Before I was working for Microsoft, I read Douglas Coupland’s book “Microserfs”. I visited Redmond in1997 and was amazed how close it was to the book. Half a dozen pages in Coupland writes “WinQuote … gives continuouse updates on Microsoft’s NASDAQ price … Most staffers peek at Winquote a few times a day … Last April Fools day someone fluctuated the price up and down by fifty dollars and half the staff had coronaries”
The value of stock roughly halved after I joined Microsoft in 2000 (not that I’m bitter about that), and we’re not quite so obsessive about it. But I looked at last week’s stock buy back offer and felt “It must be worth more than that”. According to The Financial Times I wasn’t alone. Disclaimer. This is not investment advice: consult someone qualified. The value of Microsoft shares can go up as well as down. Etc.
While I’m on the subject of Coupland. Some family friends recently opened a bookshop, and I picked up his latest “JPOD” last time I was in there (though I haven’t started it yet). JPOD is billed as “Microserfs for the Google Generation”, by the way, I love the home page for the JPOD book-site – and not just because the music listing includes an obscure cover of a Gary Numan song which I happen to have. I can’t remember the last home page I loved.
Back at the Financial times I read that Coupland or his publisher could be on the wrong end of writs from Apple and Google, who both appear to have been studying at the Gina Ford school of public relations. Google want people to stop using their name as a verb. I can only think of a few tradenames which have become generic (like Kleenex) and also become a verb (you don’t Kleenex your nose though you might Hoover your carpet, or Xerox your documents). Google don’t want me to talk about “googling” something on Windows Live Search, but while defending a trademark is all fine and good, “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the genie bottle” as one blogger put it. The Independent reports Dictionaries already include the verb “to google” and I was first aware of people using it in print when I read William Gibson’s 2003 novel “Patern Recognition” where it appears on the second page. In case you didn’t know, Gibson is famous as the man who coined the term “Cyberspace”.
Any Cricket fan will know of the term “Googly” maybe it will come to describe a kind of behaviour, and we’ll have to refine the verb “to Google” as “to search for people using terms to which you claim rights” , if Apple turn googly, they may complain about Coupland’s tittle as they claim to own the word “Pod”. I don’t know what we’re supposed to call the things peas come out of (no… not “freezers”) or groups of whales. I always thought that it was the ‘i’ part of iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhoto, iWeb, iLife which was the Apple specific part. Apple have gone after the makers of a datalogger called “profit pod”. If Yell can accuse Yellow wikis of passing off for using the colour yellow, how long before a name like Podtech attracts a “cease and desist” letter from Apple.
Robert Scoble is Podtech’s famous employee. He picked up a link from someone with no hands on experience of Zune, who asserts that it won’t have support for Podcasting: presumably non-Apple devices won’t be allowed to call it that . Robert, knows more about RSS than that, he linked to one of my posts about it. Podcasting support is not in the iPod device, but the iTunes software. Sadly, I’ve no inside information about the Zune and I find the Zune blog by a Microsoft employee to be pretty feeble: so I’m forced to rely the same leak as everone else. That says nothing about the PC software and says that Wifi was disabled on the test device. Who knows what it will be able to fetch over wireless ?
That Zune story contains a reason why (if true) I might want one: built in FM transmitter. I was reading The 10 most annoying car innovations. My Citroen C5 has 5 of these 10 (and the automatic wipers and lights work well. It has lane departure warning – because it would have prevented an accident I was involved in last year). However Citroen have removed the Cassette player – it has a 6 CD multi-changer and a further CD player in the dash. I have to use an FM adapter to play WMAs and MP3 – which I do from my phone but it is such a fiddle to set up I rately bother. An FM transmitter would mean I could play music in the car and on any of the radios dotted round the house. This would be an inspired move, but who knows. Producing the player of choice for in-car use wouldn’t hurt the stock price.
* Note I have no idea if they intend to or not: I’ve subtley changed the title from the original post so it doesn’t imply that they will.
This post originally appeared on my technet blog.