Free web version of Microsoft Office - Good or Bad news?

Three years ago Google launched its own office-Suite, Google Docs, which is  available for free through the web. Microsoft, current global leader in the office suite space, with a multi billion profitable business unit, will offer a web version of Microsoft Office for free! Is this a deja vu, a 3 year lag in Microsoft vision or these two companies have entered a head-to-head irreversible war? In our opinion there is a real war out there and someone will be seriously bleeding soon -which may neither be Google nor Microsoft…

Recently we saw Google announcing Google Wave, an attempt to shift users away from the traditional e-mail (where Microsoft is a strong player through its Exchange server) and also few days back it appeared that Google decided to develop a new Operating System that aims to challenge the Microsoft Windows era as will be based on proven Linux kernel while carrying Google’s image and market accessibility. In both these ambitious attempts Google claims that current offerings have been designed at times when the Internet and the Web where not used the way people use them today, thus users have a strong reason to switch.

On the other hand, Microsoft has launched a new search Engine and after various failures in the past (msn search, windows live search, live search) seems to it has found some traction to make an impact on Google search. Now it aims to offer one of its jewels, Microsoft Office, free of charge on the web! By looking at Microsoft performance as a company, the Internet business has been loss making for a while. It is thus very sensible to keep trying to offer a search engine that can really appeal to users and get bigger market shares and more revenues. Why would Microsoft though sacrifice its profitable revenue streams by giving free access on Microsoft Office (OK, will most likley be just a basic version but for sure will be much more appealing to the “stranger” and not really mature Google Docs) a software package that brings billions of profits annually and was never really challenged by Google Docs?

Well, we said there is a war out there, haven’t we? According to Forrester group, Microsoft will seek to make money by using the free MS Office web version to lead those users to its ad-supported websites, including the Bing search engine. So it all makes some sense after all…

In our opinion what is going on lately is not just a war between Google and Microsoft to declare a winner. The fact that Google, a real powerhouse of on-line advertising  (No longer the start-up provider of a brilliant ad-supported web search service) is trying to extinguish the revenue streams of Microsoft (by offering everything for free and giving reasons to users Not to pay for Microsoft products) and the fact that Microsoft, the aggressive long term dominating Software company, decided to give away some of its products for free to eat up advertising market share from Google is very worrisome…

In our opinion the 2 most powerful and influential companies in the IT world no longer aim to make money from the users. Instead, they aim to give away freebies to get “traffic” of users and sell more advertising. It was anyway Google’s approach right from the beginning, however this was originally a plan towards being able to fund a great services. Now it seems its the other way round and it seems that Microsoft has been dragged down this path as well. We have been very critical in the past on the poor quality of Microsoft products as they did not really have any competition. Now there is a clear competitor but also some new ‘rules of the game’  that are once more against the evolution of good quality Software…  We hope we are very wrong as in our opinion the IT industry and the Internet has so much more to offer to humanity than being a vehicle to sell more advertising…

Google, Bing, Yahoo or something else?

Which search engine is the best? In our opinion, the one that helps the user find exactly what is looking for! Various search engines exist today and many others have been around in the past and faded away. Others are starting up and each single one claims to deliver the “best results”

In our opinion, the best results are those that are meaningful to the objective  set.  Alma5 team tried to find out the performance of some of the most popular search engines in finding its own website and blog by using several keywords and phrases.. Below is the ranking in the results that the search engines have returned. alma5_searchengineresults3

It is worth mentioning that in some cases  the search engines were ranking Alma5 home page higher when searching for a phrase that was in a sub-domain. Also it was very strange that even when the keyword was ‘Alma5′, other webistes that are not titled or have in their domain the word ‘Alma5 ‘ got higher rankings like Google or Webcrawler… 

Yahoo, Bing and Webrawler  return no results at all when we use a specific phrase that is nowhere else written in the exact same wording. On the other hand returns hundreds of results that contain some of the words in our phrase and Dogpile returns 2, probably sponosred results.

