really come shining through. As in "blog: a place to make fun of people". Not really, dude. The problem is in the bad description. But it works in "Latte: it's a f****** cup of coffee that's all milk".

LAW OF AERAGES, WEB STYLE. Appearances can be deceptive.

In key performance indicators (KPI) development businesses increasingly do the right thing and align metrics (average time spent on site per visit; average order value; average number of pages viewed per visit; average number of visits per visitor; and the like, typically found in most Web analytic systems' reports) to Web channel goals and objectives. They ensure they measure the right things, the right way, writes Neil Mason ('The Web Site Law of Averages'). "Trouble is, they can be highly misleading," he warns. "For example, the average number of pages viewed per visit is calculated as the total number of site pages viewed divided by the number of site visits. The underlying assumption about using the arithmetic mean is the data has a normal distribution to it: the famous bell curve. If the distribution of the number of pages viewed per visit is normal, around half the visits would be less than the average and half would be more. The majority of visits would be around the average value. The reality is Web user behavior isn't normal in the statistical sense … It's usually highly abnormal and highly skewed. Most visitors on most sites don't often do anything of any value."

ORGANIZED LABOUR. In the times of globalization.

Two thought-provoking articles by Harvard Business School professor, Jim Heskett, 'What's the Future of Globally Organized Labor?' and 'Summing Up: Globalization: A New Day in Organized Labor', about which way the wind blows for organized labour in the times of globalization are on the HBS website respectively at and

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles at Website: You may e-mail him at

First Published: Nov 19, 2005 09:15 IST