Gongol.com Archives: September 2010
Brian Gongol


September 23, 2010

Business and Finance Will the N8 save Nokia?
The cell-phone maker has fallen way behind in the smartphone market, so it's betting heavily on a new product to help it capture lost ground. Nokia -- at least for a little while -- looked as dominant over the mobile-phone field as Google looks over search engines today. But cell phones and search engines are disposable consumer choices -- and they have a very short useful life. A two-year-old phone is so vastly outmatched by a new one that it's hardly a fair fight. Thus, dominance in the market today is absolutely no guarantee of dominance tomorrow. The same holds true for search engines -- ask Yahoo. In other words, don't be surprised if Google is but a shadow of its present self in 2020. In fact, it almost certainly will be. Switching costs for consumers using almost any of Google's products and services are basically zero. That in and of itself doesn't necessarily doom Google -- switching costs between Coke and Pepsi are virtually zero, too -- but Coca-Cola doesn't have any reason to provide its customers with anything new from year to year. In fact, their most well-known failure was the result of trying to change the formula to New Coke. Imagine how things would be different if Google customers demanded exactly the same search results and browser experience they had ten years ago. This is why Google and other high-tech companies ought to plow their surplus profits into durable, non-technological businesses. They should...but they never do. Instead, they let their CEOs walk around hypothesizing about a future that, frankly, makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

News Former Bin Laden compatriate calls for Al Qaeda to stop using war and terrorism
Putting aside altogether the philosophy of what the organization stands for, consider this: The Catholic church has had vastly more success at spreading and maintaining its influence around the world by adapting to local cultures and co-opting local customs than it could have ever gotten by the sword. Assimilation does far more good than imposition.

Broadcasting What it's like to climb to the top of a television and radio tower
(Video) It's a climb to the top of a 1700' tower -- which is 300' shorter than the towers north of Des Moines. While not as recognizable as the Sutro Tower in the San Francisco Bay area, the central Iowa towers are among the tallest structures in the world. Climbing to the top of one without a harness should be towards the top of any sane person's never-to-do list.

Business and Finance Not that they deserve any sympathy, but mutual-fund managers aren't all rolling in dough
The real tragedy of the mutual-fund investing system in America today is that we're just not seeing a lot of people assembling their own investment companies with friends and family, then treating that money like it means something -- not like some kind of crazed speculative gamble, which is what 24-hour financial news channels like CNBC often make "investing" out to be. It should be easy -- almost insultingly so -- for people to band together, pool their funds, and invest together for the long term. Instead, we have a market with enormous barriers to entry for mutual funds, and it should come as no surprise that America's financial literacy rate is appallingly low. What we don't practice, we don't understand.

Humor and Good News A religious conversion on which everyone can agree
It's time for nachofication. Also good for a laugh: The season premiere of "Modern Family".

Iowa Should Iowans have to show some form of ID in order to vote?

Water News How a side dish is creating a water crisis

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