One common feature of all web search engines is the speed of delivering results. Some may be faster or slower than others but all deliver results in such a timeframe that appears to be instant. This is no news as also is no news that most search engines do not perform a live search when the user presses the search button. They usually deliver results based on indexing that takes place in advance - actually is an ongoing process. In our opinion users should use the search engine that delivers what they need and try a different one if the results dont match the objective.

Google became like an industry standard by providing a simple white page with an entry field and a search button while had a very advanced indexing technology at the background. This leads to the other parameter of choosing a search engine - the user interface and experience. In our opinion this is an area bing of Microsift may find some additional users at the expense of Google as they use a dynamic aesthetically nice and fresh image as well as take searching a step forward by facilitating posterior filtering of the results using some categories that can lead into finding more relevant results versus the objective.

Only future will tell whether users can experience better results. The only sure this is that the search engine business is massive as the massive amount of information on the Internet, by default drive the need of search engines.

The future of the mobile screen

There is no doubt that the mobile phone is no longer a luxury but an expected device to be carried by almost everyone. There are some 4.15 billion mobile connections today and the number is constantly growing. In absolute figures this represents a 62% penetration in the world’s population. Of course in reality some people  have more than one connections (e.g. biz/private number) thus the actual penetration should be less. Despite the growth in connections, the sales of handsets have dropped, mainly due to the economic crisis - more people get connections (and a new handset) but less people from the existing users replace their handset.

By taking a more detailed look at the for 2009 sales of handsets, one can observe that “Smart-phones” are actually on the growth, both in absolute figures and even more in year-on-year market share . Still though the penetration of smart-phones is low but growing fast - for every 100 handsets sold, Gartner says ~14 are smart-phones versus 12 a year before. By looking even closer, brands like Apple and Blackberry, which only sell Smart-phones running their own proprietary software and are rich in applications, have the highest growth figures which can be considered as an indication that people tend to not just buy a smart-phone but a purpose made device that can do X,Y and Z using a specific approach and utilisation of the screen and modes of interaction.

In our opinion the mobile screen is what is actually becoming a key medium of communication beyond the voice calls. Even on standard phones, the screen no longer just showw the incoming or outgoing number but shows pictures, videos, browses the web, plays games and becomes a companion at work, at times of loneliness or fan. Just to give a perspective of the potential of the mobile screen, the PCs installed today globally are just above the 1 billion figure and the number of those connected to the Internet is much lower, although Internet usage penetration is ~25%, i.e. some 1.6billion people. The computer software and internet industries are massive. Imagine how fast the mobile application and Internet business can grow.

The question thus becomes whether the mobile industry should adopt a new paradigm or imitate the PC world. Should the mobile industry develop its own internet or adopt to the existing . In our opinion mobility is a separate revolution and not an evolution of the ÏT and PC world. Even if the 2 ‘worlds’ do interact (yes, a note can be sent from a phone and received on the PC and vice versa or a folder or address book can be synchronised on both systems) they should not serve the same purpose or adopting the same user interface designs or application structures. The mobile phone is not a replacement to the PC or an equivalent alternative.   Our main argument comes by comparing the mobile screen to a PC screen. Actually its about comparing 2 to 3.5 inches screen diagonal of a smart phone to the 10-15 inches of a laptop computer and 15 to 22 inches of a desktop PC. The same content can fit a laptop screen and a desktop PC screen, probably at different resolution, but there no way to fit that content or design on a mobile phone screen. Its all about the approach and strategy behind the deployment of applications and content.

In our opinion the future of the mobile screen is all about treating it as a valuable real estate. Fill a 3 inches screen with scroll bars, advertising banners, pop up windows, icons and menus and you are left with no actual space for the actual content the user is aiming  for - isn’t that what we get on our PC screen? Whatever found success on the PC based Internet simply does not fit on a mobile screen. The future of the mobile screen is still pending a revolution and this is a golden opportunity for new start-ups and creative minds that are hostages of their dominance in the PC world.


Status bar, address bar, shortcuts and scrolling bar constantly consume some 20% of the mobile screen real estate. Add an advertising banner, a copyright statement and a title banner for the application/service and you get only about a third of the screen to deliver the ACTUAL service…

Is it due to the Internet that we stoped buying Newspapers?

There is an ongoing debate around the future of “Newspapers” and much of it is related to the on-line world. The past few years the industry has experienced ongoing declines in circulation and advertising revenues. Much of this decline has been blamed by some ‘experts’ to the web and the shift of customers from buying the paper to browsing news on the Internet. Is that the real challenge they face?

Most newspapers have their on-line versions already deployed while others have shifted totally on-line. Some have seen success recovering some of their decline due to reduced circulation but there are many others that burn even more cash to maintain these news portals.

In our opinion the on-line world is neither a threat nor a migration place for Newspapers. It’s an opportunity for evolution and for complementing the major handicap of the print version, while maintaining its beauty and charm. In the modern era the paper version should focus on the depth and analysis of events that have taken place whereas the on-line portal should feed the customers with events as they are happening. The modern customer needs both but is not experiencing neither. Today, the industry survives primarily from advertising revenues and ultimately serves the ‘sponsors’ than their readers. Gradually the customers have started to feel ‘unimportant’ thus no longer support the newspapers by buying or subscribing. In some cases anonymous blogs appeal more reliable sources than large media groups, probably because the people hiding behind the anonymity serve their passion than corporate interests.

If the opportunity was correctly perceived, the web would never have ‘threatened’ the newspapers. The industry should probably re-think the value, power and limitations of each medium and its actual role – It reminds us the Google case – making the best search engine to sell advertising is slowly turning into a search engine that returns results that generate revenue than relevant to what the person is looking for…. Equally, offering free recycled or pre-fabricated content surrounded by plenty of advertising does not add much value. It spoils a portion of the customer base and annoys another leading to a reduced pie for everyone. Equally, asking people to pay subscriptions to get content which available even identical in many other sources is again not a very wise and effective

The situation that this industry is currently experiencing is not causing us though the same depression we feel e.g. from the decline in the car industry which means less car models in the next years or the ongoing monopoly in the computer Operating System industry which leads to a single option which is never bug-free. Less newspaper brands does not mean less news and does not mean lack of freedom. It means less recycled news and probably smaller companies with less effect on our freedom. The current status is very exciting as when even Mr Murdoch feels the heat it means that size does no longer matter much. Maye smaller news companies could emerge contributing to pluralism. Good passionate reporters, innovative delivery concepts and respect to the customer probably compensate the size issue and there is an enormous opportunity for profits based on the core value of the industry – reliable news and inspiring articles. Not content just to justify advertising

The PC Hardware Industry Today, the Mobile Handset industry Tomorrow - We hope not

HP is the current global leader in the Personal computer space by market share with about 1 out of 5 PCs sold today. Dell follows but constantly slipping further behind feeling the heat of Acer. Lenovo and Toshiba fill the other top 5 spots. Going further down the list, once upon glorious names such as IBM (handed the business to Lenovo), Compaq (swalllowed by HP), Bull, Olivetti, NCR, Wang, Commodore, Amstrad, Apricot are nowhere. Apple on the other hand sells quite well but some claim MACs are not PCs - something we have to disagree but will skip for the moment while a quite large % of the market is shared among hundreds of small local producers …

What is driving this change? In every industry we see large players fading away and eventually disappearing but here things are quite bold. In our opinion the reason is the lack of innovation in what the PC makers are left with to make… Every PC shipped carries 2 or more stickers. One says Ïntel (or AMD) inside”, the other “Designed for Windows …” - a 3rd sticker could refer to to the graphics card and accelerator… So the heart and the brain of every PC is made by someone else. If we look at a PC from the inside we will face plenty of  “3rfd party” components as well such us the hard drive, the LCD panel, the DVD drive, the memory chips, the ethernet circuit, or the battery for laptops and so on. So what is left for HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and their peers?

Well the box, the selection of the specs, the selection of the suppliers, the efficiency and performance of the assembly line, the distribution channel, the packaging  etc… In other words, commodity things  factors that are controllable by the customer! In practice, when an educated customer wants to buy, will configure the desired specs on the web, will look for an affordable price and a convenient delivery lead time and so on. A customer with little experience will buy what the salesman suggests OR based on price. Thus the success of the global leaders may not be in the product innovation but just in Marketing … Consequently margins are very low and the industry cannot afford many serious players. Only few big ones and many many small local ones…

Finally, we want to make a remark on something quite interesting: There is no longer any European corporation among the major players in the PC industry …Packard Bell now belongs to ACER, British glorious names such as Amstrad, BBC Micro, Sinclair, Apricot have all vanished, Italian ex global giant Olivetti is now a subsidiary of  Telecom Italia making Printers and Lottery terminals for the local and regional market, Germany’s Siemens is now out of the joint venture with Japan’s Fujitsu, while French once IT powerhouse Bull is active in local and French speaking countries supplying servers and storage … European brands such as Nokia and Ericsson are still key players in the mobile handset industry, but will it remain important to be making handsets that run Microsoft or Google’s operating systems?

Twitter’s Simplicity: An asset or a liability?

Twitter is with no doubt a brilliant idea. Its very questionable though if it is a ‘useful’ service or just a seasonal hype and whether users really need this or use it for fun or out of curiosity or in some cases addiction… Beyond the value proposition of Twitter service to its users which probably appeals differently to each individually , there is one interesting factor that deserves some discussion. Twitter is extremely simple to enroll.

This sounds good as usually a long form to fill and multiple stages of registration is a barrier of entry into any new Internet service, even when that’s for free. Is too much simplicity though for such a ‘personal’ service a good thing? In our opinion it is could be equally quite dangerous. It is extremely simple to pretend you are someone else over Twitter. Nothing prevents a user to pretend is Mr X add a picture of Mr X and get Mr Xs friends to become followers eventually misleading them just for fun or for a bad cause.

In our opinion such a technology would have been much more meaningful and constructive if it was deployed within already established social, family or business networks facilitating meaningful and regulated entries instead of becoming a tool to create social networls twitting on anything. Parents could be twitting to kids, managers to the their teams, teenager to classmates etc. Social networks should be closed and regulated. New members should join in real life and not via the Internet using an email address which is also simple , free and unregulated to set up using any name you like… Public twitting should only fit public figures - Film Starts, Artists, Politicians, Corporate Gurus, Sport Stars etc. are all very compatible with how Twitter is used today. Their many and anonymous fans and followers can join very easily in simplicity and unregulated towards following their idols.

Large corporates, public stars and idols all have their lawyers and personal assistants who will detect and handle anyone pretending and abusing their entity. What about ordinary people? Sick minds are everywhere and such a powerful and accessible tool can easily be abused if everyone can so simply set up an account under any name and picture… Thus simplicity here serves well the target of growing the social networks within Twitter as much as possible but not really an asset for the individual ordinary user.


In small communities, when someone spreads a rumor and for those who want the rumor to go on and on, a classic phrase is “Little bird said…” On the web, the Twitter is an excellent tool for spreading rumors by setting up easily anonymous accounts or fake personalities…Pretend you are your colleague John and send via Twitter “I am having a romantic dinner with my wife’s best friend” and john will get a real hard night at home. Now pretend you are Michael Dell and write “Negotiating to sell my company to HP” and you will get a hard time with Dell’s lawyers. Is that fair for John?

Google rides the Wave and Microsoft Bings the web…

The new offerings of two of the most commonly recognised brands in the Computing and Internet industry carry well thought and nicely sounding names… Is that all or is there anything behind the names?

In our opinion, Google is converting from the best search engine to a Tsunami (not just a wave) aiming to eliminate (or aggregate) all the others under its platform whereas Microsoft, the once upon a time monopoly in Operating Systems and Web Browsers seeks attention to demonstrate that can make an impact in the search business, one of the most crucial aspects of Internet and the area it constantly failed to dominate or even be perceived as a strong player - something totally against its nature.

In our opinion this is what these 2 companies are currently doing. Google is no longer the friendly fairytale sympathetic alternative to the arrogant dominance of Microsoft, Intel, IBM etc. Is an even more arrogant powerhouse that offers everything for free depending on advertising and aims to concur our browsing paths towards controling more of our clicks (and personal data) to generate more revenues. Microsoft on the other hand, seeing a dark and irreversible future in its core competence arena (Mobile phones is a good example that OS arena is no longer a Microsoft playground whereas Internet Explorer is loosing market share by the hour and now Google Wave aims to eliminate the need for Microsoft Exchange Server) decided to attack in a playground where the dominating power seemed untouchable by changing its attitude - no longer trying to kill all others but instead offers an alternative approach that can attract a portion of the user-base. Not everyone - i.e. Microsoft seems to be happy just by a slice of the pie.

Whether Google will succeed to get people communicating only through waves and convert from “Email it to me” into “Pop it on my Wave” and whether Microsoft can manage to change reverse things back from “Google it” into “Search it on Bing” its a question that needs its time…

What remains our strong opinion is that both companies are indeed on fresh objectives and strategies… Google rides the wave to dominate the entire Internet whereas Microsoft bings “Am also here…” defending its deteriorating glory. Other players are around too and new players may emerge from time to time. The Internet is a big battle-field. Hopefully users will continue to enjoy pluralism and companies will seek new things to provide than re-invent the wheel or eliminating each other. In an ideal world Google would just offer the best and constantly improving search engine and Microsoft a reliable operating system that makes better use of a computers resources and enables smooth running of the applications . In reality Google provides search engines that returns more junk results than before and Microsoft provides operating systems that  need faster computers to do basic things and always carry more bugs than the previous version…


Controling Web Content at the Source or at the Client side?

Free unrestricted accessing of content on the Web is in principle the ‘Bless’ of the Internet but at the same time a major social concern. Child Pornography is one very loud example. Eventhough children are encouraged to access information via the Internet to broaden their horizons and enrich their knowlage base, every responsible parent is worried whether their child will come accross inappropriate content such as pornographic material or even worse be manipulated and become part of the content to serve sick paedophilic minds.

A number of ‘tools’ are available today usually falling under the term “parental control”. These are usually applications that enable filtering of content. Also authorities and Internet Crime police divisions use methods and tools to trace people who provide or access such content and legislation does exist to punish those that cause harm especially to minors . If one asks “Which approach is the most effective” will probably get many different answers. In our opinion the answer should be “No approach is solving the problem completely” in the same way that no parent has ‘peace of mind’ when the kids go out on their own.

The reason is because both the source as well as the receivers (The computer used by the children) are out of control. There is (correctly) not a single point of entry to upload content over the Internet and among the millions of Internet users there are millions of user profiles - various ethical levels, different perception of importance, sense of urgency, ignorance of the technology, ignorance of the range of content, levels of curiosity, various maturity levels etc… So even if a Parent is willing to protect his/her child, could fail to properly identify an effective Software, properly install it and be sure that the kid is not capable enough to deactivate or by-pass… Especially since most parents are less capable than their children over the web and for sure less capable than hackers or intentional criminals. Restricting content at the Source side is even more dangerous. Which company or government would ALL Internet users TRUST that is doing the proper filtering and not manipulating content for its own interests…If one entity has control over the ‘Bad’ content will also have control over the ‘good’ content.

In our opinion an effective treatment of this major problem should be at the hands of the Client but requires a different approach than what is applied today.

Alma5 Ventures is working on a concept to help effectively protecting Minors from inappropriate content. Corporations willing to apply or Investors, contact for more details.

Footballers: sportsmen or “brands”?

Every summer there are endless stories, true or rumors, with respect to footballers or coaches transfers. Kaká, Ribery, Buffon, Ronaldo are just few names with a multi-million price tag attached to them. 30m, 80m or 100m would never be spent in other industries just to sign-in an employee, especially one with potentially 5-10 years of useful service, with the exception maybe of the Entertainment industry . Of Course the madness is driven by the fans who push for even bigger names to be signed every year. Thus the football clubs fall into the hands of billionaires who can make the fans (and their own) dreams come true by spending some millions to buy players. Eventually the club rich owners become idols themselves.

This is the reason why we see clubs coming out of nowhere and becoming super-powers and after few years they disappear again. Its easier for a rich person to purchase a small club at low value than buy the current champion, and then buy some super star players, get a good coach to manage them and in one season convert this middle club to a local powerhouse with a promising future in international level. When that person walks away (for whatever reason) this club falls back into the middle or lower positions, full of debts with one star leaving after the other or even worst ageing and retiring with no value left in the market. Even historical clubs with a trophies rich record and millions of active fans that fall at the hands of rich investors fail to sustain when their investors walk away or get in trouble. This is of course part of the game, isn’t it?

In our opinion football clubs should invest in them selves than spending huge amounts to sign in talent from other clubs. Few additions every season may be good to fill in gaps or boost specific areas. The team though has to be a team that works together for long. Instead of paying 50m to land a super-star every year, a club could spend that money to develop 50 youth talents out of which 2 or 3 will end up at the superstar level. The rest will find a place in smaller clubs bringing cash back the club that has developed them. Popular clubs can easily attract the best of young talent if they can motivate and demonstrate that there is room to climb up to the first team. It is very tempting to sign the super stars to please the fans TODAY than investing in generating in house superstars. However… if the best clubs around the world are depending on imported players to reach their goals, who is actually producing these stars? If a middle club is able to produce a super-star and sell to the rich clubs, imagine what a top-club with a better infrastructure and investment on youth departments can produce!

Open Source or Black Box Internet Services?

Open Source is an attractive term nowadays. Usually people associate open source applications with being free to use. In a way this is true as the majority are indeed free. In reality though ‘Open Source’ is nothing more than a fact: open source applications are simply allowing anyone to have access to the source code (The programming code) and make changes leading to new versions or integrating applications/services between them. ‘Black Box’ is a wider term, not usually attractive. The word ‘black’ by default rings some bells around ‘bad’. In terms of internet services though black box refers to applications/services that are not accessible for changes by 3rd parties (people other than the ones who “own” the product and have developed it).

So what is more preferable? Should we use internet services where we, or others can modify and make them closer to our preferences or should we use services that have been designed and delivered as we see them and nothing else? In our opinion the answer is subject to who we are and what is our purpose. Using the service is important to us or is a casual activity?

 In our opinion Black Box is a more ’safe’ approach - what you get is what you really get. If you like it, use it. If not don’t.  Open Source is more flexible but this automatically means users are less in-control of what they use. Today could be lovely and stable and tomorrow may become evil and full of bugs. Unless one has the expertise and an objective to make changes and develope a new version,  is more reasonable to rely on black box services. Why reasonable? Because simply most people are using their cars, home appliances, furniture etc as they have been designed, made and sold. Not really getting a Car that many people made changes and the owner can keep changing its mechanical parts and road behaviour. 

The Car example leads to another important factor: Product Liability. If we buy a Car and as we drive it turns on its own we can easily sue the manufacturer. If we use an Open Source internet service that suddenly causes all our data to be lost who should we blame (not necessarily sue)? The designer of the original code ? The last person that made changes? The first person that made changes? Our self as we attempted to make some changes? Ofcourse some may claim the example is extreme. We believe is not. In our opinion Open Source is good for the evolution of Internet Services. What we use though should be Black Box. In other words, Open Source YES. as long as the outcome is well tested, debugged and sealed in a Black Box.

Car Industry needs Consolidation or Niche Players?

2 out of 3 American car makers have filed for bankrupcy. Once glorious massive GM has entered Chapter 11 and already handed its European arm (Opel/Vauxhal) to one of its parts suppliers, Magna, and a state controlled Russian Bank (was there ever any cold war outhere?) while Chrysler has been handed over by the Obama administration to FIAT, a car maker that was due to collapse but managed to turn itself around, being among the best performing in the industry today and carrying the promising  recipe to save Chrysler. All these would sound science fiction few years back.

The growing discussion though today is whether the Car Industry is or will get a place for few large groups only. If someone will look back in History, the answer should be No. GM has been  really huge and global but  has already collapsed while the German Goverment has seen more future in Opel being a stand-alone brand than integrating with FIAT and Chrysler as proposed by Sergio Marchione, FIAT CEO and turnaround mastermind. In the past though all small and niche players run to the rescue and became divisions of larger groups… Looking also at Mr Marchione statements, to survice in the global market you need  economies of scale through 5m+ cars/year and to make profits must produce ~1m of  cars out of each platform.  So what is really going on here? All right or all wrong?

Well, in our opinion both history and Mr Marchione theory are true but not holistic. A car maker to be equally effective in growing and shrinking economies needs something beyond size or no size. Needs the right portfolio of technology to deliver models appealing for today buyers, needs enough economies of scale to justify driving certain innovation and the right management approach to leverage on the scale and the technology in an agile and pragmatic manner. The major challenge in the car industry is that cars take long to be converted from concept to a sellable item while customer trends change rapidly - and management need to cope with that. Niche marketing is not mutually exclusive to consolidation…Lamborghini supercars are coming now out of VW and Ferrari has been the most profitable part of FIAT for years… So our answer is that Niche players are NOT viable as “stand alone” and consolidation is not by default the magic answer. Niche brands operating along with mass-production brands ARE. All that is needed is a blend of economies of scale and innovation friendly attitude. In other words, treating each brand separately while leveraging on common or adjacent technologies. And thats a management skill above all and beyond scale…Does it matter when your daily cheap Espresso Coffe shares common ingredients with a mouth melting Tiramisu desert for special occasions? I bet it would matter if they gave you to drink a Tiramisu or eat an Espresso! Thats what the car industry got wrong… GM  kept offering huge fuel hungry SUVs and Trucks to jobless people who wanted a cheap fuel efficient car…


Free or Paid Internet Services?

The range of services available on the Internet today is inconceivable. From basic information websites, search engines, to web-mail, social networking applications with hundreds of applications, on-line games, chatting tools, photo albums, virtual storage drives even complete powerful office suites and business applications. What should be even more inconceivable - and is not - is the fact that most of these are free to use! It is somehow expected nowadays that things should be free on the Internet. How can something be given for free when is really free of cost?

Just try to provide a basic service from scratch over the Internet and will immediately realise that it costs. It costs to actually develop the whole thing (both labor and equipment),  it costs to host it, it costs to maintain it and it costs to support the users. Not to mention that there must be some reward to whoever came up with the idea or concept. So how can all this be given for free? Well, in our opinion nothing is free…

Some services ask you to pay them some fee for using their service whereas others allow ‘free’ access in return of handling your personal data at their discretion. Also portion of your screen may be controlled by them for throwing advertising content etc. As a user, we believe one should really evaluate how much personal data, own content, online privacy, and control are really worth. Would you “sell” all your personal data for $9.99 ? That is the actual comparison. A paid service may charge you such an amount once or periodically whereas a free service will get the ‘rights’ for trading you personal data or push content anytime anywhere or both. 

Of Course there are always cases where free services are indeed of great value and harmless. Therefore, we vote for the ‘free’ as long as they are not ‘cruicial’ to our on-line life and as long as they don’t require unconditional use of our personal data, content and behaviour patterns. For important services such us our email or storage involving sensitive or valuable data or productivity applications we vote in favour of paying. Some say “What you Pay is What you get” and in many cases we prefer peace of mind instead of the $9.99.


Welcome to Alma5 Opinion. This is a place for people that seek different angles and like to  challenge the obvious…Stay tuned…