A cheaper tablet on the horizon. It will run Google's Android operating system and it will likely be sold by a Chinese computer company. That's the gist of reports in Bloomberg and The New York Times about tablet offerings by the likes of Via and Foxconn. Ashlee Vance of The Times calls these little cheap tablets "flankers," meaning not good enough to kill the $499 iPad, but "different enough to challenge the iPad with certain audiences." Whichever device prevails, the explosive popularity of tablets should be a boon to app entrepreneurs. Bloomberg reports that the gadgets are expected to sell an estimated 46 million units by 2014, up from 7.6 million this year.
From PM to VC. The clean tech companies in Vinod Khosla's portfolio will now have the benefit of Britain's former prime minister's counsel, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The venture capital firm that dug $1.1 billion into clean tech and IT companies late last year announced yesterday that Tony Blair would be joining Khosla Ventures as a senior adviser. Don Runckle, CEO of EcoMotors, one of Khosla's investments which makes energy efficient internal combustion engines, remarked, "Tony Blair is a known quantity in policy and political circles, he has a lot of passion, and he can give us good guidance."
How one company took on the NFL and won. Illinois-based American Needle, a company that dates back to 1918, had been producing NFL-licensed caps and apparel for nearly 20 years. All that changed, however, in 2001 when the NFL awarded an exclusive contract to Reebok. As the Chicago Tribune reports, sales of NFL gear represented nearly 25 percent of American Needle's annual sales. The family-owned business sued the NFL claiming they restricted competition and violated antitrust laws by acting as one entity rather than 32 independently-owned teams. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of American Needle, a ruling with significant ramifications for other sports ventures. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his decision, "Decisions by NFL teams to license their separately-owned trademarks collectively and to only one vendor are decisions that deprive the marketplace of...actual or potential competition."
American businesses prepare for Chinese currency revaluation. Two years ago, we brought you the story of Mitch Free and his online marketplace MFG.com, which matches companies seeking manufactured parts with overseas manufacturers, many of them in China. Now, with a potential revaluation of the yuan in the near future, businesses like the ones who source parts through MFG.com need to start planning for the possibility of increased costs, The Wall Street Journal reports. "Businesses need to do a sensitivity analysis to know the impact on the organization if the currency moves 1%, 5%, or 20%," a risk management executive told the paper.
The third wave of innovation is already here. Silicon Valley investor John Doerr has acquired a reputation in the tech community for his prescient one-liners about the future of business. Take his assessment on the cost of investing in a small stake of Google ("I have never paid so much for so little") or when he called the Internet boom of the 90s "the largest legal creation of wealth on the planet." So when Om Malik tuned in to hear Doerr speak yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt, he had high hopes. Doerr's latest thesis: Technology is on its third great wave of innovation. "The first was the microchip and the PC in the early 80s. The second wave was 1995: the Internet . . . This third wave is social, mobile, new commerce. We don't have a name for it yet. We could be on the verge of reinventing the web.Malik's response is best summed up as 'Is that all you got?' According to him, everything Doerr's pointing to--social, mobile, e-commerce--is already here. Says Malik: "What comes next? That's what I want to know."
Google says it spurs economic activity. Sure, Google earned $23.7 billion in revenue last year, but the company also says that it generated $54 billion in U.S. economic activity in 2009 for businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits. The benefits come through Google's targeted advertising platform, AdWords, especially as more small companies turn to online advertising amid the recession. "We conservatively estimate that for every $1 a business spends on AdWords, they receive an average of $8 in profit through Google Search and AdWords," the company said in its report, which comes as Google's dominance in the search market faces increased scrutiny from federal regulators.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey