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Filter - Cynthia L. Webb
Go East, Nokia

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_____About Filter_____
Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.

_____Filter Archive_____
Toying With Amazon's Profits (washingtonpost.com, May 25, 2004)
Gmail Supply and Demand (washingtonpost.com, May 21, 2004)
Spamming for Dollars (washingtonpost.com, May 20, 2004)
HP's No Gloating Zone (washingtonpost.com, May 19, 2004)
Cisco and IBM Make 'Net Ring Tones (washingtonpost.com, May 18, 2004)
More Past Issues
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A Cultural Revolution of Another Kind...

As companies like Nokia invest more research dollars in China, doing business in the country comes with the understanding that there's less wiggle room than in other countries. The Associated Press explained more in a recent article. "DVD? China's trying to do it one better -- with a technology called EVD. CDMA? The digital cell phone standard is so 2003, the Chinese say. Give TD-SCDMA a try instead. Intel Corp.'s Centrino and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows? If you're doing business with Beijing, better bone up on WAPI and Red Flag Linux, too. These days, China's dominant message is this: We'll embrace the world -- but on our terms. And nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of high technology, where behind the acronyms is a battle of standards that could have global repercussions," the article said. "Pushed by their government, Chinese firms are shunning technological protocols invented abroad and developing their own. They want Chinese-made video discs to run on Chinese-invented players. They want Chinese consumers linking up with China-developed mobile gadgets. This trend goes beyond commercial and security concerns. Cultural pride is at stake: A once-great China humbled by Western powers in the 19th century doesn't want to be undercut again."
The Associated Press via washingtonpost.com: China Trying To One-Up Technology World (Registration required)

But a Reuters article noted that China's tech economy still has a lot of room for growth and improvement. The article said China's "contribution to complicated products like computer processors and flat screens is limited mostly to low-margin work and 'assembled in China' sticker. ... China's emerging role as high-tech finishing shop has left it focused on work that tends to bring in fewer profits than the more technically difficult manufacturing earlier in the production process. It also means that multibillion dollar investments for the most sophisticated factories usually go elsewhere. A combination of weak infrastructure and political factors are largely behind China's failure so far to make the cut as a prime-time tech player, analysts and industry executives say."
Reuters via USA Today: China's Tech Ambitions Stuck On the Assembly Line

... And the Great Leap Backward

Censorship remains a reality in China, despite the growth of the Internet in the country. The Washington Post today has a front-page feature focusing on the plight of Webmaster Wu Wei. "The authorities have shut down, blocked, hacked or otherwise incapacitated Wu's Web site 38 times in the past three years, repeatedly disrupting the discussions it hosts on political reform, human rights and other subjects the ruling Chinese Communist Party considers taboo. Each time the site has been closed, though, Wu and the friends who help him run it have found a way to open it again," the article reported.

"Their cat-and-mouse game with the country's cyberpolice highlights the unique challenge the Internet poses to the party as it struggles to build a free-market economy while preserving the largest authoritarian political system in the world. It also illustrates how the bounds of permissible speech in China are blurring. Nearly three decades after the death of Mao Zedong, Chinese enjoy greater personal freedom than ever before under Communist rule, and they routinely criticize the government in private without fear. But people are increasingly using the Internet to broadcast their opinions in public, challenging a key pillar of the party's rule -- its ability to control news, information and public debate. The party is swift to jail some people who criticize senior leaders or express dissent on sensitive subjects such as Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square massacre; at least 55 people are in Chinese prisons on charges related to their Web postings. But others who express the same views go unpunished, because police officers are sometimes apathetic about tracking them down and local Internet businesses are often more interested in attracting customers than enforcing vague rules."
The Washington Post: Webmaster Finds Gaps In China's Net (Registration required)

Your Search Results for 'Handshake'

Maybe you have heard of Plaxo: The software company offers to automatically manage people's Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express address books by e-mailing contacts a prompt to update their contact information so the Plaxo user can have the most up-to-date black book in town. I find this service annoying and a tad too intrusive, but commentary aside, the Mountain View, Calif.-based Plaxo is attracting some A-list partnerships and venture capitalists.

Plaxo today announced that it "integrates Yahoo's search engine directly into the Outlook e-mail program. Under the deal with Yahoo, Plaxo will get paid for channeling people to Yahoo's search engine. The search box will be placed beside a Plaxo icon that sits atop Outlook," The San Jose Mercury News reported. "The deal is significant because it puts Yahoo search directly into one of the most popular e-mail programs. That helps Yahoo leapfrog rival Google, which earlier put its search engine on the bottom of the computer desktop with its Google task bar. Plaxo's moves have caught the attention of investors. Today, Plaxo will announce $7 million more in venture capital backing. The round is being led by Cisco Systems and includes, among others, existing investor Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital. Plaxo has now raised nearly $20 million. The interesting twist is Plaxo's move to team up with Yahoo. Plaxo investors and board members Moritz and Ram Shriram are also backers of Google and sit on that company's board of directors. Plaxo's move to give Yahoo more exposure to Web users at a time when Google is locked in a full-fledged search engine battle against that company is something neither Moritz nor Shriram would comment on."
The San Jose Mercury News: Plaxo, Yahoo Make Deal On Search (Registration required)

CNET's News.com wrote about Plaxo's plans to make more money. The company's product "automatically updates information, either by finding it on its own network or sending e-mails to the last known address, requesting information. A Web version is also available. The basic service is free, but the company plans to charge for more elaborate versions, said co-founder Todd Masonis, who started the company after graduating from Stanford University. A VIP version that costs $19.95 a year offers better customer support, for instance. Future paid-for versions might include automatic synchronization for cell phones and handhelds, he added. Third-party partnerships will also bring in revenue, the company said. Plaxo version 2.0 incorporates a Yahoo search bar into the Outlook interface. Ideally, subscribers will instigate searches from the Outlook bar. Yahoo and Plaxo share revenue generated from these searches."
CNET's News.com: Startup Plaxo Sketches Out Business Plan (Registration required)

The Ad Bug

Another sign that the tech sector is doing better: Internet advertising "is on track this year to eclipse the record $8.1.billion in revenues it took in four years ago," The San Francisco Chronicle reported today. "The Internet finally appears to be living up to its promise of becoming a viable advertising medium. Although advertising on Web sites remains but a tiny fraction of the overall U.S. advertising market, it is one of the fastest- growing segments. Experts say the Web's share of total ad dollars will continue to rise as the Internet becomes more ubiquitous and the media marketplace more fragmented. Internet sites have benefited from improved technology and an increasing number of people who have high-speed online connections."
The San Francisco Chronicle : Recovery For Sleeping Advertising Industry Now In Full Swing

An article in The Los Angeles Times today noted that search engines are fueling online advertising growth. "Sponsored search lured advertisers back to the Internet after the dot-com crash. Now it's a huge moneymaker for tiny websites, Internet service providers and heavyweights such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. The fight for advertisers is ferocious as targeted ads in search results have supplanted flashy banners as the way to connect merchants and buyers online."
The Los Angeles Times: Search Engines Are Powering Ad Revenue (Registration required)

Here's yet another sign of Internet search engines and the advertising hype. Yahoo has a promotion to find people to star in its commercials.

Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com. (Yes, those spammers have been having a lot of fun with my e-mail address lately.)

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