Thursday, April 28, 2005
Monday, April 25, 2005
Yahoo Group, Blogs, RSS and the Newsletter Comments on some new features: I have been publishing for 11 years now. It is still a challenge to deliver useful content to a very diverse readership. From push to pull technology, plain text e-mail to PDF to websites to HTML e-mail to blogs to RSS feeds. What's best? All you can eat? Anything and everything? It's definitely a challenge - as much for the publisher as it is for the reader. I am going to rephrase a few things from a piece I'll cite below so bear with me for a moment: All too often publishers and analysts work from the premise of what they are able to deliver, or need to deliver, rather than what the consumer actually wants/needs. A thought that is appropriate comes from Richard Stastny's list of ten Skype lessons: "you can compete with everyone, but you can't compete with your customer." When I look at the subscriber base here I see customers that fit into some well-defined categories. There are busy executives and employees from the technology industry who prefer to have periodic, weekly or monthly data, in concise, compact forms - delivered right into their e-mail client. In other words, they do not necessarily want or need a daily site feed from a blog or an e-mail discussion group. On the other side of the spectrum there are members of the Wall Street community and the individual investor camp. I have found that this group, particularly the individual investor, prefers a constant stream of news and commentary in addition to a newsletter. To serve the news hungry group this site has several blogs and a front page RSS feed. To further enhance the flow of material through the site I have set up a Yahoo Group called INFRASTRUCTURE Blogs. Subscribers to INFRASTRUCTURE are welcome to join this group. Here is a link: http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/infras_blogs/ If you are a subscriber and would like to join send me an e-mail requesting membership. I will send you an invitation. I want to be clear and say that the Group features are not necessarily appropriate for all of our subscribers. Basically it is designed for those that want a very heavy flow of information. The Group mailing list receives all of the content posted in the 4 Blogs at this site. Members of the Yahoo Group have the option to receive a Daily Digest rather than individual e-mails for each post. If you are not a subscriber, information on how-to-subscribe (at very reasonable rates) can be found here: http://www.infras.com/monsub.html As for the newsletter, that will still be published in Acrobat form, e-mailed to subscribers and archived here at the site - if I might add, also with more frequency. If you have any questions about these features, or, what is best for you, please feel free to contact me. Oh! Before I go, some of you have probably read the post I referenced and have re-phrased in a few sentences above as this one from the EuroTelocblog called the Masque of The Red Death. I think the things that are happening here at this site are relevant to some of the comments made in the article. James Enck, the author, had this to say about a presentation he gave at the Marcus Evans conference on Strategic Pricing for Telecom Content and Services in London: One slide of my introduction contained a quote from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". For those who haven't read it, basically the idea is that a decadent regime is hiding behind thick castle walls from a plague which is devastating everyone outside, diverting itself by having a masqued ball. Just keep dancing and we'll be fine. An interloper appears, and the king demands that he be unmasked, but the intruder (whether he is merely a carrier of the disease, or embodies some karmic revenge, is unclear) turns out to be the harbinger of doom, already among them. Okay, my use of it was partially tongue-in-cheek, but I had a serious point to make: your assassin is probably already inside the castle walls and you may not even know it. Now, to be fair, my audience of around 50 marketing/strategy people from various European carriers were clearly very bright, successful people, undoubtedly very busy, and probably with heavy expectations upon them to deliver in very fluid markets. However, in my introduction, I asked for a show of hands in response to a series of questions, and was somewhat concerned by what I found: How many of you read blogs? - (three out of 50) How many of you feel you understand what RSS (I gave the long form name as well) is? - (none) How many have heard of BitTorrent or eDonkey? - (Perhaps 5 - 7 hands) How many have used BitTorrent or something like it? - (only one or two sheepish hands) How many have heard of KaZaA? - (Almost everyone - I pointed out that this was the old school) How many are acquainted with Skype? - (Just under half) How many use Skype or have used it? - (Around a quarter) I pointed out that the list I had just run through was a fair representation of some of the most popular activities of broadband users, and in every respect represented some threat to what the telcos are trying to do strategically. We had some laughs along the way, but there were also some long faces as the implications of my message sank in. Full post, a great read, is here: EuroTelocblog : The Masque of The Red Death ------------- Food for thought.