Blogs & Comment

Week in review: Virgin, Internet, Honeycomb

A quick recap of the past week (OK, and-a-half's) noteworthy events: Don't tread on me (or my Internet)!

A quick recap of the past week (OK, and-a-half’s) noteworthy events:

Don’t tread on me (or my Internet)!

Tea Party-like, the Internet released its hounds in the wake of the CRTC decision on usage-based billing for Web use and the ruling Conservatives have heard the call. Industry Minister Tony Clement says the government will reverse the CRTC’s decision if the regulatory body doesn’t do so on its own. This will still leave unanswered some fundamental questions about the future of Internet use in Canada but, hey, baby steps. For now, your investment whether you’re a consumer or an investor in Netflix appears to be safe.

KISS aka Keep It Software, Stupid!

While much has been made of would-be competitors to the iPad trying to gain traction, Google’s reveal this week of its Honeycomb OS for mobile stands the best chance yet of gettin’ some. It’s not the hardware after all, sexy though it can be. It’s the software. Google’s February 2 showcase demonstrated some genuinely awesome functionality in terms of widgets, multitasking capability and graphical power that is guaranteed to turn heads once developers sink their teeth into them and the OS shows up in the various manufacturer’s tablets later this year.

Also of note was the launch of the Android Market for apps. Design wise, it gets the job done but doesn’t wow. Its real strengths are under the hood, including more flexibility for developers to monetize and promote their apps, and integration with Google Cloud. It’s one slick piece of business.

It’s also worth noting that Honeycomb’s debut barely moved the needle on GOOGwhich was up just 0.16% on announcement day and was down the next. Bu stay tuned let’s see what happens when this tech actually hits the market.

Virgin Gaming. Really?

Still not sure I entirely like Sir Richard Branson’s latest venture (which is actually an older adventure, but only signed heavy hitters EA in the last two weeks). This has Virgin Gaming teaming up with a variety of publishers such as Microsoft, THQ and the aforementioned EA to allow the gamers on Xbox 360 and PS3 to bet on games between players. Virgin has dotted all its i’s and crossed all its t’s in terms of making the obligatory nods to “responsible gaming” and even instituting some hard controls on how much betting can be done, but I question the wisdom of associating the Virgin brand with what is seen as a somewhat unsavoury pastime.

After all, Virgin is a company that operates hot air balloon flights and once opened a bridal wear shop called Virgin Brides. It runs a healthcare operation, an alternative fuels business and a “health bank” that stores stem cells from babies to save lives. This is all good, bang-up, above-the-board stuff.

Into this milieu Virgin is now going to introduce the spectre of very young men and women mortgaging their futures and possibly stuff that doesn’t belong to them on the chance they’ll correctly call or play a game of Madden NFL 11. Sounds interesting. Yes, Virgin is officially a conglomerate and yes it treasures diversification, but that doesn’t mean it has to get into everything, does it?

Ironically, in Branson’s most recent opinion piece for Canadian Business, ” Define your brand and deliver on your promise,” he opines on the meaning of brand and says, “our customers and investors relate to us more as an idea or philosophy than as a company.”

So then, does this latest foray into gambling (in an environment dominated by very young people) say the right things about Virgin’s philosophy?