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Satisfy Me A little less conversation, a little more action please All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me A little more bite and a little less bark A little less fight and a little more spark Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me Satisfy me baby Elvis...... http://www.infras.com/news/satisfyme.mp3 Earnings season in full swing. I am posting this right before the Intel quarterly release. A little less conversation (about the 2nd half recovery) and a little more (upside) action would be welcome. Last week, April 8 to be precise, I posted a Chartwatch for subscribers that detailed the slowing business conditions in the chip and chip equipment markets. Those charts showed how IC unit volumes were rolling over. The study also highlighted the "W" or, "canoe" shaped action taking place in the chip equipment sector. We have not heard much to dispute the expectations set forth in that letter. The stocks continue to waffle back and forth as the analytical community, bifurcated as they are, wrestle with possibility of the industry bottoming. Some are saying we are heading to new lows. Equity valuations are given some note but generally it is a matter of if the recovery will occur. Investing ahead of the recovery and everyone else is fashionable. A great deal of the news released during earnings season is keeping us from being "satisfied." While many will focus on the IBM report we can list a host of items that show weakening business conditions. Here's a partial list, in no particular order (some of these are borrowed from an ongoing Technology Matrix Report tabulated by Doug Rudisch of Bain Capital): ASM Lithography - no visibility into the second half (This was mentioned in the letter I mailed 4/08. That report also talked about the view from the Japanese capital equipment companies); Novellus - meets expectations but the street does not like the margin story and during the analyst conference call Chairman Rick Hill says he is concerned about the economy. I posted a bit about this in the Stock Blog; Teradyne and the other ATE vendors are getting clocked because the street is expecting weak orders for the quarter. Teradyne reports after the close and will host a conference call tomorrow morning. IBM (everyone knows what that did to the market); Sun Microsystems - $120 million light of consensus (looks like trouble here); Dell and IDC (IDC the forecasting firm) indicate that PC sales growth has been slowing; Samsung - Revenues down a bit below consensus but profit margins were way off at 1.498tn vs expected levels of 2.103tn; Fairchild Semiconductor - guides below expectations after reiterating in their mid-quarter update, just 1 month ago, that business was picking up; Atmel - forecasts a loss on flat revenues. Today we have a story on Digitimes stating that the two largest foundries TSMC and UMC may have to lower their predictions for second-quarter growth due to a weaker-than-expected PC market and a decrease in orders from US wireless communications equipment makers. This is despite the fact that consumer electronics growth is expected to be up 5-10% this quarter. Here are a few other notables: Infosys - The number one Indian Service Provider cites weakness in financial services vertical integrations and guides lower; Foundry Networks - The network equipment and services company said it expects to report quarterly earnings per share of 6 cents to 7 cents, well below its previous forecast of 8 cents to 12 cents. They chopped their revenue outlook to about $84 million from projections of $100 million to $110 million. The company said that sales to north american enterprise customers were below forecast (last tally of the networkers showed they were 0 for 5 this quarter). There were a few good reports, Texas Instruments and Lam Research seem to be holding the line but the number of companies that are missing and some of the news about future demand beckons for a little less conversation, a little more action..... Please.... More shortly - including some comments about the Intel earnings report.
Friday, April 08, 2005
US Electronic Retail Sales vs. IC Units Trouble on the end demand front? While the stabilization in the early months of this year could be called encouraging, the recent comments from Dell's Kevin Rollins, who said that "PC growth is slower than expected" is cause for concern. A chart for your perusal:
More charts are available in the letter posted here: http://www.infras.com/infra/letters/infras040805.pdf
A friend sent me a note this past week saying, "I am surprised we have not heard more about the shape of this recovery from the sell-side analyst community. Is it going to be a U, V, W or canoe?" Earlier this year I debated that very question. I am in the camp that expects a W shaped recovery for the chip industry. This is close to a canoe shape in that total levels, as measured by global semiconductor and semiconductor equipment sales, will probably not move up and down in any significant manner. The feature of the W, which is similar to the canoe, is that there will be pockets of weakness and strength in specific industry categories. W is another way of saying we’ll be hopping over the canoe seats, from the back to the front - hopefully moving toward another, stronger growth period. All the debate about when the next cycle will occur has caused a bifurcation in the ranks of those providing industry outlooks. There are those that are outright bearish, anticipating that business has changed forever and that stock prices will visit new lows. There are those that bullish, expecting the inventory burn to eventually push factory utilization rates higher. I didn't attend ISS (Industry Strategy Symposium) this year but some have told me that the really bearish believe that chip and chip equipment industry companies are incapable of finding their own shadows. I don't believe this is the case. That said, I am not going to argue that the chip industry has been in a major transition during the last four years. The rest of this piece, along with all the industry data charts, is available for subscribers here: http://www.infras.com/infra/letters/infras040508.pdf